Archive for May, 2018

Semipalmated Plover male and female 5/31/18

I try to avoid bird photos with busy backgrounds like this one, but there’s two interesting things in this image worth pointing out. Most field guides as a rule don’t mention the sexual dimorphism in shorebirds, perpetuating the idea that the sexes look exactly alike. I’m guessing the reason is that shorebirds are already so tricky to ID, they don’t want to push it with even subtler distinctions. But here’s an example of a male and female Semipalmated Plover. Plover and not sandpiper because the bill is short and the body is stockier, and semipalmated because there’s a bit of webbing between the toes (but nothing like say a duck or seagull). Now look at the male bird in the foreground and notice all the black around the face, while in the female behind the black single ringed collar is really dark brown, as is the face mask except for the forehead. The other thing I wanted to point out is a new discovery for me, and that’s the thin but bright yellow eye-ring, which is part of the bird’s breeding plumage that you won’t see when these birds migrate back through in the fall.

Comments

Willets 5/30/18

Willets are large and long-legged shorebirds that nest locally in salt marshes from Virginia to Cape Breton. There’s also a western subspecies that breeds in prairie potholes and other freshwater wetlands. They belong to sandpipers of the genus “Tringa,” also known as the “shanks” and which also includes the Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs. But this bird has gray legs and may as well be called Grayshanks. You can’t see it in this photo but they have a bold black and white striped pattern in their open wings.

Comments

Ruby-throated Hummingbird 5/29/18

Tiny but fierce, this male Ruby-throated Hummingbirds brooks no intruders in his territory. In shadow his ruby gorget looks black or dark red but one little change of angle and its ruby iridescence flashes brilliantly. All day long he cruises the coral bells and solomon’s seal in my garden, occasionally mainlining at the feeder, then dashing out of nowhere in an explosion of twittering squeaks to chase off any hummingbird trespasser. Watering the garden almost always attracts him, he likes to sit just downwind of the mist drifting off the sprinkler, but out of the mainstream.

 

Comments

Evening Grosbeak male 5/28/18

Check out that golden monobrow! These largest of all the American finches were originally birds of the west that didn’t begin showing up in the Eastern states until about 100 years ago. Today they are in serious decline. Typically Evening Grosbeaks are irruptive winter visitors, showing up in flocks some years at backyard feeding stations, but not in others. However, I found this spring male by his lonesome in the middle of the road picking up grit, presumably as an aid to digestion. Females have black and white wings like the males, but are a soft gray with yellow-green highlights.

Comments

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 5/26/18

Gnatcatchers are a group of tiny songbirds found in the Americas, most of them nonmigratory and tropical, but the Blue-gray Gnatcatcher migrates as far as northern California, the Great Lakes, and New England. This one was a blast to watch catching gnats out of the air yesterday, in what can only be described as joyous nonstop acrobatics. While small and insectivorous, these are not wood warblers, but are more closely related to the kinglets and wrens. Both sexes have the white eye-ring and white outer tail feathers, but males like this bird have a blue-ish head with the black eye stripe, while females are a plainer gray.

Comments

American Robin fledgling 5/25/18

This little bird was still less than 100′ away from its nest in the yew bushes up where the cars park when I heard one of it parents clucking loudly and came to investigate. It probably had fledged in the previous 5 or 10 minutes, and still sporting downy fuzz,  but as it moved further way from its nest forever I grabbed my camera and caught a few snaps as it entered the great unknown. American Robins (and Eastern Bluebirds) are arguably spot-breasted thrushes like their close cousins the Wood and Hermit Thrushes, only they lose their spots in adult plumage.

Comments

Great Crested Flycatcher 5/24/18

One of our larger flycatchers, the Great Crested likes deciduous and mixed woods where it sits high up in the canopy waiting and watching for larger insects like butterflies, beetles, grasshoppers, and wasps. They’re moreoften heard than seen and rarely come down to the ground. They have big heads with a gray face, throat, and breast, with lemony bellies, and rusty highlights in the primary and tail feathers. Topside they are a dull greenish brown. Mated pairs frequently call to each other with a whee eep, but they also have some more frog-like calls. They are the only eastern flycatcher to nest in tree cavities. Sexes are alike.

Comments

« Previous entries Next Page » Next Page »