Feathers on Friday

I spotted my first Brown Headed Cowbird of the season this past week.

Singing in a tree, looking for a springtime mate no doubt. According to all about birds:

The Brown-headed Cowbird is a stocky blackbird with a fascinating approach to raising its young. Females forgo building nests and instead put all their energy into producing eggs, sometimes more than three dozen a summer. These they lay in the nests of other birds, abandoning their young to foster parents, usually at the expense of at least some of the host’s own chicks. They forage mostly by walking on the ground, and often with cattle or horses in pastures, catching the insects flushed from the grass by the grazing animals. Originally, they were closely associated with bison herds on the Great Plains. Brown-headed Cowbirds are noisy, making a multitude of clicks, whistles and chatter-like calls in addition to a flowing, gurgling song.

These two found each other and were busy eating together

Feathers on Friday

Say hello to the Palm Warbler. 

I saw him moving around in the grass, and knew it was a bird I had never seen before. He was pretty quick but I managed to capture a shot of him. This brownish-olive bird has a bright rusty cap and a bold pale eyebrow stripe. The Palm Warbler is a warbler that doesn’t act like one, according to Cornell Lab of Ornithology. They spend their time walking on the ground, wagging their tail up and down. Which is exactly where I first spotted him. They mainly forage on open ground or in low vegetation, rather than in the forest canopy as many warblers do. This one was kind enough to fly up onto a pole allowing me a better view and the opportunity to take his photo once again.

A new addition to my list of birds!

Feathers on Friday

The great black-backed gull, also known as the greater black-backed gull or, informally, as the black-back, is the largest member of the gull family, and is the largest gull in the world. The adult great black-backed gull has a white head, neck and underparts, dark grey wings and back, pink legs and yellow bill. The adult great black-backed gull is fairly distinctive, as no other very large gull with blackish coloration on its upper-wings generally occurs in the North Atlantic. The legs are pinkish, and the bill is yellow or yellow-pink with some orange or red near tip of lower bill.  The maximum recorded age for a wild great black-backed gull is 27.

The great black is fairly common to the area I live in and I have been fortunate to capture photos of them. I always marvel at how large they are-as big as a small dog!

Feathers on Friday

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


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


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


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