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.

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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African Bird Loose In California

African Bird Loose In California

When you are out birding, you expect to see some birds that are native to the area that you are in. Well, in some areas in the US, you might find some unexpected birds that just don’t fit in.

The other day while out birding in a Wildlife Park in Central California, I cam across a very good example of a bird that just didn’t belong… the Egyptian Goose!

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This bird is native to Africa and somehow managed to escape from zoos or aviaries in California and are now living at parks and ponds usually with the Canada Goose.

These escapees have now established wild populations in Texas, California and Florida, USA!

In addition to the Egyptian Goose, there are several species of Parrots and Parakeets that have escaped over the years and have managed to establish wild populations throughout the USA.

Another bird that was an escapee that I look for each year is the Red-whiskered Bulbul. They were first discover in the USA in 1960 when they were said to have escaped into Florida. Since then they have another group in California and one in Hawaii.

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They aren’t know to travel far, so there aren’t many other groups around the states.  Their diet mostly consists on fruit and you can usually find them living in areas that have exotic fruit tress. I always look for them at the Los Angeles County Arboretum  in California, they love it there! 

Saw The Red-Tailed Hawk Today

Saw The Red-Tailed Hawk Today

Earlier today I was watching an adult Bald Eagle circling above the lake in my backyard. Yesterday I saw 2 immature Bald Eagles perched in a tree searching for fish in the lake. One was probably a 2nd year immature and the other looked like a 3rd year immature. You can tell by their coloring and how much white they have on them, it takes 4 years to reach their adult plumage. I wondered if they were siblings, I wonder if today’s adult is their parent…  They won’t breed until they are 4 or 5 years, so they probably are a family.

A few moments later, I looked up again and saw a Red-tailed Hawk circling over the lake. Then he came closer to the trees and I watched as he landed in a leafy squirrel’s nest. I kinda hoped that he actually had gotten the squirrel… I have no love for them since they seem to find ways into my attic! (Though after lots of money and various wildlife experts, I do believe the attic is now squirrel free, fingers crossed!) After a while the Hawk left, unfortunately with nothing in his talons. For all you squirrel lovers, I did see the squirrel jump out of the nest about 5 minutes after the Hawk left, he looked a bit shaken up, but alive nonetheless …

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So with the Red-tailed Hawk, I am now at 56 for the year…

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Let Us Not Forget The American Robin

Let Us Not Forget The American Robin

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American Robin

The Robin is a large bird, around 10 inches. They are very widespread, often found in gardens, parks, open areas as well as wooded areas. Breeds from Alaska east to Newfoundland, south to South Carolina, Texas and California. They winter from Canada down through Mexico.

You will often see them running around on lawns or parks, then they’ll stop and cock their heads to the side to search for food. Often seen stopped on a lawn pulling up a earthworm!

Their diet depends on the time of day, they tend to eat more earthworms in the morning. Later in the day they will eat more fruit. It is vulnerable to pesticide poisoning because it forages largely on lawns and parks that have been treated.

The photo above is of a Robin that I startled and it flew up into a tree, it was keeping an eye on me! The photo below is of two possibly immature Robins foraging along the grass in a park in California.

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You Have To Respect The HaWorking Turkey Vulture

You Have To Respect The HaWorking Turkey Vulture

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Turkey Vulture

Okay, so they’re not the prettiest birds on the planet, but they actually do a lot of good work! You can find them from Canada all the way down through South America.

Their diet consists almost exclusively on carrion (dead animals). They use their keen eye and great sense of smell to find the food. Flying low, they can detect the gasses produced by the process of decay in the dead animals. This is why they are so good to have around, I mean really, who wants to look at road kill. These birds will find it and clean it all up in no time!

They live in a variety of habitats such as, pastures, deserts, subtropical forests and shrub lands. You will usually see them flying high overhead with their wings in a slight V formation.

Because their bald red head resembled that of a male wild turkey they were given the name Turkey Vulture.

You Have To Appreciate The Intelligence Of The American Crow

You Have To Appreciate The Intelligence Of The American Crow

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American Crow

Found throughout most of the US and Canada, these large, all-black, intelligent birds are very common. You can usually hear their hoarse, cawing voices when you are out and about.

They can be found in various habitats ranging from the parks in the center of towns, fields, in treetops and to the open woods.

Their diet consists of, oh pretty much anything! They eat the usual, worms, insects, seeds, other small animals, but they’ll also eat carrion, fruit, garbage and chicks that they rob from other bird’s nests!

In winter they will congregate in large numbers to sleep in communal roosts. They can have a few hundred to 2 million crows in these roosts! Often they will roost in the same area for as many as 100 years. Let me know if you have one near you, I can imagine that between their cawing voices and the mess it must be like living next to a nightmare!

Crows are extremely smart, they actually can make and use tools. They can shape a piece of wood and then stick it into a hole in search of food. If you get a chance, watch the PBS special that they did on crows and you will be amazed at just what this intelligent bird can do!