A Pair Of Barn Swallows Taking A Rest In Playa Del Rey, California

A Pair Of Barn Swallows Taking A Rest In Playa Del Rey, California

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Barn Swallow

I found these beautiful cobalt blue Barn Swallows taking a break from zipping around over the open field and pond I was hiking past. They seem to just glisten in the sunshine! You can easily identify them from their long, deeply forked tail.

The Barn Swallow winters in the Southern Hemisphere and breeds throughout the Northern Hemisphere. It is the most widely distributed and abundant swallow species in the world!

They will fly just a few inches above the water or ground to find insects. Their diet consists of mostly flies, but they will also eat bees, ants, moths and beetles. THey will also eat small pebbles, oyster shells and grit, which is either to give them calcium or helps them to digest their food.

Once the Barn Swallows used to nest in caves throughout North America, but now the only ones that still use caves are the population that live on the Channel Islands off the coast of California. The rest of the population all build their nests on human-made structures.

The Flamingo Is One Bird That I Don’t Have On My Life List!

The Flamingo Is One Bird That I Don’t Have On My Life List!

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Flamingo

Flamingoes used to regularly migrate from the Bahamas to Florida Bay, USA, which is now Everglades National Park. Unfortunately, it is rare for them to migrate up to the US anymore. Any Flamingoes seen loose today in North America are probably escapees from zoos or aviaries! That being said, I can’t count them in my US Life List, however some that do show up in the Everglades National Park could actually be from the Bahamian colonies. Also, there have beeen some seen on the coast of Texas that are believed to come from colonies on the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico! So there is hope for me yet, I just need to keep a watch out form when someone reports a sighting of these birds in those locations, then I can get down there and go birding!!!

The Flamingos feeed by walking through the shallow waters with their head upside down and bill underwater, they stir up organic matter with their webbed feet.

Their diet consists of algae, shrimp, mollusks, snails and crustaceans. When their heads swings from side to side, the food is strained from the water with small comblike structures inside their bills. They get their pink color from the food, which contain carotenoids pigments. Flamingos kept in zoos are sometimes supplemented with food coloring to keep their pink plumage from fading.

They can “run” on water, due to having webbed feet, this gives them speed to be able to lift up into the sky. They are an unmistakable bird with their bright pink feathers, S-shaped neck and stilt-like legs!

A Western Meadowlark Playing At A Ball Park In California

A Western Meadowlark Playing At A Ball Park In California

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Western Meadowlark

I found this one in a ball field in California. I’ve seen both the Western and Eastern Meadowlarks and they look sooooooo alike! The only real difference is their song and call notes. Luckily these birds can tell each species apart, since their ranges do overlap in the Southwest and Midwest, US.  The two species don’t interbreed, but they defend their territories against each other! Maybe they don’t know just how similar they are…

They can be found in fields, meadows, prairies, pastures and grasslands. Their diet consists of insects, such as grasshoppers, caterpillars, ants, beetles, crickets, spiders and snails. Seeds and grains make up a greater percentage of their fall and winter diet. They forage by walking along the ground and probing the soil with their bill. Usually they will forage in flocks during the winter months.

 

 

The Rose-ringed Parakeet is perched on a wire in Playa Del Rey, California

The Rose-ringed Parakeet is perched on a wire in Playa Del Rey, California

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Rose-ringed Parakeet

A Beautiful long-tailed Parakeet native to Southern Asia and central Africa. A very adaptable bird, because escaped birds have established feral populations in lots of areas around the world. They now live in cities like London, Paris, Hong Kong, Jerusalem, Los Angeles and Florida.

I found this Parakeet originally eating at a bird feeder in Playa Del Rey, California, he then flew over to perch on the telephone wires.

These tropical parakeets numbers have been decreasing in some areas due to trapping them for the pet trade. They are very popular in the pet industry. The royals in India thought that owning one of these birds as a pet was a popular status symbol in their Indian culture.

The Rose-ringed Parakeet can live 25 to 30 years. I see several species of parakeets throughout the Los Angeles area when I am there. They are beautiful birds and they seem to be able to survive and adapt to these unique surrounds. You will usually hear the parakeets before you see them! The legends surrounding how they came to be in areas outside their native homes vary from, pet store escapees, cargo ship container escapees to owners just letting them loose. I’m sure it was probably all of the above, but now that they are out and breeding we can enjoy these beauties in the wild.

The Marbled Godwit Has A Pretty Pink And Brown Bill

The Marbled Godwit Has A Pretty Pink And Brown Bill

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Marbled Godwit

This long-legged cutie can be found in the winters along both coasts of North American and will breed in they interior central to western states of the US and Canada.

A rather large bird with a slightly upturned, swordlike bill. When they fly their legs stick out beyond the tail. 

Their diet consists of aquatic invertebrates and plant tubers. They will plunge their two-toned, long bill deep into the mud or sand to pull out their food.

They forage by wading through shallow waters or walking through the short grass in the prairies. During the winterr they will forage with other shorebirds such as the Hudsonian Godwits, Willets, Whimbrels and Long-billed Curlews. 

I’ve occasionally had trouble identifying these birds from a distance, because they will sleep while standing on one leg, usually with their bill tucked behind their shoulder. So I haven’t been able to see their distinctive bill when they have it hidden away, but they are easily identified if they bill is out!

This Black Oystercatcher Is Foraging For Food In Play Del Rey, California

This Black Oystercatcher Is Foraging For Food In Play Del Rey, California

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Black Oystercatcher

In Playa Del Rey, California I usually go out to the jetty and look down around the rocks especially at low tide to find these birds. They will tend to rest at high tide and forage mostly near low tide, so they can easily get food.

Their diet consists mostly of mussels, limpets and other shellfish. Occasionally will eat whelks, urchins, and crabs. When they eat a mussel, they will remove the mussel from its shell and leave the shell in place still in the mussel beds. The Oyestercatcher will either quickly jab its bill into a slightly open mussel shell cutting the muscle, then eating the contents. The other way they eat muscles, is to hammer on the shell with their bill until it breaks open.

They can be found all seasons along rock shorelines from Alaska to Baja. Will choose areas with abundant shellfish, not many can be found along the coast of Southern California since the shoreline is very sandy.

 

5 Birds I’ve Seen In Central North Carolina, USA

5 Birds I’ve Seen In Central North Carolina, USA

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Ring-necked Duck

This is a photo of 3 male Ring-necked Ducks, the females are a dark gray-brown color. A small diving duck that forages in reservoirs, lakes and inshore waters. They breed from Alaska, Manitoba, Quebec and Newfoundland south to Washington, Minnesota, Great Lakes region and New England. They will spend their winters throughout the US.

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Red-shouldered Hawk

A long-tailed, long-winged hawk, roughly the size of a crow. Usually found in woodland habitats, near water. Their diet consists of frogs, snakes and small mammals. Can be found throughout the US and central, southern Canada.

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American Goldfinch

These cuties will eat mostly seeds, especially thistle. This small common finch can be seen in open woodlands, forest edges, weedy fields, forest edges and house feeders.

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Indigo Bunting

Here we have a couple of male Indigo Buntings. The females are brown with faint buff wing bars. They can be found from southeast Manitoba east to Maine and south to Texas and Florida. These birds will winter primarily in Central America.

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Cedar Waxwing

A very elegant, sleek looking bird. Their diets consists of berrries and insects. Their song is that of very high-pitched, soft notes. Usually seen in flocks, I will often hear them first then find them perched high up in the trees.

The Heermann’s Gull Is Cute, But Can Be A Little Thief!

The Heermann’s Gull Is Cute, But Can Be A Little Thief!

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Heermann’s Gull

In the spring this Gull can be found in its nesting grounds in western Mexico, then come summer, flocks of them will fly north along the Pacific Coast up as far north as Southern British Columbia. They flock north at the same time as the Brown Pelicans.

Their diet consists of fish and other small marine life, occasionally they will eat insects and eggs or their birds. Forages in flight over the ocean, they dip to the surface or plunge into the water for fish. 

They are not a large gull, but they are aggressive and pestering other birds to make them drop their food is one of their main ways of foraging! The reason they flock north at the same time as the Brown Pelican is because this is one of their favorite birds to steal food from! The Heermann’s Gull is often waiting to snatch fish right from the pelican’s pouch when the pelican comes up to the surface after plunging into the water for food.

The Heeermann’s Gull is a little stinker! Besides stealing the fish from the pouch of pelicans, they will harass other birds and force them to drop their catch! They are a pretty gull, but very aggressive to other birds when they want food!

It is the only North American gull that breeds south of the US, then comes north during their nonbreeding season. They head south again in December to begin the cycle again.

The Elegant Northern Pintails I Found In A US Pond

The Elegant Northern Pintails I Found In A US Pond

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Northern Pintail

The photo above is that of a male and female Northern Pintail. The male is an especially elegant, long-necked, long-tailed duck. Breeding males have much longer tails than females and nonbreeeding males.

They live in Europe, India, Asia, the Middle East and North America. During the winter, they will form large groups and forage in bays, lakes, wetlands and even walk through fields eating grains. 1,800 miles was the longest nonstop flight ever recorded for a Northern Pintail during migration.

Their diet consists of seeds and insects. Often they will forage in shallow water by up-ending or submerging their I head and neck while swimming. They sometimes will dabble on the surface of the water and filter out the food with their bills. Other times they will just walk on land and eat grain in fields.

After the Mallard the Northern Pintail is the most numerous duck species in the world. Though widespread and abundant their population has been declining since the 1960s.