They used to be very common throughout the eastern US, but unfortunately their population has been decreasing! Too much clearing of dead trees which they use as nest sites has been happening. Though some areas clear out the dead trees with controlled burns to keep forest fires under control, which is a good thing, so I’m not sure what can be done…
They live in the eastern US and Canada. Those Red-headed Woodpeckers that live in the northern areas will migrate in the winter. Traveling by day, they will only go a fairly short distance. Others not living in the north tend to be permanent residents in their areas.
One of only four North American Woodpeckers that are known to store their food. They are the only one that will actually cover their stored food with bark or wood. Their diet consists of insects, beech nuts and acorns. Unlike other woodpeckers, the Red-headed Woodpecker can catch insects in the air by swooping down on them. They will hide their seeds, nuts and insects in fenceposts, under roof shingles, in tree crevices and under bark.
Roughly the size of a crow, it is one of the biggest birds of the forest. They have a very load call that the song used as the “Woody Woodpecker” laugh.
The Pileated Woodpecker’s main diet is the carpenter ant. They will loudly whack at dead trees and fallen logs in search of their prey, leaving rectangular holes. The holes they leave behind offer shelter to many others species, such as owls, ducks, swifts and bats. Sometimes the holes are so broad and deep that they can cause small trees to break in half!
They live throughout Canada and the eastern US. They are permanent residents where they live, they do not migrate, but may occasionally wander outside of breeding area.
With the clearing of forest the Pileated Woodpecker population sharply declined in the 18th and 19th centuries, but since around 1900 their population has been increasing.
A small goose that looks like a miniature version of the Snow Goose. They have a rounded head with their eye centered on their face, they are white with black wingtips.
Found by explorers in 1770, but for some reason they were not described to science until 1861. In 1938 their Arctic nesting grounds were finally discovered.
The main population will migrate from the Northwest Territories to central California. A few have begun over the recent years to migrate down to New Mexico and east of the Rockies. They will migrate in flocks, often with other geese especially Snow Geese.
Their diet consists entirely on plant material. Mostly green grasses and sedges, but during the fall migration they will feed more on grains of wild grasses and seeds.
Originally they were thought to be very rare and possibly on the brink of extinction, but their population has increased substantially in recent decades.
Little Blue Heron (Adult)
The photo above is that of an adult Little Blue Heron. A small heron that breeds along the south coasts of the US, through Central America and the Caribbean and south to Uruguay and Peru.
Their diet consists of small fish and amphibians. They will stalk their prey in shallow waters, such as marshes and estuaries.
Luckily for the Little Blue Heron their lack of pretty plumes saved them from being hunted for feathers for hats during the early twentieth century, so their population didn’t plummet like other herons and egrets.
Below is a photo of a juvenile Little Blue Heron. This one was in my back yard! I had to take a real close look to make sure it wasn’t a Great Egret, but it doesn’t have a yellow bill and black legs and is rather small. I had to make sure it wasn’t a Snowy Egret, and it definitely doesn’t have big yellow feet. So it is the juvenile Little Blue Heron!
During the first year the juvenile Little Blue Heron will be all white. In the second year they may be patchy blue and white or the calico phase.
Little Blue Heron (Juvenile)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A very large, tall bird (when they’re not kneeling down), with long legs, neck and very broad wings. Their name comes from the habitat at the Platte River, on the edge of the Nebraska’s Sandhills in central US. This area is an extremely important stopover location for over 450,000 migrating Cranes.
When they migrate they often fly very high in the sky. At their stopover locations they form large flocks, in the tens of thousands and forage for food.
There are 3 subpopulations of the Sandhill Crane that are migratory, the lesser, greater, and Canadian. They all spend the summers in their breeding grounds and will winter in the south. They spend the winter in California, New Mexico, Arizona, Texas and Mexico. Come spring they begin their migration, the largest congregation occurs along the Platte River in Nebraska.
There are 3 subpopulations of the Sandhills Crane that are non-migratory. Florida, where they can be found in the inland wetlands. Mississippi, where they will be found in the southeastern coast, these are critically endangered. Cuba, where they live exclusively in they wetlands, savannas and grasslands, these are also critically endangered!
Their diet consists of mostly seeds and cultivated grains, but they sometimes will eat small vertebrates and berries. Know to be opportunistic feeders, they will eat whatever food is available to them. They feed on land or in shallow marshes.
I find that these Geese have become a bit of a problem… they just seem to be everywhere! Many lakes that I have visited have a problem with them or should I say their poop. I will often see them on the golf courses around me too. They like to live in many different areas, near water, grain fields and grassy fields. They do enjoy expansive mowed lawns because they can digest the grass and they can keep an eye on their young, its easy to seee if danger is around with unobstructed views.
The Canada Goose will mate for life and the couple will stay together all year long. Most of the year they will stay in large flocks, with many of the birds being related to one another. They will graze on grass, eat grain from fields and forage in shallow water by upending and finding food under the water with their long necks.
In 2015 the North American population of the Canada Goose was between 4.2 million to over 5.6! They are very common and their numbers are increasing. In some areas, they do not migrate, rather they will stay all year enjoying such reliable habitats as golf courses, lawns and parks. Some communities consider these Geese a nuisance, especially the airports. In North America around 2.6 million Canada Geese are hunted each year but that hasn’t slowed their population down any.
The Great Egret
This Egret stays close to its youngsters, while keeping a watch out for any predators that might be around (there were alligators in these ponds!)
A very large heron with a wingspan of up to 67 inches! Males and females are identical in appearance. Widely distributed, this egret has four subspecies that can be found in the Americas, Africa, Asia and Southern Europe.
Their diet consists of mostly fish, small mammals and frogs. They feed mainly in shallow water, spearing their prey with their long, sharp bill. The Egret will wait motionless for their prey, waiting for it to come within striking distance.
They will build their nests in trees close to water, with other Great Egret nests around forming a colony.
In May of 2012, the first pair to nest in the UK were found at the Shapwick heath Nature Reserve in Somerset. Seven nests were found in 2017, resulting in 17 feledlings!
Around the end of the 19th century in North America there were many Great Egrets killed for their plumes, these were used to decorate hats! Luckily due to conservation measures the Egrets have made a comeback!