Double-crested Cormorants are seabirds found along coastal and inland waterways all across North America, though in most parts of their range they are seasonal migrants. While seen in great numbers, they are still rebounding from a population crash in the mid-20th century due to pesticides. In New England they’re also called Crow-duck, Lawyer, Taunton Turkey, and most commonly, Shag. Adults are all black with turquoise eyes, having yellow-orange loral skin between bill and eye, and the same color gular skin at the base of the throat. Juveniles are much paler During the breeding season adults also sport nuptial crests like rogue eye-brows which can vary from all black to all white with mixes in between. Without waterproofing for their feathers they are obliged to spend considerable time drying their wings in the sun. Fetched at Batchelder’s Pond, Hampton, NH
Archive for June, 2011
A warbler of dense young coniferous forests, Magnolias breed in the Northeastern US and across southern Canada. They forage by gleaning insects from the foliage and rather than on the wing like some of the other wood warblers. Males are boldly patterned with a black mask, white eyebrow and yellow throat and a yellow belly streaked with black. Females are similarly marked but more drab with less contrasting colors. Song is a thin-whistled weta weta weta.
I found this Peregrine perched on the Hampton Beach water tower last week. While I was changing camera batteries, it dropped liked a stone, stooping for a hapless pigeon passing underneath, caught it in an explosion of feathers, then circled back up to his perch to pluck lunch where I finally got a few more pics. Peregrine means wandering, and these falcons are found everywhere around the globe except for the polar regions. They have made a terrific comeback from the brink of extinction due to pesticide use earlier in the 20th century, and have become well-adapted to urban and suburban environments.
One of the things I like best about Snowy Egrets is their frisky and prancing antics. Unlike the stately Great Bue, the shy Green, the elusive bitterns and most other members of the heron family, Snowies are much more active and expressive, having a tendency to run about the shallows for prey to strike at rather than depending entirely on strategies of stealth and ambush. In New England and across much of the northern US and southern Canada they are migrants while farther south they are year round residents. Snowy Egrets are the Western Hemisphere’s counterpart of the Little Egret, that’s found across much of Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia.
I can never get enough Indigo Bunting. These brilliant members of the sparrow family are more common than you’d think but prefer abandoned fields and brushy edges and are rarely seen in residential and urban habitats. Powerlines are a good place to look for them. Females are a drab brown. Indigos forage on the ground for seeds, and insects, and males are often seen singing their sweet finchy songs from treetops and powerlines.
The Empidonax flycatchers are one of the most challenging groups of birds in North America to identify. They are all pretty small, have olive-colored topsides, lighter below, eye-rings and wingbars. I had a few pics of this little guy to help me come to the conclusion it’s a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher and not a Least, Willow, Alder, or Acadian Flycatcher, any of which might be seen on the coniferous slopes of Highland Cape Breton. Mostly it’s the olivey, not whitish (though not very yellow) underside and the two-toned bill that’s pinkish below. Like all flycatchers, they catch insects on the wing, usually in short sallies from a perch like this one or occasionally hovering. Calls are also very helpful when determining Empidonax species, but this one was silent for the few moments I had it in my sights.
This pair of Ring-necked Ducks were 2 of 5 I found hanging out in the ponds surrounding Presqu’ile in Cape Breton Highlands National Park. In this pic you can see the chestnut collar around the drake’s black throat which gives them their name, but this field mark isn’t often seen and locals refer to them as Ringbills for the more conspicuous white band near the tip of the bills of either sex. They are fairly common diving ducks of woodland ponds and lakes, breeding across much of Canada and intruding into a few of the northern US states, and they overwinter in southern North America. In New England we mostly know them as migrants. They belong to the genus Aythya, which also includes the Scaups, Redheads, and Canvasbacks, all much sought after by duck hunters.