Archive for May, 2017

Baltimore Oriole male 5/19/17

As colorful as they are, Orioles belong to the blackbird family Icteridae, which also includes grackles, bobolinks, oropendolas, and caciques. For a time it was thought that Bullocks and Baltimore Orioles were the same species and were together renamed the Northern Oriole, but later it was discovered they didn’t hybridize as much as was previously thought, and the earlier nomenclature was reinstated. When Baltimore Orioles first return in the spring they are still on a winter diet of fruits and nectar, and will come to feeding stations providing oranges and jellies, but then soon switch to a diet of insects and invertebrates.

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Three Willets 5/17/17

Willets are one of the larger shorebirds with a distinctive black and white pattern in their wings when flying. Like their smaller cousins the Greater Yellowlegs, they belong to the genus of sandpipers called Tringa, aka the “shanks,” so named for their long legs which are often colorful but not so much in the Willet. These birds are resting up at high tide before continuing on their journey northeastwards. The eastern subspecies breeds anywhere between Chesapeake Bay and Prince Edward Island in the southern maritimes, so they aren’t Arctic migrants but more local. They like sand and mudflats for foraging and often nest in salt marshes.

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American Crow 5/15/17

Often in spring you’ll see American Crows strutting around the lawn, foraging for worms and other insects. Other times when there are several, they may take turns holding forth with their opinions like at a town meeting. Crows are one of the most intelligent of all birds and mate for life when they are 3 to 5 years old.

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