White-throated Sparrow

White-throated Sparrow

The White-throated Sparrow is one of the jazziest sparrows at our feeders in winter with its black and white striped crown and yellow lores. In fact, Cornell’s website, All About Birds says, Crisp facial markings make the White-throated Sparrow an attractive bird as well as a hopping, flying anatomy lesson. There’s the black eyestripe, the white crown and supercilium, the yellow lores, the white throat bordered by a black whisker, or malar stripe. They’re also a great entrée into the world of birdsong, with their pretty, wavering whistle of Oh-sweet-canada. These […]

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagles have certainly made a come-back recently, and are no longer a rare sight. A pair has been nesting at Montour Preserve near us in Central PA for at least several years. Though they are seen occasionally at their nest tree, the pair is more often seen elsewhere, scoping out a farmer’s field for dinner now that the lake is frozen over. They are often perched together in the same tree, and at times an immature eagle, perhaps from an earlier nesting (?), is also seen nearby. The Hanover […]

Western Tanager

Western Tanager

In the colorless days of winter, an adult male Western Tanager has livened things up by ending up far from its usual warm winter habitat in Central America. This beautiful vagrant is even more striking in breeding plumage, when it sports an orange-red head and bright yellow body. This bird was found in the back yard of an accommodating host in State College, PA, in November, and continues to this day in spite of the freezing cold. He has plenty of food, water, and cover and seems content to stay […]

Life Birds of 2015

Juniper Titmouse

The year 2015 was a good year for life birds for me because of a few trips I was able to take within the United States. I’ve seen almost all the North American land birds in the East, and look forward to getting to the coast and out West to add to my life list. A Road Scholar Birding trip to Maine in late May brought good looks at Atlantic Puffin, Razorbill, Black Guillemot, and Common Eider; all life birds! Most of these required taking a fishing boat out to […]

Bald Eagles at Conowingo Dam, Revisited

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagles gather below Conowingo Dam in Maryland for good fishing. When the water is flowing, the fish are also pouring over the dam. Some are stunned when they hit the water, and make for easy pickin’s below. The bank on one side of the Susquehanna River is lined with fishermen and photographers. The rocks on the other side of the river are covered with birds: Bald Eagles, Black Vultures, Double-crested Cormorants, a few Great Blue Herons, and hundreds of gulls. The real show is the eagles, however. Not all […]

Greater Roadrunner–Bird of the Day

Roadrunner

No visit to the Southwest is complete without a view of the Greater Roadrunner. Of my half-dozen or so birding trips to the Southwest, I’ve caught only glimpses of this interesting bird. This trip was different. On five occasions, my husband and I were treated to long looks and many photos of Wile E. Coyote’s prey. One individual lived next door to the casita that we rented in Sedona, Arizona, and it was often seen on the road, on a fence post, or in the little cemetery nearby. All about […]

Lincoln’s Sparrow II–Bird of the Day

Lincoln's Sparrow

Lincoln’s Sparrow passes through most of the United States during migration, and is always a treat to see with its buffy chest and malars and its fine black streaks. They are just as variable as the other sparrows, as these next photos will show. You will notice very buffy, slighty buffy, finely streaked and heavily streaked birds.   Just by pishing lightly or playing the song of the Song Sparrow, I found myself suddenly overwhelmed by curious sparrows of all types along with Common Yellow-throat, House Wren, and Catbird!     […]

Limpkin

Limpkin

    The Limpkin is a strange water bird of the Florida and Georgia swamps, something like a cross between a rail and  a stork. It doesn’t seem to fit in either family, and thus the Limpkin was classified in a family all by itself: Arimidae. Its range extends south from Florida to much of the fresh water swamps of Central and South America. The Limpkin’s diet is largely made up of apple snails, but it will eat fresh water mussels, frogs, and other creatures.                                                 Because of the […]

Red-headed Woodpecker–Bird of the Day!

Red-headed Woodpecker

Red-headed Woodpeckers are fairly rare in our area, so it’s a treat to catch a sighting of their bold white patches on black wings, bright red head, and stark white belly. They nest in the excavated holes of dead trees and they require an under-story that is clear. Cornell’s website, All About Birds, says that it is sometimes called the “Flying Checkerboard” because of its dramatic coloring. This year, my birding friends and I found three nesting pairs within a few miles of each other! Red-headed Woodpeckers often have two broods […]

Bird of the Day: American Redstart building a nest

American Redstart

    During the Acadia Birding Festival, I took a morning off to meander by myself along the shore and the road near our hotel. Some movement caught my eye low in the brushy area beside the road. A female American Redstart was busy stripping the long fibers of a dead branch in the thicket.     She had to work plenty hard in order to pull off this long fiber!     To my delight, I could see her fly immediately to her little cup-like nest that she was […]