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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Happy Earth Day!

It's Earth Day! And it's also my brother's 9th birthday. We like to call it his "Earth Day Birthday". :) He's in an extremely good mood, as he received about a million Legos.
You may be wondering why I haven't posted my Migrant of the Week post yet. Well, it's because I haven't written it yet. I will, however, try to get around to writing it sometime soon.
In the meantime, here are some photos:

Yesterday my brothers found a snake (it turned out to be a Speckled King Snake) in our yard. We watched as it drank out of our overturned sandbox.

Great Crested Flycatcher. This isn't a very good photo, but I was excited about the bird. It's the first one in our yard I've seen.

Turkey Vulture.

Brown Thrasher. They're back! :D


I don't have anything planned for Earth Day, so I'm just doing my best to conserve power. Which means I should probably get off the computer now. What are you doing for Earth Day?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Migrant of the Week 4/15--4/21 2012

Today, April 15, the American Birding Association's Young Birder of the Year contest starts! To find details (and to see the winners of last year's) click here. To celebrate, I have chosen for this week's migrant, a bird that all birders long to see, North America's rarest warbler. The Migrant of the Week 4/15--4/21 2012 is.....

The Kirtland's Warbler!
 An amazing bird.


Random Cool Facts:

Like I said, the Kirtland's Warbler is the rarest warbler in North America. All known Kirtland's Warblers breed in the jack pine forests in Michigan and winter in the Caribbean. Jack pines depend on fire to survive, because their pinecones open only after being exposed to high temperatures of at least 122 degrees Fahrenheit.  It is a large warbler of the family Parulidae. Like the Palm warbler, it constantly pumps its tail.


Identification:

The Kirtland's Warbler is a small, chunky songbird, but large for a warbler. Their upperparts are bluish-gray to dark gray; their underparts are yellow, with black streaks on their sides. They have two crescent markings around their eyes, one above and one below. They forage for food from the mid-levels of trees to the ground.  Photo accredited to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology:


Nesting:

Kirtland's Warblers build their open cup nests out of grass, pine needles, and leaves. They line them with hair, rootlets, and plant fibers. They nest in depressions on the ground, often with a tuft of grass overhanging the nest. A full clutch is 3--6 white or buff eggs with light brown spots usually concentrated at the end. One brood per year.


Kirtland's Warblers are in danger of extinction because of habitat loss, and some years because of lack of fire. They deserve our help as well as the title of Migrant of the Week.


Note: I don't know as much about Kirtland's Warblers as I do about other species, so if you see something wrong with this description and life history, please let me know in the comments. Thanks!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Migrant of the Week 4/8--4/14 2012

I recently came up with an idea to write a post every week during Spring Migration (assuming I remember) about an interesting migrant. It'll be a different one each time. I'm a little late with this one (as it's Monday already), but as they say, better late than never. So without further delay, the Migrant of the Week 4/8--4/14 2012 is....

The Red-eyed Vireo!
I love this bird :).

Random Cool Facts:

The Red-eyed Vireo is a delightful little bird in my opinion. It is one of the first vireos to return to its breeding grounds in the spring.  It is one of the most common birds in eastern forests of the US, and is often heard rather than seen. They usually sticks to the tree-tops, foraging for insects. They nest rather low, however, and are a popular host for Brown-headed Cowbirds. Red-eyes grow up to 5.1 inches long, and way only 0.4-0.9 ounces. Red-eyed Vireos living year-round in South America may be a separate species.

Identification:

Red-eyed Vireos are quirky little birds with bright red eyes (as their name suggests), a dark eyestripe, an olive-green back, whitish underparts, and an attitude. They are overall a small, drab bird, but still very enjoyable to chase after on sunny mornings, I've found. Immatures have brown eyes and yellow underparts. The adults' other field marks include a gray to smoky blue crown, and a white supercillium (which, in case you didn't know, is just a fancy way of saying "eyebrow".)

Voice:

Red-eyed Vireos have a very distinctive song, which sounds like "see me; here I am; way up; in a tree". They will sing this for hours without a break. The song is similar to the Blue-headed and Yellow-throated Vireos', but is much faster. to listen to a recording, go to: http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Red-eyed_Vireo/sounds. Their call is a catbird-like "myaah".

 Nesting:

The Red-eyed Vireo builds its nest rather low for a bird that spends most of its time in the tree-tops. As I said before, they are a popular host for Brown-headed Cowbirds. The female builds a cup nest of bark, grass, spider webs, and other plant material. She usually lays 3-5 eggs. The male and the female feed the young, who leave the nest after about 12 days. They occasionally raise 2 broods in a season, but just 1 is more common.


Red-eyed Vireos are very, very interesting birds, and I think they deserve the title of Migrant of the Week.





Sunday, April 8, 2012

Friday, April 6, 2012

Breaking News: Female Cornell Heron Lays a FIFTH Egg!

I know! It's amazing, isn't it? At 2:20 AM EDT (or maybe a little earlier) this morning, the female of the Great Blue Heron pair the Cornell Lab of Ornithology is monitoring laid a FIFTH egg. We didn't see that coming. A full Great Blue Heron clutch is 2-4 eggs, but 5 has been recorded on rare occasions. But every time, the fifth chick was tiny and usually ended up dying. Now I'm worried.
Someone watching the cam apparently found a website that said herons lay 4-7 eggs, but only 4 hatch. Cornell, instead of denying it, demonstrated their great sense of open-mindedness by saying, and I quote "I guess we'll have to find out!" :) I love them.
Now a little about the Cornell Herons:

In spring 2009, the Cornell team was delighted to find a Great Blue Heron pair building a nest in a dead oak in the pond right next to their Johnson Center for Birds and Biodiversity. It was the first known Great Blue Heron nest in Sapsucker Woods. The herons successfully raised 4 young that year. They came back in 2010, and raised 4 young again. And they did the same thing in 2011. We can't be sure the female is the same from all the years, but the male is missing his back toe on his right foot, so we're certain he's the same as every year.


                                         All photos accredited to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology


The female right after she laid her 3rd egg.

Mom and Dad at the nest.

The Lab was able to document never-before-seen behavior, such as egg-laying shown here.

The Herons also offer great entertainment!


If you would like to see the webcam, (and I'm sure you do) here's a link. There is also a chat that goes along with the cam, which is monitored by the Lab. If you have questions, or just want to talk about birds, you can chat with other people just like you.



Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Flickr!

Yes, I have finally joined Flickr! I am very excited about it. my screen name is "MississippiBirder" so if you see that name, that's me! I have posted a few photos, including the ones of the bird I can't identify. I posted the 'mystery bird' photos to the "Bird Identification Help" group's pool. Still don't know what it is, but I just sent an email to Cornell asking them about it. If they don't know what it is, I'm in trouble! Thanks to all who commented on my Bird ID Help page. I need as much help as I can get!

I guess I'll sign off for now. I just wanted to tell y'all that I was on Flickr. Happy Trails and Happy Birding!