Feathers on Friday: Osprey

From All About Birds: Unique among North American raptors for its diet of live fish and ability to dive into water to catch them, Ospreys are common sights soaring over shorelines, patrolling waterways, and standing on their huge stick nests, white heads gleaming. These large, rangy hawks do well around humans and have rebounded in numbers following the ban on the pesticide DDT. Ospreys are very large, distinctively shaped hawks. Despite their size, their bodies are slender, with long, narrow wings and long legs. They fly with a marked kink in their wings, making an M-shape when seen from below. Their length21.3–22.8 in (54–58 cm)and wingspan59.1–70.9 in (150–180 cm)

A pair of Ospreys chose a local cell phone tower in town to build their nest, and I had the pleasure of catching sight of them there this week. The tower is located across the street from a marsh and river, making it a perfect place to take up residence and find meals.

I stood below the the tower to capture these photos- their clarity is not the best because of the height distance and the sun. But I still felt they were worth sharing.

The nest is on the right side of the tower.

You can see the “kink” in the wings while in flight

Feathers on Friday





Feathers on Friday: Oystercatcher

Last week while sitting near the shoreline at the beach, I heard a squawking that caught my attention. I looked up to see a bird with a long red bill running along in the surf. This was no Seagull. I grabbed my camera and walked closer to the edge of the water to capture some shots.

This beautiful bird is called an Oystercatcher. It is specialized in feeding on bivalves (oysters, clams, and mussels) and uses its brightly colored bill to get at them. Seen along the  Atlantic and Gulf Coast beaches, I was told by someone on the beach that they have nests under the boardwalk.

The name Oystercatcher was coined by Mark Catesby in 1731 as a common name for the North American species described as eating oysters. In 1843 this name was established as the preferred term, replacing the older name sea pie.

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