Archive for June, 2014

Northern Gannet 6/30/14


Gannets are remarkable birds for their dramatic plunge dives into the sea. In this photo are an adult with orange head and black wingtips about to hit the water, and a browner immature bird who has already popped up from its dive and is getting a running start for takeoff, climbing 50 to 75 feet to find a target from overhead before diving again.


Double-crested Cormorants 6/28/14


Double-crested Cormorants are gregarious seabirds, migrating in ragged Vs, breeding in colonies, and like this bunch just hanging out together drying their wings in between bouts of fishing. The immature birds have much paler feathering than the almost black adults, but all have the yellow-orange gular skin under the bill (which gets redder for the breeding adults), teal colored eyes, and a prominently hooked bill. Cormorants were always thought to be related to pelicans, but recent DNA studies have shown that to be false, and the dust hasn’t quite settled among taxonomists for how to reclassify them.


Blackburnian Warbler male 6/27/14


Without doubt one of the hottest warblers, adult male Blackburnians are pretty hard to confuse with anything else. Their breeding range is coniferous forests from the Canadian Maritimes west to the prairies, and southward down the Appalachians to North Carolina.  Females and immatures are gray or greenish where the adult males are black, with paler yellow throats.


Least Flycatcher 6/26/14


Another of the 5 northeastern Empidonax flycatchers which all look pretty much the same drab olive green except this one sings “chebek” and is the smallest of the bunch.


Greater Yellowlegs 6/25/14


Last week I hiked out to Benjie’s Lake hoping to see the rare Bicknell’s Thrush, but instead found this Greater Yellowlegs loudly calling in a different way than I’ve everheard Yellowlegs call before. It wasn’t your typical Yellowlegs’ plaintive “Tew tew tew tew” but more of a repetitive song. While all the range maps say no, it made me wonder if they don’t breed on the highlands since they do just across the straights in Newfoundland, and I’ve never known field guide or internet range maps to be all that reliable. Check out the length and two-toneness of the bill, Lesser Yellowlegs have proportionately shorter bills all one dark tone. I never did see a Bicknell’s Thrush, but near the end of my hike I did get to hear one.


Ruffed Grouse in molt 6/24/14


About a month ago male Ruffed Grouse were drumming on the highland slopes here, sounding much like a lawnmower failing to start.


Dark-eyed Junco male 6/21/14


Dark-eyed Juncos are one of the commonest birds in the maritime forest, and breeding males like the one above fan and flash their tails when displaying, and regularly sing their one-noted trills from coniferous treetops. Dark-eyed Juncos are really a whole complex of 16 junco subspecies encompassing a wide range of color variations dependent on geography—the gray and white “Slate-colored” variety above (J. h. hyemalis) is the subspecies for the Northeastern US and across the eastern Canadian boreal forests.


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