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Old Sunday 13th February 2005, 14:55   #1
weather
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Bird Of The Week

I guess I'll start fresh! Lost a few in the crash.

Mike
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Old Sunday 13th February 2005, 15:09   #2
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Eastern Screech Owl

Eastern Screech-Owl
Megascops asio Order STRIGIFORMES - Family STRIGIDAE

The Eastern Screech-Owl is found in nearly every habitat throughout the eastern United States and southern Canada. It is common in urban as well as rural areas and readily nests in nest boxes.

Description:
Small owl.
Feathered ear tufts.
Gray, brownish gray, or reddish-brown.

Size: 16-25 cm (6-10 in)
Wingspan: 48-61 cm (19-24 in)
Weight: 121-244 g (4.27-8.61 ounces)

Sex Differences:
Sexes alike in plumage, female larger.

Sound:
Two common songs: A descending whistled whinny, and a whistled trill on one pitch. Calls hoots, barks, and screeches.

Conservation Status:
Widespread and common.

Other Names:
Petit-duc maculé (French)
Tecolote chillón, Tecolote oriental (Spanish)

Cool Facts

Red and gray individuals occur across the range of the Eastern Screech-Owl, with about one-third of all individuals being red. Rufous owls are more common in the East, with fewer than 15% red at the western edge of the range. No red owls are known from southern Texas, although they occur further north in Texas and further south in Mexico. Intermediate brownish individuals also occur in most populations.

The Eastern Screech-Owl eats a variety of small animals. Two captive males ate from one-quarter to one-third of their own body weight in food each night, but sometimes skipped a night and stored food instead.

The trilling song on one pitch, sometimes known as the Bounce Song, is used by members of a pair or a family to keep in contact. The male will trill to advertise a nest site, court the female, and when arriving at a nest with food. The descending Whinny is used in territory defense. The songs usually are uttered separately, but sometimes are heard together. http://www.math.sunysb.edu/~tony/bir...creechowl1m.au

Eastern Screech-Owl pairs usually are monogamous and remain together for life. Some males, however, will mate with two different females. The second female may evict the first female, lay her own eggs in the nest, and incubate both clutches.

The Eastern Screech-Owl is known to eat a variety of songbirds, including the European Starling. Despite this fact, the starling regularly displaces the owl from nesting sites and takes over the hole to raise its own brood.

Sources used to construct this page:
topGehlbach, F. R. 1995. Eastern Screech-Owl (Otus asio). In The Birds of North America, No. 165 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, PA, and The American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C.

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Old Sunday 13th February 2005, 16:10   #3
A CHAPLIN
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Thumbs up

Thanks Mike,

What a great thread this is, keep it up. The Screech Owl sounds totally different to our owls.

Ann Chaplin
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Old Sunday 13th February 2005, 16:31   #4
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Quote:
The second female may evict the first female.
Mike
While the bemused male looks on.


Quote:
Despite this fact, the starling regularly displaces the owl from nesting sites and takes over the hole to raise its own brood.
Amazing, eventhough this Owl is slightly bigger than than the Starling and a predator as well.
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Old Friday 18th February 2005, 13:49   #5
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Atlantic Puffin

ATLANTIC PUFFIN
Fratercula arctica Order CHARADRIIFORMES - Family ALCIDAE

A natty black-and-white seabird with a huge, multicolored bill, the Atlantic Puffin looks like a clown of the sea. It breeds in colonies on rocky islands in the North Atlantic and winters at sea.

Description:
Stocky, large-headed black-and-white bird.
Large triangular bill colored red, blue, and yellow in summer, but duller in winter.
White cheek.
Black back, neck and top of head.
Legs orange.

Sex Differences:
Sexes look alike.

Sound:
Silent above ground, in breeding burrow makes growling sound like a chainsaw buzzing.

Conservation Status:
Heavily exploited for eggs and meat in 1800s and early 1900s. Populations drastically declined, with some colonies eliminated. Currently American population is growing. Reintroduction program in Maine run by National Audubon Society was successful in creating new breeding colonies of the species in that state. For more information, visit Project Puffin. http://www.projectpuffin.org/

Other Names:
Macareux moine (French)
Frailecillo (Spanish)

Cool Facts:

The Atlantic Puffin may live to be more than 30 years old. It does not breed until it is three to six years old.

The bright colors of the Atlantic Puffin make it well loved by people. Boat tours to see puffins are popular near their breeding grounds, and it has been selected to be the provincial bird of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Sources used to construct this page:
Lowther, P. E., A. W. Diamond, S. W. Kress, G. J. Robertson, and K. Russell. 2002. Atlantic Puffin (Fratercula arctica). In The Birds of North America, No. 709 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Birds of North America, Inc., Philadelphia, PA.

Mike

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Old Friday 18th February 2005, 15:07   #6
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Another masterpiece, and a few facts I didn't know
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Old Friday 18th February 2005, 20:27   #7
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Surely nobody could ever take puffins seriously!

Thankyou mike great commentary and photo.

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Old Sunday 20th February 2005, 15:47   #8
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Smile

Thanks Mike,

Next time I go to the coast, I will listen for the chainsaws buzzing underground, hope I do find a Puffin but knowing my luck it will be a man up a tree a mile away.

Look forward to reading the next one.

Ann Chaplin

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Old Sunday 20th February 2005, 16:14   #9
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Nice thread, Mike. Thanks!
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Old Friday 25th February 2005, 00:13   #10
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Cedar Waxwing

CEDAR WAXWING
Bombycilla cedrorum Order PASSERIFORMES - Family BOMBYCILLIDAE

The Cedar Waxwing is one of the most frugivorous birds in North America. Many aspects of its life, from its nomadic habits to its late breeding season, may be traced to its dependence upon fruit.

Description:
Medium-sized songbird.
Gray-brown overall.
Crest on top of head.
Black mask edged in white.
Yellow tip to tail; may be orange.

Size: 14-17 cm (6-7 in)
Wingspan: 22-30 cm (9-12 in)
Weight: 32 g (1.13 ounces)

Sex Differences:
Sexes nearly alike.

Sound
Calls are very high pitched "bzeee" notes.

Conservation Status:
Populations increasing throughout range.

Other Names
Jaseur d' Amérique (French)
Ampelis Americano, Picotera, Chinito (Spanish)

Cool Facts

The name "waxwing" comes from the waxy red appendages found in variable numbers on the tips of the secondaries of some birds. The exact function of these tips is not known, but they may serve a signaling function in mate selection.

Cedar Waxwings with orange instead of yellow tail tips began appearing in the northeastern United States and southeastern Canada beginning in the 1960s. The orange color is the result of a red pigment picked up from the berries of an introduced species of honeysuckle. If a waxwing eats the berries while it is growing a tail feather, the tip of the feather will be orange.

The Cedar Waxwing is one of the few temperate dwelling birds that specializes in eating fruit. It can survive on fruit alone for several months. Unlike many birds that regurgitate seeds from fruit they eat, the Cedar Waxwing defecates fruit seeds.

The Cedar Waxwing is vulnerable to alcohol intoxication and death after eating fermented fruit.

Sources used to construct this page:
topWitmer, M. C., D. J., Mountjoy, and L. Elliot. 1997. Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum). In The Birds of North America, No. 309 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, PA, and The American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C.

Mike

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Old Friday 25th February 2005, 09:25   #11
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"The orange color is the result of a red pigment picked up from the berries of an introduced species of honeysuckle. If a waxwing eats the berries while it is growing a tail feather, the tip of the feather will be orange."

Wow I never knew that!
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Old Friday 4th March 2005, 14:27   #12
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Purple Martin

Purple Martin
Progne subis Order PASSERIFORMES - Family HIRUNDINIDAE

The largest of the North American swallows, the Purple Martin is a popular tenant of backyard birdhouses. In fact, in eastern North America it has nested almost exclusively in nest boxes for more than 100 years.

Description:
Large swallow; medium-sized songbird.
Large head.
Thick chest.
Broad, pointed wings.
Male entirely bluish-black.

Size: 19-20 cm (7-8 in)
Wingspan: 39-41 cm (15-16 in)
Weight: 45-60 g (1.59-2.12 ounces)

Sex Differences:
Male all dark, female dingy below.

Sound:
Song a series of musical chirps interspersed with raspy twitters.

Conservation Status:
Some populations are undergoing a long-term decline. Not listed as threatened or endangered anywhere.

Other Names:
Hirondelle noire (French)
Golondrina grande negruzca, Golondrina azul americana (Spanish)

Cool Facts:

Native Americans hung up empty gourds for the Purple Martin before Europeans arrived in North America. Purple Martins in eastern North America now nest almost exclusively in birdhouses, but those in the West use mostly natural cavities.

Despite the term "scout" used for the first returning Purple Martins, the first arriving individuals are not checking out the area to make sure it is safe for the rest of the group. They are the older martins returning to areas where they nested before. Martins returning north to breed for their first time come back several weeks later. The earlier return of older individuals is a common occurrence in species of migratory birds.

The Purple Martin is unusual among birds that use nest boxes; several pairs will nest in a single box with multiple compartments. However, one male will attempt to defend multiple compartments. Western martins are less likely to use boxes with multiple compartments.

The Purple Martin not only gets all its food in flight, it gets all its water that way too. It skims the surface of a pond and scoops up the water with its lower bill.

The Purple Martin Conservation Association http://www.purplemartin.org/ supports the study of the Purple Martin, and has more information available on its web site. The Purple Martin Society of North America http://www.purplemartins.com/ also provides information on martins and martin houses.

Sources used to construct this page:
Brown, C. R. 1997. Purple Martin (Progne subis). In The Birds of North America, No. 287 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, PA, and The American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C.

Mike

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Old Thursday 10th March 2005, 13:33   #13
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Killdeer

Killdeer
Charadrius vociferus Order CHARADRIIFORMES - Family CHARADRIIDAE - Subfamily Charadriinae

The most widespread and familiar of the American plovers, the Killdeer is a common bird in farmyards, fields, and parking lots. Although many species of birds pretend to have a broken wing to lure predators from their nest, the Killdeer is the one most commonly seen performing this distraction display.

Description:
Medium-sized shorebird.
Legs moderately long.
Neck short.
Back brown.
Underparts white with two black bands on chest.

Size: 20-28 cm (8-11 in)
Wingspan: 46-48 cm (18-19 in)
Weight: 75-128 g (2.65-4.52 ounces)

Sex Differences:
Sexes look alike.

Sound
Loud piercing "kill-deer."

Conservation Status:
The Killdeer is one of the most successful shorebirds because of its fondness for human modified habitats and its willingness to nest close to people. Because they live so close to people, however, they are vulnerable to pesticide poisoning and collisions with cars and buildings.

Other Names:
Pluvier kildir (French)
Playero sabanero, Chorlito tildio (Spanish)

Cool Facts:

Gravel rooftops attract Killdeer for nesting, but can be dangerous places to raise a brood. Chicks may be unable to leave a roof because of high parapets and screened drain openings. When adults lure chicks off the roof, the chicks may die from the fall. However, some chicks have been observed leaping from a seven-story building and surviving.

The broken-wing act used to lead predators from the nest would not keep a cow or horse from stepping on the eggs. To guard against large hoofed animals, the Killdeer uses a quite different display, fluffing itself up, displaying its tail over its head, and running at the beast to attempt to make it change its path.

Sources used to construct this page:
topJackson, B. J. S., and J. A. Jackson. 2000. Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus). In The Birds of North America, No. 517 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Birds of North America, Inc., Philadelphia, PA.

Mike

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Old Thursday 10th March 2005, 13:49   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by weather
Killdeer

Cool Facts:

However, some chicks have been observed leaping from a seven-story building and surviving.

The broken-wing act used to lead predators from the nest would not keep a cow or horse from stepping on the eggs. To guard against large hoofed animals, the Killdeer uses a quite different display, fluffing itself up, displaying its tail over its head, and running at the beast to attempt to make it change its path.
Thanks again Mike.

I have seen/read similar observations but then with other birds, I will write about it in another thread.
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Old Thursday 17th March 2005, 14:28   #15
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Snow Bunting

Snow Bunting
Plectrophenax nivalis Order PASSERIFORMES - Family EMBERIZIDAE

Appropriately named, the Snow Bunting is a bird of the high Arctic and snowy winter fields. Even on a warm day, the mostly white plumage of a bunting flock evokes the image of a snowstorm.

Description:
Small songbird.
Lots of white in the plumage.
Underside white.
Large white patches in wings.
Brownish on back and face.
Black tail with white outer feathers.

Size: 15 cm (6 in)
Wingspan: 30 cm (12 in)
Weight: 31-46 g (1.09-1.62 ounces)

Sex Differences:
Breeding male clean black-and-white, female streaked with gray and rufous. Similar in nonbreeding plumage, but female with darker wings.

Sound:
Song a low, husky warbling. Calls include a clear "chew," a husky rolling rattle, a short buzz, and a sharp "chi-tik."

Conservation Status:
Common. Both nesting and wintering habitats currently extensive in North America and not threatened.

Other Names
Bruant des neiges (French)

Cool Facts:

The male Snow Bunting returns to its high Arctic breeding grounds in early April, when temperatures can still dip as low as -30° C (-22° F) and snow still covers most of the ground. The female does not return until four to six weeks later.

Early arriving Snow Bunting males set up and defend territories that include good nesting sites. They will still come together in flocks to forage, and usually roost in loose groups of from 30 to 80 birds.

The Snow Bunting places its nest deep in cracks or other cavities in rocks. Although such nest sites are relatively secure from predators, rocks are cold. The thick nest lining of fur and feathers helps keep the eggs and nestlings warm, but the female must remain on the nest for most of the incubation period. The male feeds her while she is incubating so that she does not need to leave the nest very often.

Although breeding and nonbreeding males look quite different, the Snow Bunting has only one molt each year and no true "Alternate Plumage." After the molt in the late summer the male looks brownish with a brown and black striped back. Underneath the colored feather tips, the back feathers are pure black and the body feathers all are white. The male wears off all of the feather tips by actively rubbing them on snow, and he is immaculate white and jet black by the time breeding begins.

Sources used to construct this page:
Lyon, B., and R. Montgomerie. 1995. Snow Bunting and McKay's Bunting (Plectrophenax nivalis and Plectrophenax hyperboreus). In The Birds of North America, No. 198-199 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, and The American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C.

Mike

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Old Sunday 27th March 2005, 17:57   #16
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Cattle Egret

Cattle Egret
Bubulcus ibis Order CICONIIFORMES - Family ARDEIDAE

A small white heron of pastures and roadsides, the Cattle Egret is more at home foraging in grass than in water. It follows cattle, horses, and tractors to catch the insects they stir up.

Description:
Medium-sized all-white heron.
Sturdy yellow bill.
Dark legs and feet.
Swollen throat.
Rather short, thick neck for a heron.

Size: 46-56 cm (18-22 in)
Wingspan: 88-96 cm (35-38 in)
Weight: 270-512 g (9.53-18.07 ounces)

Sex Differences:
Sexes similar.

Sound:
Quiet away from breeding colony. Quiet, throaty "rick-rack."

Conservation Status:
May still be expanding breeding range, but populations in some areas declining.

Other Names:
Héron garde-boeufs (French)
Depulgabuey, Garrapatosa, Garrapatera, Garza de ganado, Garza de vaquèra, Garcita de ganado, Garcilla garrapatera, Garcilla bueyera (Spanish)
Buff-backed Heron (English)

Cool Facts:

The Cattle Egret is native to Africa and Asia, and only reached the Americas in the late 19th century. It was first found in northeastern South America in 1877, having probably arrived there from Africa. It reached the United States in 1941, and started nesting by 1953. In the next 50 years it became one of the most abundant of the North American herons. It has occurred all the way to Alaska and Newfoundland, and has bred in nearly all states.

The Cattle Egret is an opportunistic feeder, and will follow large animals or machines to catch insects they stir up. It also is attracted by smoke from a large fire. Egrets come from long distances to catch insects trying to escape the fire.

The Cattle Egret occasionally adds birds to its diet. At Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas off the coast of Florida, migrating Cattle Egrets land on the large green lawn inside the fort, probably hoping for some nice grasshoppers. Because no insects are there to be had, the egrets try to catch the migrating warblers that also have stopped on the tiny island.

Sources used to construct this page:
Telfair, R. C. II. 1994. Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis). In The Birds of North America, No. 113 (A. Poole, and F. Gill, eds.). The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, PA, and The American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C.

Mike

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Old Wednesday 30th March 2005, 15:24   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by weather
Cool Facts:

The Cattle Egret is native to Africa and Asia, and only reached the Americas in the late 19th century. It was first found in northeastern South America in 1877, having probably arrived there from Africa. It reached the United States in 1941, and started nesting by 1953. In the next 50 years it became one of the most abundant of the North American herons. It has occurred all the way to Alaska and Newfoundland, and has bred in nearly all states.
So this is a bird that made it all on it's own across that Atlantic, there must have been quite a number of migrants then, enough to breed, establish themselves and reach the rest of the continent.
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Old Tuesday 5th April 2005, 13:52   #18
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Bufflehead

Bufflehead
Bucephala albeola Order ANSERIFORMES - Family ANATIDAE - Subfamily Anatinae

The smallest diving duck in North America, the Bufflehead breeds in ponds and small lakes in Canada, and winters in much of the United States. It nests in tree cavities as well as in nest boxes.

Description:
Small diving duck.
Black-and-white.
Small gray bill.
White patch on side of head.

Size: 32-40 cm (13-16 in)
Wingspan: 55 cm (22 in)
Weight: 272-635 g (9.6-22.42 ounces)

Sex Differences:
Male with white sides, black back and head, and large white patch on head. Female duller and darker, with gray sides and small white patch on head.

Sound:
Usually silent. Courtship display includes guttural chattering. Male may give squeal or growl in late winter or spring; females give a throaty cluck when seeking nests in summer.

Conservation Status:
In the early 20th century, shooting had reduced Bufflehead population numbers significantly, but between 1955 and 1992, surveys indicate that numbers more than doubled, despite large year-to-year fluctuations.

Other Names:
Petit Garrot (French)
Pato chillón chico (Spanish)

Cool Facts:

The Bufflehead nests almost exclusively in holes excavated by Northern Flickers and, on occasion, by Pileated Woodpeckers.

Unlike most ducks, the Bufflehead is mostly monogamous, often remaining with the same mate for several years.

The Bufflehead lays eggs more slowly than most other ducks, commonly with intervals of two or three days between eggs.

Sources used to construct this page:
Bellrose, F. C. 1976. Ducks, Geese, and Swans of North America. Stackpole Books, Harrisburg, PA. Gauthier, Gilles. 1993. Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola). In The Birds of North America, No. 67 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, and The American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C.

Mike

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Old Tuesday 5th April 2005, 20:35   #19
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Keep up the good work ,some excellent facts any chance of White Throated Sparrow and Dark Eyed Junco as these are the only Americans i've seen in Scotland and i know knothing about them .


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Old Tuesday 12th April 2005, 00:15   #20
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Dark-eyed Junco

Dark-eyed Junco
Junco hyemalis Order PASSERIFORMES - Family EMBERIZIDAE

A widespread and common small sparrow, the Dark-eyed Junco is most familiar as a winter visitor to bird feeders. It comes in several distinctly different looking forms, but all are readily identified as "juncos" by their plain patterning, dark hood, and white outer tail feathers.

Description:
Medium-sized sparrow.
Unstreaked gray or brown, no wingbars (usually).
Gray to black hood.
Belly white.
White outer tail feathers.
Eyes dark. Legs pink.

Size: 14-16 cm (6-6 in)
Wingspan: 18-25 cm (7-10 in)
Weight: 18-30 g (0.64-1.06 ounces)

Sex Differences:
Sexes similar, but females average paler and browner.

Sound:
Song is a musical trill. Calls a hard "tick," "smack," and a short twittering trill.

Conservation Status:
Common.

Other Names
Junco ardoisé (French)
Junco ojo oscuro (Spanish)

Cool Facts:

Juncos are the "snowbirds" of the middle latitudes. In the eastern United States, they appear in all but the most northern states only in the winter, and then retreat each spring. Some juncos in the Appalachian Mountains remain there all year round, breeding at the higher elevations. These residents have shorter wings than the migrants that join them each winter. Longer wings help the migrants fly long distances.

The Dark-eyed Junco includes five forms that were once considered separate species. The "slate-colored junco" is the grayest, found from Alaska to Texas and eastward. The "Oregon junco" is boldly marked blackish and brown, with a distinct dark hood, and is found in the western half of the continent. The "gray-headed junco" has a brown back and gray sides and lives in the central Rocky Mountains. The "white-winged junco" is all gray with white wingbars, and breeds only near the Black Hills of South Dakota. The "Guadalupe junco" of Baja California is dull and brownish. Two other forms may be distinguishable: the "pink-sided junco," a pale version of the Oregon junco, living in the northern Rocky Mountains, and the "red-backed junco," a gray-headed junco with a dark upper bill, found in mountains near the Mexican border.

The Dark-eyed Junco is a common bird at winter bird feeders across North America. Data from Project FeederWatch http://www.birds.cornell.edu/pfw/index.html show that it is often the most common feeder bird in an area, and it is on the top-ten lists of all regions except the Southeast and South-Central (where it is 11th and 12th, respectively). To view the top-25 lists of feeder birds from across the continent, go to the Project FeederWatch Data Retrieval page. http://www.birds.cornell.edu/pfw/Dat...etr_index.html

Sources used to construct this page:
Nolan, V., Jr., E. D. Ketterson, D. A. Cristol, C. M. Rogers, E. D. Clotfelter, R. C. Titus, S. J. Schoech, and E. Snajdr. 2002. Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis). In The Birds of North America, No. 716 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Birds of North America, Inc., Philadelphia, PA.

Mike

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I wish I would have a real tragic love affair and get so bummed out that I'd just quit my job and become a bum for a few years, because I was thinking about doing that anyway.

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Old Tuesday 12th April 2005, 00:20   #21
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Wonderful thread weather

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Old Wednesday 13th April 2005, 17:14   #22
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Photo not a Purple Martin

The photo here is not a purple martin. In fact, it looks like my bad photo of a Blue-Black Grassquit from Moji das Cruzes, Sao Paulo, Brazil. There are plenty of nice photos in the gallery of Purple Martins. How did this get loaded here, and attributed to HelenB? Surely I am the only one who would claim such a fuzzy photo!

photo by BF member HelenB.[/quote]

Good Birding,

Jeff
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Old Wednesday 13th April 2005, 17:42   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oregonian
The photo here is not a purple martin. In fact, it looks like my bad photo of a Blue-Black Grassquit from Moji das Cruzes, Sao Paulo, Brazil. There are plenty of nice photos in the gallery of Purple Martins. How did this get loaded here, and attributed to HelenB? Surely I am the only one who would claim such a fuzzy photo!
Jeff, I think you need to clear your browser's cache or something. When I click on the attachment, I get a clear, sharp photo of a Purple Martin.

Cheers,
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Old Wednesday 13th April 2005, 18:16   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jacamar
Jeff, I think you need to clear your browser's cache or something. When I click on the attachment, I get a clear, sharp photo of a Purple Martin.

Cheers,
Hey, it worked! Now it looks like a clear, sharp Purple Martin!

That's weird - sorry about the posting

Jeff
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Old Sunday 24th April 2005, 16:56   #25
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Indigo Bunting

Indigo Bunting
Passerina cyanea Order PASSERIFORMES - Family CARDINALIDAE

A brilliantly blue bird of old fields and roadsides, the Indigo Bunting prefers abandoned land to urban areas, intensely farmed areas, or deep forests.

Cool Facts:

The Indigo Bunting migrates at night, using the stars for guidance. It learns its orientation to the night sky from its experience as a young bird observing the stars.

Experienced adult Indigo Buntings can return to their previous breeding sites when held captive during the winter and released far from their normal wintering area.

The sequences of notes in Indigo Bunting songs are unique to local neighborhoods. Males a few hundred meters apart generally have different songs. Males on neighboring territories often have the same or nearly identical songs.

Indigo and Lazuli buntings defend territories against each other in the western Great Plains where they occur together, share songs, and sometimes interbreed.

Description:
Size: 12-13 cm (5-5 in)
Wingspan: 19-22 cm (7-9 in)
Weight: 12-18 g (0.42-0.64 ounces)
Small songbird.
Short, thick bill.
Male brilliant dark blue all over.
Female dull brown.
Eyes dark brown.
Legs blue-gray to blackish.

Sex Differences:
Male in breeding plumage brilliant blue, female dull brown.

Male:
Breeding (Alternate) Plumage: Blue all over, deepest on head. Black in front of eyes. Occasionally with some brown on back, wing, breast, or under tail, or whitish on belly. Wing feathers dark, edged in blue. Upper bill blackish, lower mandible blue-gray.
Nonbreeding (Basic) Plumage: Brown, with some blue edges to scattered feathers; some birds may be more blue than brown. Often whitish on lower belly and under tail. Blackish in front of eyes. Bill whitish to blue-gray. Gape yellowish.

Female:
All brown. Unstreaked or with indistinct streaks on chest. Faint buff wingbars. May have some blue-tinged feathers on wing, tail, or rump. Upper bill brown to blackish, lower mandible pale.

Immature:
Similar to adult female, with brighter buff wingbars. First-year male shows variable amount of blue and brown, may have distinct wingbars.

Similar Species:
Eastern Bluebird had reddish chest and white belly.
Blue Grosbeak larger, with much thicker bill and obvious rufous wingbars.
Female Lazuli Bunting similar, but has more uniform pinkish buff breast and throat, and more conspicuous wingbars.
Female Varied Bunting more uniformly brown, without trace of wingbars, and a slightly more stubby bill.

Sound:
Song a musical series of warbling notes, each phrase given in twos. Call a sharp, thin "spit." Flight call a high buzz.

Range:
Breeds from southern Manitoba to Maine, southward to northern Florida and eastern Texas, and westward to southern Nevada.

Winter Range:
Winters from southern Florida and central Mexico southward through Caribbean and Central America to northern South America.

Habitat:
Breeds in brushy and weedy areas along edges of cultivated land, woods, roads, power line rights-of-way, and in open deciduous woods and old fields. Winters in weedy fields, citrus orchards, and weedy cropland.

Food:
Small insects, spiders, seeds, buds, and berries.

Behavior:
Foraging
Gleans insects off of branches. Feeds in flocks in winter.

Reproduction:
Nest Type
Open cup of soft leaves, coarse grasses, stems, and strips of bark, held in place with spider web, lined with fine grasses or deer hair. Placed in shrub or herbaceous plant close to ground.

Egg Description:
Unmarked white; a few have brownish spots.

Clutch Size:
Usually 3-4 eggs. Range: 1-4.
Condition at Hatching
Helpless with sparse down.

Conservation Status:
Abundant. May be declining slightly in Southeast.

Other Names:
Passerin indigo (French)
Azulito, Gorrión, Ruicito (Spanish)

Sources used to construct this page:
Payne, R. B. 1992. Indigo Bunting (Passerina cyanea). In The Birds of North America, No. 4 (A. Poole, Peter Stettenheim, and F. Gill, Eds.). Philadelphia: The Academy of Natural Sciences; Washington, DC; The American Ornithologists' Union.

Mike

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I wish I would have a real tragic love affair and get so bummed out that I'd just quit my job and become a bum for a few years, because I was thinking about doing that anyway.

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