Tuesday, December 31, 2013
Wednesday, December 25, 2013
Tuesday, December 17, 2013
The first white-tailed kites that we spotted, and photographed, where at the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve near Monterey Bay in California. White-tailed kites were almost extricated from California by 1940 due to hunting and egg collecting. Preservation laws, like the Migratory Bird Act, gave protection to native species of birds and their eggs. This includes the white-tailed kite which, I am happy to say, are now common again in many parts of California. These first two pictures where taken in southern Texas where white-tailed kites can also be found.Crex Meadows in Wisconsin I was surprised to spot a perched white-tailed kite. Now Crex meadows is perfect habitat for white-tailed kites, however it is way out of their normal range. This was only the third time on record that a white-tailed kite had been observed in Wisconsin. Now the winter of 2011 -2012 was unseasonably warm and lacking in snow which might explain why this bird was in Wisconsin. The have been known to venture far from their range and have been spotted as far away as New England. It was still exciting though and people came from all around to get a glimpse, especially since the last sighting in Wisconsin was over 10 years before.
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
Unfortunately good intentions can sometimes have bad side effects. That has been the case with wind energy. A study by the Us Fish and Wildlife Service reports that at least 85 golden and bald eagles were killed at wind farms between 1997 and 2012. That may not sound like a huge number over 5 years, however the study relied mainly on volunteered reports of fatalities by the wind energy companies. So it is possible the number may be much higher. The study also did not include all US wind farms. The Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area in California was not included in the study. It is located in an area with a high population of golden eagles and may be responsible for as many deaths as reported in the study every year.
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
The three-toed woodpecker gets its name because it is one of the only woodpecker species that has three toes on each foot instead of four. Other then the two varieties of three-toed only the black-backed woodpecker has three toes. The black-backed are also found in boreal forests, although they do not breed quite as far north. The black-backed is very similar in appearance to three-toed except as its name would suggest it has a black back where the three-toed woodpecker's back is mottled black and white. The top photo in the post is a three-toed where the second is a black back. As you can see they look very similar. These are both males which you can tell by the yellow crown on the top of their heads. The female three-toed woodpecker has a mottled black and white crown where the top of the female black-back's head is all black.
Monday, November 25, 2013
It is possible to tell the difference between male and females by looking at the black border on the upper side of the wings. With the male the border is solid black, like in the photos above, while the females have yellow spots in the border. Orange sulphurs larval host plant is alfalfa, clovers, and other legumes.
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Snowy owls have thick feathers that completely their body including their feet and toes. This provides insulation that allows them to survive on their territory in the tundra year round. Unlike most species of owls snowies are primarily diurnal, active during the daytime. They eat rodents, primarily lemmings, and some birds, such as ptarmigan.
Saturday, November 16, 2013
The pine Grosbeak is one of the largest members of the finch family, Fringlilidae. They are found in the boreal forests of Alaska, Canada, Rocky Mountains, and Eurasia. Most pine grosbeaks stay on territory year round but they will migrate south, into southern Canada and northern United States in North America, when there is a shortage of food. They eat seeds, fruit, tree buds and some insects.
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Sunday, November 10, 2013
Males typically come back to the same nesting territory each year but females usually choose a different territory and mate each year. Their nest is usually located on the lower branches of a bush near to the ground. Females build the nest, which is cup shaped, but males help by bringing nesting materials like twigs and grass. The eggs take a week and a half to two weeks to hatch. The chicks are born helpless and with out feathers. In 7-9 days after hatching they leave the nest. They are still not able to fly at this time but they will spend the next week on the ground in the bushes where they will be fed by their parents.