Archive for January, 2015

Immature Cooper’s Hawk 1/30/15


I see a fair number of Cooper’s Hawks in the winter months, way more Coops than the smaller Sharpies these days. 30 years ago it would have been uncommon to see either at the end of January. Just drive around the neighborhood now and you’re likely to find one skulking in the trees behind someone’s house, ready to swoop in on a local feeding station, terrorizing the songbirds. And at least half (or more) are immatures with streaky breasts, speckled backs, and pale-eyes.


White-throated Sparrow 1/29/15


Black-edged white bib, bushy yellow eyebrows, gray bill, black and white crown stripes, and an eye-string of tiny pearls.


Dark-eyed Junco female 1/28/15


Juncos are a sparrow, just not a streaky one. Except for the high Arctic, Dark-eyed Juncos are found all across North America at various times of year. Usually in the northern and mountainous climes for breeding, some places year-round, and farther south in wintertime. In many parts of the US Junco are called snowbirds, on account they are only seen in winter. This one is a female with a fair amount of brown in her plumage, males are more solid gray and white with a pink bill. Both sexes sport a flashy white-edged tail. Dark-eyed Juncos kick and scratch the ground to expose seeds, and if it’s the right season, they find bugs to eat that way as well.


Eastern Bluebird female 1/24/15


Another New England thrushy bird folks don’t expect to see in winter, but Eastern Bluebirds do spend the winter here. We have the goodwill of birdlovers to thank for that, these once decimated songbirds have made a remarkable comeback, with help. Many migrate, but not all, some gather in small flocks and shift their diet seasonally from protein-rich insects to a carb diet of winter fruits and berries. This one is female, not as flashy as the male but still quite lovely.


American Robin male 1/23/15


American Robins don’t migrate south so much as they gather into roving flocks that search out and descend on local fruit stores and then clean them out overnight, before moving on to find another source. The local flocks will often attract a mix of other birds who do much the same thing, including Starlings, Grosbeaks and Waxwings. This Robin is male which you can tell by his rich color—females tend to be a notch or two paler.


Common Eider drake 1/22/15


Common Eider are year round residents on the New England coast. This is an adult male or drake, the largest duck in North America with its distinctive green nape and pearly white breast. Females are a rich mottled brown but like the drakes have very distinctively shaped heads making their ID relatively easy. They dive for mollusks and crustaceans, mussels being a favorite food which they yank off the bottom and swallow whole.


American Crows 1/21/15


There’s not much to tell about these three, just making mischief. But I do love a good crow story . . .


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