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 Forum Index > Other Birds and Wildlife > Birds other than raptors
 Bird Talk 101
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By: HikerBikerGram (offline) on Thursday, February 16 2012 @ 08:41 AM EST  
HikerBikerGram

Bird Talk 101

The Eastern Screech Owl


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This is a gray morph Eastern Screech Owl. I found this photo at Wikimedia Commons, the photographer is Wolfgang Wander. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. You can find it at this link.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Easte ... ch-Owl.jpg

Click on image to download
A red morph Eastern Screech Owl, also found at Wikimedia Commons, the photgrapher is Bill Waller.This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. You can find it at this link.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Easte ... Waller.jpg

General Description
The Eastern Screech Owl (Megascops asio) is a small owl that is relatively common in Eastern North America, from Mexico to Canada.

Adult Eastern Screech Owls range from 16 to 25 cm (6.3-9.8 in) in length, they are fairly small compared to other owls. They have either reddish or gray intricately patterned plumage with streaking on the underparts.They are small and stocky, short-tailed and broad-winged, they have a large round head with ear tufts, yellow eyes and bill. The reddish colored birds are more common in the southern parts of the range. A pale gray Eastern Sreech Owl also exists in western Canada and the north-central United States. The color variations are referred to as "red-morph" and "gray-morph" by bird watchers and ornithologists. Juvenile has a downy appearance.

Habitat
Their breeding habitat is mixed woods in eastern North America. Their preferred habitats include mixed woodlands, deciduous forests, parklands, wooded suburban areas, riparian woods along streams and wetlands, mature orchards, meadows, and fields.

Behavior
They are a sit-and-wait predator, perched on branches watching for prey. They primarily hunt at night and in evening hours as the sun is setting, but occasionally during the day when providing food for nestlings.

Diet
The Eastern Sreech Owl mainly eat large insects and invertebrates, often comprising more than half of the birds diet. Favored insects are beetles, moths, crickets, grasshoppers and cicadas. Thier small mammal diet consist of, shrews to rabbits, though small rodents comprise about 67% of mammals taken. Small birds are also part of their diet, ranging from chickadees to rock pigeons. Not as often, but at times they may catch reptiles, amphibians and fish for a meal. They are most active at night or near dusk, using their excellent hearing and night vision to locate prey.

Breeding and Nesting

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Nesting cavity of the red morph Eastern Screech Owl, photo found at Wikimedia Commons and the photograpgher is Epetewolf.
Epetewolf statement of use by others, "I, the copyright holder of this work, release this work into the public domain. See at this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Easte ... phase2.jpg

They are usually solitary nesting in a tree cavity, either natural or excavated by a woodpecker. They will also use nesting boxes. They are very common, but generally go unnoticed due to their small size and how they blend into their environment. They can often be found nesting in residential areas .They lay 2-8 white eggs on natural sawdust on the floor of a natural tree cavity or abandoned woodpecker hole, approximately 6 to 20 feet above the ground and can choose to nest in suitable boxes. The incubation period takes about 26 days and is done mostly by the female. The males provides food for the female while she incubates and after hatching provides food for the nestlings too.

Migration
They Do not migrate, the Eastern Screech Owls stay in their breeding territories.

Conservation
The Eastern Screech-Owl has a very large range, estimated globally at 4,900,000 square kilometers. The global population of the Eastern Screech Owl is estimated to be 770,000 and it does not appear to meet population decline criteria that would inclused it onto the IUCN Red List. Therefore the current evaluation status of the Eastern Screech-Owl is of Least Concern

Interesting Facts
* The Eastern Screech Owl was first described by Carolus Linnaeus, in the year of 1758. They have also have the name of the Common Screech Owl, Ghost Owl, Dusk Owl, Little-eared Owl, Spirit Owl, Whickering Owl, Little Gray Owl, Mottled Owl, Mouse Owl, Cat Owl, Shivering Owl, and Little Horned Owl.

* Red and gray morph individuals occur across the range of the Eastern Screech-Owl, with about one-third of all individuals being red morph. Rufous owls are more often seen in the East, with fewer than 15% red at the western edge of the range. There are no red owls known from southern Texas, although they occur further north in Texas and further south in Mexico.

* The Eastern Screech-Owl diet consist of a variety of small animals. Two captive males ate from one-quarter to one-third of their own body weight in food each night, sometimes they skipped a night and stored food instead.

* The trilling call on one pitch, known as the Bounce Song, is used by a pair or a family to keep in contact. The male will trill/call to advertise a nest site and court the female. He also uses his call when arriving at a nest with food. The descending Whinny call is used in territory defense. Their songs usually are uttered separately, but sometimes are heard together.

*Eastern Screech-Owl pairs usually are monogamous and life long partners. Some males, will mate with two different females. Sometimes the second female may evict the first female, lay her own eggs in the nest, and incubate both clutches.

*This species of owl is infected by several parasites including Plasmodium elongatum, Plasmodium forresteri and Plasmodium gundersi.

References: What Bird, Wikipedia, and All About Birds

The sound/call and region map of the Eastern Screech Ow.

A video of an Eastern Screech owl waking up.

A video of a rare glimpse of two red morph Eastern Screech Owls mating.

A video with the owl calling. Very neat!


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By: HikerBikerGram (offline) on Thursday, February 16 2012 @ 08:49 AM EST  
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Bird Talk 101

The Red-tailed Hawk


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This beautiful Red-tailed Hawk was perched along the Mississippi River and watching below for prey, I was thrilled to catch its photo.

General Description
Red-tailed Hawks have highly variable plumage, including dark and rufous phases. They have long, broad wings and short, wide tails with strips. Most have light breasts and brown streaks forming a mottled 'belly-band.' Most have dark brown heads that can very in darkness of color. The underwings are mottled dark and light. All plumages of Red-tailed Hawks have a dark band on the edges of the inner underwings, known as the 'patagial' markings. The upper side of the tail of most adult birds is rsty in color. Light colored birds often have a faint white 'V' on their back-feathers that can be seen when they are perched. Juveniles lack the red tail.

Habitat
Red-tailed Hawks are found in almost every type of habitat, as long as there are open areas with patches of trees or other elevated perches. They like to perch in trees or on poles near open fields or agricultural areas, and along roads watching for prey.

Behavior
Red-tailed Hawks are adapted for soaring and will glide long periods riding thermals, looking for prey or migrating. They also use a sit and wait style of hunting, watching for prey from high perches. They are commonly seen along roadsides or soaring over open fields.

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Red-tailed Hawks soar over open land and water looking for prey. I caught this photo of a Red-tail Hawk soaring over an open field, most likely foraging for mice or snakes.

Diet
Red-tailed Hawks diet consist of many small mammals, especially rodents and rabbits. Birds, reptiles, and sometimes fish or large insects all fall prey to Red-tailed Hawks on occasion. They have also been known to steal prey from other raptors and to eat fresh carrion.

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I found this photo of a Red-tail Hawk eating a squirrel at wikimedia commons. Photo is by Cstseyin with this statement of release of the photo to public domain, "I, the copyright holder of this work, release this work into the public domain. This applies worldwide." Check this link below for the release of the photo for anyone to use.
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File: ... rrel_2.jpg

Nesting
Red-tailed Hawks are monogamous and may remain paired throughout the year and sometimes for life. At the start of the breeding season, they perform impressive aerial courtship flights, with shrill screams. They build their nests in a tall tree, often the tallest tree in a cluster, or on cliff ledges, towers, nest platforms, and occasionally buildings. the female and male help build the nest, a bulky collection of sticks lined with bark and other material. Greenery is often added. Both parents help incubate the 2 to 3 eggs for 28 to 32 days. The female stays on the nest and broods the young for the first 30 to 35 days after they hatch. The males job is to bring food, which the female tears up and feeds to the young. At 42 to 46 days, the young leave the nest, but can't fly for another 2 to 3 weeks. The majority of juveniles don't start catching their own food until 6 to 7 weeks after they leave the nest. Some juveniles may continue to associate with their parents for up to six months after they leave the nest.

Migration Status
Most Red-tailed Hawks at the northern extent of their range in Canada and the northern Great Plains, migrate. The rest of the population is non-migratory. Those that migrate do so late in the fall and early in the spring, and typically winter throughout the United States and northern Mexico.

Conservation Status
Red-tailed Hawks are the most common and widespread hawk in North America. Red-tail numbers have increased as a result of forest fragmentation that creates the interspersed wooded and open areas they prefer. In some areas, this increase has been at the expense of Red-shouldered, Ferruginous, and Swainson's Hawks. They are of Least Concern List.

Interesting Facts
* The Red-tailed Hawk has a high pitched thrilling, raspy scream that sounds exactly like a raptor should sound. Whenever a hawk or eagle appears onscreen, no matter what species, the shrill cry on the soundtrack is almost always a Red-tailed Hawk.

* The Red-tailed Hawk is one of the largest raptors you’ll see in North America, yet even the biggest females weigh in at only about 3 pounds.

* Courting Red-tailed Hawks put on a display in which they soar in wide circles at a great height. The male dives, then shoots up again at an angle nearly as steep. After several of these swoops he approaches the female from above, extends his legs, and touches her briefly. The pair may grab onto one other, clasp talons, and plummet in spirals toward the ground before pulling away.

* The oldest known Red-tailed Hawk was twenty eight years ten months old.

References: All About Birds, Wikipedia, and Bird Web

The sound/call of the Red-tailed Hawk and region map.

Great National Geographic narrated video of a Rde-tailed Hawk taking on a rattlesnake.

A beautiful video of a close encounter with a Red-tailed Hawk.

A narrated slide show of photos of an accounter with a Red-tailed Hawk

Three short videos of the Red-tailed Hawk, one is a juvenile eating a prey.



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By: HikerBikerGram (offline) on Sunday, February 19 2012 @ 12:27 PM EST  
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Bird Talk 101

The American White Pelican


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I captured this photo while walking the shores of the Mississippi River. I came around the corner and I was frightened and frightened this beautiful American White Pelican that was foraging in the river.

General Description
The American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) is a large water bird from the order Pelecaniformes. Its overall length is about 50–67 inches, courtesy of the huge beak which measures 13–14.4 inches in males and 10.4–13 in in females. It has a wingspan of about 95–120 in and weighs between 11 and 20 lb. Its plumage is almost entirely bright white, except for the black primary and secondary under plumage, which are hardly visible except in flight. From early spring until after breeding in mid-late summer, the breast feathers have a yellowish hue. They then moult into the eclipse plumage, with the upper head having a grey hue, as blackish feathers grow between the small white crest.

Their bill is long and flat, with a large throat sac, in the breeding season the bill is bright orange.The bare skin around the eye, and the feet are also a bright oranage. In the breeding season, there is a flattened horn on the upper bill, about one-third the bill's length behind the tip. After the birds have mated and eggs are laid the horn is shed. During the non-breeding season the feet, legs, and bill become duller in color, with the facial skin yellow and the bill, pouch and feet become an orange-flesh color.

The male is larger then the female, otherwise males and females look exactly alike. Immature birds have light grey plumage with darker brownish nape. Their bare parts are dull grey. Newborns are naked at first, then grow white downy feathers over their entire body, before moulting to the immature plumage.

Habitat
American White Pelicans nest in large colonies of several hundred pairs on islands along rivers and freshwater lakes of North America. The most northern nesting colony are found on islands in the rapids of the Slave River between Fort Fitzgerald, Alberta and Fort Smith, Northwest Territories. About 10-20% of the population uses Gunnison Island in the Great Basin's Great Salt Lake as a nesting ground for thousands of American White Pelicans. The southern most colonies are found in southwestern Ontario and northeastern California.

They migrate and spend their winter on the Pacific and Gulf of Mexico coasts from central California and Florida south to Panama, and along the Mississippi river at least as far north as St. Louis, Missouri. In their costal winter quarters, they are rarely found on the open seashore, they prefer estuaries and lakes. They cross deserts and mountains and follow rivers but avoid the open ocean on migration.

Behavior
American White Pelicans are highly socialable and breed in large, dense colonies. Flocks at times forage cooperatively in large groups by circling around fish or by driving fish towards the shore where they are easier to catch. They scoop up prey by dipping their bills in the water and catching the fish in their bill. They swallow their catch for transport, it is not carried in the pouch. They often forage at night during the breeding season. The American White Pelican Flocks flying in formation are an impressive sight as they circle downward and upward in beautiful patterns of flight . The adults are usually silent.

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I have observed the migrating American White Pelicans along the Mississippi River forage. They swim forward in large groups driving fish to the front and then circle around the fish and dive their heads into the water to catch the fish in the bill pouches. I caught them in this photo with them circled around and heads down to get the fish. Check out the first video below, to see the recording I made of them foraging in a large group.

Diet
The American White Pelican does not dive for its food, like its cousin the Brown Pelican . Instead it catches its prey while swimming and foraging on the water. Each pelican can eat more than 4 pounds of food a day, fish such as Common Carp, Chub and shiners, Sacramento Perch or Yellow Perch, Rainbow Trout, catfish, and jacksalmon. They also include in their diets crayfish and amphibians. Birds nesting on saline lakes, where food maybe scarce, will travel distances to reach better feeding areas.

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This group of American White Pelicans were gathered at a flooded area along the Mississippi River. The walkway had become a spillway with fish jumping in the air and the pelicans trying to catch them as they leaped and swam by. I caught this photo of a fish leaping out of the water as the pelicans are waiting to catch them. The second video below is of the gathering of pelicans foraging at the flooded walkway made into a spillway of leaping fish.

Breeding and Nesting
They breed in large colonies, with up to 5,000 pairs per site. The pelicans arrive on the breeding grounds in March or April and nesting starts between early April and early June. The nest is a shallow depression dug in the ground with some twigs, sticks, reeds or similar debris as the nesting bed. After a one week of courtship and nest-building, the female lays 2 or 3 eggs, at times just one or up to six.

Both parents participate in incubation for about 4 weeks to one month. The young leave the nest around 3 to 4 weeks after hatching. Most often and sadly usually only one young per nest survives, due to predators and the competition between siblings for food. After leaving the nest they then spend the following month in a creche or pod, moulting into immature plumage and then learning to fly. After leaving the nest and flying, the parents provide for their offspring for three more weeks, until the close family bond separates in late summer or early fall.The birds then gather in larger flocks on feeding grounds in preparation for their winter migration. They generally migrate south by September or October.

Migration
The American White Peicans winter on the Pacific and Gulf of Mexico coasts from central California and Florida south to Panama, and along the Mississippi river at least as far north as St. Louis, Missouri. In their winter habitats they are rarely found on the open seashore, preferring estuaries and lakes. They cross deserts and mountains but avoid the open ocean on migration, frequently following rivers. Stray birds, often blown off course by hurricanes, have been seen in the Caribbean.

Conservation
There was a decline in American White Pelican numbers in the mid-20th century, due to the excessive spraying of DDT, endrin and other organochlorides in agriculture as well as draining and pollution of wetlands. Populations have recovered well after stricter environmental protection laws came into effect, and are stable or slightly increasing today. In 1980s, more than 100,000 adult American White Pelicans were estimated to exist in the wild, with 33,000 nests altogether in the 50 colonies in Canada, and 18,500 nests in the 14-17 United States colonies. Shoreline erosion at breeding colony areas remains a problem in some cases, as are the occasional poisonings when pesticides are used near breeding or wintering sites.

This species is protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. It has the California Department of Fish and Game protective status California Species of Special Concern (CSC). On a worldwide scale
however, the species is common enough to qualify as a Species of Least Concern according to the IUCN.

Interesting Facts
* American White Pelicans are one of the largest of the water birds. They can weigh up to 30 pounds and their wing spans can exceed nine feet.

* Their bill can hold up to 3 gallons of water. After the caught a fish the bill is pointed downward allowing the water to drain, and then the bill is raised and the bird swallows.

* Due to pesticides, human disturbance, and the draining of wetlands, this species is in decline. The number of active colonies has dropped sharply in recent decades.

* A group of pelicans has many collective names, including a "brief", "pod", "pouch", "scoop", and "squadron" of pelicans.

References: All About Birds, Bird Web, Wikipedia, and What Bird

The sound/call of the American White Pelican.

A video I shot of a large colony of American White Pelicans foraging on the Mississippi River.

This recording on the flooded Mississippi River and the pelicans foraging for fish at a flooded walkway.

A video of a small group of American White Pelicans foraging together in a sort of ballet.


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By: HikerBikerGram (offline) on Sunday, February 19 2012 @ 12:33 PM EST  
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These next photos are the American White Pelicans in different stages of flight. I took these three photos along the Mississippi River during Spring and winter migration.

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By: HikerBikerGram (offline) on Tuesday, February 21 2012 @ 05:25 PM EST  
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Bird Talk 101

Peregrine Falcon


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I photographed this female perched in a tree along the cliffs that line the Great River Road. It was alone for a while and then a male, its mate I would guess, joined it on an above brach of the same tree. (See in below photo.)

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The male is perched in the upper branch, you can see how the female is much larger.


General Description
The Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus), also known as the Peregrine, and as the Duck Hawk in early North America. It is a widespread bird of prey in the family Falconidae. A large, crow-sized falcon, it has a blue-gray colored back, with barred white underparts, and a black head and moustache. This falcon is typical of bird-eating raptors, with a large percentage of its diet being small birds . Peregrine Falcons are sexually dimorphic, with females being considerably larger, 30%, than males.The Peregrine is known for its speed, reaching over 202 mph during its hunting stoop, which makes it the fastest member of the animal kingdom.

The falcons back and long pointed wings of the adult are usually bluish black to gray with darker barring on the wingtips being black.The white to biege underparts are barred with thin bands of dark brown or black. The tail is colored like the back but with thin bars, it is long, narrow and rounded at the end with a black tip and a white band at the very end. The top of the head and a mustache along the cheeks are black, contrasting with the pale sides of the neck and white throat. The cere is yellow, as are the legs and feet, and the beak and claws are black.The upper beak has a notch near the tip, an a adaptation which gives falcons the ability to kill prey by severing the spinal column at the neck.The immature Peregrine Falcon is much browner with a streaked, rather than barred, underparts, and has a pale bluish cere and ring around its eyes.

Habitat
Peregrine Falcon breeding regions include from Alaska and the Canadian arctic south, through the mountainous west, and sparingly in the east. It spends winters on coasts north to British Columbia and Massachusetts.It preferred habitats include tundra, cliffs, savannas, coasts, mountains, and tall buildings.

Behavior
The Peregrine Falcon is stated to be the fastest animal on the planet in its swooping hunting dive. The stoop, which involves soaring to a great height and then diving steeply at speeds said to be over 200 mph, and hitting one wing of its prey so as not to disable itself on impact.

Diet
Peregrine Falcon preys mostly on birds, including doves, pigeons, shorebirds, waterfowl, and passerines. It also eats small reptiles and mammals. This falcon often soars to hunt, diving to stun its prey in midair.

Breeding and Nesting

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This photo is of the female parent and her young at the nest on a cliff edge. The photographer is Georges Ligniers and the photo was found at Wikimedia Commons.This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. Here is the link. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File: ... _7_mai.jpg

The Peregrine Falcon nests in an area that has been scraped by the bird, normally on cliff edges or today regularly in parts of its range, on tall buildings or bridges. The cliff nests are generally under an overhang, on ledges with some vegetation, and facing south nest sites are favored.

The Peregrine Falcon becomes sexually mature at the end of the first year of age. In healthy populations they breed after two to three years of age. The pair mates for life and returns to the same nesting area every year. Their courtship flight includes a mix of aerial acrobatics, spirals, and fast steep dives. The male often passes prey it has caught to the female in mid-air. To make this happen, the female flies upside-down to receive the food from the male's talons.

Three to four eggs (range 1–5) are laid in the scrape. The eggs are white to buff with red or brown spots. The incubation period is for 29 to 33 days, mainly by the female. The male at times also helps with the incubation of the eggs during the day, but at night only the female incubates. The female can lay another clutch if the eggs are lost early in the nesting season. It is extremely rare in the Arctic owing to the short summer season. Due to infertile eggs and natural losses of nestlings, the average number of young found in nests are 2.5, and the average number that fledges is about 1.5.

After hatching, the eyases, or chicks, are covered with creamy-white downy plumage and have disproportionately large feet. The male, which is called the "tiercel", and the female, which is simply called the "falcon", both gather prey to feed the young. The hunting territory of the parents can have a radius of (12–15 miles) from the nest site. Chicks generally fledge 42 to 46 days after hatching, and will remain dependent on their parents for up to two months.

Migration
In the mild-winter regions, the Peregrine Falcon is usually a permanent resident, and some, especially adult males, will remain on the breeding territory. The populations that breed in Arctic climes typically migrate great distances during the northern winter.

Conservation
The Peregrine Falcon has an a large range extending roughly 10,000,000 square kilometers. They can be found in almost any part of the globe, with the exception of Antarctica. Its habitats are very varied and include forests, savannas, shrublands, grasslands, wetlands and marine environments, desert areas and even urban locations. The global population of this species is estimated to be around 10,000 to 100,000 birds. At this time, it is not believed that the population trends for this species will soon approach the minimum levels. Due to this, population trends for the Peregrine Falcon have a present evaluation level of Least Concern.

Interesting Facts
* The name "peregrine" means wanderer. The Peregrine Falcon has one of the longest migrations of any North American bird when their region is the Arctic. Tundra-nesting falcons winter in South America, and may move 25,000 km (15,500 mi) in a year.

* Humans have trained falcons for hunting for over a thousand years and the Peregrine Falcon was always one of the most valuable birds. The efforts to breed the Peregrine in captivity and restore populations depleted during the DDT years were greatly assisted by the existening methods of handling captive falcons developed by falconers.

* The Peregrine Falcon is a very fast flier, averaging 25-34 mph in traveling flight, and reaching speeds up to 69 mph in direct pursuit of prey. During its spectacular hunting stoop from heights of over 0.62 mi, the peregrine may reach speeds of 200 mph as it drops toward its prey.

* The Peregrine Falcon is one of the most widespread birds on this planet. It is found on all continents except Antarctica and on many oceanic islands.

References: Bird Web, What Bird, Wikipedia, and All About Birds

The sound/call of the Peregrine Falcon.

A video of the Peregrine Falcon in high speed flying.

This is a not to miss video of a Peregrine Falcon laying her eggs and then one chick hatching. There are several other good Peregrine Falcon videos at this same web site. Two are posh linked below.

Video of parent feeding chicks at the nest

A video of a young Peregrine Falcon being fed at the nest, fledging, being fed outside the nest, and eating its first kill.


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By: HikerBikerGram (offline) on Tuesday, February 21 2012 @ 05:29 PM EST  
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This photo of a immature Peregrine Falcon eating a small bird was found at Wikimedia Commons.This image or recording is the work of a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employee, taken or made during the course of an employee's official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain. For more information, see the Fish and Wildlife Service copyright policy. Here is the link to the web site. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File: ... _USFWS.jpg
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I caught this photo of a Peregrine Falcon flying over the cliffs along the Mississippi River.
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I photographed this male Peregrine Falcon also along the cliffs of the Mississippi River. You can see that this male has been banded on its leg, as it is lifting its leg to scrach its head.
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By: HikerBikerGram (offline) on Thursday, February 23 2012 @ 12:29 PM EST  
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Bird Talk 101

The Wood Duck


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This is a pair of Wood Ducks, the female is on the top of the drift wood, much duller looking then the brightly colored male. I found this photo at Wikimedia Commons. This image is the work of a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employee, taken or made during the course of an employee's official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain.http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Woodduck95.jpg

General Description
The Wood Duck or Carolina Duck (Aix sponsa) is a species of duck found in North America. It is one of the most beautifully colored ducks of North American.

The Wood Duck is a medium-sized waterfowl duck that breeds in tree cavities. An adult is about 19 in in length with an average wingspan of 29 in. It is about three-quarters of the length of an adult Mallard. The Wood Duck shares its genus with the Asian Mandarin Duck (Aix galericulata). The adult male has distinct multicolored iridescent plumage and red eyes. The female is less colorful and has a white ring around its eye and a whitish plumage to its throat. Both adults have a crested head. Wood Ducks bob their head back and forth when swimming, in a jerking type motion. This makes them easy to spot when on the water.

Habitat
Wood Ducks are found in forested wetlands, including along rivers, swamps, marshes, ponds, and lakes.

Behavior
They moves very fast and pecks and dabbles on water surface. May tip-up with head submerged and tail up foraging for food, or at times dives for submerged food items.

Diet
Their diet mainly consists of seeds, acorns, fruits, aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates.

Breeding and Nesting

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This female and her young were on a flattened beaver den on a pond where I was watching a Mute Swan pair. They do scare easily and I was very lucky to catch this photo.

The Wood Ducks breeding habitat is wooded swamps, lakes, marshes or ponds, and creeks in eastern North America, on the west coast of the United States and western Mexico. They normally nest in tree cavaties close to the water. They will nest in nesting boxes in wetland locations if available. The Wood Duck has sharp claws for perching in trees, which is different then most ducks. In the southern warmer climates they can produce two broods in a single season, the only North American duck that can do so.

Females lay between 7 and 15 white-biege eggs that incubate for an average of 30 days. If nesting boxes are placed too close together, females may lay eggs in the nests of their neighbor Wood Ducks, which may lead to nests that may contain 40 eggs and lead to unsuccessful incubation. This behavior is known as "nest dumping".

After hatching, the ducklings jump from the nest tree and make their way to water. The female wood duck calls them to her from below, but does not help them in jumping. The ducklings jump from heights of up to 290 ft without injury. The Wood Ducks prefer nesting over water so the young have a softer landing, but at times will nest up to 150 yd away from the water. The hatchlings jumping exit from the nest occurs the day after they hatching. Once they find the water the baby ducks can swim and find their own food.

Click on image to download
This is a Wood Duck chick found at Wikimedia, author Kevin Cole, this file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File: ... _chick.jpg

Migration
Wood Ducks are year-round residents in parts of its southern range, but the most northern populations migrate south for the winter, overwintering in the southern United States near the Atlantic coast. Aproximately 75% of the Wood Ducks in the Pacific Flyway are non-migratory.

Conservation
The population of the Wood Duck was in serious decline in the late 19th century due to severe habitat loss and hunting both for meat and plumage for the ladies' hat market in Europe. By the beginning of the 20th century wood ducks had neartly disappeared from much of their former ranges. In response to the Migratory Bird Treaty established in 1916 and enactment of the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, wood duck populations began to slowly recover and thier numbers increased. By regulated hunting and taking measures to protect remaining habitat, Wood Duck populations began to increase in the 1920s. The use of the artificial nesting box in the 1930s gave an additional boost to wood duck production.

Interesting Facts
*Natural cavities for nesting can be scarce, therfore the Wood Duck readily uses nest boxes provided for it. If nest boxes are too close together, females may lay eggs in the nests of other females. These "dump nests" can have up to 40 eggs and many eggs are not incubated.

* The Wood Duck nests in trees near water, and sometimes directly over water. Other times the nest can be up to 1.2 mi awayfrom water. After hatching the ducklings jump down from the nest tree and find their way to water. The mother calls them to her from below the nest. She does not help them in any other way. The hatchlings only a day old may jump from heights of up to 290 ft without occurring injury.

* The Wood Duck is a popular game bird, it is second only to the Mallard in numbers shot yearly in the United States.

* Most Wood Ducks arriving at the breeding grounds in the spring are already paired up in January. The Wood Duck is the only North American duck that produces two broods in one year if they breed in a southern region.

* The Wood Duck has sharp claws for perching and nesting in trees, it is the only North America duck to have claws.

References: All About Birds and Wikipedia.org

The sound/call and region map of the Wood Duck.

A National Geographic video of the Wood Duck chicks hatching and then dropping to the water below.

A HD video of a male Wood Duck.



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By: HikerBikerGram (offline) on Saturday, February 25 2012 @ 11:31 AM EST  
HikerBikerGram

Bird Talk 101

The Rose-breasted Grosbeak


Click on image to download
Male Rose-breasted Grosbeak with non-breeding plumage. I took this photo from the woods behind our cabin in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee.

Click on image to download
This female Rose-breasted Grosbeak was foraging near the male that photographed in the Great Smoy Mountains. It was a rainy Morning and they were gleaming seeds off the branches.

Description
The Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Pheucticus ludovicianus, is a meduim seed-eating songbird in the cardinal family (Cardinalidae). It breeds in cooler temperate North America, migrating to tropical America in the winter.

Adult birds are is 7-7.5 in long and weigh 1.6-1.7 oz on average. Both sexes from birth, the beak is dusky horn-colored, and the feet and eyes are dark.

The adult male in breeding plumage has a black head, wings, back and tail, and a bright rose-red patch on its breast. The wings have two white patches and rose-red linings and its underside and rump have white plumage. During the non-breeding season the males plumage have largely white underparts and cheeks. The upper-side feathers have brown fringes, most wing feathers are white , giving a scaly appearance.

The adult female has dark gray to brown upper-parts, darker on wings and tail , a white supercilium, a light buff stripe along the top of the head, and black-streaked white underparts, which except in the center of the belly have a buff tinge. The wing linings are a yellowish color, and on the upper-wing there are two white patches like in the summer male. Immatures are similar, but with pale pink wing-linings and less obvious prominent streaks and usually a pink-buff hue on the throat and breast. At one year of age, in their first breeding season, males are scaly above like fully adult males in winter plumage, and still have the immature's browner wings.

Habitat
The Rose-breasted Grosbeak's breeding habitat is open deciduous woods in most of Canada and the northeastern USA. In winter monthes they prefer more open woodland, or a habitat with a loose growth of trees, such as forest edges, parks, gardens and plantations, ranging from sea level into the hills.

Behavior
They gleans insects from foliage and branches, but will use bird feeders. Their song is a quiet mellow warbling, resembling a version of the American Robin's. Males start singing early morning, occasionally even when still in winter quarters.

Diet
Rose-breasted Grosbeak diet consists of fruits, seeds, and insects. They generally forages on the ground, but also hovers when gleaning from foliage.

Breeding and Nesting

Click on image to download
In this photo the male is feeding the nestlings, the photo was found at Wikimedia Commons. This image or recording is the work of a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employee, taken or made during the course of an employee's official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain. For more information, see the Fish and Wildlife Service copyright policy. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File: ... beak23.jpg

The Rosebreasted Grosbeak breeds and builds their in the deciduous forest, woodland, second growth. They may have 1 or 2 broods and they are monogamous. During courtship, the male sings in flight pursuit of female. The male crouches, spreads and droops wings with tail spread and slightly elevated, then retracts head with nape against back. The male sings and waves head and body in erratic mating dance.

Their nest consist of loosely built twigs, coarse plant material, lined with fine twigs, rootlets, and hair. The nest is cup shaped nest and is generally 5-15 feet above the ground. Males usually select site and the female builds nest with help from male. The female lays 3-5 pale green eggs, blue, or bluish-green, marked with browns, purples, usually wreathed or capped. Both sexes incubate the eggs, and incubation takes 13-14 days. The young leave the nest after 9-12 days and both parents tend the young.

Migration
The northern birds migrate south through the United States east of the Rocky Mountains, to winter from central-southern Mexico through Central America. Their winter habitat is more open woodland, or similar habitat with a loose growth of trees, such as forest edges, parks, gardens and plantations, ranging from sea level into the hills, up to 5,000 ft in Costa Rica.

Conservation
The conservation status of the Rose-breasted Grosbeak is currently Least Concern.

Interesting Facts
* The Rose-breasted Grosbeak inter-breeds with the Black-headed Grosbeak where their ranges overlap in the Great Plains. Hybrids can look like either parent species, or be varied in pattern, with combinations of pink, orange, and black. Hybridization occurs most often where the population of both species are low, and only rarely when densities are high.

* In regions of overlap with the Black-headed Grosbeak, male Rose-breasted Grosbeaks responded equally to songs of both species. When presented with mounted birds, however, they attacked the Rose-breasted Grosbeak mount more. The males directed their attacks primarily at the white rump and flanks of the model, suggesting that the white rump is a more important stimulus than the red chest.

* The nest of the Rose-breasted Grosbeak is so thinly built, that eggs often can be seen from below through the nest.

* The male Rose-breasted Grosbeak shares in incubation of the eggs, accounting for about 1/3 of the time during the day, the female incubates over night. Both sexes communicate by sing quietly to each other when they exchange places. The male will frequently sing his normal song while near or actually on the nest.

References: All About Birds, Bird Web, What Bird, and Wikipedia

Sound/song/call and region map of the Rose-breasted Grosbeak.

A beautiful HD video of a male with breeding plumage singing.

A HD video of a male Rose-breasted Grosbeak with breeding plumage feeding at a feeder.

Video of a female Rose-breasted Grosbeak.


Wildlife Photography, Nature Provides It And We Pass It On

Linda/HikerBikerGram

Joined May 12, 2009


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