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.
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.
This is a Hermit Thrush. They can be seen throughout the entire US, breeding up in the Northeast and Midwest continuing up into Canada, then migrating through central US and then wintering in the southern states into Mexico.
They are similar to other brown thrushes, but with its rusty colored tail you can easily identify it. Often seen foraging on the ground looking for insects.
I have startled many of these birds over the years and they always make me laugh. They were foraging on the ground and then they’ll fly up to a low branch when they hear me and just stay there and stare me down! Too funny!!!
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.
This is one bird that I don’t see very often. They have a quiet call and are often foraging for insects on the trunks and branches in dense coniferous forests.
They breed mostly up in Canada and will winter in the US.
I found this one in some long-leaf pines at a wildlife refuge. It is only around 4 1/2” small… I was very happy to have found it, otherwise I would be trying to find this species every time I go birding this year! I’ve probably only seen one 3 out of the past 9 years that I have been counting.
In the photo above, this Red-breasted Nuthatch is eating a ladybug!
The Northern Cardinal is the only red bird with a crest in North America. The female is a lot duller almost tan compared to the male. They don’t migrate, so if you see them in the spring they should be around your area in the winter too.
The Carolina Chickadee is also a permanent resident and will not migrate. They look almost identical to the Black-capped Chickadee and the only true way to properly identify them is by the location of where you see them.
Their range goes up to central New Jersey across the US to Texas and south through the southeast states.
The Black-capped Chickadee’s range is from northern New Jersey across the US to Oregon and north up into most of Canada.
Here are a few more birds that I’ve seen at my feeders in my backyard.
Try to guess what species these birds are… let me know how you did.
Here’s the American Goldfinch. This is the male, they have very bright bold colors. In the winter their colors will vary from a yellowish brown to a gray. I’ve seen some that look greenish, the first time I saw that I thought I found a new bird species!
The Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are still around. I’ve had a couple of females all summer long, then a couple of weeks ago I saw a male, but I haven’t seen him in a while.