Tag Archive: new jersey


Black Capped Chickadees

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]

Red Bellied Woodpecker

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My my… What an exciting day it was when i saw one of these land in the yard, and it wasnt forty feet away in a shadow, in a tree, or, we werent doing that thing where he hops to the side of the tree facing away from me, and i scoot around to meet him, and he then continues back to the side i started on? Oh yeah… lots of that went on. lol But so worth it.

And actually, only the crappy, bottom picture is from my yard… the rest were forty feet up in a tree. i saw the guy making the hole, first, and then another male came down, and the sparring began. what a great day that was. same day i got the great horned owl, the yellow tail warbler (<– currently unposted, as i am posting my catalogue in alphabetical order, and still catching up) but anyway… i also got my first male goldfinch in breeding plumage. What a day. ❤ Love these guys. Honeored to have one visiting my yard….

In fact… im going to expand a bit into a personal experience i had with this woodpecker, in my yard, just the day before yesterday. Now, i generally do most of the watching i do of my yard, through this one window in my kitchen. If we go to the park, i obviously take a stroll. and i have also been known to stroll our development from time to time, Nikon in hand.

I had seen these birds, up in trees, exclusively, until like two weeks ago. now mind you, i only started taking an interest in ornithology last summer. AND i had a great time of it. though i didnt continue into winter, as i intend to this year… but anyway… all of a sudden, i reworked my entire bird area, onto the other, lusher, more tree-containing side of the house. MAN what started coming down…. lordy… but anyway…

One of these woodpeckers came down from on high and graced my little tiny butterfly tree, and its teeny suet block, with its presence. And i was amazed. Its so busy here. But he comes down, about once a day or so now, and eats up whatever is left of my morning suet smear, after the starlings and grackles and squirrels have a taste.

I love the pair of downy woodpeckers that come down as well, but, this red belly is just so, awesome, in its coloring, and feathers, i mean, look at that guys tail, in the last picture i posted above…. and the way their back has that barring on it… so pretty.

Anyway, i love this frigging woodpecker, and he is not afraid of a damn thing. So, i randomly, decided to go have a sit in one of our yard chairs, no camera, just to be out there, and whoever happened to land could get three seconds more used to my presence….or whatever, maybe its pipe dreams, but those cowbirds get bolder by the DAY. but i digress.

So there i am, sitting in the chair, still as a stone, the occasional e-cig vapor appearing as if by magic. And then, i saw something neat land in our tree, and after a minute or two of total stillness, like a statue i was… he hopped down a branch or twig or two, and fluttered right down to the butterfly bush, and got into the suet. and i was like, six feet away. i never had my nose itch so bad in my life, swear to god. but i did not scratch that shit. and we locked eyes a few times, just, peeping one another out. it was sublime.

Birding is the shit. And red bellied woodpeckers rule.

here is my usual copy past of the basic facts from most likely, allaboutbirds.com. and then a video from youtube of its calling :

“Red-bellied Woodpeckers are pale, medium-sized woodpeckers common in forests of the East. Their strikingly barred backs and gleaming red caps make them an unforgettable sight – just resist the temptation to call them Red-headed Woodpeckers, a somewhat rarer species that’s mostly black on the back with big white wing patches. Learn the Red-bellied’s rolling call and you’ll notice these birds everywhere.

Both Sexes
Length
9.4 in
24 cm
Wingspan
13–16.5 in
33–42 cm
Weight
2–3.2 oz
56–91 g
Relative Size
Same size as Hairy Woodpecker; three-quarters the size of a Northern Flicker
Other Names
  • Pic à ventre roux (French)

Cool Facts

  • You may sometimes see Red-bellied Woodpeckers wedge large nuts into bark crevices, then whack them into manageable pieces using their beaks. They also use cracks in trees and fence posts to store food for later in the year, a habit it shares with other woodpeckers in its genus.
  • For birds that nest in cavities, nest holes are precious turf. Red-bellied Woodpeckers have been known to take over the nests of other birds, including the much smaller (and endangered) Red-cockaded Woodpecker. But more often they’re victims to the aggressive European Starling. As many as half of all Red-bellied Woodpecker nests in some areas get invaded by starlings.
  • You may occasionally see a Red-bellied Woodpecker flying quickly and erratically through the forest, abruptly changing direction, alighting for an instant and immediately taking off again, keeping up a quick chatter of calls. Scientists categorize this odd behavior as a type of play that probably helps young birds practice the evasive action they may one day need.
  • A Red-bellied Woodpecker can stick out its tongue nearly 2 inches past the end of its beak. The tip is barbed and the bird’s spit is sticky, making it easier to snatch prey from deep crevices. Males have longer, wider-tipped tongues than females, possibly allowing a breeding pair to forage in slightly different places on their territory and maximize their use of available food.
  • The oldest known Red-bellied Woodpecker was 12 years 1 month old.

Habitat


Forest

You can find this species across most of the forests, woodlands, and wooded suburbs of the eastern United States, including oak-hickory forest, pine-hardwood forest, maple and tulip-poplar stands, and pine flatwoods. It’s a bit more common in river bottoms and wetlands, in the south of its range, and at elevations below about 2,000 feet.

Food


Insects

Though this bird mainly eats insects, spiders, and other arthropods, it eats plenty of plant material, too. In particular, acorns, nuts, and pine cones, as well as seeds extracted from annual and perennial plants and (particularly in fall and winter) fruits ranging from grapes and hackberries to oranges and mangoes. Occasionally eats lizards, nestling birds, even minnows.

Nesting

Nesting Facts
Clutch Size
2–6 eggs
Number of Broods
1-3 broods
Egg Length
0.9–1.1 in
2.2–2.9 cm
Egg Width
0.7–0.9 in
1.7–2.2 cm
Incubation Period
12 days
Nestling Period
24–27 days
Egg Description
Smooth white.
Condition at Hatching
Naked and helpless, eyes closed.
Nest Description

Red-bellied Woodpeckers lay their eggs on the bed of wood chips left over after excavating their nest cavity. Nest holes are 22 to 32 centimeters deep, with a cylindrical living space of roughly 9 by 13 centimeters.

Nest Placement

Cavity

Nests in dead trees (hardwoods or pines), dead limbs of live trees, and fence posts. The same pair may nest in the same tree year after year, but typically excavate a new cavity each year, often placing the new one beneath the previous year’s.

Behavior


Bark Forager

These birds often stick to main branches and trunks of trees, where they hitch in classic woodpecker fashion, leaning away from the trunk and onto their stiff tail feathers as they search for food hiding in bark crevices. When nesting, males choose the site and begin to excavate, then try to attract a female by calling and tapping softly on the wood around or in the cavity. When a female accepts, she taps along with the male, then helps put the finishing touches on the nest cavity. At feeders, Red-bellied Woodpeckers will push aside most bird species other than Blue Jays.

Conservation

status via IUCN

Least Concern

The Red-bellied Woodpecker has extended its breeding range north over the last 100 years. Populations are increasing throughout most of the range.

Voice:

 

 

Gigantic shout out to Cornell University and their ornithology program. I dont know if any of you will ever come through this lowly little peon blog, but if you do, all the bird facts i ever circulate, come directly from your websites. I look forward to Merlin, i think it is called, that you guys are working on. i try and play the ‘games’ when i can, to help it learn. ❤ Go team Sapsucker! Congrats on that Big Day!

 

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Oh, how exciting these little guys are. Brilliant eyed, Wonderously marked of wing, mimicing, singing, dancing marvels. My favorite part about them is how they dance in the grass, to scare up bugs, so they can catch them. how clever… you can see my best attempt at photographing this action in the second picture down from the top. beautiful birds.

  • Size & Shape

    A medium-sized songbird, a bit more slender than a thrush and with a longer tail. Mockingbirds have small heads, a long, thin bill with a hint of a downward curve, and long legs. Their wings are short, rounded, and broad, making the tail seem particularly long in flight.

  • Color Pattern

    Mockingbirds are overall gray-brown, paler on the breast and belly, with two white wingbars on each wing. A white patch in each wing is often visible on perched birds, and in flight these become large white flashes. The white outer tail feathers are also flashy in flight.

  • Behavior

    The Northern Mockingbird enjoys making its presence known. It usually sits conspicuously on high vegetation, fences, eaves, or telephone wires, or runs and hops along the ground. Found alone or in pairs throughout the year, mockingbirds aggressively chase off intruders on their territory.

  • Habitat

    Look for Northern Mockingbirds in towns, suburbs, backyards, parks, forest edges, and open land at low elevations.

  • Voice:

Dance:

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They are everywhere. The males are pretty. The end. 🙂

 

  • Size & Shape

    House Sparrows aren’t related to other North American sparrows, and they’re differently shaped. House Sparrows are chunkier, fuller in the chest, with a larger, rounded head, shorter tail, and stouter bill than most American sparrows.

  • Color Pattern

    Male House Sparrows are brightly colored birds with gray heads, white cheeks, a black bib, and rufous neck – although in cities you may see some that are dull and grubby. Females are a plain buffy-brown overall with dingy gray-brown underparts. Their backs are noticeably striped with buff, black, and brown.

  • Behavior

    House Sparrows are noisy sparrows that flutter down from eaves and fencerows to hop and peck at crumbs or birdseed. Look for them flying in and out of nest holes hidden behind shop signs or in traffic lights, or hanging around parking lots waiting for crumbs and picking insects off car grills.

  • Habitat

    House Sparrows have lived around humans for centuries. Look for them on city streets, taking handouts in parks and zoos, or cheeping from a perch on your roof or trees in your yard. House Sparrows are absent from undisturbed forests and grasslands, but they’re common in countryside around farmsteads.

  • Voice:

 

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These guys! Aye yiyi! So far the only thing i can actively discern to differentiate between a HOUSE finch, and a PURPLE finch, is that the HOUSE finch, has a red ASS. I have four males, and two or three females that visit me daily.

  • Size & Shape

    House Finches are small-bodied finches with fairly large beaks and somewhat long, flat heads. The wings are short, making the tail seem long by comparison. Many finches have distinctly notched tails, but the House Finch has a relatively shallow notch in its tail.

  • Color Pattern

    Adult males are rosy red around the face and upper breast, with streaky brown back, belly and tail. In flight, the red rump is conspicuous. Adult females aren’t red; they are plain grayish-brown with thick, blurry streaks and an indistinctly marked face.

  • Behavior

    House Finches are gregarious birds that collect at feeders or perch high in nearby trees. When they’re not at feeders, they feed on the ground, on weed stalks, or in trees. They move fairly slowly and sit still as they shell seeds by crushing them with rapid bites. Flight is bouncy, like many finches.

  • Habitat

    House Finches frequent city parks, backyards, urban centers, farms, and forest edges across the continent. In the western U.S., you’ll also find House Finches in their native habitats of deserts, grassland, chaparral, and open woods.

  • Voice: