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.
I decided to put up my bird feeder a bit early this year, since I can’t do as much birding as I would normally be doing, I thought that I’d see if the birds would start to come back if I offered them some food…
Well I guess “if you build it they will come“ is happening…
I’ve started seeing a few more birds than I had been seeing this past summer. Like the Tufted Titmouse, Carolina Chickadee, Northern Cardinal, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Carolina Wren and Eastern Bluebird. Some are just more of the same, probably the adults with their 1st years that they are still teaching.
I have also seen a few birds that weren’t in my yard at all this summer. Like the American Goldfinch, Summer Tanager, House Finch and Chipping Sparrow.
I am keeping my eye out for migrating birds. Most of the Warblers should be passing through soon and I would really like to see some of them.
Here are some photos of the birds that I have been seeing. Try to guess what they are…
This is the Tufted Titmouse. See how it has a sunflower seed, those are their favorites. They will take one seed at a time and go off and break it open with their bill, then come back for another.
Here is a House Finch. A couple of weeks ago I saw one with a growth on its bill, but this one looked okay. I haven’t seen any in my yard for a few months, but now they’ve shown up again.
The Carolina Chickadee has been around this summer, but now they are more visible since I’ve put the feeder out.