174 And Counting…

174 And Counting…

I took a quick trip over to the East Coast of the US this week, South Carolina to be exact and I ended up seeing 14 bird species that I hadn’t seen yet this year!

So now for the year 2020, I’ve seen 174… not bad. Now if only I can continue to get out there and catch all the birds that migrate through my area I should have a pretty good year.

Here is a photo of one of the birds that I saw for the first time this year. This is an Anhinga.

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This is a female Anhinga, they have a buff head and neck, whereas the males have black heads and necks. Very similar to the cormorants, but they have a long narrow pointed bill, white markings on their upper side of the wings and a fan shaped tail.

Hunts mostly fish, they usually swim in the water and wait for a fish to get close by, then they will stab it with their pointy bill.

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West Coast vs East Coast Towhee

West Coast vs East Coast Towhee

There is a California Towhee. Very brown, kinda blends into the ground color… 

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This bird can be found from southern Oregon down the coast of California and then into Mexico.

Then there is the Spotted Towhee, now that one is quite colorful…

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The Spotted Towhee can be found from south west Canada down through central and western US and into Mexico.

Then we have the Eastern Towhee, now this one is very very similar to the Spotted Towhee.

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The difference between the Spotted Towhee and the Eastern Towhee are the spots versus patches. The Spotted Towhee will have more “spots” were as the Eastern Towhee has “lines” or patches of white.

The Eastern Towhee can be found from mostly from the east coast to central US. There are states where the Spotted and Eastern are in the same range and they were once considered the same species, but have sense been split apart.

All Towhees forage mostly on the ground, usually that is how you first realize that one is around. They are very noisy scratchers! Not easy to see under the thickets, but you’ll know that they are there.

You Learn Something New Everyday…

You Learn Something New Everyday…

What did I learn today? I have a beautiful Woodpecker that flies from tree to tree in my backyard. I see him all the time since his colors are very bright… 

It is the Red-headed Woodpecker!

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When he flies between the trees you can see the bright white of his wings, it always seems to catch my eye…

Anyway, I was looking out he window and I saw him fluttering around looking into tree cavities. Then I looked over to my left and I saw another Red-headed Woodpecker. Oh no, I thought the two of them will not get along since they were both males (or so I thought)…

They each flew from tree to tree, checking out different tree cavities and no one was fighting or even bothering with the other. This didn’t make any sense to me, I thought for sure they would each want their own space. So I had to look on my Audubon app to find out just what was going on…

What did I learn? I learned that the Red-headed Woodpecker are sexually monomorphic, this means that both the male and the female look exactly alike!!!

Well now I assume that I have a male and a female Red-headed Woodpecker in by backyard, but I can’t be sure… there are actually a few bird species that are the same, but luckily not too many…

The Downy Dance

The Downy Dance

A couple of days ago I took a quick hike into the woods. I saw a few birds, but it was a bit cold, so there really weren’t too many around.

I did happen to see a couple of Downy Woodpeckers doing a dance around a tree. At first I thought that it might be a male and female dancing some sort of courting ritual. After getting a good look at them through the binoculars, I realized that it actually was a couple of males. 

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Round and round they continued to move. They were probably doing some sort of dominance dance!

You can tell that they are males, since the males have a red nape spot. Males and females actually have different feeding areas during the late fall and winter. There probably weren’t any females around these two, but they were preparing for the day that the females and males pair off which usually happens in late winter…

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The Downy Woodpecker is the smallest woodpecker in North America. You can find them throughout the US and Canada.

They mostly eat insects, but they do eat some seeds and will eat suet from bird feeders. I have a pair at my feeders everyday, and I have seen them eat both seeds and the suet, usually the seeds when I’ve run out of suet…

Hello Anna

Hello Anna

Say hello to the Anna’s Hummingbird. When he shows his colors he is a very bright pink! This bird doesn’t have any trouble with his masculinity, yes he’s pink, yes he’s pretty, but he’s all male…

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Found only on the west coast from Canada down into Mexico, when these males show their colors they are unmistakeable!

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Below is a female Anna’s Hummingbird, not colorful at all, not easily identified from other Hummingbirds of similar size…

I was with a birding group in California a couple of years ago and we happened upon this female on her nest. Someone in the group has got great eyes because this is not something that you easily see.

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Did you notice the lichen stuck on the sides of the nest, the females build the nest and they put that there to help it blend into the scenery.

Here is a nest that I found in my yard this summer. It is the nest of a Ruby-throated Hummingbird, similar to the Anna’s Hummingbird, but only found from the East Coast to the Central part of Canada, US and into Mexico.

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I was able to find the nest only after watching the bird fly around my yard for a few days. Back and forth she went from the same branch. It happened to be on a dead branch that was being cut down and luckily she and her babies were gone by the time the guys came to cut it down.

Both of these nest are very similar in size (only a couple of inches) and materials. They both have lichens from the surrounding area stuck onto the sides so they can be camouflaged from predators.

You Got To Love Orange!

You Got To Love Orange!

I go birding in California several times a year and I have to say, there is one bird that I seem to see far more often than any other…

It’s the Allen’s Hummingbird. When he shows his colors, they are a very bright and flashy orange.

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There range is from southern Oregon down into Mexico. They seem to follow me around everywhere I go birding in California. Often times I’ll hear them buzzing around in nearby trees, only to look up and see one posing for a photo shot.

They are similar to the Rufous Hummingbird, the males have green on their backs, but the females and juveniles of both species are identical, so the location where you see them is the only sure bet to identifying them.

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Black-necked Stilt… Delicate, But Hardy

Black-necked Stilt… Delicate, But Hardy

The Black-necked Stilt is beautiful, graceful and looks very delicate. Actually, these birds manage to thrive in the sun baked flat areas surrounding shallow lakes and ponds, where the temperatures are sometimes soaring!

They have thin legs, slim wings and needle-like bills. You might think, so delicate, so frail, but their numbers are increasing as they are able to adapt to new areas and extend their range.

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You can find them around shallow lakes and ponds, but they have no problem foraging in artificial habitats such as dikes and sewage ponds. This ability to adapt has helped their population increase!

They can be found throughout most of the US and into Mexico. A very pretty bird to see, if you get the chance take a long moment and just watch them foraging in the shallow waters, you’ll enjoy it…

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Look, There Are Great Egrets Up In The Trees…

Look, There Are Great Egrets Up In The Trees…

While out in California I came across several Great Egrets. Usually I see them foraging along the edge of small ponds, but I saw a couple of them enjoying the sun, high up in the trees.

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They are known to nest high up in the trees, usually between 10 – 40 feet above the water or ground, but they’ve been seen nesting as high up as 90 feet!

In the early 1800s these beautiful birds were almost completely wiped out of the US because they were killed for their feathers to be used for fashion! In the 20th century they were laws protecting them and they have since made a comeback!

The Great Egret is the symbol of the National Audubon Society.

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Wood Ducks Looking For A Home

Wood Ducks Looking For A Home

Yesterday as I was slowly moving around the kitchen looking for something for breakfast, I happened to take a quick look out the back window… I saw something in the trees in the backyard, I knew it was a bird, but what the heck bird was it???

Knowing that this wasn’t a bird I normally see in the trees in my backyard, I ran for my binoculars! Finally I zoomed in on the bird and what do you know… it was a pair of Wood Ducks looking for a nest! There was actually a pair of them out there.

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They nest in large cavities in trees around 65’ above the water. Though many have been known to nest in nesting boxes even though they aren’t as high up…

I never did get a good photo of the female, as she was harder to zoom in on since she blended into the background more easily and seemed to be hiding from me…

After laying their eggs, only the female will sit on the nest, it takes 25 – 35 days for incubation. On the morning after they hatch, the young will climb out of the nest and jump to the ground! The females will take care of the young for the next 5 -6 weeks.

I did see a few holes in the trees, but I’m not sure that they are big enough for the ducks. The pair of them flew from tree to tree, back and forth along the water’s edge for awhile, but eventually they continued on down the lake. I really hope they come back and pick a site near my home, that would be fun to watch during the spring, but I have to wait and see…

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