Feathers on Friday

My husband and I took a drive down to the New Jersey shore this week, as the weather was very un winterlike, with temps in the 50’s. On the way, we passed a tall structure which we found out was a water tower disguised to look like a lighthouse. As I approached it to take a photo I realized something was sitting on the edge of the roof. dscn9425

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It turned out to be a Black Vulture- a bird I had never seen before. I looked it up when I got home and found the following:

The black vulture is a scavenger and feeds on carrion, but will also eat eggs or kill newborn animals. In areas populated by humans, it also feeds at garbage dumps. It finds its meals either by using its keen eyesight or by following other vultures, which possess a keen sense of smell. Lacking a syrinx—the vocal organ of birds—its only vocalizations are grunts or low hisses. It lays its eggs in caves or hollow trees or on the bare ground, and generally raises two chicks each year, which it feeds by regurgitation. In the United States, the vulture receives legal protection under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. The common name “vulture” is derived from the Latin word vulturus, which means “tearer” and is a reference to its feeding habits. The black vulture is a fairly large bird of prey, measuring 56–74 cm (22–29 in) in length, with a 1.33–1.67 m (52–66 in) wingspan.

A fellow Vulture flew in while I was standing there- I guess it’s always good to have a friend around.blackvulturepair

Not the most attractive bird I have ever seen, but a thrill to add a new spotting to my list!blackvulture3

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Feathers on Friday: Yellow Bellied Sapsucker

I spotted a bird way up in a tree last week and even zooming in could not identify him. After taking a closer look on the computer I saw he had a beautiful red throat and googled what kind of bird it could be. I was pleased to find out it was a Yellow Bellied Sapsucker- a type of Woodpecker. I had never seen one before!

Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers lap up the leaking sap and any trapped insects with its specialized, brush-tipped tongue. They are mostly black and white with boldly patterned faces. Both sexes have red foreheads, and males also have red throats. Bold black-and-white stripes curve from the face toward a black chest shield and white or yellowish underparts.

Here is is hanging out- literally and munching on the berries on a branchyellowbelliedsapsuckerhanging

He kept moving around the tree so I was only able to get a few shots , and not very clear ones.dscn8445

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Feathers on Friday-The Weekly Smile

I was walking along the bank of a local river Thanksgiving morning when I spotted a bird fly across the water and land on some branches near the water’s edge. I zoomed in and spotted a bird I had never seen before. It was a great distance as it was across the river from where I stood so I was not able to get photos as clear as I would have liked. It was also very overcast so the lack of light didn’t help and I was more intent on capturing a few shots before he took flight than figuring out how to do something about the lack of light. (Marilyn where were you when I needed you???) I got home and googled a description of this bird and found it was a female Belted Kingfisher.

According some of the bird websites: The belted kingfisher is the only member of the Kingfisher group commonly found in the northern United States and Canada. Unlike most birds where the male is more dominantly colored, this kingfisher shows sexual dimorphism, with the female more brightly coloured than the male. Both sexes have a slate blue head, large white collar, a large blue band on the breast, and white underparts. The back and wings are slate blue with black feather tips with little white dots. The female features a rufous band across the upper belly that extends down the flanks. It nests in burrows along earthen banks and feeds almost entirely on aquatic prey, diving to catch fish and crayfish with its heavy, straight bill.

My smile for the week was spotting this never seen before by me bird- and a real beauty at that!beltedkingfisheronbranch

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Feathers on Friday: Eastern Phoebe

1One of the most familiar eastern flycatchers, the Eastern Phoebe’s raspy “phoebe” call is a frequent sound around yards and farms in spring and summer. These brown-and-white songbirds sit upright and wag their tails from prominent, low perches. They typically place their mud-and-grass nests in protected nooks on bridges, barns, and houses, which adds to the species’ familiarity to humans. Hardy birds, Eastern Phoebes winter farther north than most other flycatchers and are one of the earliest returning migrants in spring. The Eastern Phoebe generally perches low in trees or on fence lines, as did the one I saw below.004

dscn7522Phoebes are very active, making short flights to capture insects and very often returning to the same perch. They make sharp “peep” calls in addition to their familiar “phoebe” vocalizations. When perched, Eastern Phoebes wag their tails down and up frequently. They are small birds, only about 6 inches long. 2

Feathers on Friday

Feathers on Friday: Black throated Blue Warbler

4The black-throated blue warbler is a small bird of the  warbler family. Its breeding ranges are located in the interior of deciduous and mixed coniferous forests in eastern North America. Over the cooler months, it migrates to islands in the Caribbean and Central America. The adult male has a black face and cheeks, deep blue upperparts and white underparts, while the adult female is olive-brown above and light yellow below. Predominantly insectivorous, the black-throated blue warbler supplements its diet with berries and seeds in winter.

Sitting at my kitchen table facing a window that looks out onto a small tree I thought I spotted a flash of blue the other day. I grabbed the camera, stood on a chair and hung out the top half of the window in order to capture a few shots of the flash of blue flitting from branch to branch eating the berries. My patience paid off as I was able to get a few and then he actually headed for the ground under the tree allowing me to get more shots as he wrestled with a berry. I was also able to capture his lady friend, though not as clearly, but it was still a thrill to see the pair of them.

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The Mrs.dscn7610