Archive for November, 2012

Ruby-crowned Kinglet female 11/30/12

This Ruby-crowned Kinglet female is scouting for small insects among the nicotiana in my garden just before the frost melted them all down last week. One of the tiniest of North American birds she’s on her way to the southern states, or maybe Mexico, for the winter. Pairs only stay together for a short 2 month breeding season. Males are similar except for the ruby crown which is inconspicuous except when he gets excited.

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White-rumped Sandpiper juvenile 11/29/12

I posted another juvenile White-rumped Sandpiper shot from Seapoint not long ago, but this one was by its lonesome hanging out by a lobster trap and it’s getting late to still be seeing them. With their chestnut highlights, these juves are more colorful than the gray non-breeding adults who migrate through earlier in the fall. White-rumps are one of the five smaller species of sandpiper that New England birders affectionately refer to as peeps.

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White-winged Crossbill female 11/28/12

It’s unusual to find a White-winged Crossbill all on its own, at least for me I always see them this time of year in a small to large flock with plenty of reddish males among them. But this very yellowish female that I came across last week while in Cape Breton was off on her own foraging for spruce cones to tear apart. She has the white patches in her darker wings to distinguish her from a Red Crossbill female, though you can’t see them in this pic. I haven’t seen any in New England yet this year, but according to some of the mailing lists I follow, plenty of them are around and this winter promises to be one of those irruptive years when boreal birds of the subarctic will wander farther south than usual.

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Brown Creeper 11/27/12

I had a hard time getting close to this shy little guy I came across near the pavilion at Fort Foster the other day, so I’m at max resolution here . It was foraging with a chickadee gang, which was also joined by a titmouse, an rb nuthatch and a couple of juncos. Brown Creepers aren’t all that uncommon to find in the woods but they’re hard to spot among the tree bark where they are so well camouflaged. I’ll usually only notice them by their movements. Brown Creepers are also known as American Tree Creepers.

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Tufted Titmouse 11/23/12

A friendly little gray bird with a perky crest, rusty flanks, large black eyes, and a black forehead, the Tufted Titmouse is common to most of the eastern US and a frequent visitor to backyard feeding stations like this one in York Maine. They are year-round residents throughout their range feeding on insects and invertebrates during the breeding season and switching to seeds and nuts during the winter. I watched this one grab a sunflower seed, fly off a short ways to shell it, and then stash the kernel under some tree bark for a rainy day snack.

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Dunlin and Semipalmated Plover 11/21/12

Shorebird migration is winding down now except for a few stragglers. The Dunlin (right) in the photo above may be a nearby winter resident as I do see them from time to time even after the snow flies, but the Semipalmated Plover’s winter range begins south of  Chesapeake Bay. While there are a few exceptions like Avocets and Oystercatchers, most of our shorebirds fall into two major categories—the sandpipers (like the Dunlin) come in a wide variety of sizes and colors, and the diversity of bill lengths between species allow a number of them to forage in the same habitat. Plovers are a smaller and more uniform group, all of which have relatively short and stout bills and forage by sight more than by feel. Fetched at Seapoint.

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American Pipit 11/20/12

Once called the Water Pipit, American Pipits are rather drab birds of the arctic tundra, and pass through New England on their way to the southern states and Central America later than most other migrants. Outside of North America the same bird is known as the Buff-bellied Pipit. They look a bit like a cross between a sparrow and a thrush, but have a slender shape and a thin bill. One way to tell them apart from either group is their tail-bobbing habit. At this time of year you’ll find them in small or large flocks along beaches, stubbled fields, golf courses, any kind of open country. Fetched at Seapoint.

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