Dunlin 5/22/18

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Purple Martin male 5/21/18

Largest of the North American swallows, Purple Martins are still reeling from population declines due to the introduction of invasive species like European Starlings and House Sparrows who outcompete them for cavity nest sites. In the east they are mostly colonial and depend entirely on nest boxes and gourds put out by people, while in the west and southeast they still nest singly in natural cavities. Like other swallows their habitat is open country near water where they forage for larger insect prey like dragonflies at higher altitudes than other swallows. Adult males are dark blue and iridescent, while females and immature are browner-backed and lighter breasted, with patchier bits of less glossy blue.

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Orchard Oriole immature male 5/18/18

I don’t often run across Orchard Orioles but when I do it’s this time of year and usually, but not always, near fresh water—like the woody edges of a river, pond, marsh or swamp. Most songbirds mature after just 1 year, but Orioles take 2. This one’s an immature male, brighter and yellower than adult males who are black above and a rusty orange below and who are more often mistaken for a Robin than recognized as a different oriole. The immature male has an indistinct black bib below the bill that can vary individually, but helps tell this bird apart from a female Baltimore Oriole who is similarly yellow green above and yellow orange below.

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Osprey pair 5/17/18

I found this pair of Osprey checking out the platform along the marsh channel at York Harbor, they sat together for quite some time but they only seemed to have eyes for the nest platform as if they’d already decided to build. What a treat, the Bald Eagle nest is only a few hundred yards away. I can’t ever remember a ti me I could drive just a few miles for an Osprey or Bald Eagle nest, let alone both!

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Indigo Bunting male 5/16/18

A sparrow-sized member of the Cardinal family, Indigo Buntings have a cerulean blue body while only the head is a true indigo. They like old fields, woody edges, farmland and open woodland where the male sings his fairly complex song from a high perch, usually a treetop, but sometimes a wire. Winter males are brown with speckled patchy bits of blue, while females and immatures are brown all over with highlights of blue in the wings and tail. In summer they mostly forage for insects, and raise their young on protein, becoming seedeaters in winter.

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Black-throated Green Warbler male 5/15/18

This little guy will sing “zhoo-zhee, zhoo-zhoo-zhee” several hundred times in just an hour. It’s not the first warbler song I learned but one of the first 5 that stuck, just because it’s easy to remember. You hear them sing more than see them, they’re often high up in the woodland canopy and once leaf out is past, they’re near impossible to spot.

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Yellow Warbler male 5/12/18

“Ching ching ching a-ling a-ling” is how I paraphrase this bright little creature’s song, though often it’s given as “Sweet sweet sweet I’m so sweet,” speeding up and rising in pitch near the end. You’ll often see and hear them in the shrubbery just along the shore, though they are found along streams, roadsides, and wet woody willow thickets all across Canada and the northern US. They are often brood-parasitized by Brown-headed Cowbirds and get tricked into raising a giant chick of another species.

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