Archive for Nests

Tree Swallow 6/11/18

Tree Swallows, sometimes called White-bellied Swallows, arrive in April from southernmost parts of North America, the Caribbean, and northern Central America while other North American Swallows winter farther south. Males are an iridescent blue-green on their uppersides and white below, while females are browner above with just hints of blue-green iridescence. As females age they become more colorful and iridescent like the males. They’re found near open fields and wetlands and nest in tree cavities but take readily take to nest boxes like this one.  They raise their young on insects caught on the wing, but if caught by a cold snap early in the season, they can supplement their diet with berries.

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Great Blue Heron nest 7/20/15

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Purple Martin female 7/14/14

purplemartin

Purple Martins are the biggest of the North American swallows and during the breeding season come in 4 different plumages. Adult males are dark all over with a glossy blue sheen both above and below, while subadult males have lighter chests and bellies with random dark blotches. Adult females like the one above are blue black above with some browner areas with a duller sometimes streaked breast and belly, while sub-adult females are even lighter bellied and mostly brownish with little or no blue sheen on their topsides. Adult plumage develops in two year-old martins. However subadults commonly breed after their first year.

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Common Tern 6/19/14

commontern

Occasionally you’ll see Common Terns by themselves, but more often they forage in a flock and breed in a colony. There are populations that breed on the beaches of both coasts, but they also breed in prairie wetland habitats deep in the continent’s interior. Sexes are alike, but juveniles and subadults will have white foreheads. Told from slimmer Arctic Terns by their heavier bodies and larger bills, told from Forster’s Terns by grayer bellies and red rather than orange bills and feet. Told from Roseate Terns by pale gray, rather than faint pink bellies, and mostly red, rather than mostly black bills.

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Cliff Swallows 6/17/14

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Cliff Swallows are more widespread than you’d think, found all over North America, they just aren’t very common in numbers, though populations are expanding here in the east. They build their nests of mud pellets under eaves and bridges and on cliffs adjoining open country, but aren’t the swallow that burrows into sandy cliffs (that’s the Bank Swallow). In the West Cliff Swallows are often found in huge colonies, but under these East Margaree eaves is a colony of just two nests. The adult bird on the left appears to have some white in its throat right under the bill which I’ve never seen before, more typically the throat is all chestnut like the adult on the right. Juveniles are much darker, and lack the whitish forehead that distinguishes this species.

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Great Black-backed Gull and chicks 6/13/14

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These little chicks aren’t more than a few days old judging by their size and the fact that few of the other nests in this colony of Great Black-backed Gulls seem only to have eggs. The chicks will stay around the colony for the next 7 to ten weeks until they fledge and even after their parents will keep feeding them for another few weeks.

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Purple Martin male 8/15/13

purplemartin

Purple Martins are the largest of the North American swallows. In the east they are mostly colonial and dependent on nest boxes and gourds, while in the west they will nest singly in natural cavities. Like other swallows their habitat is open country near water and they forage for larger prey like dragonflies at higher altitudes than other swallows.  Adult males are quite dark with a bluish iridescence, while females and immature are browner-backed, and lighter breasted with less gloss. Fetched at Plum Island.

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