Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Common Barn-Owl Tyto alba

Common Barn-Owl Tyto alba

Although it is unmistakably owl-like, the Barn-Owl is not closely related to other North American owls, and is actually in a family of its own that includes ten other species from around the world. In flight, this large bird looks very white, especially from below. It nests in barns and other outbuildings as well as in tree cavities and caves.

Identification 14". Golden brown above, with grayish mottling on wings and back; pale buff to white below, with sparse dark spots on breast and wing linings. Face heart-shaped, white, with long, narrow bill. Feet and legs covered with bristly white feathers.

Voice Song a long, rasping screech, increasing in volume; also gives a loud hiss.

Habitat Farm areas, marshes, prairies, and open woodlands; also suburbs and cities.

Range SW. British Columbia, South Dakota, N. Illinois, and S. New England south to Central and South America. Some northern populations move south in winter.

Western Screech-Owl Otus kennicottii

Western Screech-Owl Otus kennicottii This pint-size owl was formerly thought to be identical to the Eastern Screech-Owl (0. asio). The two birds have distinct ranges and very different vocalizations; the western species gives a series of whistled notes that speeds up at the end. In the humid forests of the Pacific Ni Northwest, there is a rare reddish color phase of the Western Screech-Owl.

Identification 7-11". Small, with mottled upperparts and prominent ear tufts. Underparts whitish, with streaks and bars. Some geographical variation: Birds from drier areas tend to be paler gray, those from humid areas browner.

Voice A series of 7-20 soft, whistled notes, starting slowly and speeding up, and all on 1 pitch. Also a short trill and various yelping and barking noises.

Habitat Woodlands and forests, especially streamside areas with oaks.

Range SE. Alaska south along coast; east along Canadian border to S. Alberta and N. Montana, and south to Mexico. Does not migrate.

Great Horned Owl Bubo virginianus

Great Horned Owl Bubo virginianus
The magisterial Great Horned Owl gets its name from its large, conspicuous ear tufts, which it raises in moments of great excitement. These tufts are not ears at all; the powerful ears of the Great Horned Owl are hidden beneath feathers on the side of the head. Like most other owls, this species flies absolutely silently; its stealth is made possible by the loose, ragged outer edges of the flight feathers, through which the air flows without the telltale rushing sound produced by most birds in flight.

Identification 18-25". Large with widely spaced ear tufts. Dark gray-brown with fine whitish mottling above; buff-white below, with dark brown barring and white throat. Eyes bright yellow.

Voice A deep, sonorous, resonant series of hoots: hoo, hoo-koo-hoo, hoo, hoo; or hooo, hoo-hoo, hoooo, hoooo.

Habitat Forests, open country, swamps, deserts, and even large city parks.

Range Throughout North America; usually does not migrate.

American Kestrel Falco sparverius

American Kestrel Falco sparverius
The American Kestrel often hunts on the wing, hovering over fields and open land searching for mice, lizards, small snakes, and frogs; when grasshoppers are abundant, these insects usually become the bird's chief food. Formerly known as the Sparrow Hawk, this species flies on long, pointed wings; when it lands on a perch, it often pumps its tail up and down. The American Kestrel is the smallest North American falcon.

Identification Small, with long, pointed wings and rusty tail and back. Adult male has blue-gray wings and rusty crown; female has black-barred, rufous wings. Underparts white or buff, male's with black spots, female's with heavy streaks.

Voice A loud, shrill killy-killy-killy.

Habitat Open countryside, grasslands, farms, suburbs, and city parks.

Range S. Alaska to Newfoundland, south through South America. Winters north as far as S. British Columbia, Illinois, and New England.

Common Nighthawk Chordeiles minor

Common Nighthawk Chordeiles minor
This species is a common insect-feeder. It typically hunts at dusk, flying with its huge mouth wide open to catch insects on the wing, but it is also seen by day, and it has adapted to a wide variety of habitats, including rooftops in cities. The Common Nighthawk's cryptically colored plumage breaks up the outline of the bird when it is perched on the ground, helping it to escape the notice of predators.

Identification Mottled gray, white, black, and brown above; underparts buff with brown bars. Long, pointed wings marked with white patch near bend, visible in flight, as is white throat patch. Tail long. Female slightly duller than male.

Voice A nasal, insectlike beeerp or brrrrrrp.

Habitat Open woodlands, forests, meadows, sagebrush plains, and cities.

Range Breeds from SE. Alaska east to Quebec, south to N. California, Nevada, SE. New Mexico, Texas, and Florida. Winters in the tropics.

Osprey Pandion haliaetus

Osprey Pandion haliaetus Found throughout the world, the Osprey is usually seen near water, although a lack of suitable nesting sites often prompts it to move far inland. This bird lives almost exclusively on fish, which it takes from the water with its talons, descending on its prey like a terrestrial hawk. Its feet have tiny spicules on the bottom that help the bird to maintain its hold on slippery fish.

Identification 22-25". Large, hawklike; brown above, white below, with white head; dark brown line runs through eye and on side of face. Juvenile similar but more mottled. In flight, wings show distinctive bend at "wrist."

Voice Loud whistling and chirping given at nesting and during courtship; also a kip kip ki-yeuk, ki-yeuk when alarmed.

Habitat Coastal areas, lakes, and rivers.

Range Breeds from Alaska and north-central Canada to Newfoundland, south to California and Arizona, Great Lakes area, and Nova Scotia; south along Atlantic Coast to Florida and Gulf Coast. Winters along southern coasts.

Northern Harrier Circus cyaneus

Northern Harrier Circus cyaneus This is a common raptor of marshlands, prairies, and open, grassy areas. The Northern Harrier hunts on the wing, flying great distances every day in its search for mice and other small animals. Like owls, this bird uses its sharp hearing to locate its prey. Formerly known as the Marsh Hawk, the Northern Harrier is a skillful flyer, and the male performs a magnificent courtship display.

Identification 16-24". Slim, with long wings and tail. Male light gray above, whitish with small reddish flecks below; tail obscurely barred. Female brown above with brownish streaks below. Both sexes have prominent white rump. Immature brown above, rusty below.

Voice Usually silent; a chattering kee-kee-kee near nest.

Habitat Grasslands, marshes, and open fields.

Range Breeds from Alaska to N. Alberta and eastward to Newfoundland; south to S. California, N. New Mexico, Ohio, and Virginia. Winters from Washington, N. Utah, Great Lakes region, and New England south to Mexico and Florida.

Swainson's Hawk Buteo swainsoni

Swainson's Hawk Buteo swainsoni This hawk is a common bird of open areas in the West. In migration, it is often seen in huge flocks; the birds rise on warm currents of air, spiraling upward, then descend in a long glide to the bottom of another thermal air current. It frequently hunts from fence posts and low trees, and often watches for prey from the ground.

Identification 19-22". Dark brown above with white throat and dark band across breast; outer flight feathers dark gray; wing linings white. Tail gray above, light below, with white tip. Dark-phase bird sooty-brown all over. Immature blackish brown above, buff below, with variable spots and streaks.

Voice Usually silent; sometimes whistles at nest.

Habitat Open plains, prairies, and meadows; sometimes nests in wetland areas.

Range Breeds mainly from S. British Columbia and Prairie Provinces south to south-central California, Arizona, New Mexico, and W. Texas; also in E. Alaska. Winters mainly in South America.

Red-tailed Hawk Buteo jamaicensis

Red-tailed Hawk Buteo jamaicensisThe most widely distributed large hawk in North America, the Red-tailed is able to tolerate a broad range of habitats. There are several races of this species; the one most commonly encountered in the West is a bird of open country; it tends to have a darker head and more heavily marked underparts than eastern Red-tails.

Identification 19-25". Large; typical bird dark brown above, usually light below with dark band on belly. Tail rufous with dark band and paler tip. Geographical variations include a dark brown color phase and a pale phase with a white tail. Immature has grayish tail with narrow bands.

Voice A loud, harsh, descending tseer, usually given when disturbed.

Habitat Grasslands, pastures, open woods, and farmlands; also in plains, tundra, and deserts with scattered trees.

Range Breeds throughout most of North America; winters from Canadian border south.

Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos

Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetosThe majestic Golden Eagle often soars with its wings horizontal, watching from high in the air for the movement of a small mammal, snake, or turtle. Now protected by law, this species was formerly killed in great numbers, partly because of a mistaken belief that the bird is a threat to livestock. Golden Eagles rarely attack a healthy large animal, but they will take crippled or ailing lambs, deer, and waterfowl.

Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos Identification 30-40". Adult brown or dark brown overall; crown and nape edged with gold or tan. Immature similar; white wing patch and tail band visible in flight.

Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos Voice Usually silent; occasional mews and squeals.

Habitat Mountain canyons, ranchland, open countryside, forests, and tundra.

Range Breeds from NW. Alaska to N. Quebec, south to S. California, W. Texas, N. Manitoba, and Labrador. Winters from N. British Columbia and central Quebec-south to southern limit of breeding range.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Bald Eagle Haliaeetus leucocephalus

Bald Eagle Haliaeetus leucocephalus
Despite its fame, the Bald Eagle is rare. The victim of poisoning by pesticides, chiefly DDT, the species suffered a catastrophic decline; the outlawing of some poisons has helped to maintain these birds. The Bald Eagle is also shot illegally in many places, and in some areas its wetland habitat has been destroyed. Today, large numbers of these magnificent birds are found only in carefully patrolled wildlife refuges.

Identification 30-43". Very large, brown, hawklike bird with white head and tail and stout, hooked yellow bill. Immature variable, but with dark head and tail and black bill.

Voice A series of squeaky, thin cackling or chittering notes.

Habitat Seacoasts, lakes, rivers, and marshes.

Range Breeds in forested areas of Alaska and Canada south to Oregon, N. Idaho, Great Lakes area, and N. New England; also locally along Atlantic and Gulf coasts and in Florida. Winters from S. Canada south, especially along major river systems of the interior.

Bald Eagle Haliaeetus leucocephalus

Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura

Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura Large and mainly black, with a naked red head, the Turkey Vulture has more appeal in flight than it does when perched ominously in a tree. When it flies, this bird holds its wings in a shallow V; it does not flap its wings often, but tilts and glides, taking advantage of rising currents of warm air to gain altitude.

Identification 26-32". Large and blackish, with small, unfeathered red head and stout bill with sharply hooked tip. Legs and feet orange. Silvery-gray wing linings conspicuous in flight, making wings appear two-toned. Immature has dark head and gray feet.

Voice Generally silent; utters hisses and groans at nest or when disturbed.

Habitat Dry, open country; often along roadsides; sometimes roosts in woods.

Range Breeds from S. British Columbia to S. New England, south to Mexico. Winters from New Jersey to Florida and E. Texas; also in parts of the Southwest.

Ring-necked Pheasant Phasianus colchicus

Ring-necked Pheasant Phasianus colchicus
Introduced from Asia only a little more than a century ago, the Ring-necked Pheasant is now so well established in North America that it is the state bird of South Dakota. This species runs as often as it flies, and is comfortable in a wide variety of habitats, as long as there is suitable brushy cover. A male may mate with as many as four hens, each of which establishes a nest within the male's territory or crowing area.

Identification Male 30-36"; female 20-26". Chickenlike, with long, pointed tail. Male has bright green or blue-green head, red face, white neck-ring; body and wings iridescent bronze, gold, and red, with bold, dark spotting. Female soft brown, spotted and barred with black.

Ring-necked Pheasant Phasianus colchicus Voice A loud, crowing cuck-cuck or caiv-caiv, accompanied by loud wingbeats. Male cackles when taking off.

Ring-necked Pheasant Phasianus colchicus Habitat Grassy and brushy areas near woodlands; farms, pastures; also in cattail marshes in winter.

Range Much of United States and S. Canada in suitable farm regions; absent from high mountains and deserts.

Greater Roadrunner Geococcyx californianus

Greater Roadrunner Geococcyx californianus

This large, ungainly-looking cuckoo runs swiftly through deserts and woodlands in pursuit of lizards and other prey; it also runs to escape enemies (including the coyote), and it has been clocked at 15 mph, although its usual pace is somewhat more sedate. At dawn, the male Greater Roadrunner can be heard calling through the desert stillness from the top of a mesa or the branches of a dead tree.

Identification 20-24". Large, upright, with bushy crest and long tail. Streaked brown and buff above and on breast; dingy white on belly. Iridescence in tail and upperparts visible at close range; also blue-and-red patch behind eye. Immature lacks eye patch.

Voice A long, sad, descending coo, coo, coo, ooh, ooh, ooh; also a variety of whines and clucks.

Habitat Open, dry areas with scattered brush and thickets; open woodlands, agricultural areas, and grasslands.

Range N. California east to S. Kansas and NW. Louisiana, south into Mexico.

California Quail Callipepla californica

California Quail Callipepla californica
The California Quail is a plump little ground bird with a distinctive feathery plume adorning its forehead. Common in a variety of habitats, it is very gregarious, and in winter may form large, well-organized coveys composed of several families. As the members of the covey feed, one bird acts as a sentinel, keeping a lookout for danger.

Identification Blue-gray above with brownish wings; belly white with scaly pattern. Male has brown head with buff on forehead, bold white eyebrow, black face and throat, and white crescent on cheek; large, dark, fluffy head plume. Female has reduced pattern on head and face, and smaller plume.

Voice A loud ca-ca-cow or ca-caah-co; also various clucking notes and a pit or whit-whit.

Habitat Open areas with brush; chaparral, riverside areas, coastal canyons, and suburbs.

Range Resident from S. Oregon to Baja California; introduced and established from S. British Columbia south

Mourning Dove Zenaida macroura

Mourning Dove Zenaida macroura

The Mourning Dove is hunted extensively in some parts of North America, and it is estimated that more than half of the young birds born each spring do not live beyond their first year. Fortunately, these birds raise two to four broods each season, and so the Mourning Dove is still common. The sad notes of the bird's song are usually heard just before the dawn in spring and summer.

Identification 11-13". Slim, with small head and long, tapered tail. Soft, sandy brown or brownish gray above, with a few black spots; paler below, sometimes washed with pale cinnamon; tail feathers tipped with white.

Voice A low, sad whoo-oo, hoo, hoo, hoo; second note rises sharply.

Habitat Almost anywhere except dense forests: woodlands, streamsides, desert washes, gardens, city parks, and suburban backyards.

Range Breeds from S. Alaska and W. British Columbia through S. Alberta and Great Lakes to New England; south to Mexico and Florida. Northern populations migratory.

Band-tailed Pigeon Columba fasciata

Band-tailed Pigeon Columba fasciata
Larger than the related Rock Dove, the Band-tailed Pigeon is a shy forest bird, although in some places it is beginning to venture near feeders and backyard berry sources. In the early part of this century the species was hunted almost to extinction, but it seems to have recovered. The two North American subspecies are distinguished chiefly by habitat: One is found in humid forests along the coast, and the other occurs in drier mountain woodlands of the interior.

Identification 13-15". Dark gray above; long tail has wide, pale gray band at end. Head and underparts purplish or pink in male, gray-brown in female. Both sexes have whitish crescent on nape.

Voice A low, owl-like whoo-hoooo; often repeated.

Habitat Moist conifer forests along coast; pine-oak woodlands inland.

Range SE. Alaska along coast to Baja California; Utah and Colorado south to Central America. Winters from Washington, S. Arizona, and S. New Mexico south.

Rock Dove Columba livia

Rock Dove Columba livia The Rock Dove—alias the Pigeon—is thoroughly adapted to living in association with people. Native to Europe, it was probably the first bird species to be domesticated; a homing pigeon was reportedly used to carry the news of Julius Caesar's conquest of Gaul back to Rome. There are some Rock Doves that live in the wild, nesting as their ancestors did on rocky sea cliffs; these wild birds are notably shy of humans.

Identification 12-13". Stocky, with short, fan-shaped tail. Birds in the wild (and many in cities) bluish-gray with 2 narrow black wing bars, white rump, and some iridescence on sides of neck. Color variations include all-black, all-white, piebald, and reddish-brown birds.

Voice A soft, rolling coo-croo or coo-took-crooo.

Habitat Cities, parks, gardens, suburbs, and farm areas; rocky canyons or sea cliffs.

Range Throughout S. Canada and United States; does not migrate.

Black-billed Magpie Pica pica

Black-billed Magpie Pica pica

The large, black-and-white Black-billed Magpie has a remarkable tail—longer than its body—that streams behind the bird in flight. This species is similar to the Yellow-billed Magpie (P. nuttalli), which occurs only in central and southern California. The latter can be distinguished by its yellow bill and a patch of bare yellow skin just below the eye. Black-billed Magpies, like most members of the crow family, are omnivorous scavengers.

Identification 18-22". Black above and white below, with white wing patch and shoulders visible in flight. Tail long; appears tapered in flight. Bill dark.

Black-billed Magpie Pica pica Voice A high, nasal mag? and a harsh check-check-check.

Black-billed Magpie Pica pica Habitat Open countryside, savanna, brushy areas, and streamside thickets.

Range Breeds from S. Alaska through British Columbia and east to Manitoba, south to east-central California and Nebraska. Mostly nonmigratory; some wander north and east of range in fall and winter.

American Crow Corvus brachyrhynchos

American Crow Corvus brachyrhynchos

Common throughout much of North America, this large, black bird is a familiar sight in cities and towns as well as in open country and along the seashore. Crows are intelligent, and captive birds tested in puzzle-solving have provided many valuable insights into the learning process. American Crows are gregarious birds, and they form large flocks; they are sometimes joined by a handful of ravens.

Identification 17-21". Large and stocky. Black all over, with slight purplish sheen. Bill stout; tail squared.

Voice A raucous, familiar caw, caw, caw.

Habitat Open areas, woodlands, fields, suburbs, orchards, gardens, and city parks; tends to avoid deserts and dense forests.

Range Breeds throughout southern two-thirds of Canada and most of United States; winters south of Canadian border. Absent from much of interior Southwest.

Common Raven Corvus corax

Common Raven Corvus corax Large, imposing, and entirely black, the Common Raven is often seen soaring and gliding in mountainous country. It frequently flies over roads and highways, looking for carrion, although it is omnivorous and an opportunistic feeder. In flight ravens can be distinguished from the related American Crow by their longer wings and long, wedge-shaped or rounded tail; a crow's tail in flight looks squared.

Identification 21'/a-27". Large and stocky; all-black with heavy black bill; neck feathers shaggy. Rounded wings and wedge-shaped tail visible in flight.

Voice A low, hoarse, croaking crock or kraaak.

Common Raven Corvus corax Habitat Mountains, deserts, beaches, forests, and Arctic tundra.

Range Alaska and Canadian Arctic to Newfoundland, south through British Columbia and W. Alberta to S. California and W. Texas; in East, south to Great Lakes region and N. New England, and in Appalachians.

Brewer's Blackbird Euphagus cyanoceplialus

Brewer's Blackbird Euphagus cyanoceplialus This sociable bird is commonly seen with Brown-headed Cowbirds and Red-winged Blackbirds. Brewer's eats a variety of insect pests, such as aphids, cankerworms, grasshoppers, termites, and weevils, and often follows along behind a tractor as it plows the soil. It nests from low-elevation farmland to mountain meadows.

Identification 8-10". Breeding male glossy black with a long, sharp, conical bill and a whitish eye. In good light, head looks purplish and body looks greenish. Female and immature gray-brown, darker on lower back, wings, and tail; eyes brown.

Voice Song a hoarse, creaky kseeee or ksheek; call a harsh check!

Habitat Pastures, riverside thickets, brushy savanna, towns, farms, and ranches.

Range Breeds from central British Columbia east to Michigan, south to S. California, Nevada, and New Mexico. Winters from S. British Columbia, Colorado, Oklahoma and S. Carolina south into Mexico.

Brown-headed Cowbird Molothrus ater

Brown-headed Cowbird Molothrus ater
Cowbirds often congregate with other members of the blackbird family near farms and rangeland, frequently in close association with livestock. Like the related Bronzed Cowbird (M. aeneus), which occurs only in southern Arizona and south Texas, the Brown-headed is a brood parasite; it makes no nest of its own, but lays its eggs in the nests of other species. The young cowbird is usually so much larger than the nestlings of its songbird host that those little birds may starve or be crowded out of the nest.

Identification 6-8". Male iridescent greenish black with deep brown head; females gray-brown; juvenile grav-brovvn with faint streaks on breast and scaly-looking upperparts. Bill black and finchlike in all plumages.

Brown-headed Cowbird Molothrus ater Voice Voice and calls squeaky, bubbly, and high-pitched; female chatters.

Habitat Woodlands, farmlands, fields, and suburbs

Range Breeds throughout most of United States and S. Canada, extending into N. Alberta. Winters in S. United States.

European Starling Sturnus vulgaris

European Starling Sturnus vulgaris Introduced from Europe just before the turn of the century, the adaptable Starling is now ubiquitous; it lives in a wide variety of habitats, from crowded cities to agricultural areas, and has even become somewhat common in parts of the Southwest, where it has only recently arrived. It flies in dense flocks that wheel and turn in unison, and large numbers often gather to form huge roosts.

Identification Short-tailed, chunky. In spring, black with iridescent greenish gloss; bill yellow. Winter plumage heavily flecked with white; bill dark. Immature dusky gray-brown above, paler below.

Voice A wide variety of squeaks, chattering notes, whistles, and clicks; often gives a "wolf-whistle" and mimics other birds as well.

Habitat Cities, parks, orchards, woodlands, and farm areas.

Range Throughout United States and S. Canada.

European Starling Sturnus vulgaris

Red-winged Blackbird Agelaius pkoeniceus

Red-winged Blackbird Agelaius pkoeniceus

The familiar Red-winged Blackbird forms large flocks with the similar Tricolored Blackbird (A. tricolor) of western California and southern Oregon. The red shoulders of the Tricolored are bordered with white, and the bird has glossier plumage and a thicker bill than its cousin. Both birds nest in marshes; they frequent farm areas and open country after the breeding season.

Identification Male black with bright red shoulder patches. Female and juveniles have heavy dusky brown streaks.

Voice Song a liquid, musical oh-ka-lee! Also various chuck and kink notes.

Habitat Usually nests in marshes and other wetlands, especially areas with cattails; also in moist thickets, pastures, and meadows.

Range Breeds from S. Alaska, N. Alberta, and Ontario to Maritime Provinces, south through entire United States. Winters in southern two-thirds of United States, including the temperate Northwest; absent from southern Appalachians.

Acorn Woodpecker Melanerpes formicivorus

Acorn Woodpecker Melanerpes formicivorus The sociable Acorn Woodpecker is found in oak and oak-pine woodlands in the West, where it feeds on acorns; in towns and residential neighborhoods, it also consumes walnuts, pecans, and other delicacies. In the fall, the Acorn Woodpecker carefully stores acorns in small holes it drills in the trunks of trees, wedging the nuts in tight to keep them safe from squirrels.

Identification Adult male black above with red crown patch; black extends over eye; forehead, cheek, and throat creamy white; upper breast black; belly, wing patches, and rump white. Female similar but with black forecrown.

Voice A loud Ja-cob, Ja-cob or ya-cup, ya-cup, ya-cup; also drums with bill.

Habitat Pine-oak and oak woodlands, city parks, and suburbs.

Range S. Oregon through W. California to Baja California; Arizona, New Mexico, and W. Texas. Does not migrate.

Downy Woodpecker Picoides pubescens

Downy Woodpecker Picoides pubescens The Downy is the most common and familiar woodpecker in most of North America. In the West, it occurs primarily in groves along the banks of streams, although it is also a frequent visitor to city parks and feeders in residential areas. In fall, the Downy often travels with flocks of other little birds, mainly chickadees, kinglets, and nuthatches.

Identification Black and white above, white below; white cheeks intersected by black eyeline; thin mustache runs from bill to back of neck. Male has small red patch 011 nape.

Voice Call note a dull pik. Also gives a loud, descending rattle. Drums with its bill against bark, producing fast series of percussive noises.

Habitat Forests, woodlands, orchards, residential areas, and cit\ parks.

Range Alaska through most of southern half of Canada, and throughout most of United States; absent from treeless deserts. Some northern birds move south in winter.

Northern Flicker Colaptes auratus

Northern Flicker Colaptes auratus
In the West, there are two forms of the Northern Flicker, both once considered separate species. The Gilded Flicker, a bird of the deserts, has a brown crown and yellow wing linings; otherwise, it looks and behaves like this bird, the Red-shafted Flicker. A third form, the Yellow-shafted Flicker, is common in the East and sometimes visits the West in winter. Flickers are the only woodpeckers that frequently feed on the ground.

Identification 11-14". Brown above with dark spots and bars; buff-white below with black spots and with black patch on upper breast; face gray, with red mustache; pinkish-orange wing linings and white rump patch visible in flight.

Voice A loud, repeated wik-wik-wik or flicker-flicker-fiicker; also a loud kleer.

Habitat Woodlands and forests; Gilded Flicker in deserts.

Range Breeds throughout North America to northern limit of trees; Red-shafted and Gilded principally in the West; some northern populations move south in winter.

Cactus Wren Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus

Cactus Wren Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus The largest wren in North America, this bird is a denizen of the desert Southwest. It may often be seen atop a spiny cactus, with head up and tail pointing down, delivering its harsh, low song. It nests in chollas and yuccas, whose prickles and sharp leaves keep would-be intruders at bay.

Identification Pale brown above, with bold black-and-white patterning on back, wings, and tail; buff below with heavily spotted throat and upper breast; flanks and belly have less heavy dark spots. Crown rust-brown; eyebrow white. Tail long; bill long, slightly downcurved.

Voice Song a low, gravelly chug-chug-chug-chug or cora-cora-cora.

Habitat Low-elevation deserts with cactus, palo verde, mesquite, and other thorny vegetation.

Range S. California to S. Texas, south into Mexico; does not migrate.

Northern Oriole Iclerus galbula

Northern Oriole Iclerus galbula
Abundant throughout the West, the House Finch nests in tree cavities or the old nests of other birds; in cities and residential areas it seems content to dwell in tin cans, building ledges, and air conditioners. House Finches also occur in the East, but the ones there are descended from caged birds that were trapped and sold illegally (as "Hollywood Finches") until wildlife authorities stopped the trade.

Identification Male pale brown with darker streaks, and with bright red on forehead, eyebrow, breast, and rump. Female similar but lacks red, and has uniform brown head.

Voice Song a clear, canarylike warble, ending in an ascending zeeee. Call note a chirp.

Habitat In the East, in cities and residential areas; in the West, in desert scrub and chaparral.

Range S. Canada to S. Mexico, east to Idaho, Nebraska, and central Texas. Introduced in the East. Does not migrate.

House Wren Troglodytes aedon

House Wren Troglodytes aedon

Despite its small size, the House Wren is aggressive in competition for nesting sites. It sometimes tosses the nest, eggs, and even the young of other cavity-nesters out onto the ground. In early spring, the male returns early from the south and builds several rough "dummy" nests; when the female arrives, she may use one of these establishments or start a new nest altogether.

Identification Small and plump. Dull brown above, with faint dusky bars on wings; grayish white below. Tail short, with dark bars and no spots.

House Wren Troglodytes aedon Voice Song a rising and falling, bubbling chatter, repeated many times.

Habitat Woodland edges, farms, city parks, and residential areas.

Range Breeds from S. British Columbia, N. Alberta, Ontario, and Maine south to S. California, Arizona, N. Texas, and Georgia. Winters from S. California to Gulf Coast and South Carolina southward.

Rufous Hummingbird Selasphorus rufus

Rufous Hummingbird Selasphorus rufus

This aggressive little nectar-feeder times its spring arrival in Oregon to coincide with the blooming of a red-flowered currant that is one of its chief food sources. The male and the female have separate territories, and both are combative, chasing away other hummingbirds, blackbirds, and thrushes. The male performs a circular courtship flight, rising high in the air over the branch where the female is perched.

Identification Adult male orange-rufous above, with bright orange-red throat patch (gorget) and white breast. Female green above with rufous sides and base of tail. Immature male has green back, red flecks on throat.

Voice Gives low, soft chuppy or chippy notes; also an excited zeee-chuppity-ckup. Male's wings produce buzzy trill in courtship flight.

Habitat Woodlands, forest edges, chaparral, and mountain meadows.

Range Breeds from SE. Alaska to S. Oregon, east to SW. Alberta and Montana. Winters in Mexico.

House Sparrow Passer domesticus

House Sparrow Passer domesticus

This common little bird is easy to recognize and is often one of the first songbirds learned by beginning birders. Introduced to North America in the middle of the 19th century, the House Sparrow is now found almost throughout the continent; it thrives in association with people, and is particularly abundant in cities and farm areas. Like many introduced species, it competes vigorously with native birds for nesting sites.

Identification Male streaked above with brown and black, with white wing bar; throat and upper breast black; nape chestnut and crown gray, with chestnut line through eye. Female streaked brown and black above, dingy gray below, with dull stripe behind eye.

Voice A repeated chirp, cheep, and various twitters.

Habitat Farmland, cities, towns, and suburban areas.

Range Throughout most of S. Canada and entire United States in cities, towns, suburbs, and agricultural areas.

American Dipper Cinclus mexicanus

American Dipper Cinclus mexicanus

The only aquatic songbird in North America, the Dipper lives in the mountains of the West, close to cold, rushing streams. Its wrenlike song is given all year, especially when streams are very full; it can be heard even over the noise of the water. From the bank or a boulder, the Dipper plunges into the icy water to take water striders, mosquito larvae, and other insects. Dippers often bob up and down on a rock; when alarmed, they fly away, keeping low over the water.

Identification Stout, wrenlike; slate gray with long, pointed bill and stubby tail. Immature and winter adult may be paler, especially on outer wings and below.

Voice Song a loud, rich, musical medley of trills and runs. Alarm note a sharp bzeet, given in flight.

Habitat Near fast, clear, rushing mountain streams.

Range Breeds from Alaska to S. California and New Mexico; does not migrate, but may move downslope in very cold weather.

Lincoln's Sparrow Melospiza lincolnii

Lincoln's Sparrow Melospiza lincolnii

Lincoln's is closely related to the Song Sparrow, but is more furtive than its cousin. This bird skulks through brushy undergrowth, searching for insects and seeds; like the towhees, it rakes through the leaf litter by kicking backward with both feet at once. Birders sometimes tempt Lincoln's Sparrow out of its brushy cover by loudly kissing the back of the hand—an imitation of a bird in distress.

Identification Gray with brownish streaks above; eyebrow and sides of neck gray. Buff below, with fine dark streaks. Immature resembles immature Song Sparrow, but more finely streaked below.

Voice Song a gurgled melody, rising and then falling, all a tik or Is up.

Habitat Wet meadows and bogs with brush; in migration, weedy fields, willow thickets, and gardens.

Range Breeds from N. Alaska to Newfoundland, south in mountains to S. California and N. New Mexico. Winters from central California to N. Alabama and south.

Song Sparrow Melospiza melodia

Song Sparrow Melospiza melodia

This common and abundant sparrow shows a wide range of geographical variation. There are 34 recognized races, most with the same basic pattern of brown-and-white plumage. One race from the Aleutian Islands, however, looks almost like a different species altogether: It is much larger and darker than the typical form, with a longer bill.

Identification Brown above with grayish streaks; white below with heavy brown streaking and large spot at center of breast. Tail usually has more reddish brown than back.

Voice Song has 3 sweet notes followed by a lower note and a trill. Call note a chimp.

Habitat Thickets, forest edges, marshes, gardens, and city parks.

Range Breeding range from S. Alaska through S. Canada to Newfoundland; south to S. California, New Mexico, NE. Kansas, and North Carolina. Winters from southern half of breeding range to Mexico and Florida.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Chipping Sparrow Spizella passerina

Chipping Sparrow Spizella passerina At close range it is easy to see the bright rufous cap of the compact little Chipping Sparrow. The bird gets its name from its song, a series of "chip" notes, sometimes run together in a fast trill. Common in residential areas, this sparrow is very tame; it often visits feeders, and may take crumbs from a person's hand.

Identification Adult has black forehead, rusty crown, white eyebrow, and black eye stripe. Upperparts streaked in brown and black, with 2 white wing bars; underparts, cheek, and back of neck clear gray. Immature buffier, more streaked, without bold black and white markings or rusty crown.

Voice A thin, insectlike trill on 1 note. Call a sweet, high tseep

Habitat Forest edges, orchards, brushy pastures, city parks, and gardens.

Range Breeds throughout most of Canada and south throughout United States to S. Arizona, New Mexico, and S. Texas; absent from most of Florida. Winters from S. California, S. Texas, and Maryland southward.

White-crowned Sparrow Zonotrichia leucophrys

White-crowned Sparrow Zonotrichia leucophrys

There are several different races of the White-crowned Sparrow, breeding from northern Alaska to California. When the time comes to migrate, the northernmost races travel farthest; races with progressively more southern breeding ranges move shorter and shorter distances. Those that live near San Francisco hardly move at all.

Adult has bold black-and-white head pattern: crown white with broad black stripe; eyebrow white; eyeline black. Bill pink to yellow. Face, neck, and breast gray; back and wings streaked black and brown, with white wing bars. Immature has brown and buff head stripes.

Voice Song a series of whistles, repeated or followed by a trill; varies regionally. Call a chink or sect.

Habitat Forest edges, bogs, meadows, parks, and suburbs.

Range Breeds from N. and W. Alaska east to N. Quebec and south in the West to central California and N. New Mexico. Winters along Pacific from N. British Columbia to Baja California and through most of the South.

Pine Siskin Carduelis pinus

Pine Siskin Carduelis pinus Both the common and scientific names reflect this species' reliance on pine seeds, although these birds cheerfully consume the seeds of hemlocks, cedars, and other evergreens. Pine Siskins occur in noisy flocks and are frequent visitors to feeding stations, especially when conifer seeds are scarce. Near feeders and birdbaths, these little birds can be quite tame and approachable.

Identification Brown above and below with darker streaks; some birds are paler overall, others darker; yellow on wing and on deeply notched tail. Females have less yellow.

Voice A harsh shick-shick and a buzzy, ascending bzzrreeee. Call note a sweeeeeet.

Habitat Conifer forests; also in alders, aspens, and other deciduous trees near northern conifer forests.

Range Breeds from S. Alaska to Newfoundland south through most of the forested West; east through Great Lakes region to New England. Winters irregularly farther south.

Golden-crowned Kinglet Regulus satrapa

Golden-crowned Kinglet Regulus satrapa The species name satrapa comes from Greek, and it means the ruler of a small province or a petty official. This spry little bird often flicks its wings nervously as it combs its little kingdom of conifer trees, searching for insects and larvae. The Golden-crowned Kinglet is frequently seen with its relative, the Ruby-crowned Kinglet (R. calendula), which is similar but has a red tuft of feathers on its crown.

Identification Olive above with 2 white wing bars; paler grayish white below; white eyebrow; bill slender; tail has small notch. Crown deep gold or orange-yellow in male, yellow in female, and bordered with black in both sexes.

Voice A thin, rising see-see-see; also a tseeep.

Habitat Conifer forests in nesting season; other woodland habitats as well in winter.

Range Breeds from Alaska to Newfoundland, south in suitable conifer-forest zones to California, Colorado, Minnesota, and southern Appalachians. Winters from southernmost Canada throughout most of United States.

Yellow-rum pod Warbler Dendroica coronata

Yellow-rum pod Warbler Dendroica coronata

Widely known as Audubon's Warbler, this bird is actually the same species as a white-throated eastern bird, the Myrtle Warbler; technically, both forms are now known as the Yellow-rumped Warbler, although many birders prefer to use the old names. The summer ranges of the two forms overlap in southwestern Canada, where the birds hybridize.

Identification 5-6". Breeding male slate-blue above with darker streaks; rump bright yellow; charcoal-gray patch around eyes; throat yellow; small, bright yellow patch on crown and sides. Female, immature, and nonbreeding male mainly gray-brown, similar to breeding male but duller; with yellow rump and white spots in tail.

Voice Song a thin, musical trill, twee-twee-twee; call a soft chep.

Habitat Coniferous and mixed forests, often in mountains.

Range Audubon's breeds from central British Columbia and Saskatchewan south in mountains to Mexico. Winters from S. British Columbia along coast to Mexico; also in the Southwest to Texas. Myrtle has eastern range.

Mountain Chickadee Parus gambeli

Mountain Chickadee Parus gambeli

These energetic little birds are abundant in the conifer forests of the western mountains, where they nest in tree cavities. They travel in flocks, sometimes in company with warblers and vireos, and may range far downslope in cold weather. At such times they often visit feeders, where their boldness is rewarded with sunflower seeds.

Identification 6". Gray with black cap, eye stripe, and throat; cheeks and eyebrow white to pale gray. Birds of Great Basin area paler with more buff; birds from farther west darker.

Voice A hoarse chick-a-dee, dee, dee and a whistled fee-bee or dee-dee.

Habitat Montane conifer forests; occasionally elsewhere in winter.

Range British Columbia south through western mountains to Baja California and SW. Texas. Usually nonmigratory, but some birds move downslope in winter.

Dark-eyed Junco Junco hyemalis

Dark-eyed Junco Junco hyemalis

Four forms of the Dark-eyed Junco occur principally in the West. Once considered separate species, they are all conspicuous ground-feeding sparrows with pink bills and white outer tail feathers. By far the most common and widespread is the Oregon Junco, shown here. The White-winged is gray with two white wing bars; it is found mainly in the Black Hills. The Pink-sided has broad pink sides and flanks, and occurs in the eastern Rockies. The Gray-headed has a reddish-brown back and light gray head; it is most common in the Southwest.

Identification Male Oregon Junco has black hood, brown back, and dark wings with white edges; belly whitish; flanks buff. Female similar but with paler hood. Pink bill and white outer tail feathers in all forms.

Voice A trill with only occasional changes in pitch.

Habitat Forests, woodlands, brushy areas, and lawns.

Range Oregon Junco breeds from British Columbia to NW. Montana and south. Winters mainly along coast. Other forms have more restricted ranges. Also in the East.

Rufous-sided Towhee Pipilo erythrophthalmus

Rufous-sided Towhee Pipilo erythrophthalmus

The western form of the Rufous-sided Towhee was formerly thought to be a distinct species; it was known as the Spotted Towhee for the bright white spots on its upper wings and back. Towhees kick both feet backward simultaneously, raking through the leaf litter to search for insects and seeds. This noisy activity frequently calls attention to the little bird's presence in the undergrowth.

Identification Western male has black head, breast, and back; wings black with white spots; flanks and sides rufous; central belly white. Female similar, with slightly paler head, breast, and upperparts. Immature brownish; head, nape, and back washed with rusty tones.

Voice Song a chup-chup-zeee or chew hee?

Habitat Woodlands, forest edges, gardens, and parks with low shrubby growth; avoids dense forests and treeless plains.

Range Breeds from S. British Columbia to Maine, south to Mexico and Florida; absent from much of Great Plains. Winters in southern two-thirds of United States.

Black-headed Grosbeak Pheucticus melanocephalus

Black-headed Grosbeak Pheucticus melanocephalus

At first glance this orange-and-black species looks like a plump oriole, but it can be easily distinguished by its stout bill. Retiring and somewhat secretive, the Black-headed Grosbeak is not at all closely related to the Evening Grosbeak, although both have a large, conical bill. The Black-headed is an early fall migrant, sometimes starting its journey southward in July.

Identification Male orange below and 011 neck, with all-black hood; wings and tail black with bold white spots; lower belly and wing linings yellow. Female and immature buff below with thin streaks on flanks; dark brown wings and tail have faint white markings. Bill conical, thick, and pale in all plumages.

Voice Song a rising and falling robinlike series of fluty whistles. Call a hard spik; also a plaintive whee or whee-you.

Habitat Deciduous forests, streamside groves, gardens, and orchards.

Range Breeds from S. British Columbia and Saskatchewan to S. California and Mexico. Winters mainly in Mexico.

American Robin Turdus migmtorius

American Robin Turdus migmtorius

An eloquent singer, the American Robin may be the best-known of all North American birds. In early April and May, the Robin greets the dawn with an energetic chorus of cheerful notes, as if to welcome the return of warm weather and long, sunny days. In residential areas this species can be quite tame, but populations of the forests are rather shy.

Identification 9-11". Dark gray-brown above, with brick-red or orange breast and belly; head and tail blackish, throat white. Juvenile gray-brown above, pale orange with black spots below.

Voice A rich, loud song of rising and falling phrases: cheerily, cheerily, cheer-up, cheer-up. Also a loud weep note and a lisped nee-lip in flight.

Habitat Woodlands, forests, gardens, and suburban backyards.

Range Breeds throughout most of North America; winters mainly in southern two-thirds of United States; southernmost populations may be nonmigratorv.

Northern Oriole Icterus galbula

Northern Oriole Icterus galbula

Northern Oriole Icterus galbula In the West, this species is known as Bullock's Oriole; until recently, Bullock's was believed to be a different species from the eastern Baltimore Oriole. For many years divided by the treeless Great Plains, the two birds developed different coloration; today, they meet along wooded streams and farmland, where they interbreed.

Identification Male orange-yellow below with black eye stripe, crown, chin stripe, back, and central tail feathers; wings black with prominent white patch. Cheeks and eyebrow orange. Female has yellow hood, throat, and upper breast; wings pale gray with faint white patch; belly gray. Immature male like female, but has black on face.

Voice A loud whistled series of wheew, wheew, wheew notes, interspersed with clucks. Also a chattering call.

Habitat Deciduous forests, woodlands, agricultural areas, city parks, and suburbs; in winter, visits eucalyptus trees.

Range Bullock's breeds from ร. British Columbia and Saskatchewan to Mexico and Texas; Baltimore Oriole in East. Winters primarily in the tropics

Northern Oriole I clerus galbula

All The Birds Of North America: Northern Oriole I clerus galbulaIn the West, this species is

known as Bullock's Oriole; until recently, Bullock's was believed to be a different species from the eastern Baltimore Oriole. For many years divided by the treeless Great Plains, the two birds developed different coloration; today, they meet along wooded streams and farmland, where they interbreed.

Identification Male orange-yellow below with black eye stripe, crown, chin stripe, back, and central tail feathers; wings black with prominent white patch. Cheeks and eyebrow orange. Female has yellow hood, throat, and upper breast; wings pale gray with faint white patch; belly gray. Immature male like female, but has black on face.

Voice A loud whistled series of wheew, wheew, wheew notes, interspersed with clucks. Also a chattering call.

Northern Oriole I clerus galbula Habitat Deciduous forests, woodlands, agricultural areas, city parks, and suburbs; in winter, visits eucalyptus trees.

Range Bullock's breeds from S. British Columbia and Saskatchewan to Mexico and Texas; Baltimore Oriole in East. Winters primarily in the tropics.

Western Tanager Piranga ludoviciana

All The Birds Of North America: Western Tanager Piranga ludoviciana

Western Tanager Piranga ludoviciana The tanagers are a very large group of brightly colored, mainly tropical species of the Western Hemisphere; only five occur in North America. Like the other tanagers in our range, the Western Tanager looks somewhat like an oriole, but has a more conical bill. It is one of the most colorful birds of the western mountains, but it can be hard to observe; it is most easily located by voice.

Identification 7". Breeding male has bright red head, yellow throat, nape, and belly, and black wings with 1 yellow wing bar and 1 white wing bar. Female, immature, and winter male paler lemon or olive-yellow with dull olive to gray back and wings, and 2 narrow wing bars.

Voice A loud series of 2- and 3-syllable notes, separated by pauses; call a pit-err-ick.

Habitat Coniferous forests; less commonly in mixed deciduous forests and pinyon-juniper woodlands.

Range Breeds from S. Alaska and N. Alberta south to S. California and extreme W. Texas; absent from some desert areas. Winters mainly from Mexico south.

Evening Grosbeak Coccothraustes vespertinus

All The Birds Of North America: Evening Grosbeak Coccothraustes vespertinus

This chunky grosbeak was originally a bird of the West, but in recent years has expanded its range eastward. It nests in coniferous forests, where with the help of its huge conical bill it pries up the bracts of pine cones to get to the seeds within. At other times of year it frequents deciduous forests and is a common visitor to bird feeders, where it feasts on sunflower seeds.

Identification Stocky, with large, greenish-yellow, conical bill. Male has brown head with bold yellow forehead; back and belly bright yellow; wings black with large white pat

Voice Song a wandering series of musical whistles; call note a loud, ringing cleep.

Range Breeds from S. British Columbia and Alberta south through western mountains to N. California, Nevada, and S. Arizona; also eastward in the North to Minnesota and New England. Some birds move south in winter.