Archive for July, 2018

Red-winged Blackbird female 7/29/18

Female Red-wings are smaller than males. Instead of black they are a smoky dark brown above with a dark streaky breast underneath. She doesn’t sport scarlet epaulets, but some females have a reddish tint in their face (though this one only has a hint). In the northern part of their range where they are migratory birds, females arrive on the breeding grounds after the males. They are fond of fresh and saltwater wetlands, especially those with cattails, and breed in loose colonies where the female does all the nestbuilding, brooding, and young rearing. Red-winged Blackbird nests are heavily preyed upon and during the nesting period. Males stand guard, alerting the colony with warning calls, and ganging up to drive off predators.

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Green Heron 7/27/18

Except when providing for youngsters, Green Herons are nocturnal, solitary, and secretive. But with growing families they need to forage at all hours and become more frequently seen in the daytime. They are a tool-using bird, often dropping a piece of bait on the surface of the water to attract small fish and then striking out with a quick dart. They tend to keep their neck folded in close, and like all herons, fly with necks retracted. Sexes are alike.

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Dark-eyed Junco female and nest 7/26/18

Dark-eyed Juncos are sparrows, only unlike their brown and streaky cousins the eastern subspecies are mostly charcoal gray with white bellies and white feathers edging their tails. Females like the one above, and juveniles have more brown in them. Junco subspecies from other parts of North America sport different plumages. They are ground birds, foraging on the forest floor for seeds but during the breeding season they supplement their diet with insects. I came close to mowing over this nest hidden in thick grasses until I saw the woven cup and three brown speckled eggs.

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Northern Fulmars 7/24/18

Although they look very much like gulls, Northern Fulmars belong to the tubenose family which includes the shearwaters, albatrosses, and petrels. More specifically they are known as one of the 2 fulmarine petrels. The nasal passages attached above their bills are called naricorns which also have a specialized gland to help them excrete salt. You’ll only see these birds far out to sea where they are quite abundant and frequently scavenge behind fishing boats. Unlike any gull, they can also dive up to 10 feet underwater in pursuit of fish and squid. They come in both light and dark morphs and breed on remote cliffs. These were photographed near the Laurentian Channel between Cape Breton Island and Newfoundland.

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American Redstart male 7/14/18

A common wood warbler, small and hyperactive, American Redstarts flash the brightly colored patches in their wings and tail to scare up insects, at least that’s one theory. Males are mostly black above with white bellies and orange patches, while females and immature males are more gray and green above with yellow wing and tail patches. They forage for caterpillars and other insects in the upper canopy but nest close to the ground in deciduous woods across southern Canada and Eastern US.

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