Archive for December, 2014

Western Tanager male 12/31/14


Winter vagrants don’t get much flukier than this. Here’s a male Western Tanager, a songbird of western coniferous forests that should be wintering in Central America, but somehow has wound up in a Kennebunk Maine neighborhood instead. It was discovered during the Christmas Bird Count, and appears to be sticking around. It wasn’t easy to photograph yesterday, it would only come out into the cold winds briefly to grab one of these fruits, and then disappear back into the thick spruce to eat it. In summer this bird’s head is mostly a brilliant red and its body an even brighter yellow.

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Snowy Owl 12/28/14



Northern Mockingbird 12/27/14




Purple Sandpipers 12/26/14


Purple Sandpipers get their name for subtle hints of pale rosy purple you can sometimes glimpse in their wing and back feathers when the light is right, but you’ll only see it in winter plumage. From November until April when they head north for the high Arctic breeding grounds, you can find small flocks taking up residence along the rocky New England shore every few miles, usually making a headland or point their home base. They are easiest to find at high tide. At Seapoint this winter, the resident flock is only about a dozen birds, whereas in past years they’ve tended to number about 60.


Mourning Doves 12/25/14


Merry Christmas!


Mallard drake 12/24/14


What is the true color of a mallard drakes head? The actual feather pigment is black, but the structure of the feather refracts green light. It’s the same principle that makes a hummingbird’s gorget flash with metallic iridescence in the sunlight. Not all refractive colors are so iridescent, anytime you see blue feathers, like those of Blue Jays, Eastern Bluebirds, or Indigo Buntings, the color is the result of refraction, and not from blue pigmentation.


Red-tailed Hawk immature 12/23/14




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