Archive for September, 2016

Tufted Titmouse 9/28/16


Tufted Titmice are a North American member of the Tit family. They are year round birds found in the eastern half of the US and parts of southern Canada. They prefer to nest in natural tree holes but will also use abandoned woodpecker nests and man-made nest boxes. Young are raised on insects, especially caterpillars, but their diets shift to seeds and berries in the fall and through the winter. Like all tits, they’ll stash food for later retrieval, usually in the barky crevices of trees. Sexes are alike but the juveniles lack black foreheads.


Great Blue Heron juvenile 9/27/16


Juvenile Great Blues, like other herons and egrets, roam far and wide in all directions after fledging. In coastal New Hampshire and Maine most have migrated farther south by November, but not very far, after a warming spell of only a few days or in milder winters with little ice, it’s not unusual to see Great Blues in any of the winter months. Juvenile plumage is dingier and less bold than adults, for example the crowns of juveniles are slaty gray instead of the sharply defined black and white of adults.  Great Blues belong to the genus Ardea, one of about a dozen species of large stalking herons that together fill much the same wetland niches around the world.


Yellow-bellied Sapsucker juve male 9/26/16


One of New England’s two migratory woodpeckers (Northern Flicker being the other), Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers drill neat holes in tree trunks to lick the sap from. The sapwells are arranged in neat rows and are regularly tended to keep the sap flowing. Trees with a high sugar content like birches and maples are favored but many species of trees are utilized such as this American Larch. Juveniles are duller brown and drabber than the black and white adults. This juve is showing a few red feathers below the bill indicating its sex is male, females only sport red above the bill. In adults the red patches aren’t just hints but bright and well defined.


Sanderling juveniles 9/8/16


Sanderlings are one of the small shorebirds you’ll often see running back and forth with the waves on the beach. They stitch the wet surface with their bills like two-legged sewing machines. The sand is softened by a receding wave, allowing the birds to probe deep for isopods and other marine invertebrates before the next wave approaches. Sanderlings are one of the few New England sandpipers we can see in all plumages. These white and spangle-winged birds are the juveniles we see migrating south in the fall, the slightly more colorful adults have already passed through in August. The next plumage for these birds will be a more uniform winter white with soft light gray wings, followed in the spring by the rusty speckled adult plumages (male and female adults being slightly different). Most migrating Sanderlings are on their way to South and Central American beaches, but a few small flocks will overwinter on the sandy beaches of the southern Maine coast.