Rails

Rails

Years ago the Clapper Rail and the Ridgeway Rail were considered the same bird. But not too many years ago, that was changed and they are now considered two different species.

Below is the Clapper Rail, they are found in saltwater marshes and mangrove swamps from the US East Coast down to Central America and the Caribbean.

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I found this Clapper Rail foraging in Cherry Grove, South Carolina. A very secretive bird who tends to stay concealed in dense vegetation for most of its life.

Originally these rails were considered one species, but they were split into 3 different species, the Clapper Rail on the US East Coast, the Ridgway’s Rail on the US West and the Mangrove Rail of South America. You can tell them apart by the location that you find them at…

Below is a Ridgway’s Rail, they can be found in Arizona, Nevada and California. The Ridgway’s Rail is strictly a salt marsh bird, occasionally seen in adjacent brackish marshes. Along the lower Colorado River there are some Ridgway’s Rails that live in the freshwater marshes.

Their diet consists of insects, fish and crustaceans, especially crabs. They all forage the same way, by walking in shallow water or on the mud and pick up items from the ground.

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Maybe someday I’ll get the chance to see the Mangrove Rail in South America…

Remember to stay healthy and stay safe!

Bluebird eats Like a Queen!

Bluebird eats Like a Queen!

The other day I went to a nearby state park. There is a nice lake where I saw the Double-crested Cormorant and the Black-belted Kingfisher. 

There were plenty of trails in the woods to walk through. I saw a Hermit Thrush and Blue Jays (which I tried to get a photo of, but they were hidden too well amongst the leaves!)

As I walked along one of the trails I did see a bird hopping along the ground, I thought that maybe it was a baby bird trying to fly. But then after a few moments, up flew this female Eastern Bluebird with this giant bug!!!

She was having trouble flying with the bug and was only able to fly up to the closest low branch. She then proceeded to start eating this bug… this should keep her fed for most of the day!

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Remember to stay healthy and stay safe!

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

The other night in my backyard after I had gotten a photo of the Yellow-billed Cuckoo, I saw the Ruby-throated Hummingbird zip by…

Since I already had my camera around my neck I was ready for it. I watched as it went over to some flowers and I took a couple of photos.

In this one it is actually flapping its wings so fast that you can’t even see the wings! 

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In the US, this is the only hummingbird that breeds east of the Mississippi River.

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I believe that this is a female, because I never did see any iridescent ruby throat coloring…

Remember to stay healthy and stay safe!

Photo of the Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Finally…

Photo of the Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Finally…

For the past few years I’ve heard and seen the Yellow-billed Cuckoo, but I never managed to get a photo of the bird! 

They have a very distinctive sound and once you know it you won’t ever forget it…

The other night I heard one in my backyard and I finally spotted it flying around, but it was so high up in the leaves at the top of the trees that I wasn’t able to get a good photo.

Then, last night I went out to check on my green bean plants and I heard a couple of birds fluttering around in the tops of the trees. I ran to get my camera and binoculars and sure enough there were a couple of Yellow-billed Cuckoos foraging around in the trees!

This time I was able to get a photo!

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See how yellow its bill is. Now look below to see the Black-billed Cuckoo I saw in New England.

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They look so very similar! But other than the bill color, the Yellow-billed Cuckoo does have a bit of rusty red coloring on its wings (though I didn’t see that in my photos).

Remember to stay healthy and stay safe!

 

Eastern Bluebird Family

Eastern Bluebird Family

The past few weeks I’ve seen a pair of Eastern Bluebirds with juveniles from an earlier brood flying around my yard. A few weeks ago I noticed the parents feeding the fledglings, but not so much anymore.

Last week I got a photo of the female sitting in her nest waiting for the male to come by with some food. He would feed her while she sat on the eggs.

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The Eastern Bluebirds will have 2 – 3 broods. I’m pretty sure that this was their 3rd.

This week I have seen the male and female flying back and forth bringing food to the new hatchlings.

Here is a photo, I think that there is a least 3 of them in the nest.

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Sometimes the young from the previous brood will help feed the new hatchlings, but I haven’t seen this yet, only mom and dad…

Remember to stay healthy and stay safe!

Cuckoos…

Cuckoos…

Lately most of the time that I’m outside in my yard or in the neighborhood I hear the distinctive calls of the Yellow-billed Cuckoo.

I hear them often, I’ve seen them a few times, but I’ve never gotten a photo of them!  

They are found in the Eastern US west to Central US, they don’t seem to go all the way up into New England. They are difficult to see, since they live in the dense leafy woods. 

The Black-billed Cuckoo (which is very similar), is found in the Northeast US and into Canada. Caterpillars are the favorite foods of both Cuckoos.

These birds will migrate great distances, sometimes as far as Argentina!

Here is a photo of a Black-billed Cuckoo that I saw a few years back up at Parker River National Wildlife Refuge on Plum Island in Massachusetts.

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Remember to stay healthy and stay safe!

Summer Birds

Summer Birds

Summer Birds are quieter than in the springtime. First of all they haven’t just arrived back from a long winter vacation and looking to tell all of their friends about it. They also aren’t actively calling out trying to find a mate or impress females with their songs…

So yes, summer birds are quieter. It can be hot too, so birds lay low, hiding in the cooler leaves, not sitting out in the hot sun. With all of that said, it can be hard to find many birds around in the summer, but they are still there…

Putting out a water feature is a great way to attract them into your yard. Just make sure that the water moves so that you don’t get mosquitos. Also, birds do still come to bird feeders in the summer. I usually stop putting seed out during the summer months, but the birds still come to my empty feeders looking for seeds…

Yesterday I got a chance to go up to the mountains. It was great, it was at least 10 degrees cooler and I waded in a river (decided not to swim since the water was really really cold!)

It was nice to get away for the day. I didn’t take my binoculars or camera with me, but that didn’t stop me from seeing a few things.

When I sat down by the river, the first bird I heard was the Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. They have a very distinctive whining pzzzzz call when they forage in the leaves. 

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Next, a couple of Northern Cardinals flew by me while they were chasing each other…

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And lastly, I saw 3 deer eating in the fields. It was a very nice day…

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Remember to stay healthy and stay safe!

Who’s That Flying Around My Backyard? – Title of my New Book…

Who’s That Flying Around My Backyard? – Title of my New Book…

These are crazy times that we are living in! Today I sat in my own home with a mask on because I had workers fixing something in my crawl space… I’ve stained my decks, planted a garden and wrote 4 books! 

The decks look great, so far the garden has given me green beans to eat and the books have been a fun way to share my interest in birds.

My first two books were for toddlers about numbers and colors of birds. The third book was a cute story about a Snowy Plover. 

The 4th book is different, it has 80 pages with photos of birds and gives a bit of information about each one to help you identify the birds that you may be seeing. It is for adults or older children looking to learn about birds.

I have it in two forms, the ebook is nice, but this time I created a physical book! It came out great! I hope you will enjoy it as much as I enjoyed making it. All of the books can be found on Amazon.

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Next, I plan on making a couple of more books to go along with this one, sort of a series.

Let me know what you think of the book.

Remember to stay healthy and stay safe!

Crazy Bird Story…

Crazy Bird Story…

So the other day I had a crazy experience with a bird that I just have to tell you all about!

It was late afternoon/early evening, the sky was a bit dark and cloudy. My husband was outside on the back deck and I was sitting inside…

All of the sudden, I hear my husband banging on the window for me to come out (he was on the phone)…

I went running (because usually this would mean there is something interesting for me to see), I opened up the door and he whispered listen.

I then hear a Barred Owl song, fairly close by. I run to the other side of the house to get my good binoculars and camera!

So, now I’m out on the back deck looking and listening… I decided to play the Barred Owl song on my phone to see if it might answer back.

I’m playing the song from the phone in my hand, looking far away into the woods with my binoculars and I have my camera hanging around my neck. I decide to pull the binoculars away from my eyes for a second…

My eyes focus on something on a branch in front of me, I scream! While I was looking too far away the Owl stealthy flew right in front of me! So close!

At first I thought, OMG, its going to attack me because I’m playing its song! My next thought was to try to get a photo. That is when my camera decided that the battery needed to be charged!!! 

I did get a couple of photos (blurry), before it flew right over our heads to the front woods…

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I don’t know if its male or female since they look the same. I usually only hear them and never see them. I’m not as lucky as my brother and brother-in-law who both have them living in their yards and see them regularly!

Below is a photo of its talons. It uses these to catch small mammals, mostly mice. Very strong, I am so glad that it didn’t decide to use them on me!

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I am very happy to have seen the Owl, hopefully I will see it again. Though the next time I will be more prepared!

Remember to stay healthy and stay safe!