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!

Eastern Bluebirds

Eastern Bluebirds

I have been seeing a few more Eastern Bluebirds lately than I normally do, so I decided to sit outside on my back deck and wait to see just what was going on…

At first I saw a couple of juveniles fluttering around from branch to fence and back, waiting for someone to feed them.

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In the past the Eastern Bluebird population had been declining due to loss of nesting sites and habitats. Over the past few decades their population is increasing with the help of people adding birdhouses just for the Bluebirds to nest in.

While I was sitting outside looking around, I then saw a female Eastern Bluebird fly by me over to the Purple Martin house that was left in my yard from the previous owners. 

They can have 2 or 3 broods a year, this is at least their 2nd, but possibly their 3rd. Both parents feed the young and sometimes juveniles from a previous brood will help too. (Though I didn’t see these juveniles helping at all)…

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I’m not sure if she is building a nest or feeding nestlings, I’ll have to keep watching .

Here is a male I spotted while birding in the refuge today. See how much brighter his colors are compared to the female…

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Remember to stay healthy and stay safe!

Nice to Get Outside!

Nice to Get Outside!

Finally, today was a nice sunny day. No rain!!! And it wasn’t even that hot, so today was a great day to go birding…

We headed out early in the morning to the wildlife refuge. Of course, we were prepared to social distance, with our masks and gloves in the car. We only saw a couple of other cars and no one was anywhere near us…

I did manage to get 2 more bird species to add to my list for the year. 🙂

I didn’t get any photos of them, but I did manage to find a few other birds around.

Here is one that I found in the swamp. If you want to try to guess what it is, they are found from central US east to the coast and also along the west coast of the US, then south into Mexico and Central America. Have fun guessing…

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It’s the Green Heron. In the winter these birds can migrate as far south as South America. This bird forages along the water’s edge by standing very still looking for fish. They have been known to sometimes drop feathers or small twigs as “bait” into the water to attract fish.

This next one is a photo of one of my favorite birds. I love their song! They breed in eastern Canada south to northern Florida. Guess what it is…

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It’s the Wood Thrush! They will winter in the tropics. Unfortunately, their population has been declining due to the forests getting smaller and more easily penetrated by the cowbirds. They find the Wood Thrush nests and lay eggs in them. The Wood Thrush end up raising more cowbirds than their own young!

I hope that you are able to get out safely and enjoy the outdoors. Remember to stay healthy and stay safe!

The Juvenile White Ibis is Not as “Bright” as The Adult

The Juvenile White Ibis is Not as “Bright” as The Adult

I hadn’t seen a White Ibis this year until yesterday and I was very happy to come across a juvenile and an adult.

The White Ibis live along the East Coast of the US from North Carolina down into Mexico.

Notice the juvenile is mostly brown, with a white belly. As he matures the white will become more patchy…

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Here is an Adult White Ibis. They are a very bright white. 

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Eats mostly crabs and crawfish, but will also eat snakes, insects, frogs and small fish.

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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The Red-cockaded Woodpecker Is Still Endangered!

The Red-cockaded Woodpecker Is Still Endangered!

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Red-cockaded Woodpecker

They’re only about the size of a cardinal, but they play a huge role in the intricate web of life of the southern pine forests.

Making their home in mature pine forests, preferably Longleaf pines, these birds excavate in living mature pine trees, usually around 80 years old, unlike other woodpeckers which bore out cavities in dead rotten and soft trees. The Red-cockaded  may take from 1 to 6 years to bore out a suitable cavity in these trees. 

Due to the widespread commercial timber harvesting, the European settlements and naval store/turpentine industry from the 1700s on through the mid 1900s, the longleaf pine ecosystem initially disappeared. Today many of the southern pine forests are young, which has made it difficult for the Red-cockaded to survive. 

I have seen in a few areas of North Carolina where many different measures are being put in place to protect these birds. Controlled burns are done to help thin out the forest making it healthier for the remaining trees to thrive. Keeping many Longleaf pine forests protected from harvesting so that these birds can continue to have a home.

These birds are rarely visible, you will typically hear them first. I will go birding in the Longleaf pine forests and I stop to listen ever so often, when I hear sounds of what some say is a squeaky toy, then I know that the Red-cockaded is around. Though be careful, the small Brown-headed Nuthatch has a similar squeaky toy sound, though a bit higher pitched.

These woodpeckers were once considered common throughout the longleaf pine ecosystem, with an estimated population of 1.5 million “groups” or family units. Currently there is estimated to be only 14,068 birds left in 11 states!!!

They will make several cavities in a cluster which may include 1 to 20 trees in a 3 to 60 acre area. They ones that they actively use will have small resin wells which exude sap. These smart Woodpeckers will keep the sap flowing as a defense mechanism against rat snakes and possibly other predators.

The Red-cockaded Woodpecker play a vital role in the intricate web of life by building their nest cavities. At least 27 species of vertebrates have been document as using their cavities either for roosting or nesting. Such species include birds, snakes, squirrels, insects, frogs and lizards! Some species, like the wood ducks will only use the cavities that have been abandoned by the Red-cockaded Woodpeckers, and have had the entrance enlarged by the Pileated Woodpeckers. However many other species can use the cavities without any alterations, such as the Brown-headed Nuthatches, Tufted Titmice, Redbellied Woodpeckers, Redheaded Woodpeckers, Eastern Bluebirds, Great Crested Flycatchers and Flying Squirrels. 

The Red-cockaded Woodpecker is a valuable asset to our planet and should not be lost!

 

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I Found This Snowy Owl In Salisbury, Massachusetts

I Found This Snowy Owl In Salisbury, Massachusetts

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Snowy Owl

Kind of looks like a giant cotton ball, all fluffy and soft! I found this one in the wintertime at Salisbury Beach State Reservation in Salisbury, Massachusetts. Most years you will be able to see one there or at the neighboring Parker River National Wildlife Refuge.

A large and powerful owl. They nest in the Arctic and may breed during the years that lemmings are abundant and not at all when they are scarce.

Their diet consists mostly of lemmings, other mammals and birds. In the Arctic they do prefer the lemmings, but will eat voles, rabbits and squirrels if they have to. For those Owls living in coastal areas, they may fed on ducks, grebes, geese and even songbirds!

Unlike most Owls the Snowy hunts during the day, especially during dawn and dusk. They cruise low to the ground and once they spot their prey, they will snatch it up with their talons. In the winterr the Owl may not see their prey under the snow, but they have a great hearing and can find food just by listening!

Snowy owls have excellent eyesight, but they obviously can’t see their prey when it’s underneath snow or a thick layer of plants. To capture those meals, the owl relies on its other keen sense: hearing.

In flight, snowy owls generally cruise low to the ground. Once they spot their prey, they approach it from the air, and snatch it up using the large, sharp talons, or claws, on their feet.

 

 

5 Birds I Saw At Parker River Wildlife Refuge, Newbury, Massachusetts

5 Birds I Saw At Parker River Wildlife Refuge, Newbury, Massachusetts

The Parker River National Wildlife Refuge is located along the northeast coast of Massachusetts. I was established in 1941 to provide feeding, resting and nesting habitat for migratory birds.

It is a wonderful place to go, with trails and boardwalks. There are many different habitats to attract a variety of birds. Unfortunately most of these photos were taken on a cold and cloudy day in the winter.

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Red-throated Loon

The smallest of the Loons, they breed in high latitudes in Eurasia and North America. The Red-throated Loon differs from other Loons, by not needing to patter on the water’s surface to takeoff, they can actually start flying right from the ground and unlike other loons, they do not carry their young on their backs.

 

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Snow Goose

In the winter they can be found in areas on both the East and West coasts of the US. Occasionally you may find them in some inland areas. These Geese will breed in colonies on the tundras of Northern Alaska and Canada near the coast. They forage in open habitats such as freshwater ponds, fields, grasslands and marshes. I found these Geese with a flock of Canada Geese at the coastal marsh.

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Razorbill

In 2009 one Razorbill was located breeding on Bradley Island in the United Kingdom, it had been originally banded as a nestling in 1968, making it 41 years old! I found these two just swimming around in the cold water.


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Common Eider

You can often see these big, heavy-bodied ducks floating offshore in large flocks that can have up to several thousand ducks. The largest duck in the Northern Hemisphere can be found along the seacoasts. The males are black and white, while the females are a dull striped brown.

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White-winged Scoter

During migration you might find these large black ducks inland on lakes and rivers. It is the largest of the three North American scoter species. The males are black while the females are a dark brownish-black.