Here are a few water birds that I’ve seen lately. I’m very lucky to live on a lake, so that I can see these birds!
This is the male Hooded Merganser. Mergansers are the only US ducks that specialize in eating fish. They forage by diving and swimming underwater. Fish is found by sight, their eyes are adapted for good underwater vision.
This Great Blue Heron is also looking for fish. They usually forage by standing still or walking slowly in the shallow water, when a fish swims near, they strike them with their bill. I’ve seen them eat some very big fish and it amazes me how they manage to swallow them without choking!
The Canada Goose can be found throughout all of the US and Canada. Years ago they used to migrate, but now many geese remain as permanent residents to their area.
Their diet consists almost entirely on plant material. They “honk” or talk to each other in their flocks. I usually hear them honking when they are about to fly off to another area, sometimes I hear them honking in the middle of the night (for no good reason at all except to wake me up)…
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???
Off to the Wildlife Refuge again, this time we decided to take a long walk instead of driving, stopping, birding, driving, stopping, birding…
While we were hiking the 2 mile loop around a large swamp I heard a flock of birds off in the wetlands across from the swamp.
At first I thought it was a flock of Red-winged Blackbirds, but after watching them for a while as they moved through the wet woods, I realized that there was no red on their wings…
I know it’s a tough photo, but that is a non breeding, adult male Rusty Blackbird. They breed throughout Canada up into Alaska.
They got their name for their fall coloring of rusty feathers and not from their calls which sound like a squeaky rusty gate…
The other bird I saw was a Northern Bobwhite. I had heard a rustling in the brush near me as I stood next to a cut down cornfield. I moved around trying to get a better look, only to sneak a peek or a female Bobwhite just before she flew off.
So now I am up to 102 species for the year and counting…
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.