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Bird of the Week #6

Posted on November 22, 2014 at 9:35 AM Comments comments (1)

This week's Bird of the Week is the Eastern Phoebe. A lovely flycatcher, the phoebe frequents backyards across eastern North America. It is best recognized by its lack of fieldmarks, and although it is a rather drab brown bird, it has a tell-tail habit of pumping and fanning its tail up and down. The young are perhaps more interesting than the adults, with the same brown tones, but a yellow wash across the breast and a faint eye-ring that gives them a ‘surprised’ look. Although drab at first glance, after a season of having a pair nest under your deck, they develop a certain personality, or at least we humans assign them one. The phoebe does not come to feeders, because its main diet is insects, and it returns south come winter.




Eastern Phoebe

Sayornis pheobe

 

 


Shape: small and slim, with a thin bill.

Color Pattern: light brown overall with the suggestion of wing-bars; often faint eye-ring.

Habitat: open areas such ranging from fields to open woods; also backyards.

Voice: male gives distinctive 4 note fee-bee, fee-bay song in spring and summer; females and young give sharp cheep call.

 





Photos and text by Davey Walters. Copyright 2014.

Bird of the Week #5

Posted on September 25, 2014 at 9:50 AM Comments comments (1)

School has arrived! School may just be a blogger's worst nightmare. However being homeschooled I am able to spend more time on this website than I would otherwise be able to. Please forgive me for not being on time. As my fall schedule is fixed in place more, I will be regular on this site.


This week's bird of the week, and the last mystery bird is the Pine Warbler. The Pine Warbler is a stunning little bird with a curious expression, though it is devilishly quick. Photographing it is a real pain, but very rewarding! As its name would suggest, it keeps to evergreens more often than not, but there are plenty of Pine Warblers to be found in a deciduous forest. It frequents suet feeders, and in North America is most often seen in migration in spring and fall. The male strings bubbling, monotonic, but musical notes into a sweet song, which can be heard in heaps along its northward migration and in its breeding grounds.




Pine Warbler

Setophaga pinus


Shape: small and rather pot-bellied; with a long, forked tail and thin, dark bill.

Color Pattern: male in spring is bright yellow on the breast and head, peaking in vibrance toward the throat; dull gray below with bright wing-bars. Female, immature, and nonbreeding birds of all ages are duller yellow, sometimes greenish, holding same pattern as spring male.

Habitat: coniferous and sometimes deciduous forests; visiting open yards and thickets on migration.

Voice: male's song is a long trill, lasting several seconds on a single tone, but it is slower and sweeter than the trills of the Chipping Sparrow, Swamp Sparrow, etc. Its common call is a short, musical, chip note.




Photos and text by Davey Walters. Copyright 2014.

Bird of the Week #3

Posted on April 10, 2014 at 9:10 AM Comments comments (2)

Last week's mystery bird was the Least Sandpiper.

This tiny sandpiper, called a peep, is a common bird throughout North America. Although techinally a 'beach bird', it often rests on small lake shores during migration, when it may fly thousands of miles from the Arctic breeding grounds to Brazil and even Chile. Like the Willet, it appears a rather drab brown mottled bird at first, but reveals a thin, pale wing stripe in flight. It can fit in the palm of your hand.

In the photos below, compare the bird to the size of the grains of sand.




Least Sandpiper

Calidris minutilla


Shape: very small and rather dumpy; crouches and runs as if scared of breakers.

Color pattern: scalloped brown wing and back feathers which are fringed with rufous and white. Black decurved bill, yellow-green legs, and off-white underparts. Mottled breast and crown.

Habitat: mudflats, lakes, and shorelines.

Voice: in breeding season, males give a melodious trill of high notes. In nonbreeding season, they give a ttroy ttroy ttroy call and a high-pitched trill alarm call.





Photos and text by Davey Walters. Copyright 2014.


Bird of the Week #2

Posted on March 20, 2014 at 4:05 PM Comments comments (0)

This week's Bird of the Week is the Willet.

This sandpiper is mottled boring gray/brown at first glance, but upon further inspection reveals a striking wing pattern. When stretched out, the wings sport a bold white-on-black stripe that zig-zags along the base of the wing feathers. This shorebird is in the family Scolopacidae along with a few other sandpipers, and is big when compared to most in its order.



Willet

Tringa semipalmata


Shape: Slim, with a long, bicolored bill and long legs.

Color pattern: In summer, mottled gray/brown. They are grayer in the eastern U.S.  In fall and winter, they are solid gray. They have a distinctive black-and-white wing pattern in flight.

Habitat: Coastal areas, and in summer fields and large lakes.

Voice: In spring, Willets emit a high-pitched pill-willeet call that characterizes them, even giving them their name. Other calls include a short keep call and a kik kik kik kileep alarm call.




Photos and text by Davey Walters. Copyright 2014.


Bird of the Week #1

Posted on February 27, 2014 at 3:35 PM Comments comments (2)

This first week's bird will be the Gray Catbird.

A robin-sized gray bird, the Gray Catbird is known for its song. It is in the family Mimidae, the same family that the Northern Mockingbird belongs to. Like the mockingbird, these birds mimic many different birds' songs and calls. Some have been recorded to imitate squeaking gates and croaking frogs, sometimes even cell phone ring-tones! And yes, their name derives from their call, which sounds like a stressed meeoww.

Here is the technical information:


Gray Catbird

Dumatella carolinensis


Shape: Rotund, with a long tail and pointed bill.

Color pattern: All slaty-gray, with a black cap and tail. The only apparent color is a rich rufous undertail coverts.

Habitat: Marsh and wetlands; also moist woods and forest. Catbirds can always be found in dense brush; they prefer to stay away from open places.

Voice: Warbled phrases; often many imitations of other bird species and random noises.




Photo and text by Davey Walters. Copyright 2014.

Bird of the Week #6

Posted on Comments comments (0)

This week's Bird of the Week is the Eastern Phoebe. A lovely flycatcher, the phoebe frequents backyards across eastern North America. It is best recognized by its lack of field marks, and its tell-tale habit of pumping and fanning its tail up and down. It is a rather drab brown bird at first glance, but after a season of having a pair nest under your deck, they develop certain personality, or at least we humans assign them one. They will not visit feeders, for their main diet is insects, and they return south come winter. The young are perhaps more interesting than the adults, garbed in the same brown tones but with a yellow wash across the breast and a faint eye-ring to produce a 'surprised' expression.





Eastern Phoebe

Sayornis phoebe


Shape: small and slim, with a thin bill.

Color Pattern: light brown overall, with suggestion of pale wing-bars. Lightest on underside; sexes alike.

Habitat: open areas with water source nearby; also open woods and backyards.

Voice: male gives distinctive 4 note fee-bee, fee-bay song in spring and summer; females and young give sharp cheep call.






Photos and text by Davey Walters. Copyright 2014.