The migration is happening… so off I go to the Wildlife Refuge near me…
Well, unfortunately I didn’t see any new birds, but it was a nice day to get out and take a walk.
I am really looking for a few Warblers that I haven’t seen yet this year, but there’s still time, so maybe I’ll find a few before the migration is over.
Here is the only photo I took…
It’s the Great Egret. This is a very large bird, around 35 to 41 inches. They were nearly wiped out in the US back in the 1800s, the feathers were used in fashion. Now they are protected and have made a great comeback.
The Great Egret is the symbol of the National Audubon Society. They can be found in lakes, marshes, ponds and mud flats.
They mostly eat fish, but will also eat frogs, snakes and grasshoppers. When foraging they will walk or stand in the shallow water, thrusting their bill to catch a fish when it comes near.
I often see them in the lake that I live on. They spend a lot of their time flying away from the Great Blue Herons, they chase them all the time and seem very territorial when it comes to foraging for fish!
Every time I hear the loud call of the Pileated Woodpecker as it flies through the woods, I stop and listen. Being the largest Woodpecker in North America has earned some respect (17 inches)!
It has also earned a ton of respect by making a good comeback throughout the 1900s, after its species had become rare in the North East due to all of the clearing of the forests that was done.
These birds live throughout most of Canada and from Central US to the East. They are mostly permanent residents, but will wander around a bit…
More than half of their diet consists of carpenter ants, they forage by prying and excavating dead wood looking for them. They are known for leaving big rectangular holes in dead trees. You can often see them breaking off big pieces of dead bark from stumps or fallen logs.
Fruits, berries and nuts make up about 1/4 of their diet.
This one is a male, you can tell because the forehead and mustache are red on the male and black on the female.
So in my previous post I was going to write about the Waterthrush that I saw. I had downloaded the image into the post and I was looking at it as I wrote a bit about the bird.
I was writing how I hardly ever see the Louisiana Waterthrush, most years I don’t see it at all. This one was just walking along the edge of the stream foraging for insects.
But as I continued to look at the photo, I thought the bird looked a bit different than the Louisiana Waterthrush that I had seen earlier in the year.
Here is the photo of the Waterthrush that I saw last week…
Now here is a photo of the Louisiana Waterthrush that I saw in May…
Can you see the differences? It took me a bit of looking at it, then I stopped writing the post, searched through my photos until I found this one of the Louisiana Waterthrush and realized that the bird that I actually saw last week was the Northern Waterthrush!
The Louisiana Waterthrush has a brighter eyebrow, longer bill, pinkish buff tinge on flanks and the throat is usually plain.
I didn’t notice the size difference in the bills, but I did notice that in the 1st photo (the Northern Waterthrush), the bird has a yellow tinge underneath and its throat is heavily streaked.
This gives me 1 more new bird for the year and my only new bird for the month of August, got to love birding in the summer…
I went back to my usual birding wildlife refuge the other day. It was hot again, nothing new… There were a few birds around, no new lifers or new birds for me for the year, but more birds than I’ve been seeing recently.
Here is one of the birds I saw.
I saw this juvenile Green Heron in a swampy area of a small pond. It had just caught a snack… they mostly eat fish, but this one caught a tadpole.
Found a new park yesterday. It has a 2.5 mile walking trail through the woods. Luckily there weren’t many bugs, but it was a bit hot…
I heard a few birds, but never really got a good look at any since the woods were pretty thick.
Before getting on the trail we walked through a few fields and I now know where to look for Killdeers if I need them… there must have been at least 30 of them running around the fields.
They are often found at the water’s edge, but they will also live in fields and pastures no where near the water. I had a friend once who had a pair nesting in her front yard, she had to mow around the nest!
The Killdeer will pretend to have a broken wing and flop around the ground moving away from their nest when intruders are around.
They eat mostly insects, usually running a few steps, pausing, then running again, picking up insects along the way. Sometimes they will even follow a farmer plowing their fields, so to get any insects that get turned up by the plow. Pretty smart!
The wildlife refuge that we go to has several fields. Each year they will plant crops in the fields, last year there was a lot of corn. They waited to harvest the corn until it was past ripe and dried up, so we assume it was going to be used for animal feed.
This year they rotated to mostly soy plants, not sure when they will harvest that…
But there are a couple of fields that might be just for the birds…
I hope to be there when the sunflower seeds are ready! I want to see the birds having one big party!!!
Went to the wildlife refuge again yesterday… I have the summertime blues when it comes to looking for birds!
The birds aren’t singing, there are so many leaves and it’s hot!!!
I went with very low expectations, I really didn’t think that I would see any new birds for the year, but we were looking for something to do (still haven’t been going inside stores…)
So packed a lunch and off we went…
At the first stop, I heard a Kentucky Warbler, so that was good. I hadn’t gotten one yet this year. We drove a bit further and found a few other birders.
They were all looking up in the sky in the same direction. It’s always good to quickly look in the direction that everyone else is, just in case there is something great that you just have to see!
Ended up they were looking at a Mississippi Kite. Great! I hadn’t seen one of those yet either!
I talked to the group and found out that there really wasn’t much else there to see, but I did find out where there was a Barn Owl nest box that had been used. We found the box and even though the Owls are all gone, it’s a good place to check out next spring to see if they use it again.
Here are photos of the one bird that I saw 3 of in various locations along a stream. The Barred Owl. they must have all fledged the nest, so there seem to be more of them flying around…
Years ago, when I was walking along a sidewalk in Southern California, I spotted a bird feeder in the side yard of someone’s apartment. There were a few birds at the feeder, so I stopped to take a quick look.
I saw a bird that had orange on its head and chest. I had never seen this bird before (or so I thought)! Did I find a new species to add to my life list? I was very excited… I took a quick photo or two and went on my way.
Later that night, I decided to look at my photos and do some “homework.” I would try to figure out just what bird I had seen at the feeder.
Well needless to say… I should have done “homework” on birds in California before I went out there for my trip. It might have saved me the embarrassment of realizing that I had in fact seen the common House Finch!
This is a House Finch that I found in California. They are common all over the US. They are native to the Southwest, but in the 1940s pet store owners who had been illegally selling these birds in New York, set them free so they wouldn’t get in trouble. Since then, these birds have colonized and spread all the way over to the central part of the country, meeting up with their native western kin.
Note the very orange coloring this bird has. I find that most of the House Finches I see in California seem to be mostly orange.
Now here is a House Finch from the East Coast.
Do you see the red? That is why I thought I had a different bird… though when you really look at the birds, they look identical in every other feature! So, maybe I was just very new to birding… now I can hear them singing and know just who I’m listening to.
Have you ever been confused about what bird you are looking at? I still have trouble with Sandpipers, Hawks and Sparrows!!!