Archive for October, 2013


Carolina Wren

This was a very interesting catch for me…. i was actually zoomed WAY in on my platform feeder, on a sparrow. and from the corner of my eye i saw another psarrow land. so i panned over. and got this guy instead. i didnt actually see him with my eye the first time. i was absolutely thrilled, what a treat.

So i took the couple shots that i could get, and he was gone. but then he came back, and as you will notice, in the final picture, there was actually two of them. one os perched on the AC unit, and the other is in the lower right hand corner. i was beside myself watching them flit about.DSCN2954

My first impromptu closeup. i was way unprepared!

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him flitting about on the ground.

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the two of them. one in the upper left one in the lower right. how exciting. 🙂

Info from WIKI and whatbird.com

  • Size & Shape

    The Carolina Wren is a small but chunky bird with a round body and a long tail that it often cocks upward. The head is large with very little neck, and the distinctive bill marks it as a wren: long, slender, and downcurved.

  • Color Pattern

    Both males and females are a bright, unpatterned reddish-brown above and warm buffy-orange below, with a long white eyebrow stripe, dark bill, and white chin and throat.

  • Behavior

    The Carolina Wren creeps around vegetated areas and scoots up and down tree trunks in search of insects and fruit. It explores yards, garages, and woodpiles, sometimes nesting there. This wren often cocks its tail upward while foraging and holds it down when singing. Carolina Wrens defend their territories with constant singing; they aggressively scold and chase off intruders.

  • Habitat

    Look—or listen—for Carolina Wrens singing or calling from dense vegetation in wooded areas, especially in forest ravines and neighborhoods. These birds love to move low through tangled understory; they frequent backyard brush piles and areas choked with vines and bushes.

Range Map Help

Carolina Wren Range Map

Typically 12.5 to 14 cm (4.9 to 5.5 in) with a 29 cm (11 in) wingspan and a weight of about 18 to 23 g (0.63 to 0.81 oz), it is a fairly large wren; among the United States species it is second largest after the Cactus Wren. Among standard measurements, the wing chord is 5.4 to 6.4 cm (2.1 to 2.5 in), the tail is 4.5 to 5.6 cm (1.8 to 2.2 in), the culmen is 1.4 to 1.8 cm (0.55 to 0.71 in) and the tarsus is 2 to 2.3 cm (0.79 to 0.91 in).[4] The upperparts are rufous brown, and the underparts a strong orange-buff, usually unmarked but faintly barred on the flanks in the southwest of the range. The head has a striking pure white supercilium (eyebrow) and a whitish throat. The race albinucha is duller brown above and has additional white streaking on the head.

It is easiest to confuse with the Bewick’s Wren, a fairly close relative,[5] which differs in being smaller but with a longer tail, grayer-brown above and whiter below. The Carolina and White-browed Wrens differ from the House Wren in being larger, with a decidedly longer bill and hind toe; their culmen has a notch behind the tip.[6]

Song and calls

The Carolina Wren is noted for its loud song, popularly rendered as “teakettle-teakettle-teakettle”. This song is rather atypical among wrens and closely resembles that of the Kentucky Warbler which shares much of its range. A given bird will typically sing several different songs. Only the male birds sing their loud song.[7] The songs vary regionally, with birds in northern areas singing more slowly than those in southern areas.

The Carolina Wren also has a series of calls, including a rapid series of descending notes in a similar timbre to its song, functioning as an alarm call, and a very harsh and loud scolding call made to threaten intruders.

Ecology

The Carolina Wren is sensitive to cold weather. Since they do not migrate and stay in one territory the northern populations of Carolina wrens decrease markedly after severe winters. Because of this sensitivity to weather, gradually increasing temperatures over the last century may have been responsible for the northward range expansion seen in the mid-1900s.[7]

Populations in Canada and the northern half of the US experience regular crashes following severe winters, but their high breeding productivity soon results in a return to higher numbers. These birds are generally permanent residents throughout their range and defend territory year round; some birds may wander north after the breeding season.

They eat insects, found in leaf litter or on tree trunks; they may also eat small lizards or tree frogs. In winter, they occasionally eat seeds, berries, and other small fruits.

Reproduction

These birds prefer sites with dense undergrowth, either in mixed forests or in wooded suburban settings, in a natural or artificial cavity. The nest is a bulky, often domed structure, with a small hole towards the top. Nests of the more domestically-inclined wrens have been reported in a great variety of nooks and crannies in, about, or under buildings of various kinds, under bridges, or in holes in any structure such as a porch, fence-post, flowerpot, tree, house or barn. Almost any kind of receptacle may offer an acceptable nesting site. Pairs may mate for life.

Females typically lay between four to six eggs (normally over a period of several days) up to three times per year (but normally only twice). Eggs are oval, grayish-white and sprinkled with reddish-brown spots. Incubation is performed by the female only and lasts anywhere from 12–14 days, with the first young leaving the nest 12–14 days after hatching. Chicks hatch bald and blind, and depend upon parents until fledging. Both the male and female feed the young. They only brood for a short period of time after hatching, leaving the young in a warm, down-lined nest while adults search for food. If conditions are right, the same nest may be used more than once.

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I took this one day from my kitchen. I know every single lump on this tree outside, and i thin k thats the only reason i saw the little bugger. all i saw was his beak popping up, and i thought one of the tree lumps had sprouted a branch of about an inch. but it wasnt… it was this little dudes beak… oh how i scrambled for my camera. he wast here but a moment. but i was grateful to the max for the ten or fifteen seconds we had together. lol.. there is nothing like the feeling when you know for sure you have a new bird…. ❤
Info from WIKI and allaboutbirds.com

Description

Adults are brown on the upperparts with light spotting, resembling a piece of tree bark, with white underparts. They have a long thin bill with a slight downward curve and a long stiff tail used for support as the bird creeps upwards. The male creeper has a slightly larger bill than the female. The Brown creeper is 11.7–13.5 cm (4.6–5.3 in) long.

It’s voice includes single very high pitched, short, often insistent, piercing calls; see, or swee. The song often has a cadence like; pee pee willow wee or see tidle swee, with notes similar to the calls.

Distribution and habitat

Their breeding habitat is mature forests, especially conifers, in Canada, Alaska and the northeastern and western United States. They are permanent residents through much of their range; many northern birds migrate farther south to the United States.

Conservation status

As with many of Washington’s birds, the Cascades divided this species into two subspecies. The species has declined in much of North America but appears to be doing well in Washington, with a small (not significant) increase on the state’s breeding bird survey since 1966.

Behaviour

They forage on tree trunks and branches, typically spiraling upwards from the bottom of a tree trunk, and then flying down to the bottom of another tree. They creep slowly with their body flattened against the bark, probing with their beak for insects. They will rarely feed on the ground. They mainly eat small arthropods found in the bark, but sometimes they will eat seeds in winter.

Breeding

Breeding season typically begins in April. The female will make a partial cup nest either under a piece of bark partially detached from the tree, or in a tree cavity. It will lay 3–7 eggs, and incubation lasts approximately two weeks. Both of the parents help feed the chicks.

As a migratory species with a northern range, this species is a conceivable vagrant to western Europe. However, it is intermediate in its characteristics between Common Treecreeper and Short-toed Treecreeper, and has sometimes in the past been considered a subspecies of the former, although its closest relative seems to be the latter (Tietze et al., 2006).

Brown Creepers prefer mature, moist, coniferous forests or mixed coniferous/deciduous forests. They are found in drier forests as well, including Engelman Spruce and larch forest in eastern Washington. They generally avoid the rainforest of the outer coast. While they generally nest in hardwoods, conifers are preferred for foraging.

Since the two European treecreepers are themselves among the most difficult species on that continent to distinguish from each other, a Brown Creeper would probably not even be suspected, other than on a treeless western island, and would be difficult to verify even then.

Brown Creeper has occurred as a vagrant to Bermuda and Central America’s mountains in Guatemala, Honduras and the northern cordillera of El Salvador.

  • Size & Shape

    Brown Creepers are tiny yet lanky songbirds. They have long, spine-tipped tails, slim bodies, and slender, decurved bills.

  • Color Pattern

    Streaked brown and buff above, with their white underparts usually hidden against a tree trunk, Brown Creepers blend easily into bark. Their brownish heads show a broad, buffy stripe over the eye (supercilium).

  • Behavior

    Brown Creepers search for small insects and spiders by hitching upward in a spiral around tree trunks and limbs. They move with short, jerky motions using their stiff tails for support. To move to a new tree, they fly weakly to its base and resume climbing up. Brown Creepers sing a high, warbling song; they also give a high, wavering call note that sounds similar to that of a Golden-crowned Kinglet.

  • Habitat

    Brown Creepers breed primarily in mature evergreen or mixed evergreen-deciduous forests. You can find them at many elevations, even as high as 11,000 feet at treeline in the West. In the winter season, the species moves into a broader variety of forests and becomes much easier to find in deciduous woodlands.

Range Map Help

Brown Creeper Range Map

So i got some chickadees the last couple years… I previously had an entry entitled carolina Chickadees, but i thin k what i have been seeing are black caps… at least using their vocalizations to differentiate between the two.
some of these pics came from my porch, others from my back yard after i moved all my feeders over there last season. What i notice to be most difficult about these guys right now is that, i am using primarily a platform feeder, and they like to light for a second, like literally one second, and get a seed, and then LEAVE to eat it in a tree. So thats been a photographic challenge. however, i feel i met it well today, keeping the lens aimed at the corner of the platform most near to the tree they jut flew into, and half depressing the button, to focus on the empty space, and just waiting. it paid off today i think. i got the little buggers. 🙂
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Info from WIKI
Description
The Black-capped Chickadee has a black cap and bib with white sides to the face. Its underparts are white with rusty brown on the flanks. Its back is gray and the tail is normally slate-gray. This bird has a short dark bill of 8–9.5 mm (0.31–0.37 in), short rounded wings 63.5–67.5 mm (2.50–2.66 in), a tarsus of 16–17 mm (0.63–0.67 in) and a long tail at 58–63 mm (2.3–2.5 in).[4] Total body length is 12–15 cm (4.7–5.9 in), wingspan is 16–21 cm (6.3–8.3 in) and body mass is 9–14 g (0.32–0.49 oz).[5] Sexes look alike, but males are slightly larger and longer than females.

Although range can generally be used to separate them, the Black-capped Chickadee is very similar in appearance to the Carolina Chickadee. The Black-capped is larger on average but this cannot be used reliably for identification. The most obvious difference between the two is in the wing feathers. In the Black-capped Chickadee, the wing feathers have white edges that are larger and more conspicuous than those of the Carolina Chickadee. The latter is often mistaken for Black-capped Chickadees with feather dystrophy which sometimes affects the appearance of the primary feathers making them look slimmer, a phenomenon caused by illnesses such as fatty liver disease in malnourished birds. Overall, the Carolina appears slightly paler colored whereas the flanks of the Black-capped can appear to have a trace of off-yellow or rusty coloration. Also, the Black-capped generally has a more “ragged” looking black bib, whereas the bib of the Carolina has a more smooth-edged look. These subtle features are often even more vague in populations around where the Black-capped and Carolina overlap in range (possibly the result of hybrids) and the two cannot always be distinguished as two species. The two species were formerly thought to be easily distinguished by call, but they often learn each other’s vocalizations where their ranges overlap (their point of overlap is a narrow band that runs along the east-central United States, with the Black-capped Chickadee to the north). A bird located near the zone of overlap that sings both songs, or sings “odd-sounding” songs, cannot be positively identified solely by voice in the field.[6]

Distribution and habitat

The black-capped chickadee is found from coast to coast, from the northern half of the United States in the south, to James Bay, the southern edge of the Northwest Territories and the Yukon, and the southern half of Alaska in the north. In winter it may wander outside this range, both to the north and south.

Its preferred habitat is deciduous woods or mixed (deciduous/coniferous) woods. It is also found in open woods, parks, and suburban areas. Habitat segregation is the principal factor that separates the Black-capped Chickadee from both the Boreal Chickadee in the north and the Chestnut-backed Chickadee in the Pacific northwest (these two species prefer strictly coniferous forests). Altitude also separates the Black-capped Chickadee from the (higher) Mountain Chickadee in the western mountains and the (lower) Carolina Chickadee in the Great Smokey Mountains.

Diet and foraging

Chickadees will take food such as seeds from feeders and trays over to a tree branch to hammer them open.

Insects (especially caterpillars) form a large part of their diet in summer. The birds hop along tree branches searching for food, sometimes hanging upside down or hovering; they may make short flights to catch insects in the air. Seeds and berries become more important in winter, though insect eggs and pupae remain on the menu. Black oil sunflower seeds are readily taken from bird feeders. The birds take a seed in their bill and commonly fly from the feeder to a tree, where they proceed to hammer the seed on a branch to open it.

Like many other species in the Paridae family, Black-capped chickadees commonly cache food, mostly seeds but sometimes insects also.[7] Items are stored singly in various sites such as bark, dead leaves, clusters of conifer needles, or knotholes. Memory for the location of caches can last up to 28 days.[8] Within the first 24 hours, the birds can even remember the relative quality of the stored items.[9]

At bird feeders, Black-capped Chickadees tolerate human approach to a much greater degree than do other species. In fact, during the winter, many individuals accustomed to human habitation will readily accept seed from a person’s hand.

Metabolism

On cold winter nights, these birds reduce their body temperature by as much as 10-12 °C (18-22 °F) (from their normal temperature of about 42 °C (108 °F)) to conserve energy.[10][11] Such a capacity for torpor is rare in birds (or at least, rarely studied). Other bird species capable of torpor include the Common Swift Apus apus, the Common Poor-will Phalaenoptilus nuttallii, the Lesser Nighthawk Chordeiles acutipennis, and various species of hummingbirds.

Movements

These birds are permanent residents, but sometimes they move south within their range, and even outside of it, in the fall or winter.

During the fall migration and in winter, chickadees often flock together. Many other species of birds – including titmice, nuthatches, and warblers – can often be found foraging in these flocks. Mixed flocks stay together because the chickadees call out whenever they find a good source of food. This calling-out forms cohesion for the group, allowing the other birds to find food more efficiently. When flocking, Black-capped Chickadees soon establish a rigid social hierarchy. In such hierarchies, males usually rank over females, and older birds over juveniles.

Body maintenance

Black-capped Chickadees sleep in thick vegetation or in cavities, usually singly, though there have been suggestions that they may occasionally roost clumped together.[12] The sleeping posture is with the bill tucked under the scapular (shoulder) feathers.

This bird scratches its head with its foot over the wing. It can bathe in water, dew, or snow; young chickadees have been observed dust-bathing.

Flight

Their flight is slightly undulating with rapid wing beats. Flight speed is about 20 km/h (12 mph).[13]

Vocalization

The vocalizations of the Black-capped Chickadee are highly complex.[14] Thirteen distinct types of vocalizations have been classified, many of which are complex and can communicate different types of information. Chickadees’ complex vocalizations are likely an evolutionary adaptation to their habitat: they live and feed in dense vegetation, and even when the flock is close together, individual birds tend to be out of each other’s visual range.

The song of the Black-capped is a simple, clear whistle of two notes, identical in rhythm, the first roughly a whole-step above the second.[15] This is distinguished from the Carolina chickadee’s four-note call fee-bee fee-bay; the lower notes are nearly identical but the higher fee notes are omitted, making the Black-capped song like bee bay.

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Some ‘gargles’, then a minute of singing.

NOTE: American Robin singing in background.


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The males sing the song only in relative isolation from other chickadees (including their mates). In late summer, some young birds will sing only a single note. Both sexes sometimes make a faint version of the song, and this appears to be used when feeding young.

The most familiar call is the chick-a-dee-dee-dee which gave this bird its name. This simple-sounding call is astonishingly complex. It has been observed to consist of up to four distinct units which can be arranged in different patterns to communicate information about threats from predators and coordination of group movement. Recent study of the call shows that the number of dees indicates the level of threat from nearby predators. In an analysis of over 5,000 alarm calls from chickadees, it was found that alarm calls triggered by small, dangerous raptors had a shorter interval between chick and dee and tended to have extra dees, usually averaging four instead of two. In one case, a warning call about a pygmy owl – a prime threat to chickadees – contained 23 dees.[16] The Carolina Chickadee makes a similar call which is faster and higher-pitched.

There are a number of other calls and sounds that these Chickadees make, such as a gargle noise usually used by males to indicate a threat of attacking another male, often when feeding. This call is also used in sexual contexts. This noise is among the most complex of the calls, containing 2 to 9 of 14 distinct notes in one population that was studied.

Reproduction

The Black-capped Chickadee nests in a hole in a tree, 1–7 m (3.3–23 ft) above ground. The pair either excavate the hole together, or use a natural cavity, or sometimes an old woodpecker nest. This species will also nest in a nesting box. The nesting season is from late April through June. The nest is built by the female only. It consists of a base of coarse material such as moss or bark strips, and lining of finer material such as mammal hair. Eggs are white with fine dots of reddish brown concentrated at the larger end. On average, eggs are 1.52 × 1.22 cm (0.60 × 0.48 in). Clutch size is 6–8 eggs. Incubation lasts 11–14 days and is by the female only, who is fed by the male. If there is an unusual disturbance at the nest entrance, the incubating female may utter an explosive hiss, like that of a snake, a probable adaptation to discourage nest predators.[17]

Hatchlings are altricial, naked with their eyes closed. Nestlings are fed by both sexes but are brooded by the female only (at which time the male brings food to her, which she passes on to the young). Young leave the nest 12–16 days post-hatching, in great part because the parents start presenting food only outside the nest hole. The young will still be fed by the parents for several weeks but are capable of catching food on their own within a week after leaving the nest.

Black-capped Chickadees usually breed only once a year, but second broods are possible if the first one is lost. First breeding is at one year of age. Maximum recorded lifespan is twelve years, but most individuals live only half that long.[18]

Black-capped Chickadees may interbreed with Carolina Chickadees or Mountain Chickadees where their ranges overlap. It appears to be more rare, but interbreeding with Boreal Chickadees has also been documented.[19]

Concerns

In the states of Alaska and Washington, and in parts of western Canada, Black-capped Chickadees are among a number of bird species affected by an unknown agent that is causing beak deformities which may cause stress for affected species by inhibiting feeding ability, mating, and grooming. Black-capped Chickadees were the first affected bird species, with reports of the deformity beginning in Alaska in the late 1990s, but more recently the deformity has been observed in close to 30 bird species in the affected areas.[20]

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Barn Swallow
Floating Bridge
Smithville park, NJ
  • Size & Shape

    When perched, the sparrow-sized Barn Swallow appears cone shaped, with a slightly flattened head, no visible neck, and broad shoulders that taper to long, pointed wings. The tail extends well beyond the wingtips and the long outer feathers give the tail a deep fork.

  • Color Pattern

    Barn Swallows have a steely blue back, wings, and tail, and rufous to tawny underparts. The blue crown and face contrast with the cinnamon-colored forehead and throat. White spots under the tail can be difficult to see except in flight. Males are more boldly colored than females.

  • Behavior

    Barn Swallows feed on the wing, snagging insects from just above the ground or water to heights of 100 feet or more. They fly with fluid wingbeats in bursts of straight flight, rarely gliding, and can execute quick, tight turns and dives. When aquatic insects hatch, Barn Swallows may join other swallow species in mixed foraging flocks.

  • Habitat

    You can find the adaptable Barn Swallow feeding in open habitats from fields, parks, and roadway edges to marshes, meadows, ponds, and coastal waters. Their nests are often easy to spot under the eaves or inside of sheds, barns, bridges and other structures.

Voice: