Archive for October, 2012

Black-bellied Plover 10/31/12

Black-bellied Plovers are one of the shyer shorebirds, always on the lookout for threats whether overhead or stomping down the beach tideline. Like all Plovers, they have shorter and stouter bills than the sandpipers and have a run-pause-run way of maneuvering around the shore if they’re not foraging or holding perfectly still. They are considerably larger and stouter than the Charadrius plovers (Killdeer, Semipalmated and Piping Plovers), belonging to the genus Pluvialis which also includes the more slender American Golden Plover.

Comments

The Greater Yellowlegs 10/29/12

It’s not often you have the luxury of seeing Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs together making them easy to tell apart, but this shot shows two of the best field marks for distinguishing the Greater. Notice the pale grey at the base of the bill and very dark at the tip, making it two-toned. Only the Greater has that field mark, but depending on the light and how close you are, you may not get to see it. Bill length is more dependable, even if you only see the bird in silhouette. Compare the length of the bill to the width of the head just behind it, if the bill length is greater, you have the Greater Yellowlegs. Fetched at Cape Neddick Harbor.

Comments

Butterbutt, a.k.a.Yellow-rumped Warbler 10/26/12

I grew up calling this bird a Myrtle Warbler and out west where spring males have a yellow throat instead of the white throats of eastern populations they are called Audubon’s Warbler, but in recent years these variant and a Mexican form have all been lumped together as Yellow-rumped Warblers.  But it’s even easier to remember them as Butterbutts, because  all of them, in all of their plumages including, males, females and juveniles in both spring and fall, have that flashy patch of yellow at the base of the tail. This one, as well as the bird in the background, lacks the yellow patches on its front which would distinguish it as an adult. Butterbutts are one of the later warbler migrants for the coast of Maine, and for the next month or so can often be found singly or in small groups, sallying out from a brushy edge to catch fall insects on the wing, not unlike an Eastern Phoebe. Fetched at Seapoint.

Comments

Northern Pintail 10/25/12

Ducks are on the move as well as song and shorebirds. Northern Pintails are dabbling ducks (i.e., mostly vegetarian) rather than divers for fish, crustaceans or mollusks. Both sexes are slender, long-necked, and blue-billed, but only the drakes have chocolate heads, white breasts, and the long central tail feathers that give the species its name. Hens (center of photo) and immature birds are drab, but still distinctively shaped compared to other dabblers. Pintails breed in open wetlands all around the northern parts of the northern hemisphere, including Europe and Asia, migrating as far south as the equator in winter. What’s unusual for such a widespread distribution is that there are no recognized subspecies.

Comments

Horned Larks 10/24/12

While Horned Larks are fairly common birds of open country all across North America, I don’t often see them during the breeding season. But in the mid to late fall I’m almost guaranteed to find a small flock of 5 or 10 every time I visit the beaches of Seapoint, or some of the other coastal birding spots I visit regularly. These two are juveniles which you can tell by the streaky breasts and the much paler yellow facial pattern than adults have.

Comments

American Bittern 10/23/12

It’s not often you get to see an American Bittern on the side of the road. I spooked this one up from the edge of the marsh while driving along and it landed on the road briefly before taking off again, leaving me only a moment to get a shot through my windshield. Members of the heron family, American Bitterns are solitary and very shy, stalking and skulking in the thick reeds and bulrushes of fresh and saltwater wetlands. Populations in the northern US and southern Canada are in the process of migrating to the southern states, Mexico, and Central America, though occasionally one shows up in New England during the winter.

Comments

Red-eyed Vireo, 10/22/12

Vireos are often confused or lumped in with wood warblers on account of similar sizes and habits but they have much stouter bills and actually aren’t closely related. The Red-eyed Vireo is olive greenish from the top with white belly, a red iris (only in the adults which makes this one a juvenile), and a gray crown edged in black. While fairly common across the northern US and southern Canada, they’re more often heard than seen, as they hang out in dense canopies foraging for caterpillars and other leaf-dwelling insects, and sing their question and answer phrases almost nonstop for much of the breeding season. Fetched at Odiorne Point.

Comments

« Previous entries Next Page » Next Page »