There are 10 Oriole species listed on the Audubon site as being possibly seen in the US. I have seen 6 of them.
Most of them have bold, beautiful colors making them some of the most brilliantly colored songbirds in the US.
This is the Bullock’s Oriole. They can be found from the center of the US west to the Pacific Coast. They will winter in the tropics.
Here is the Hooded Oriole. They can be found in the Southwest US states and winter in Mexico. Their diet includes insects, berries and nectar. Often visiting hummingbird feeders, sometimes if the feeders are kept out throughout the winter, the Hooded Oriole will not bother to migrate south.
This is the Orchard Oriole. Probably the least colorful of all the Orioles, it is chestnut and black. You can find this Oriole from the East Coast, west to central US. They will winter in the tropics.
Have you ever seen a White-tailed Kite, or any Kite species? The way that they hunt for food is just amazing to watch!
You will see them flying over open areas, then they’ll pause and hover (just like a toy kite), floating in the air, just searching the ground. Once they spot prey, they’ll dive down and catch it in their talons.
They prefer to eat small rodents that are out and about during the day, such as voles and house mice.
Here is an adult hovering over a low brushy area near the ocean.
Next is a photo of the bird after it caught a mouse.
Next are photos of a juvenile White-tailed Kite. Notice the adult is gray and white, where as the juvenile has brown on its chest and back.
See the color difference between the adult and the juvenile.
The young will be able to fly about 30 days after hatching. Parents may nest a second time and if they do, they often will drive the first batch of youngsters away from the nesting territory.
This may have been the case with this juvenile, there were 2 of them hunting together.
You can see the White-tailed Kite in California, Arizona and southern Texas.
In the birding world there are some birds that are so similar that unless you study the bird up close and personal, the only way to tell them apart is by their location.
You can see that in some of the Eastern birds vs. the Western birds. Like the Eastern and Western Meadowlarks, Eastern and Western Screech-Owl, Eastern and Western Bluebird and Eastern and Western Wood-Pewee, to name a few…
But this is not the case with the Eastern and Western Kingbirds. You certainly wouldn’t have any problem identifying these two birds from each other…
This is the Eastern Kingbird, a bold black and white bird with a wide white band on the tip of its tail. It can be found throughout most of the US except for the far western states.
They will winter in South America where they usually live in flocks eating berries in the tropical forests. The rest of the year you can see them foraging alone on a perch, flying out to catch an insect.
Here is the Western Kingbird, they are so different from the Eastern Kingbird, with their bright yellow belly and light gray chest and head.
They can be found from the west coast east to the Great Plains in the US. They winter in the tropics. They also forage by watching from a perch then flying out to get insects.
I’ve seen them going after crows that got too close to their nest, it didn’t seem to be afraid at all to take on the bigger bird!
So if you ever see either of these two birds, you should be able to easily tell them apart, but identifying the Western Kingbird vs the Cassin’s Kingbird or Couch’s Kingbird, well that’s a whole other story…
Lately life has been pretty much of the same thing… we keep going to the same birding locations, so I feel like I’m in a bit of a rut…
Fortunately it’s the springtime and with that we’ve have the bird migration. That has helped a lot! I’ve been able to spot a few different birds migrating through lately and many others have returned to my area from their winter homes.
Here are a few birds that I have spotted lately…
Eastern Kingbird. They will winter in South America, living in flocks and foraging for berries. In the spring and summer they will eat mostly insects.
Yellow-breasted Chat. Mostly they will spend the winter in the tropics. It’s the largest warbler we have in the US. They will forage in the dense low tangles, eating insects.
Eastern Wood-Pewee. They will winter in the tropics. They don’t arrive back in North America until May and will be gone again come October. Its diet consists almost entirely on insects, very seldom will they eat berries.
The other day while I was looking out back at my feeders, I saw a duck landing in the water nearby. It was only there for a couple of minutes before it got spooked by a couple of Double-crested Cormorants.
It was the Ring-necked Duck. I hadn’t seen one yet for the year. I took a couple of photos of it before it took off. (Luckily I had my camera nearby).
They breed up in Canada and will winter in Southern US and into Mexico. Their diet consists mostly of aquatic plants and insects.
Usually they will forage by diving around in the shallow water.
Though they are named the Ring-necked Duck, the ring on their neck is hardly ever visible.
A couple of days after I saw this one show up, a flock of about 50+ appeared and have been foraging in the shallow water across the lake every morning since.
The male Eastern Bluebird is really a beautiful bird… I’ve been seeing a few of them at my feeders this winter.
They don’t seem to eat any of the seeds, but they love the suet. During breeding season they can be seen throughout the east coast over to central US. In the winter they usually migrate to the southern states.
This year though my brother has seen them up in New England. Not sure if the Bluebird knows that maybe it is going to be a mild winter up north and that is why some of them didn’t migrate south???
At the State Park I saw a few birds and very few people. I kept my mask on, I’ve been staying away from people, stores, restaurants, etc…. since March and I’m not going to let my guard down and catch the virus now!!!
That being said, getting outside in nature and breathing the fresh air is something I need for my mental health, so I try to make safe birding a priority…
Here are a couple of birds that I saw…
This is the Tricolored Heron. You usually only see one foraging alone in coastal lagoons, but when they nest, they are often in very large colonies with various other herons and egrets.
Try to guess this next photo, which Plover do you think this one is?
It’s the Semipalmated Plover. Semipalmated means to have toes that are joined only part way down with a web.
In the photo above, I tried to show its foot, but it’s a bit muddy so it’s hard to see that it is partially webbed.
They breed mostly on gravel bars along rivers or ponds instead of the tundra habitat that most other shorebirds choose.
I managed to drive over to the ocean the other day… 🙂 It was a long ride, but well worth it!!!
There is a state park there that has ponds, swamps, marsh, forest and the ocean, to look for birds. There were a lot of birds that I hadn’t seen yet for the year, so I was really excited to go there and see all of the birds.
Last year for January I ended up seeing 167 species, well so far for this year I’ve only seen 98. Now last year I had been on both the East Coast and the West Coast in January, so there were a lot more species of birds to see. I have to say, with this virus around, I am 99.9% sure that I will not be going to the West Coast this month!
So, still trying to make the best of it, I ended up with 33 birds the day I got over to the ocean, so I was pretty happy…
Here are a couple of photos of some of the birds I saw…
This is the Saltmarsh Sparrow. They can only be found in the coastal marshes along the East Coast of the US. Only the male sings and instead of defending a nesting site, they just rove about looking for females…
This is the Horned Grebe. They breed in Canada and Alaska. In the winter they can be found along the East and West Coast of the US. They are also in Eurasia, where they are called the Slavonian Grebe.