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Following Spring Migration
2 years ago

http://www.onearth.org/files/onearth/userimages5328/Migrating_birds.jpg


Source of Photograph.....


http://www.onearth.org/files/onearth/userimages5328/Migrating_birds.jpg


All across North America, one of the sure signs that spring is on the way is the return of the migratory birds.  If you are familiar with the birds in your area you know that the change can be abrupt: One morning, the bushes and trees around you are suddenly filled with singing birds that were not there just the day before. They have arrived during the night, following a combination of celestial (by the stars) and magnetic cues that are part of their genetic heritage.


     Please stay tuned for the next installment.....

2 years ago

The most amazing part of this story is that these tiny birds may have flown thousands of miles to reach your yard, after spending the North American winter in Mexico, Central America, or South America, where the days remain warm and food is plentiful during our cold season.

2 years ago

Many of the birds we consider "our birds," those that appear in field guides to the United States, actually spend less than half of their lives here. They move north as the snow melts and raise young on the plentiful supplies of insects that are abundant only during the long warm days of our late spring and summer. At the end of the breeding season, usually in late summer or fall, they move south again, most of them following only their instincts to reach the traditional "winter" home of their species. This fall migration is a somewhat drawn-out process for many species, and flocks will linger and feed wherever food is available.

2 years ago

The spring migration, however, is urgent. For each species there is a specific, optimal time when the birds need to arrive in their breeding areas. The strongest males arrive first and stake out the prime territories, often in the same location where they nested the previous year. When females arrive, they select the males that occupy the best habitats for raising young. The pair must then construct a nest, incubate eggs, and raise their brood in the short period before it is time to start the journey back to the wintering range.

2 years ago

The maps that accompany this feature illustrate the timing of migration, showing the average arrival dates for 50 species of birds as they return to North America in spring. They are based on the observations of professional and amateur birders who monitored these arrivals over many years.

2 years ago

While there is a certain amount of variability each year, these long-term averages are revealing a disturbing trend. In the last 20 years, many species are arriving earlier, and a significant number of species are also shifting farther to the north. Why?

 

Scientists now believe that climate change caused by the buildup of greenhouse gases is disrupting the timing of migration and sending some species farther north in search of insects.

2 years ago

In recent years there has been an alarming decline in the populations of many migratory bird species. This is a result of several converging factors. Species that depend on unbroken forests in their North American breeding range are suffering because of forest fragmentation. The same species face additional threats south of the U.S. border, where logging and slash-and-burn agriculture are rapidly destroying thousands of acres of their habitats each day. In recent years, much research has focused on the lives these birds lead during their stay to the south, looking at how they interact with nonmigratory resident species and how the habitat changes taking place in southern forests might affect the migrants. For each of the birds featured here, we have included some insights into the lives they lead while they are south of our border. We hope this gives you an even deeper appreciation for these tiny travelers, whose lives extend beyond the maps in our field guides.

2 years ago

Long-legged Waders

 

Great Egret Ardea alba

 

 

Great Egret, breeding plumage
credit: Calibas/CCSA

2 years ago



Description ADULT Has pure white plumage; during breeding season, long back plumes trail beyond tail. At all times, legs are dark and bill is yellow. Lores are yellow for much of year but turns bluish green in breeding season. juvenile Similar to nonbreeding adult.

2 years ago

Dimensions Length:



35-41" (89-104 cm);



Wingspan:



4' 7" (1.4 m)

2 years ago

Habitat 



Much reduced (by persecution and habitat loss) compared to, say, a century ago. Never_theless, still relatively common in wetland habitats (mainly freshwater and brackish). Resident year-round in coastal districts within its range (except in parts of West Coast), numbers boosted in winter by birds abandoning inland sites occupied from spring to fall.

2 years ago

Observation Tips 




So large and conspicuous that you should have no difficulty finding it; size and bill and leg color help separate it from superficially similar smaller species, and from white morph Great Blue Heron.

2 years ago
Great Blue Heron Ardea herodias




Great Blue Heron
credit: ori" rel="nofollow" >Dori/CCSA

2 years ago

Family:




Ardeidae, Herons, Egrets, Bitterns

2 years ago

Description ADULT Typical morph appears blue-gray overall, but neck is tinged pinkish and adorned with black and white streaks down center. Note the mainly white face and crown, separated by broad black stripe that ends in short plumes. Lower breast feathers form shaggy plumes; note also the reddish "trousers." Lores are blue at height of breeding season. In flight, seen from above, note the dark flight feathers; from below, wings look uniformly dark gray, except for reddish leading edge to inner wing. White morph has pure white plumage; intermediate forms also occur with variably pale pinkish blue body plumage and white head. JUVENILE Similar overall to adult, but blue morph birds are less strikingly marked, particularly on head: crown is dark and head plumes are absent.

2 years ago

Dimensions 



Length: 39-52" (99-132 cm);



Wngspn: 5' 10" (1.8 m)



Habitat




 Locally common, nesting colonially in vicinity of wetlands. Present year-round in much of southern U.S., but range extends north in spring and summer and contracts south to ice-free habitats outside breeding season; often seen on coasts in winter. White morph ("Great White Heron") and intermediates are restricted to Florida.

1 year ago

Observation Tips 



Given this species' size and often bold nature, it is hard to miss in most suitable wetlands.

1 year ago

Range



 Plains, Southwest, Rocky Mountains, California, Texas, Great Lakes, Mid-Atlantic, Eastern Canada, Western Canada, Alaska, New England, Northwest, Southeast, Florida.

1 year ago

Voice




Utters a hoarse fraarnk call in flight; otherwise mostly silent.

1 year ago

Discussion 



Huge heron with long legs and neck and huge, daggerlike bill. Typical blue-gray form is unmistakable but white morph ("Great White Heron") could be mistaken for smaller Great Egret, which has dark (not yellowish legs) and a proportionately smaller bill. Diet of all birds is highly variable and includes fish, amphibians, and crustaceans, and even mammals and birds on occasion. Flies with deep, powerful wingbeats, neck hunched up and legs trailing. Sexes are similar.

1 year ago


Great Blue Heron
credit: Alan D. Wilson/CCSA

1 year ago

American Bittern Botaurus lentiginosus






American Bittern


credit: Walter Siegmund/CCSA

1 year ago

Family:




Ardeidae, Herons, Egrets, Bitterns

1 year ago



Description ADULT Has beautifully patterned brown plumage. Neck and breast have chestnut stripes on paler background and feathers on back and upper wing are marbled and finely marked. Note the white throat and supercilium, and black malar stripe. Daggerlike bill is yellow and legs are greenish. JUVENILE Similar to adult, but facial markings are less striking.

1 year ago

Dimensions  



Length:



23-34" (58-86 cm)

1 year ago

Habitat 



Widespread across Canada and northern U.S. in spring and summer, but seldom common. Associated with well-vegetated freshwater marshes and present in breeding range mainly Apr-Sep. Moves south and west in winter and then found mostly in coastal wetlands with large stands of cattail.

1 year ago

Observation Tips  



Presence often detected by "song" in spring. Persistent observation may be rewarded by a view of a flying bird.

1 year ago

Range 


Eastern Canada, Western Canada, Alaska, New England, Northwest, Southeast, Florida, Plains, Southwest, Rocky Mountains, California, Texas, Great Lakes, Mid-Atlantic

1 year ago

Voice Territorial birds utter a far-carrying, booming BOonk-aLOonk.

1 year ago

Discussion 




Bulky and distinctive wetland bird. Despite its large size, the cryptic plumage (that blends in particularly well with dead cattail stems) makes it very hard to spot. Its behavior enhances the effect: moves at a slow, stealthy pace and alarmed birds "skypoint," swaying with same motion as surrounding wetland vegetation. Flies with deep, powerful wingbeats, head and neck held hunched; dark flight feathers contrast with otherwise brown plumage. Feeds on amphibians, fish, and aquatic invertebrates, and often hunts at dawn and dusk. Sexes are similar.

1 year ago
American Bittern Botaurus lentiginosus





American Bittern, breeding plumage


credit: Steve Deger/CCSA



1 year ago
Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis



Cattle Egret, breeding
credit: Rick Kimpel/CCSA

© Lang Elliot/Naturesound.com (audio)



1 year ago

Family: Ardeidae, Herons, Egrets, Bitterns

1 year ago

Description ADULT Has pure white plumage for much of year but at height of breeding season it becomes flushed yellowish buff on crown, breast, and back. Bill is yellow for most of year, turning orange-red in breeding season; legs are dark for most of year but turn orange-yellow during breeding season. juvenile Similar to nonbreeding adult.

1 year ago

Dimensions 


Length:


20" (51 cm)

1 year ago

Habitat



 Originates from Old World and is a relatively recent arrival to our region; first noted in South America (presumably from Africa) and reached Florida in mid 20th century. Now a widespread resident in coastal districts in southeast, favoring grassland and wetlands; from spring to fall, also occurs inland during summer breeding season.

1 year ago

Observation Tips 




Usually found in drier habitats than other egret species.

1 year ago

Range 



Southwest, Rocky Mountains, California, Texas, Great Lakes, Mid-Atlantic, Eastern Canada, Western Canada, New England, Northwest, Southeast, Florida, Plains

1 year ago

Voice




Mainly silent.

1 year ago

Discussion Stocky, mainly white heron-like bird with a proportionately large head and bulbous throat. Gregarious and often associates with grazing livestock, chasing after insects and other prey disturbed by feeding animals. Sexes are similar but breeding adults are more colorful than nonbreeding and immatures.

1 year ago
Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis





Cattle Egret, nonbreeding


© George H. Harrison



1 year ago


Cattle Egret, nonbreeding


credit: Viriditas/CCSA


© Lang Elliot/Naturesound.com (audio)

1 year ago



credit: Derek Bakken/CCSA



© Lang Elliot/Naturesound.com (audio)

1 year ago
Green Heron Butorides virescens







Green Heron, adult breeding
credit: eter_Wallack" rel="nofollow" >Peter Wallack/CCSA



© Lang Elliot/Naturesound.com (audio)

1 year ago

Family:




Ardeidae, Herons, Egrets, Bitterns view all from this family

1 year ago



Description 



ADULT Has dark green crown, rufous-maroon face and neck, and white running from throat down center of neck and breast to whitish belly. Upperparts are otherwise greenish gray; wing feathers have pale margins. JUVENILE Mainly brown, tinged rufous on face and with rufous streaks on otherwise paler throat, neck, and breast.

1 year ago

Dimensions



 Length:



16-22" (41-56 cm)

1 year ago

Habitat 



Locally common wetland bird. Summer migrant to north and interior parts of range, present mainly May-Sep; moves south and to coastal districts outside breeding season and winter range extends to Central America.

1 year ago

Observation Tips





 Unobtrusive, but not unduly wary; easy to see in Everglades in winter.

1 year ago

Range



 Eastern Canada, Western Canada, New England, Northwest, Southeast, Florida, Plains, Southwest, Rocky Mountains, California, Texas, Great Lakes, Mid-Atlantic

1 year ago

Voice




Utters a sharp skeeow call in flight.

1 year ago

Discussion 




Small, compact heron. Colorful adult blends in surprisingly well with dappled waterside vegetation. Often perches on branches overhanging water, remaining motionless for minutes on end while waiting for prey such as fish and amphibians to pass within stabbing range. Bill is proportionately long and daggerlike. Sexes are similar.

1 year ago
Green Heron Butorides virescens







credit: MONGO

1 year ago
Little Blue Heron Egretta caerulea





Little Blue Heron, adult


credit: Dario Sanches/CCSA



1 year ago

Family:




Ardeidae, Herons, Egrets, Bitterns

1 year ago



Description ADULT BREEDING Has mostly dark blue-gray plumage but a rich purplish maroon head and neck. Has long plumes on head, lower neck, and back. Legs are dark, eyes are yellowish, and bill is blue-gray with a dark tip. ADULT NONBREEDING Similar, but loses plumes, and colors on head and neck are less intense. JUVENILE Has mostly pure white plumage although tips of primaries are subtly darker. Bill is dull yellow (turning grayish with age) with a long dark tip; legs are yellowish. Confusion possible with Snowy Egret but note that species' all-dark bill, yellow lores, and striking contrast between black legs and yellow feet.

1 year ago

Dimensions 




Length: 25-30" (64-76 cm); Wngspn: 3' 5" (1 m)

1 year ago

Habitat 




Common wetland bird in coastal districts of Atlantic and Gulf coasts. Present year-round in many districts but breeding range extends inland. Nests colonially, sometimes alongside other herons.

1 year ago

Observation Tips Easy to see in most coastal wetlands and superb views can be obtained in Florida, where birds are often oblivious to observers.

1 year ago

Range Rocky Mountains, California, Texas, Great Lakes, Mid-Atlantic, Eastern Canada, New England, Southeast, Florida, Plains, Southwest

1 year ago

Voice




Utters a harsh aarrk.

1 year ago

Discussion 




Distinctive, dark-looking heron that feeds in a slow, deliberate manner and often remains motionless for minutes on end; feeds on amphibians and fish in both freshwater and brackish habitats. Sexes are similar.

1 year ago

Little Blue Heron, immature


credit: Korall/CCSA



1 year ago
Reddish Egret Egretta rufescens









Reddish Egret, dark morph
credit: Googie man /CCSA



1 year ago

Family: Ardeidae, Herons, Egrets, Bitterns view all from this family

1 year ago

Description 




ADULT WHITE MORPH Has pure white plumage; shaggy plumes are seen on head and lower neck in breeding season. ADULT DARK MORPH Has dark bluish gray body plumage and reddish orange head and neck; has shaggy plumes on head and lower neck in breeding season. JUVENILE WHITE MORPH Similar to adult white morph but with uniformly dark bill. JUVENILE DARK MORPH Similar to adult dark morph but plumage is much paler overall with rufous feather edges on back and uniformly dark bill.

1 year ago

Dimensions Length:




30" (76 cm); Wngspn: 3' 10" (1.2 m)

1 year ago

Habitat 




Locally and generally scarce resident of saltwater wetlands on Florida coast and Gulf coast.

1 year ago

Observation


Tips Easiest to see well in Florida's Everglades.

1 year ago

Range 






Texas, Florida, Southeast, California

11 months ago

Voice




Utters a subdued croaking eeuuah.

11 months ago

Discussion



 Distinctive coastal heron with a relatively long bill, strikingly bicolored (pink base and dark tip) in breeding season but otherwise rather dull. Occurs as two very different color morphs. Legs are dark in all birds. Given morph differences, sexes are not separable.

11 months ago

Reddish Egret Egretta rufescens





Reddish Egret, Canopy hunting credit: eter_Wallack" rel="nofollow" >Peter Wallack/CCSA

10 months ago

Snowy Egret Egretta thula


 

credit: Johnath/CCSA

10 months ago

Family:


Ardeidae, Herons, Egrets, Bitterns

10 months ago

Description ADULT


Has pure white plumage with elegant plumes evident during breeding season. Legs are black and feet are yellow (orange tinged at height of breeding season).

10 months ago

Daggerlike bill is dark and lores are yellow for much of the time, but are flushed red in breeding season. juvenile Similar to adult, but backs of legs are yellow.

10 months ago

Dimensions 


Length:


20-27" (51-69 cm);


Wingspan:


3' 2" (97 cm)

9 months ago

Habitat 


Associated with wetland habitats, ranging from sheltered coasts and brackish lagoons to freshwater lakes and rivers. Present year-round near coasts; summer breeding range extends inland.

9 months ago

Observation Tips 



Easy to see in suitable habitats.

9 months ago


Description ADULT


Has pure white plumage with elegant plumes evident during breeding season. Legs are black and feet are yellow (orange tinged at height of breeding season).

9 months ago

Dimensions



 Length:


20-27" (51-69 cm);


Wingspan:


3' 2" (97 cm)

9 months ago

Habitat



 Associated with wetland habitats, ranging from sheltered coasts and brackish lagoons to freshwater lakes and rivers. Present year-round near coasts; summer breeding range extends inland.

8 months ago

Observation Tips



 Easy to see in suitable habitats.
 

8 months ago

Range 



New England, Southeast, Florida, Plains, Southwest, Rocky Mountains, Western Canada, California, Northwest, Texas, Great Lakes, Mid-Atlantic, Eastern Canada

8 months ago

Voice 



Mostly silent.

8 months ago

Discussion 


Pure white heron-like bird. Superficially similar to Cattle and Great egrets but adult Snowy Egret's bright yellow feet, contrasting with otherwise black legs, and its black bill, are diagnostic. 

7 months ago

Long periods of time are spent roosting and preening. Sometimes adopts a patient, wait-and-see approach to feeding but also employs more energetic tactics in pursuit of fish, amphibians, and crustaceans. 

7 months ago

Sexes are similar but immatures and adults can be separated with care. Beware confusion with immature Little Blue Heron, which is all white but has yellowish legs as well as feet, and a two-toned bill.

7 months ago



Snowy Egret, plumage displayed

credit: Jason Engman


© Lang Elliot/Naturesound.com (audio)

7 months ago



Snowy Egret Egretta thula



credit: 350z33/CCSA

7 months ago

Tricolored Heron Egretta tricolor

Tricolored Heron


credit: ickDaniels" rel="nofollow" >Dick Daniels/CCSA

6 months ago

Alternate name:



 Louisiana Heron

6 months ago


Family:

 Ardeidae,

Herons, Egrets, Bitterns view all from this family

6 months ago

Description 



ADULT BREEDING Has mostly blue-gray head, neck, back, and upper wings, with white underparts and rufous-tinged pale line down center of throat and neck.

6 months ago

Note the purplish plumes on scapulars and lower neck. Lores and base of dark-tipped bill are bluish. ADULT NONBREEDING Similar, but lores and base of bill are yellowish and line down center of throat and neck is white.

5 months ago

 JUVENILE recalls nonbreeding adult but blue-gray elements of plumage on head, neck, scapulars, and wing covers are reddish chestnut.

5 months ago

Dimensions



 Length: 25-30" (64-76 cm); Wngspn: 3' 2" (97 cm)
 

5 months ago

Habitat 



Fairly common in coastal swamps on Gulf and Atlantic coasts; resident in warmer, southern regions with range extending further north in spring and summer.

5 months ago

Observation Tips 



Easy to see in Florida's Everglades and Mississippi bayous.

4 months ago

Range 



Texas, Great Lakes, Mid-Atlantic, New England, Southeast, Florida, Plains, Southwest

4 months ago

Voice 



Utters a harsh waaah.

4 months ago

Discussion 



Striking and unmistakably slender, coastal heron.

4 months ago

 Feeds mainly on fish and often wades in a stately manner in deep water, or more actively pursues prey in shallows.

3 months ago

 Nests colonially, often alongside other heron species. Sexes are similar.

 

3 months ago

Least Bittern Ixobrychus exilis

3 months ago

3 months ago

Family: 


Ardeidae, Herons, Egrets, Bitterns

2 months ago

Description 



ADULT MALE Mainly yellow-buff, palest on underparts, with buff stripes on throat and breast. Cap and back are blackish, latter contrasting with pale buff panel on wings (striking in flight when dark flight feathers are obvious).

2 months ago

Has yellow legs and facial skin (this turns pink at height of breeding season), and dull yellow bill with dark culmen. 

2 months ago

ADULT FEMALE Similar to male, but black elements of plumage are dark brown.

2 months ago

JUVENILE Similar to female, but cap and back are gray-buff.

2 months ago

Dimensions



 Length: 



11-14" (28-36 cm)

1 month ago

Habitat



 Locally common summer visitor (present mainly May-Aug) to cattail swamps, but easily overlooked. 

1 month ago

Most migrate south of region for winter, but a few linger in south.

1 month ago

Observation Tips 



Presence is easiest to detect by recognizing male's song.

3 weeks ago

 Patient observation may then yield a brief view, perhaps of a flying bird.

2 weeks ago

Range 



Southeast, Florida, Northwest, Plains, Southwest, Eastern Canada, Texas, Great Lakes, Mid-Atlantic, New England, Rocky Mountains, Western Canada, California

1 week ago

Voice:



 Utters a quacking alarm call. Singing male utters a short succession of cooing notes.

1 week ago

Discussion 



A tiny, well-marked heron whose unobtrusive habits and largely inaccessible favored habitats make it fairly hard to observe.

18 hrs ago

Sometimes seen climbing up a tall cattail stem or more typically observed briefly in flight, flying low over marsh vegetation with rapid wingbeats.