This Is The First Time I Saw A Red-necked Phalarope Up Close!

This Is The First Time I Saw A Red-necked Phalarope Up Close!

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Red-necked Phalarope

This tiny shorebird is at home along the shore as well as out in the open ocean. The females are brighter than males (it’s about time!)

The breeding birds are blue-gray with reddish wash on the neck. The females get into crazy fights over the males that they want to mate with, then they do absolutely nothing when it comes to raising the you. Often they will fight over another male and lay more eggs, then leave again!

The Phalarope forage mostly while swimming. They will often spin in circles in the shallow water stirring things up, helping to bring food closer to the surface. Then they will pick their prey from the water’s surface or just below it.

Their diet consists mostly of insects, mollusks and crusteaceans. During migration when they stop at lakes they may eat brine shrimp.

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This Darling Starling Was Watching The Waves At The Beach In California

This Darling Starling Was Watching The Waves At The Beach In California

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Starling

The Starling was brought to North America in 1890 and it spread out to occupy most of continent. In the fall and winter they gaterher in huge flocks. I’ve seen flocks of hundreds of Starlings in my lawn, foraging aroun on almost every inch so that I couldn’t see any grass!

Their diet consists mostly of insects, seeds and berries. They especially enjoy grasshoppers, beetles, flies and caterpillars. In the fall and winter they will switch over to eating seeds, fruits and berries because they are more widely available.

They will usually forage on the ground in wide open areas. Often they will probe the soil with their bill to find insects. You will usually find them foraging in flocks.

This one was originally foraging around in a small park on the side of the ocean, but I got a bit too close and scared him up into the tree, ooops! I do love the spots on them, gives them a bit more character…

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You Have To Respect The Hard Working Turkey Vulture

You Have To Respect The Hard Working 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.

Bath Time For The Elegant Terns And 1 Whimbrel

Bath Time For The Elegant Terns And 1 Whimbrel

Walking along the beach in California, I came across these Elegant Terns taking a bath! They were fun to watch as they dipped down, got water on themselves, shaking it off and then fluffing themselves out…

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Elegant Terns taking a bath.

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Elegant turns and a Whimbrel taking a bath. Look closely and you can see the immature Elegant Tern with the yellow bill. The Whimbrel in the background just seems to be watching them kinda like he’s too good to be part of their group!

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I really did enjoy watching these birds taking their bath. It is the little things in life that can make it a good day, so make sure to always take the time to enjoy the little things!

8 Birds I Found While Birding At Ventura Settling Ponds In Ventura, California

8 Birds I Found While Birding At Ventura Settling Ponds In Ventura, California

Another great place to go if you are ever in Southern California would be the Ventura Settling Ponds, in Ventura. They are actually the water treatment plant wildlife ponds and birders are welcome! With varied habitats such as, ponds, coastal dunes, willows and reeds, there are always plenty of birds to see!

 

 

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Allen’s Hummingbird

I saw this Hummingbird buzzing around my head as I walked along the dirt pathway. She then stopped to take a rest and that is when I was able to get a good look at her.

 

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Pied-billed Grebe

I spotted several Pied-billed Grebes foraging in the ponds, I even saw a young one diving in the water. After walking along the path, I came to the last pond and found this one sitting on its nest, unfortunately it was so grown up along the ponds edge that I couldn’t get the best photo.

 

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Pacific-slope Flycatcher

I saw this cutie flying around the reeds and grasses on the edge of the ponds. This flycatcher eats mostly insects and will catch them by watching from a perch then flying out and catching its prey in midair. These birds can be found along the Pacific coasts from Canada down through Mexico.

 

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Cliff Swallow

OMG! So as I was walking along the path around the first pond, all of the sudden these birds were darting around me! Flying high, low, weaving around my head and the trees and bushes nearby. I don’t know if it was a nesting area, it probably was, but they definitely were extremely active! They will constantly be vocal with their squeaky twittering and chattering…

 

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American White Pelican

This bird was floating all alone in one of the ponds. They are one of the largest birds in North America, their wingspan can be up to 9 feet across! Unlike the similar Brown Pelican, the American White Pelican does not dive from the air for fish. It will forage in shallow lakes for mostly fish.

 

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Black-crowned Night Heron

There is one pond off to the side, kinda away from the other ponds, that is where I found this Heron. These birds spend most of the day hunched on branches at the water’s edge, just like this one. In the evening and at dusk they will do most of their feeding. I didn’t stay watching this one too long, since it was close to the path and I didn’t want to disturb it.

 

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Great Blue Heron

This one was on the side of the pond preening itself. There actually was several Great Blue Herons scattered around in one big tree on an island in the middle of one of the ponds. They were fun to watch and far enough away that they were not disturbed by my presence.

 

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American Coot

I found several  of these birds swimming around the ponds. The American Coot does not have webbed feet, they resemble a chicken more than a duck. It was estimated that in Back Bay, Virginia, USA, the local coot population ate 216 tons of vegetation per winter! That’s a lot of food!!!

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!

Can You Tell The Difference Between The Clapper Rail and The Ridgway’s Rail?

Can You Tell The Difference Between The Clapper Rail and The Ridgway’s Rail?

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Clapper Rail

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. They live in saltwater marshes and mangrove swamps from the US East Coast down to Central America and the Caribbean.

The Ridgway’s Rail can be found in Arizona, Nevada and California. 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…

The photo of the Ridway’s Rail below looks different than the photo of the Clapper Rail above, the rail above looks like it was rolling around in the mud, while the other is clean and dry. The Clapper Rail above was actually running around the mud with its young, trying to keep an eye on it while also looking for food to keep it fed, so no wonder it looks a bit ragged!

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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Ridgway’s Rail

The Double-crested Cormorant Can Be Found Throughout The USA

The Double-crested Cormorant Can Be Found Throughout The USA

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Double-crested Cormorant 

These birds can be found along the coasts of Canada and Mexico and throughout all of the USA. In flight the Double-crested Cormorant seems to have a crook in their neck, their belly hangs low and they have very slow and labored wing beats.

Their diet consists mostly small fish. They forage by diving down from the surface of the water down under the water, using mostly their feet, but occasionally their wings. Finding most of their food down close to the bottom, they can dive down as far as 120 feet!

Below is a picture of how these birds got their name. During breeding season will be the only time that you can see the double-crest of the Double-crested Cormorant.

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Double-crested Cormorant in breeding plumage.