Category Archives: Birds

Yellow warbler

The Yellow Warbler, Dendroica petechia, is a New World warbler. It is the most widespread Dendroica warbler,yellow warbler breeding in almost the whole of North America and down to northern South America. It has 35 geographical races, which can be divided into three main groups.

Identification Tips:

Length is 4 inches. It is a small, active, insect-eating bird. The yellow warbler has a thin, pointed bill, mostly yellow plumage. Its upperparts greenish-yellow

Greenish-yellow wings and tail with yellow feather edges. It has a plain yellow face with yellow eye ring surrounding dark eye and yellowish legs. The adult male yellow warbler has golden yellow plumage with rusty streaks on breast and flanks. Female and immature yellow warblers have plain yellow plumage, their streaks on breast absent or barely noticeable.

yellow warbler pictureYellow Warblers nest in trees, building a cup nest. Aestiva lays 3-6 eggs, but the two other groups, which breed in mangroves, lay fewer eggs, as would be expected for tropical races.

These birds feed on insects and spiders, but northern races will also take some berries.

The yellow warbler song is a musical sweet sweet sweet, I’m so sweet, although it varies considerably between races. The call is a soft or harder ship.

This species is a regular victim of the Brown-headed Cowbird, a nest parasite.

Yellow warbler Dendroica petechia – USGS Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter

Dark-eyed Junco – Junco hyemalis

General: The Dark-eyed Junco is one of the most common birds in North America. Dark-eyed Juncos are birds of the ground. They are common at winter bird feeders and can usually be seen flittering in tree branches and hopping on the ground searching for seeds.

The White-throated Sparrow and the Dark-eyed Junco occasionally mate and produce hybrids.

Dark-eyed Juncos generally nest on or near the ground.

Dark-eyed Juncos eggs are pale green brown spotted occasionally unmarked. the eggs are approximately 7/10ths of an inch.

The chicks will hatch in 12-13 days and will fledge in 9-13 days

Identification: The Dark-eyed Junco is a medium-sized sparrow, 5″ to 6 1/2″ with a rounded head, a short, stout bill and a fairly long, conspicuous tail. In general they’re dark gray or brown birds brightened up by a pink bill and white outer tail feathers that periodically flash open, particularly in flight.

Males tend to have darker, more conspicuous markings than the females.

Juncos vary across the country, in fact up until the 1980’s several variations of the Dark-eyed Junco, Oregon Junco, White-Winged Junco and Slate-Colored Junco were considered separate species.

Inter-breeding occurs where these variations meet.

Habitat: Dark-eyed Juncos breed in coniferous or mixed-coniferous forests ranging from sea level to more than 11,000 feet

Territory: Dark-eyed Juncos can be found from Alaska to Newfoundland south to Mexico and Georgia. They do migrate and in winter can be found as far south as the Gulf coast and Northern Mexico.

Food: Dark-eyed Juncos are primarily seed-eaters. At feeders they seem to prefer millet over sunflower seeds. Dark-eyed Juncos also eat insects.






Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter
The Audubon Society – Field Guide to North American Birds (Eastern Region)
Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Cornell Lab of Ornithology

American Goldfinch – Spinus tristis

General: The Goldfinch is the state bird of New Jersey, Iowa, and Washington.
It is migratory, ranging from southern Canada to North Carolina during the breeding season, and from just south of the Canadian border to Mexico during the winter.

They are social birds, and will gather in large flocks while feeding and migrating. They are common visitors to birdfeeders. Often time they are overlooked or misidentified when they are in winter plumage.

American Goldfinches molt their body feathers twice a year, once in late winter and again in late summer.
American Goldfinch nest is an open cup. They typically build in a shrub or low tree in the open. The first Goldfinch nest I found was in a scraggly maple tree in the open about 12′ up in a crotch next to a suburban street

American GoldfinchThe eggs are pale blue and approximately .7″ long. The chicks hatch in about 12 – 14 days and fledge in about another 11 – 17 days.

According to Audubon, the American Goldfinch is a late breeder. This is presumably due to their diet of seeds and when the food source is available. Because they breed late in the season they typically only raise one brood.

Identification: The Goldfinch is approximately 5″. Adult males in spring and early summer are bright yellow with black forehead, black wings with white markings, and white patches both above and beneath the tail. Adult females are duller yellow beneath, olive above. Winter birds are drab, un-streaked brown, with blackish wings and two pale wing bars

Habitat: The goldfinch’s main habitats are weedy fields and grasslands where plants such as thistles and seedAmerican Goldfinch bearing weeds and shrubs grow. They’re also found in farmland and suburban areas.

Territory: American Goldfinches are migratory birds. In summer they can be found as far north as Nova Scotia in the east and British Columbia to the west. They migrate south to the Gulf coast states in the winter. Except for the extreme western deserts, American Goldfinches can be found throughout the contiguous states of the USA.

Diet: Goldfinches eat seeds almost exclusively. At feeders prefers nyjer and sunflower.


Tufted Titmouse – Baeolophus bicolor

General: The Tufted Titmouse is a small songbird found in North America. They are common at winter bird feeders and often join with other small birds, such as chickadees, to form mixed flocks. Although not as tame as chickadees, I have had the pleasure of having a titmouse land on my hand to take a seed.

They typically nest in tree cavities or bird boxes. Many times Titmice use old woodpecker nests.

Tufted Titmouse eggs are white with brown dots and are approximately 7/10ths of an inch. The chicks will hatch in 13-14 days and will fledge in 15-18 days

Identification: The Tufted Titmouse is approximately 6″, about the size of a sparrow. Tufted Titmice have grey upperparts and white under-parts with a white face, a grey crest, a dark forehead and a short stout bill. Their sides are rust colored. The sexes are similar in appearance.

Habitat: Tufted Titmouse habitat is deciduous and mixed woods as well as gardens, parks, swampy areas and shrubland. They typically are found below 2,000 feet elevation.

Territory: Tufted Titmice are found from Wisconsin/Michigan east to Maine and south Florida into Texas and northeastern Mexico. They are all-year residents in the area of the Great Lakes, the Gulf of Mexico and the eastern US.

Food: Tufted Titmice are primarily insect eaters but also eat seeds and berries. They are known to hoard food and will often build caches of seeds and nuts from bird feeders.

Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter
The Audubon Society – Field Guide to North American Birds (Eastern Region)
Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Canada Goose

Specialized for plant feeding. Aggressive behavior during mating season These birds feed mainly on plant material. When feeding in water, they submerge their heads and necks to reach aquatic plants, sometimes Like most geese, the Canada goose is naturally migratory with the wintering range being most of the tipping forward like a dabbling duck. Flocks of these birds often feed on leftover cultivated grains in fields, especially during migration or in winter.

During the second year of their lives, Canada Geese find themselves a mate. Most couples stay together all of their lives. If one is killed, the other may find a new mate. The female lays 4-8 eggs and both parents protect the nest while the eggs incubate, but the female spends more time at the nest than the male. During that time, they lose their flight feathers, so that they cannot fly until after their eggs hatch. This period lasts for 25-28 days.

Adult geese are often seen leading their goslings in a line, usually with one parent at the front, and the other at the back of the “parade”. While protecting their young, parents often violently chase away nearby creatures, The Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) belongs to the Branta genus of geesefrom small blackbirds to other geese, to humans that approach, after warning them by giving off a hissing sound. However, geese may form groups of a number of goslings and a few adults, called crèches. The young do not leave their parents until after the spring migration, when they return to their birthplace.

This well-known species is native to North America. It breeds in Canada and the northern United States in a variety of habitats. However, the nest is usually located in an elevated area near water, sometimes on a beaver lodge. The eggs are laid in a shallow depression lined with plant material and down. The Great Lakes region maintains a very large population of Canada Geese.

Like most geese, the Canada goose is naturally migratory with the wintering range being most of the United States. The calls overhead from large groups of Canada Geese flying in V-shaped formation signal the transitions into spring and autumn. In some areas, migration routes have changed due to changes in habitat and food sources. In mild climates, such as the Pacific Northwest, due to a lack of former predators, some of the population has become non-migratory.

Non-migratory Canada Goose populations have been on the increase. They are suspected of being a cause of an increase in high fecal coliforms at State Park beaches. This has led to extended hunting seasons and the use of noise makers in an attempt to disrupt suspect flocks over the course of several years.


Yellow plumage of gosling. The black head and neck with white “chinstrap” distinguish this goose from all canada geese feed mainly on plant materialexcept the Barnacle Goose, but the latter has a black breast, and grey, rather than brownish, body plumage. There are seven subspecies of this bird, of varying sizes and plumage details, but all are recognizable as Canada Geese. Some are hard to distinguish from the Cackling Goose (Branta hutchinsii), with which the Canada Goose was long assumed to form one species; the name Lesser Canada Goose is, confusingly, often applied to B. hutchinsii.

This species is 90-100 cm long with a 160-175 cm wing span. Males weigh 3.5–6.5 kg, (8–14 pounds), and can be very aggressive in defending territory. The female looks virtually identical but is slightly lighter at 3–5.5 kg (7–12 pounds), and has a different honk. Exceptionally, weights of 11.3 kg (25 pounds) and a wingspan of 224 cm (88 inches) have been recorded in the largest race.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Song Sparrow – Melospiza melodia

General: The Song Sparrow has a wide geographic range, occuring over most of North America from the Aleutians to the eastern United States. It is one of the most common of America’s sparrows. There are Song sparrow diets consist of seeds, fruits, and insects.approximately 39 subspecies in North America and Mexico (Pyle 1997). It has a beautiful and distinctive song that is one of the most common bird calls you will hear in the summer. Like many other songbirds, the male Song Sparrow uses its song to attract mates as well as defend its territory.

Identification tips: The song sparrow is one of the few birds with a large geographic variation in coloration and plumage. The song sparrow is approximately 5.1/2 inches long with a conical bill. It has a brown crown, grayish face and supercilium. As can be seen the song sparrow has a brown streak that extends behind eye and a thick malar streak. It typically has a brown back with darker streaks. It has brown wings with some rust and its underparts are white with heavy dark streaks with a central breast spot. The tail is long, brown and rounded. The sexes are similar. Juveniles are similar to adult but buffier.(Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter). As previously mentioned, there is considerable variation in plumage across its range from dark to rusty upperparts and in bill size and shape

Habitat: Preferred habitat for this species is brushy areas, especially in fields, along streams and the borders of woodlands. They are common in our cities and suburban areas (Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Birds).

Food: Song sparrow diets consist of seeds, fruits, and insects.