Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Birds of Prey Part 2

Two Different Ways to Hunt

Red Shouldered Hawk pair in my backyard last winter.

Cooper's Hawk in my backyard this summer.
If you have read the blog for awhile, you know I have two species of hawks that like to hunt in my backyard.  They have two very different but lethal hunting styles.  This morning one of them was successful.

Red Shouldered Hawk's Approach

Red Shouldered Hawk hunting in my backyard last week.

The Red Shouldered Hawk's hunting style is perching in plain view, looking around(like the one above), then striking. It uses it's powerful wings to thrust into flight and catch it's prey mostly on the ground.  The Red Shouldered Hawk is a very loud hawk but I can tell when it is hunting because it is visible but quiet.  The other thing, I have noticed is most of the squirrels and birds carry on feeding around my yard.  They don't seem to be too worried about the talons and sharp beak that is observing them from a nearby tree.  

The red shoulder where it gets it's name.

Cooper's Hawk's Approach

The Cooper's Hawk takes a more stealthier approach to hunting.  It usually catches it's prey by surprise or chases them through the trees.  It uses it's long tail like a rudder and it's shorter wings to maneuver through the trees after birds.  The above pictures (taken this morning) shows how lethal the Cooper's Hawk can be.  This was a Morning Dove that wasn't very lucky.  The below picture is what was left behind after it quickly took it's catch somewhere safer to eat.  The Cooper's Hawk is known to prey on birds around feeders and this is what probably happened in this case.  The squirrels and birds were quiet and nowhere to be found after this strike for about 30 minutes.  

What types of Birds of Prey do you have in your area?  Tell us about them in the comments or on Facebook.  Don't forget to follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook.  Happy Holidays and Happy Birding!  

Friday, December 18, 2015

Feathers on Friday

Wood Stork

Happy Friday and one week to Christmas.  Here is another shot from our recent trip to the Tampa, Florida area at the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary.  

More Feathers on Friday Post:

Prairie Birder

Bird Boy

Birds in Your Backyard

The Cats and the Birds

JG Birds +

The Morning Side of Life

Don't forget to follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook.  Happy Holidays and birding!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Bird of the Week

Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus)

Photo Credit: Dick Daniels/Wikimedia Commons
This one goes out to my aunt and cousin who live in New Mexico.  I was lucky enough to see one while visiting them a little while back.  No other bird is synonyms with desert life like a Roadrunner though they do live in other habitats like grasslands.  What an amazing bird to thrive in such a harsh habitat.

The Greater Roadrunner is a large member of the Cuckoo family who adapted a special skill of running and foraging on the ground rather than flying.  They can fly but not very well.  They eat mostly meat.  The Roadrunner hunts reptiles, small mammals, insects, centipedes, scorpions and, other birds.  The Greater Roadrunner will even take on the poisonous rattlesnakes and peck them repeatedly in the head till they die.  The Roadrunner bashes larger prey against rocks to make them easier to swallow.

 Ironically, the Greater Roadrunner nest in trees, bushes and cactus off the ground sometimes up to ten feet tall or higher.  This is probably why they still have the ability to fly.  Roadrunners mate for life and are known for their elaborate courtship rituals every mating season.

Fun Facts about the Greater Roadrunner 

-The Roadrunner was made famous by the Looney Tunes cartoon.  It first appeared in 1949.

-Though Willy E. Coyote is much slower than the Roadrunner in the cartoons, in real life a coyote is twice as fast as a Roadrunner and is a dangerous predator for them.    

-Roadrunner has adapted to their dry habitat by secreting salt out of a gland in front of their eyes.  This process uses less water than secreting through the kidneys and urinary tract.  

Have you seen a Greater Roadrunner or have any stories about them?  Tell us about it in the comments or on the Facebook page.  Thanks for reading and happy birding!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Which is Which? The Answers

House Finch or Purple Finch?

1.) Answer-House Finch

Photo Credit: Matthew Holt/Commons Wikimedia
The bright red bib and red head with brown cap help to identfy this one as a male House Finch.  

2.) Answer-Purple Finch

Photo Credit: jima5552003/Creative Commons/Flickr
The all red head with no brown cap and the rosy rump helps to ID this one as a male Purple Finch.  

3.) Answer- Female Purple Finch

Photo Credit: Dick Daniels/Wikimedia Commons
The white eye line and notched tail help to identify this one as a female Purple Finch.  

4.)Answer- Purple Finch 

Photo Credit: Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren/ WikiMedia Commons
The all red head with no brown cap, the red rump and the chunkier shape helps to ID this one as a male Purple Finch 

5.) Answer- Female House Finch

Photo Credit: Howcheng/Wikimedia Commons
The brownish head with no white eye line and the two narrow white wing bars help to identify this one as female House Finch

How did you do?  I had to brush up on my Finch features for this one especially on the females.  I hope you enjoyed it and stay tune for more tricky bird identifications.  

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Which is Which?

House Finch or Purple Finch?

It is that time again to sharpen up your identifying skills of two birds that are tricky to tell apart.  The winter season will probably bring these two finches to visit your bird feeder.   Can you tell them apart?  






This one was tricky even though I had the answers.  How do you think you did?  Post your answers in the comments or on the Facebook page.  Remember to like us on Facebook and/or follow us on Twitter.  I will credit the photos in the answer post.  Stay tune for the answers!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Feathers on Friday


Happy Friday! Last friday, I was in enjoying a little beach time on Gulf Coast of Florida by Tampa/St. Pete area.   I love watching the Willet foraging around on the beach.  

More Feathers on Friday Post:

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Bird of the Week

Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentals )

I recently went to the Tampa/St Pete area with my family for some sun and sand.  While there, we visited the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary in Indian Shores, FL.  This friendly guy was there to welcome us and pose for some pictures.

The Brown Pelican is a success story of wildlife conservation.  They were on the brink of extinction in until the ban of the pesticide DDT.  The pesticide caused their egg shells to be thin and brittle.  They have rebounded well and are now fairly common in the Southeastern United States and on the coast in Southern California.  

The Brown Pelican uses it's large beak and deep pouch to catch fish on the surface of the water.  They are seen flying low over the water and then scooping up fish.  They will at times scavenge and steal from other seabirds.  

The Brown Pelican will nest on the ground, or on platforms, or in trees.  The reason DDT was so harmful to Brown Pelican is because they incubate their eggs with their feet. The pressure would just break the thin and brittle eggs.  

Fun Facts about The Brown Pelican

-Gulls and other seabirds sometime steal fish right out of Pelican's pouch.

-Male Brown Pelican select a nest site and then try to attract a mate with head swaying.  They will defend their area aggressively from other males.

-The oldest known Brown Pelican was amazing 43 years old.  

For more information on the Seacoast Seabird Sanctuary Click here.   Share your experiences with Brown Pelicans in the comments or on the Facebook page