Archive for September, 2012

Red-tailed Hawk, male, 9/28/12

This is one of the smaller Red-tailed Hawks I’ve come across lately, and being an adult bird  I’m fairly confident calling this one male (females being up to 25% larger). Red-tails come in 14 different subspecies across North and Central America with considerable variety in their plumage, but the characteristic bulky shape, large size, pale underside with a streaked belly-band, and brick-red tail of the adults (when seen from the top) is common to all but the darkest variations. This is the borealis subspecies of northeastern North America—lighter than some of the morphs more commonly seen in the west.

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9/27/12, eclipse plumage Wood Ducks

After the breeding season Wood Ducks begin molting their flight feathers, and during this vulnerable period, they take on a drab appearance for better camouflage. It’s especially pronounced in the drakes who lose their brilliant iridescent colors to look much like females and juveniles. Even so you can still tell the sexes apart—the bird on the right in this shot still retains some of the white facial markings and red eye of a drake, while the female on the left is more plainfaced and dark eyed.  Fetched at Legion Pond in Kittery Maine.


Semipalmated Plover 9/26/12

During the fall migration Semipalmated Plovers are one of the most numerous shorebirds you’ll find on the beach. Plovers are short-billed and relatively stocky shorebirds compared to the sandpipers, and it can be a little confusing as there’s a Semipalmated Sandpiper as well as a Semipalmated Plover, both of which have a little webbing between their toes. All plovers have a run and pause way of noodling around while foraging. The one above is a juvenile from an Arctic summer brood, note the lacy edging to its darker feathers, and that the markings aren’t nearly as distinct, and the bill only shows a hint of orange. Here’s a pic showing both an adult and juve. Fetched at Seapoint.


Pine Siskin 9/25/12

At the limits of my telephoto, this adult male Pine Siskin was one of a small flock of about a dozen, though he kept himself apart somewhat from the drabber females and juveniles. Siskins are gregarious and nomadic finches, usually I only see them in the winter when an occasional flock visits a backyard feeder, but this bird is in its breeding habitat among the spruce forests of the Canadian maritimes.


Cedar Waxwings, 9/24/12

Cedar Waxwings are rather inconspicuous birds and I generally hear their high pitched buzzy trills in the treetops before spotting any. When seen up close they change from drab brown birds to a silky confection of browns, grays and yellow, with black, white, and red highlights. With the breeding season over, they join up in flocks to wander throughout the winter searching for fruits and berries. Fetched in Cape Breton, NS.

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Rock Pigeon 9/20/12

The spread of Rock Pigeons around the world is largely attributable to the spread of humans and their buildings. This one belongs to the flock living under the Hampton River Bridge along Rt 1A, here foraging for seeds in the dunes on the Seabrook side of the river. Their natural habitat was originally the rocky crevices, ledges and caves around the Middle-east and the Mediterranean but today there are few urban, agricultural, and residential geographies without them. They were first introduced to North America in 1606 by way of Nova Scotia.


Northern Flickers. aka Yellowhammers, 9/19/12

Northern Flickers are one of our summer resident woodpeckers, which will be migrating south of New England later in the fall. These shy brown birds, speckled with black spots have an undulating flight with a conspicuous white rump and a golden blur when the yellow shafts and feathering of the underwing and tail flashes on the upbeat. Unlike most other woodpeckers you’ll often see them foraging on the ground for their preferred diet of ants and beetles. In the photo above it’s the male of the pair sporting the mustache.


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