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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 Saturday, February 25 2012 @ 11:35 AM EST  
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This a male Rose-breated Grosbeak with its breeding plumage. The photo was found at Wikimedia Commons under this licensing statment, I, the copyright holder of this work, hereby publish it under the following licenseCreative Commons attribution share alike. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File: ... us_CT3.jpg

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By: HikerBikerGram (offline) on Thursday, March 01 2012 @ 02:28 PM EST  
HikerBikerGram

Bird Talk 101

The Eastern Bluebird


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This photo is of the female and male Eastern Bluebird, the female is above the male. This photo was found at Wikimedia Commons and this file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. Here is the link. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Siali ... air-8c.jpg

General Description
The Eastern Bluebird, Sialia sialis is a small thrush with bright blue upperparts, rusty-brown throat and breast, and white belly and rear. The adult males are bright blue on top and have a reddish brown throat and breast. Females have lighter blue wings and tail, a brownish throat and breast and a gray crown and back.

Habitat
Eastern Bluebirds live in open country around trees, but with little sparse ground cover. Habitats include open, frequently burned pine savannas, beaver ponds, mature but open woods, and forest openings. They’re most common along pastures, agricultural fields, suburban parks, backyards, and golf courses.

Behavior
Eastern Bluebirds like to perch on wires, posts, and low branches in open country, watching the ground for prey. They feed by flying to the ground and onto insects or, in fall and winter, by perching on fruiting trees to gulp down berries. Bluebirds use nest boxes as well as old woodpecker holes for nest sites.

Diet
Insects caught on the ground are the Bluebird’s main food. Other prey include caterpillars, beetles crickets, grasshoppers, and spiders. In colder weather, fall and winter, bluebirds eat large amounts of fruit including mistletoe, sumac, blueberries, black cherry, tupelo, currants, wild holly, dogwood berries, hackberries, honeysuckle, bay, pokeweed, and juniper berries. Rarely but at times the Eastern Bluebirds have been recorded eating salamanders, shrews, snakes, lizards, and tree frogs.

Breeding and Nesting

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This female is at her nesting box, the photo was taken by William H Majoros. The photo is at Wikimedia Commons and this file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. Here is the link to the photo and lincenses.http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File: ... st_box.jpg

A male Eastern Bluebird attracts a female to his nest site by carrying material in and out of the hole, perching, and fluttering his wings, and then the female does all the nest building. The nest is made of loosely weaving together grasses and pine needles, then lining it with fine grasses and occasionally horse hair or turkey feathers. Nest boxes in some regions are so common that a single breeding territory may contain several suitable holes. Females often choose to build nests in each available hole, but generally only use one of these. The Bluebird pair may use the same nest for multiple broods.They lay 4 to 6 light blue or white eggs in a loose cup of grass and plant stems built in a natural tree cavity, old woodpecker hole, fence post or bird box, 2 to 50 feet above the ground. Incubation ranges from 12 to 14 days and is carried out by the female parent. After fledging the young are still fed by the female parent for a short while.

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Fledgling begging for food from parent, this photo was found at Wikimedia Commons. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license. Here is the link to the photo. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Parenthood.jpg

Migration
Easter Bluebirds are resident to medium-distance migrators. Bluebirds that live in the further northern ranges winter in the southeastern U.S. or Mexico. Those in the northern part of their range are entirely migratory, spending winters in the southeastern United States or Mexico. They may fly as far as 2,000 miles between western Manitoba and Texas.The Eastern Bluebirds from the southeastern U.S. may move ony short distances south or simply remain on their breeding territories the entire year.

Conservation
The Eastern Bluebird has a large range, estimated globally at 5,500,000 square kilometers. It is native to the three nations of North America as well as Belize, Bermuda, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, and Nicaragua and prefers forest, shrubland, and wetland ecosystems, though it has been known to reside in plantations. The global population of this bird is estimated to be 10,000,000 individuals and it does not appear to meet population decline criteria that would necessitate inclusion on the IUCN Red List. They are considered to be at a stable population staus.

Bluebird populations declined in the early twentieth century as aggressive introduced species such as European Starlings and House Sparrows made available nest holes increasingly difficult for bluebirds to nest in. In the 1960s and 1970s establishment of bluebird trails and other nest box programs alleviated much of this competition, especially after people began using nest boxes designed to keep out the larger European Starling. Eastern Bluebird numbers have been recovering nicely since.

Interesting facts
* When approached by a predator, male Eastern Bluebirds will make a song-like warning cry. If a male is not present, the female will begin to sing, hoping to attract a protective male back to the territory.

* The male Eastern Bluebird will display at his nest cavity to attract a female. He brings nest material to the hole, goes in and out, and waves his wings while perched above it. That is pretty much his contribution to nest building, only the female Eastern Bluebird builds the nest and incubates the eggs.

* The Eastern Bluebirds typically have more than one successful brood per year. Young produced in early nests usually leave their parents in summer, but young from later nests frequently stay with their parents over the winter.

* Eastern Bluebirds occur across eastern North America and south as far as Nicaragua. Birds that live farther north and in the west of the range tend to lay more eggs than eastern and southern birds.

* Eastern Bluebirds eat mostly insects, wild fruit and berries. Occasionally, Eastern Bluebirds have also been observed capturing and eating larger prey items such as shrews, salamanders, snakes, lizards and tree frogs.

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

The sound/song and region map of the Eastern Bluebird.

A nicely narrated informative short video about the Eastern Bluebird.

Beautiful HD video of a male Eastern Bluebird.

This Hd video is of the Eastern Bluebird in the snow, it also includes beautiful stillshots.

This slide show video illistrates the song of the Eastern Bluebird with beautiful photos.




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By: HikerBikerGram (offline) on Friday, March 02 2012 @ 11:06 PM EST  
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Bird Talk 101

The Cooper's Hawk


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I found this photo of an adult Coopers Hawk at Wikimedia Commons. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled GNU Free Documentation License.

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File: ... rii-01.jpg

General Description
The Cooper's Hawk (Accipiter cooperii) is a medium-sized hawk native to North American and found from Canada to Mexico. The Cooper Hawks found east of the Mississippi River tend to be larger on average than the birds found to the west.

The Cooper's Hawk is the most widespread hawks of the three North American accipiters. The females are up to one third larger than males, one of the largest sexual size differences of any hawk. The adults have solid gray upperparts, barred with reddish-brown. They have long tails that are barred gray and black, rounded at the ends, with a white band at the tips. They have beautiful red eyes. The immature birds are brown on the upperparts with brown streaking on their white underparts, their eyes are yellow. Cooper's Hawks have short and rounded wings that are slightly farther back on their bodies than those of the smaller Sharp-shinned Hawk. Their heads are larger and their caps are a darker gray and a little more prominent than those of the Sharp-shinned. The white tipped tail of the Cooper's Hawk is usually wider than that of the Sharp-shinned Hawk. All of these differences between the two hawks are quite subtle, and with the size difference between males and females, it can be hard to distinguish a male Cooper's Hawk from a female Sharp-shinned Hawk.

Habitat
The Cooper's Hawks are mostly found in forested areas up to 3,000 feet, especially near edges and rivers. It prefers hardwood stands when they are available, but will use conifers too. This species prefers mature forests, but can also be found in urban and suburban settings, where there are tall trees for nesting. During the breeding and nesting season, Cooper's Hawks are often more common in open areas than Sharp-shinned Hawks.

Behavior
Like most Raptors, the hunting Cooper's Hawk approaches its prey stealthily, flying quietly through dense cover until it is close enough to overcome its prey with a burst of speed. The secretive traits that allow the Cooper's Hawk to surprise its prey also makes it difficult to observe.

Diet
The Cooper's Hawks diet consist of medium-sized birds such as Robins and Jays. Small mammals like squirrels and mice, make up the majority of the Cooper's Hawk's diet.

Click on image to download
The Cooper's Hawks diet consist of birds, so they are frequently found around birdfeeders. This photo was found at Wikimedia Commons and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File: ... Feeder.jpg

Breeding and Nesting
They have a lenghty courtship is lengthy and the male feeds the female for up to a month before she begins to lay eggs. They prefer to nest in a tree, 25-50 feet off the ground. They often built their nest on top of an old nest or clump of mistletoe. The male and female both help build the stick nest lined with pieces of bark. The female incubates 3 to 5 eggs for 30 to 33 days. The male provides food and incubates the eggs when the female leaves the nest to eat. When the 3 to 5 eggs hatch, the female will broods the young for about two weeks and the male continues to bring food for the female and the young. He leaves the food for the female, and she feeds it to the nestlings. The young start to move about the nest at four weeks of age and soon after fledge the nest making short flights. The parents continue to feed the young up to seven weeks.

Click on image to download
This is a juvenile Coopers Hawk, with the brown streaks to its underparts. I found this photo at Wikimedia Commons. "I, the copyright holder of this work, release this work into the public domain. This applies worldwide. I grant anyone the right to use this work for any purpose, without any conditions, unless such conditions are required by law."
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File: ... s_hawk.jpg

Migration
The Cooper's Hawk from most of the Canadian and northern-U.S.-range migrate south in the winter, and some winter as far south as Panama.

Conservation
The Cooper's Hawk has a very large range, thought to estimated globally at 8,400,000 square kilometers. It is native to North America, Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Guatemala and has been spotted in Bermuda. This Cooper's Hawk prefers forest and shrubland areas southand can also reside in urban areas or rural gardens. It has an estimated population of between 100,000 and 1,000,000 individuals. Since there are no signs of significant population decline, this bird does not qualify for inclusion on the IUCN Red List. Cooper's Hawk currently has an evaluation level of Least Concern.

Interesting Facts
* The Cooper’s Hawk was first described in 1828 by Charles Bonaparte, a French naturalist and ornithologist who was the nephew of Napoleon. It was named after William Cooper, who collected the first specimen.

* It captures its prey with its feet, and will squeeze it repeatedly to kill it, instead of biting the prey to kill it in the fashion of falcons. The Cooper's Hawk has also been known to drown its prey.

* They capture prey from cover or while flying quickly through dense vegetation. This behavior can be dangerous, a recent study found that 23 percent had healed fractures in the bones of the chest, especially of the furcula or wishbone from flying into objects such as trees.

* Cooper’s Hawks are fairly common urban and suburban birds. Studies show their numbers are actually higher in towns than in their natural habitat, forests. The cities provide plenty of Rock Pigeon and Mourning Dove for prey. A study in Arizona found a downside to the high-dove diet, in that Cooper’s Hawk nestlings suffered from a parasitic disease they acquired from eating dove meat.

* Life is tricky for the male Cooper’s Hawks, as in most hawks, males are much smaller than their mates. The danger is in, that the female Cooper’s Hawks specialize in eating medium-sized birds. The males tend to be submissive to females and listen for reassuring call notes the females make when they’re willing to be approached.

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

The many calls/sounds and region map of the Cooper's Hawk. There are three videos at this link also, one is of three fledglings at their nest.

A video of a perched Cooper's Hawk

A Cooper's Hawk Calling

A Cooper's Hawk with a Black-billed Magpie as a meal.




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By: HikerBikerGram (offline) on Tuesday, March 06 2012 @ 12:37 PM EST  
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Bird Talk 101

The Northern Cardinal


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My own photo of a male Northern Cardinal perched along a walking trail.


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A female Northern Cardinal, one I photgraphed along a trail.

General Description
The Northern Cardinal is a mid-sized songbird with a body length of 8.3–9 in and a wingspan of 10–12 in. It weighs about 1.6 oz. The male Cardinal is slightly larger than the female. The male is a bright crimson red with a black face mask over the eyes, extending to the upper chest. The color is the most dullest on the back and wings. The female is a golden fawn color, with mostly grayish-brown tones and a slight reddish tint on the wings, the crest, and the tail feathers. The face mask of the female is gray to black and is less defined than that of the male. Both sexes have prominent raised crests and bright coral-colored beaks, which is cone-shaped and strong. Juvenile birds, both male and female, show the coloring similar to the adult female until the fall, when they molt and grow adult feathers.They are brown above and red-brown below, with red-colored crest, forehead, wings, and tail. Their legs and feet are a dark pink-brown and the iris of the eye is brown.

Habitat
You will find the Northern Cardinals in dense shrubby areas such as forest edges, overgrown fields, hedgerows, backyards, marshy thickets, mesquite, regrowing forest, and ornamental landscaping. The Cardinals nest in dense foliage and look for conspicuous, fairly high perches for singing. The growth of towns and suburbs across eastern North America has helped the cardinal expand its range northward.

Behavior
Northern Cardinals generally sit low in shrubs and trees or forage on or near the ground, often in pairs. They are common at backyard bird feeders but may be inconspicuous away from them, at least until you learn their loud, metallic chip note and songs.

Diet
The diet of the Northern Cardinal is mainly weed seeds, grains, and fruits. It is a ground feeder and searches for food while hopping on the ground through trees or shrubbery. It also eats beetles, cicadas, grasshoppers, snails, wild fruit and berries, corn and oats, sunflower seeds, the blossoms and bark of elm trees, and drinks maple sap from holes made by sapsuckers. In the summer months, it shows a preference for seeds that are easily husked, but is less selective during winter, when food is scarce. Northern Cardinals also will eat insects and feeds their young almost entirely on insects.

Breeding and Nesting
Mated Cardinal pairs sometimes sing together before nesting. They may also participate in a bonding behavior during courtship, where the male collects food and brings it to the female, feeding her beak-to-beak. This mate-feeding may continue throughout the period of incubation.

Males sometimes provides nest material and brings it to the female, who does most of the nest building. She crunches twigs with her beak until they are pliable, then turns in the nest to bend the twigs around her body and applies them into a cup shape with her feet. The cup consist of four layers, coarse twigs and sometimes bits of trash covered in a leafy mat, then lined with bark and finally grasses, stems, rootlets, and pine needles. It generally takes 3 to 9 days to build the nest. The finished nest is 2-3 inches tall, 4 inches across, with an inner diameter of about 3 inches. Cardinals do not usually use their nests more than once. The female builds a cup nest in a well-concealed spot in dense shrub or a low tree one to three meters (three to ten ft) off the ground. The nest is made of thin twigs, bark strips, and grasses, lined with grasses or other plant fibers.The eggs are laid one to six days following the completion of the nest. They are white, with a tint of green, blue or brown, and are marked with lavender, gray, or brown blotches which are thicker around the larger end.[10] The shell is smooth and slightly glossy. Three or four eggs are laid in each clutch. Eggs measure approximately 1 x .75 inches in size. The female generally incubates the eggs, though, rarely, the male will incubate for brief periods of time. Incubation takes 12 to 13 days. Young fledge 10 to 11 days after hatching. Two to three, and even four, broods are raised each year. The male cares for and feeds each brood as the female incubates the next clutch of eggs.

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This photo is of a fledgling about 1 week old, photo by Ken Thomas. It was found at Wikimedia commons and licensed as follows, "This image is released to the public domain, and therefore no permission or credit is required. Here is the link: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File: ... -27527.jpg

Migration
They do not Migrate, but remain residents year round in their regions.

Conservation
The Northern Cardinal has a large range, estimated globally at 5,800,000 square kilometers. Native to North America, Guatemala, and Belize, and now found in the Cayman Islands and Honduras, this bird prefers wetland, forest, and shrubland ecosystems, though it can live in former forests and urban areas. The global population of this bird is estimated at 100,000,000 individuals and does not show signs of decline that would necessitate inclusion on the IUCN Red List. For this reason, the current evaluation status of the Northern Cardinal is Least Concern.

Interesting Facts
* The Northern Cardinal have a life span up to 15 years in the wild.

* The males that have a brighter red color appear to feed at higher rates and have greater reproductive success than males that are duller in color.

* The Cardinal is the state bird of seven states-Illinois, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia, and North Carolina. No other bird holds this distinction.

* A group of cardinals has many collective nouns, including a "college", "conclave", "deck", "radiance", and "Vatican" of cardinals.

* Only a few female North American songbirds sing, but the female Northern Cardinal does, and often while sitting on the nest. This may give the male information about when to bring food to the nest. A mated pair shares song phrases, but the female may sing a longer and slightly more complex song than the male.

* Many people are perplexed each spring by the sight of a cardinal attacking its reflection in a window, car mirror, or shiny bumper. Both males and females do this, and most often in spring and early summer when they are obsessed with defending their territory against any intruders. Birds may spend hours fighting these intruders without giving up. A few weeks later, as levels of aggressive hormones subside, these attacks should end (though one female kept up this behavior every day or so for six months without stopping).

* The oldest recorded Northern Cardinal was 15 years 9 months old.

References: All About Birds, Wikipedia.org, and Bird Web

The Sound/Songs and region map of the Northern Cardinal.

Excellent video of Cardinal parents feeding their nestlings and cleaning pooh ouy of the nest.

Three videos of the Northern Cardinal.

I made this video this week of the Nothern male Cardinals in song while walking a trail.


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By: HikerBikerGram (offline) on Tuesday, March 06 2012 @ 12:45 PM EST  
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This female and male Cardinal was at my backyard feeder this winter. A Tufted Titmouse was also there on the feeders pole.


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By: HikerBikerGram (offline) on Sunday, March 11 2012 @ 06:28 PM EDT  
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Bird talk 101

The Rufous Hummingbird


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This is a male Rufous Hummingbird found at Wikimedia commons under this lincense, 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: ... rufus1.jpg

Description
The Rufous Hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus) is a small hummingbird, about 3 inches long, with a straight and very slender long bill. The female is slightly bigger than the male.

The male has a white breast, rufous face, upperparts, flanks and tail and an iridescent orange-red throat patch. At times the males have some green on back and/or crown. The female has green upperparts with some pathes of white, some iridescent orange feathers in the center of the throat, and a dark tail with white tips and rufous base. Females and the rare green-backed males are extremely difficult to differentiate from Allen's Hummingbird.

Click on image to download
A female Rufous Hummingbird drinking nector from the flowers. This photo was found at wikimedia commons under this license, this file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File: ... lowers.jpg

Habitat
They are generally found at edges and in open areas within coniferous forests. Rufous Hummingbirds are also found in sub-alpine shrubby habitats and in residential urban areas.

Behavior
During courtship, the male attracts the female with an aerial display. He dives very close to a female, with his feathers making a loud whining sound near the bottom of an oval trajectory. Rufous Hummingbirds are very territorial and defend feeding territories not only while breeding but also during migration. Rufous Hummingbirds do not sing but make warning chipping sounds in response to perceived threats. Their wings make a whine much like the sound of a cicada.

Diet
Rufous Hummingbirds diet consist of insects and nectar from flowers. They also feed heavily on red flowering currant, salmonberry, honeysuckle, and on sugar-water at hummingbird feeders in some regions.

Breeding and Nesting

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A female incubating on her nest, found at Wikimedia commons. It is under this license, this file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File: ... ing%29.jpg

The female Rufous Hummingbird generally builds her nest over the last year's nest, which is typically 2 to 10 feet from the ground in a coniferous tree. Their nests are often built among huckleberry bushes, alders, blackberries, or drooping conifer branches. The nests built early in the breeding season are situated low in conifers, protecting them from the rain and cold temperatures. Nests built later in the summer are found higher in deciduous trees where they are less likely to overheat. They build thier nests with moss, lined with plant down, covered on the outside with lichen and bark, and held together with spider webbing. The female generally lays two eggs and incubates them for 15-17 days. She feeds and cares for the young by herself until they become independent about 21 days after hatching.

Migration
Rufous Hummingbirds spend their winter in Mexico and south Texas. Recently they have been wintering more frequently in the gulf states and have attempted to winter in the northeast. Once spring returns, they migrate up the Pacific Coast, reaching as far north as south-central Alaska, and they are thus the northernmost breeding hummingbird.

Conservation
The conservation rating of the Rufous Hummingbird is Least Concern.

Interesting Facts
* The Rufous Hummingbird is a common visitor to backyard hummingbird feeders. They are extremely territorial at all times of year, attacking any visiting hummingbird, including much larger species. They have been seen chasing chipmunks away from their nests.

* The Rufous Hummingbird makes one of the longest distance migratory journeys of any bird in the world, as measured by body size. At just over 3 inches long, its roughly 3,900-mile movement from Alaska to Mexico is equivalent to 78,470,000 body lengths.

* During their long migrations, Rufous Hummingbirds make a clockwise travel of western North America each year. They fly up the Pacific Coast in late winter and spring, reaching Washington and British Columbia by May. Generally in July they may start south again, traveling down the chain of the Rocky Mountains.

* The Rufous Hummingbird has an wonderful memory for location, no doubt helping it find flowers from day to day, or even year to year. They have been seen returning from migration and investigating where a feeder had been the year before, even though it had since been moved.

* The Rufous Hummingbird breeds as far north as southeastern Alaska , the northernmost breeding range of any hummingbird in the world. Of the group of western hummingbirds that occasionally show up in the east, the Rufous Hummingbird is the most frequent.

* Rufous Hummingbirds beat their wings extremely fast to be able to hover in place. The wingbeat frequency of the Rufous Hummingbirds has been recorded at 52–62 wingbeats per second.

* The Rufous Hummingbird is not a colony nesting species, however there have been reports from Washington state that have 20 or more Rufous Hummingbird nests only a few yards apart in the same tree.

* Hummingbirds are very hard to catch, but there are records of Rufous Hummingbirds being caught by a Brown-crested Flycatcher and by a frog.

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

Sound/call and region map of the Rufous Hummingbird.

In this video a parent is feeding a Fledgling. There are several other videos of the Rufous Humming bird at thia same site.

A video of a female perched and calling.

In this video a Rufous Hummingbird defends its feeding territory by running the other hummingbirds off from nectar feeders.


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By: HikerBikerGram (offline) on Thursday, March 15 2012 @ 09:33 AM EDT  
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Bird Talk 101

The Mute Swan


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This pair of Mute Swans live on a marsh pond near the Mississippi River. I caught this photo as they swam across the pond.

Description
The Mute Swan (Cygnus olor) and a member of the duck, goose and swan family Anatidae. Adults swan range from 125 to 170 centimetres (49 to 67 in) long with a 200 to 240 centimetres (79 to 94 in) wingspan. They stand over 120 centimetres (47 in) tall on land. The males are larger than females and have a larger knob on their bill.

The Mute Swan is one of the heaviest flying birds, with males (known as cobs) averaging about 26 lb and the slightly smaller females, known as pens, weighing about 20 lb. Young birds, called cygnets, are not always the bright white of mature adults, and their bill is dull greyish-black or dull pink, not orange for the first year. The down may range from pure white to grey to buff, with grey/buff the most common, the white cygnets have a leucistic gene. All Mute Swans are white at maturity, though the feathers are often stained orange-brown by iron and tannins in the water.

Habitat
The mute Swans are the most common swans in the wild, in parks or on country estates in their native range. They live in well-sheltered bays, open marshes, lakes, and ponds.

Behavior
There is no mass migration, though in winter there may be gatherings numbering more than 100 individuals in open salt water. When swimming, a mute swan holds its neck in a graceful curve with the bill pointing downward, as opposed to other swans, which carry their bills level and necks erect. Top flight speed is 50 to 55 mph. They are generally people friendly and do not fleet with the presence of humans, especially those in more urban pond settings.

Diet
The diet of Mute Swans consists of aquatic vegetation, and small proportions of aquatic insects, fish, and frogs. Mute swans do not dive, instead they plunge their head and long neck below the water's surface. Swans feed in deeper waters than ducks and other waterfowl that share their habitat and thus do not compete with them directly for food. Rather, food is made more readily available to other birds by swans because parts of the plants they consume float to the surface while the swans are feeding.

Breeding and Nesting

Click on image to download
The pair of Mute Swans I observe had three cygnets last year, but only one surivived to grow to maturity, I took this photo in April 2011.

The adults pair may mate for life but in some cases may have different mates each breeding season. In fact, some have been observed to have as many as four mates, or even 'divorce' one mate in favor of another. Established pairs are more successful breeders than non-established pairs and mute swans do form monogamous pairs for at least a season or longer.

The Mute Swans rarely nest in colonies. Nest sites are selected and breeding begins in March or early April. These swans either build a new nest or use a previously constructed mound, such as a muskrat house. The nest is large, made of aquatic vegetation, and lined with feathers and down. It is built well above the normal water level in swampy places near a pond or lake. It is possible for clutches of 5 to 12 to occur, but 5 to 7 is most common. The eggs are pale gray to pale blue-green. Incubation lasts 36 to 38 days. The chicks are brownish gray (gradually turning white within the next 12 months) and only remain in the nest for one day. The male may often take the first-hatched cygnet to the water while the female continues to incubate the remaining eggs. The young are able to fly in about 60 days. Chicks can ride on the backs of their parents or under their wings. By the next breeding season the parents drive the young away and the cygnets then join flocks of other non-breeding swans. During this time they molt their feathers, becoming flightless for a short period of time. In the next two years, the juvenile begin to bond with a mate and begin to look for suitable breeding territory. Mute Swans do not begin to breed until about their third year.

Migration
There is no mass migration of Mute Swans, though in winter there may be gatherings numbering more than 100 individuals in open salt water regions. Those with young sometimes stay in their own territory and raise their young through out the winter.

Conservation
The Mute Swan has a large range, estimated globally at 100,000 to 1,000,000 square kilometers. Native to Europe and Asia but also present in North America, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, this bird prefers wetland or coastal marine ecosystems. The global population of this bird is estimated at 600,000 to 620,000 birds and does not show signs of decline that would necessitate inclusion on the IUCN Red List. For this reason, the current evaluation status of the Mute Swan is Least Concern.

Interesting Facts
*Downy young Mute Swans, called cygnets, come in two color morphs: a gray form and a white form. The gray (or "Royal"Wink chicks start off with gray down and grow in gray-brown and white feathers, giving them a mottled look. White or "Polish" chicks have all white down and juvenal feathers. Adults of the white morph may have pink or gray legs and feet instead of black, but otherwise the adults look alike.

*The Mute Swan is reported to mate for life. However, changing of mates does occur infrequently, and swans will remate if their partner dies. If a male loses his mate and pairs with a young female, she joins him on his territory. If he mates with an older female, they go to hers. If a female loses her mate, she remates quickly and usually chooses a younger male.

*The black knob at the base of the male Mute Swan's bill enlarges during the breeding season and becomes noticeably larger than the female's. The rest of the year the difference between the sexes is not obvious.

*A group of swans has many collective nouns, including a "ballet", "bevy", "drift", "regatta", and "school" of swans.

*The Mute Swan is less vocal than the noisy Whooper and Bewick's Swans, the most familiar sound associated with them is the whooshing of their wings in flight. In reality, the Mute Swan is not completely silent and makes a grunting and hissing sound.

*The Mute Swan is the national bird of the Kingdom of Denmark.

*The Mute Swans are very territorial. The familiar pose with neck curved back and wings half raised, known as busking, is a threat display. There have been many reports of Mute Swans attacking people who enter their territory.

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I caught this photo as the adult Mute Swan fly across the pond.

Reference: All About Birds What Bird, Wikipedia, and Animal Diversity Web

The sound/call and regional map of the Mute Swan.

I caught this recording of the Mute Swan Family in 2011 bathing.

I recorded this video in the Spring of 2011, the female is on the nest with a cygnet and the male is in the water with another.

The pair of Mute Swans I observed the year 2011, out on the water foraging. That years cygnet was much larger then last years cygnet.

This video is the male defending its breeding territory, running the Canada geese off his pond.

A video of the Mute Swan taking to flight, there are also 8 other short videos at this site.






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Linda/HikerBikerGram

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By: HikerBikerGram (offline) on Thursday, March 15 2012 @ 09:48 AM EDT  
HikerBikerGram

In this photo the male Mute Swan, Cobb, is defending his breeding territory. The year I caught this photo, the Cobb ran every Canada Goose off his territory.
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The family last summer foraging on the algae on the surface of the water. The Cygnet is 4 to 5 months old.
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In this photo I found the the male had one of the one week old cygnet out on the water and the other is with the female on the nest.
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Wildlife Photography, Nature Provides It And We Pass It On

Linda/HikerBikerGram

Joined May 12, 2009


"Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost"


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