Bullock’s Oriole (Icterus bullockii)

Male Bullock's Oriole Photo by Alan and Elaine Wilson

Male Bullock’s Oriole Photo by Alan and Elaine Wilson

Identifying Them:

Bullock’s Orioles are about 6 1/2 to 7 1/2 inches long, with wingspans of about a foot. Mature, breeding males have a darker orange-yellow plumage and darker black wings than non breeding males, who look more like mature females except females do not have a black throat.

Habitat:

These Orioles keep to the Southwest of North America. They breed in riparian, open woodlands like urban parks and use similar habitats during winter and their migration. Bullock’s Orioles prefer tall, hardwood trees and are found in cottonwoods, deciduous oak, pine-oak, live oaks, sycamores, willows, orchard trees, conifers and saltcedar.

Behavior:

When searching for food, they will forage in tree canopies and off of the ground or will occasionally fly out to catch prey in mid-air. During courtship, males conduct a display of hopping from branch to branch, bowing to the female frequently, while singing loudly. Both Males and females exhibit noisy and fairly aggressive behavior when guarding the nest and mobbing crows, jays squirrels, and other predators.

Nesting and Nestlings:

Nest sites are chosen by females who also construct it with rare assistance from the males. The construction usually takes about two weeks to complete and is woven from vine tendrils, strips of bark, fibers like hair, wool, grasses and twine and is lined with plant-down, cotton and feathers. Nests are often suspended from thin, branches and hung over bodies of water.

Females typically incubate 3 to 7 pale blue-white, brown splotched, eggs for about 11 days. Both of the parents retrieve food for the young who nest for a period of two weeks.

Bullock's Oriole Nest Photo by Jeffrey Rich

Bullock’s Oriole Nest Photo by Jeffrey Rich

Diet:

Bullock’s Orioles diet is mostly insects like crickets, grasshoppers, beetles, and caterpillars along with fruit and nectar, which they sometimes steal from hummingbirds feeders. These birds extract insects from leaves, branches and trunks and pluck ripe fruit from bushes and off branches. They use a method called ‘gaping’ plunging their bills into fruit or prey, then prying their bills open inside to extract juice from fruit.

Attracting Them To Your Backyard:

Since nectar is included in their diet, they will steal some from hummingbird feeders, so make sure to fill your feeders all the way up. You can also leave out grape jelly and orange halves for them.

Posted in Backyard Birds, Bird Watching, nonfiction | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Oregon Bird Identification Quiz #2.

Can you identify the Oregon birds?

See bottom of page for answers.

Red-tailed Hawk by Pierre Leclerc

#1.

Photo by Greg Hume

#2.

Photo by Gareth Rasberry

#3.

Photo by Peter Wallack

#4.

Photo by Nick Saunders

#5.

Photo by Kevin Cole

#6.

220px-Phalacrocorax-auritus-007

#7.

#7.

#8.

#9.

#9.

photographed by Dominic Sherony

#10.

 

#1 Is a Red-Tailed Hawk photographed by Pierre Leclerc

#2. Is an American Kestrel photographed by Greg Hume

#3. Is an Osprey photographed by Gareth Rasberry

#4. Is a Green Heron photographed by Peter Wallack

#5. Is a Black-billed Magpie photographed by Nick Saunders

#6. Is a White-tailed Kite photographed by Kevin Cole

#7. Is a Double-crested Cormorant found on Wikipedia

#8. Is a Ring-necked Pheasant source unknown.

#9. Is a Belted Kingfisher found on Wikipedia.

#10. Is a Western Grebe photographed by Dominic Sherony.

Posted in Bird Quizes, Bird Watching | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Baltimore Orioles (Icterus galbula)

Found on Wikipedia

Adult Male Baltimore Oriole Found on Wikipedia

Identifying Them:

Baltimore Orioles are a bright orange-yellow with black and white wings. Females have a more dull yellow color, with grey-brown wings. Both genders have a height of about 6.5-7.5 inches with a wingspan of about 9 inches to a foot long.

Habitat:

These Orioles live in the eastern United States during the summer, traveling to the far south area of North America in the winter. The birds tend to inhabit deciduous trees, not in large dense forests, but mainly at the forest’s edge. During the winter, while in Central America, Baltimore Orioles inhabit open woodlands and gardens. Baltimore Orioles are migratory and head toward neotropical climates.

Behavior:

Baltimore Orioles are highly adjusted to human life, wandering in public parks and backyards. They forage in shrubs, brush and in treetops, hanging upside down on branches. The birds will sometimes fly out, catching insects in the air. Males do not defend feeding territories but defend their nesting areas with their song.

Nesting and Nestlings:

They nest in deciduous trees about 20 to 30 feet off the ground, though will sometimes nest up to 90 feet above the ground. Females built their nests with little help from the male, taking about 1-2 weeks. The nest is about 2-3 inches wide with a diameter and a depth of 3-4 inches. Their eggs are .6-.7 inches wide, with a tan-white color and brown streaks throughout. The nest is built from grass, spanish moss, wool, and horsehair, along with cellophane, twine, or fishing line. Sometimes, fibers from an old nest are used by the female for the new nest. She weaves the nest by randomly poking the fibers to make no deliberate knots which eventually become tangles.

The females have 3-7 eggs which have an incubation period lasts about 2 weeks. After hatching the nesting period is another 2 weeks. It takes males 1/2 to one year to gain their bright orange-yellow plumage.

Diet:

Baltimore Orioles are omnivorous and stick mainly to insects (especially caterpillars), fruit and nectar. You can attract Baltimore Orioles to your backyard with a similar nectar-mixture you would leave for hummingbirds. The mixture is 1 part sugar to 8 parts water, while hummingbirds prefer 1 part sugar to 4 parts water. Not only is the mixture different but the feeder must be different also. It should have larger ports, because of their larger beaks. Another way to try to lure the orioles to your backyard is by leaving out slices of oranges especially, and or apples, bananas and peaches.

Posted in Birds Outside of Oregon, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ring-Necked Duck, ( Aythya Collaris)

Ring-necked duck

Identifying Them:

These ducks are easily identified by the white ring and black tip around their beak. Ring-Necked Ducks are also recognized by their slightly lighter in color, ring around their neck (hence the name “Ring-Necked Duck”)  that isn’t always visible when they are swimming. The birds are medium-sized with a length of about 15-18 inches. Unlike most raptors, male Ring-Necked Ducks are a little larger than the females.

Habitat:

Ring-Necked Ducks live mostly in the Southern and Southwestern part of North America. They breed in freshwater ponds, bogs and streams around lots of the western forests. These ducks nest in small, wooded ponds, usually in the midst of forests.

Behavior:

The duck feed by diving into water but they usually hang out in more shallow bodies of water which are harder to dive in. Ring-Necked Ducks are very agile and, unlike many diving ducks, they can fly directly from the water without a running start.

Nesting and Nestlings:

Ring-necked Ducks pick nest on mound of dirt nearby water or on floating vegetation. Females alone build the nest which is a shallow cup of down and plants. Small ramps are made to help the young out of the nest.

The nest is still being build even once the eggs are laid, (which are usually about 8-10). The eggs are white, sometimes with a couple small brown splotches. The eggs are incubated for usually a little less than a month (25-29 days). Only about a day after hatching, the young are taken out to the water to try to have their first swim.

Diet:

These ducks, like most ducks eat aquatic plants and invertebrates. They eat a variety of uncommon plants like roots, tubers of pondweed, hydrilla, wild celery, water lilies, coontail, millet, and sedges.

Conservation status:

Though they are a bit uncommon, they are under the Least Concern category which means that they aren’t threatened, in fact, their population has increased lately.

Posted in Bird Watching, nonfiction, Shorebirds and Coastal Birds, Uncommon birds, Waders, waterbirds | Leave a comment

Rock Pigeons, (Rock Doves) (Columba Livia)

 

 

Rock Pigeon by Diego Delso

Rock Pigeon by Diego Delso

Rock Pigeons were first found in North Africa and Europe but are now most commonly seen across the Western Hemisphere, from Northern Canada to the Southern parts of South America.

Identifying Them:

Rock Pigeons or “Rock Doves” are part of the Columbidae family which are a family of rocks and pigeons. They are somewhat large pigeons with a length of 12 1/2 inches. They have long bodies with pointed wings and a fan-like tail. Rock Pigeons in Oregon have gray wings with two black stripes near the end of their wings. These pigeons are easily recognized by their pearlescent green and pink coloring on their neck that is unlike most other pigeons.

Habitat:

Rock Pigeons are spread throughout the country being commonly sighted, foraging in parks, streets, and buildings located in the city. When they aren’t searching for food, they will sometimes be found hanging out on telephone wires and street lamps. Rock Pigeons were first found in North Africa and Europe but are now most commonly seen across the Western Hemisphere, from Northern Canada to the Southern parts of South America.

Behavior:

Rock pigeons forage off the ground or in a tree or shrub, mostly with their flock but sometimes alone. When attacking or challenging another pigeon, they will sometimes bow their heads and make a cooing sound, inflate their throat and walk in a circle. Strangely they will do the same to a female during courtship, but will also preen each other.

Nesting and Nestlings:

The male will almost always choose where to nest which is usually on a man-made structure like a ledge or a nook in a building. The nest is put together by the female but the male will supply her with the materials which is usually just twigs, straw and sticks. The nests end up looking like a flattish jumble. Rock pigeons reuse their nest every year and they don’t even clean the nestling’s feces out of the nests like most birds so over time the nest will become kind of messy but at the same time will become more firm.

Females will usually lay 1-6 broods containing 1-3 eggs per clutch which are completely white like chickens’ eggs. She will incubate these eggs for about 2 1/2 weeks (about 18 days) but after hatching will stay in the nest for about another month.

Diet:

Rock pigeons have a wide variety of food that they’ll eat, including pretty much anything that a human will leave for them like bread crumbs or popcorn. Rock pigeons will mainly eat seeds and small fruit if they happen to come across it but seeds are the most mainly food eaten.

Posted in Backyard Birds, Bird Watching, nonfiction | Leave a comment

Swainson’s Hawk (Buteo Swainsoni)

Swainson's Hawk, (photo from wikipedia)

Swainson’s Hawk, (photo from wikipedia)

Identifying Them:

They are medium-sized raptors who are part of the Accipitridae family. Red-tailed Hawks (whom are in the same family) look similar to Swainson’s Hawks, although, Red-tailed Hawks are larger in size, with a height of 22-27 inches, while Swainson’s have a height of 17-21 inches. Compared to other medium-sized raptors, Swainson’s Hawks have small talons, which means they hunt smaller prey.

Habitat:

Swainson’s Hawks live mostly in the northwestern area of North America. The hawks usually forage in open habitats like open grasslands, farmlands, or prairies. Swainson’s Hawks search for food (prey) in hay fields, alfalfa fields, or grain crops. In the fall, the hawks migrate to the southern area of South America.

Behavior:

These hawks will hunt, both by soaring over open areas, or by perching on a tree or a fence to scan the ground for prey. Swainson’s Hawks will sometimes compete with Great-horned Owls for nest sites (which is usually on prairies).

Nesting and Nestlings:

Courtship concludes of an elaborate display of circling and steep dives, called display flights. Pairs will nest on trees or shrubs, which are sometimes on large cliffs or slopes. Both genders construct the nest (with females usually doing less work than the male). The nest is made up of large sticks with a little grass and moss.

Females lay about 2-3, whitish eggs (usually with red-brown splotches). She incubates her eggs for about 34-35 days, during this time, the male brings her food to eat. At about 27-33 days after hatching, the nestlings start to climb out of their nest to explore the tree limbs. About 11-13 days afterwards, they become fledglings and learn to fly, although they stay near the nest for about 10-20 more days.

Diet:

Swainson’s Hawks have small talons so they eat small mammals and reptiles like lizards or mice (mostly in early summer) eating mainly relatively large insects in other seasons, like dragonflies, grasshoppers and beetles.

Posted in Bird Watching, Hawk, nonfiction, Uncommon birds | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Western Grebes, The Largest Grebes in North America

Western Grebe Swimming

Western Grebe, photographed by Dominic Sherony

A few minutes after hatching, juveniles will climb onto the backs of their parent’s to be carried across the water…

Identifying Them:

Western Grebes are medium-sized birds with black heads, grey wings, and white necks. Females and Males look about the same and are the same size (21-30 inches) with a wingspan of about 31-33 inches.

Habitat:

Western Grebes live in Central through Western America. The birds inhabit freshwater wetlands, marshes, coastal marshes and sometimes lakes, but in the winter they move to saltwater estuaries or bays (rarely in rivers at anytime of the year).

Behavior:

The Grebes are very social (year-round). In winter, the birds travel in large flocks and breed in large colonies. Western Grebes spend most of their time in the water, swimming and diving underwater like cormorants to find food, but also fishing above the surface, thrusting their long bills like spears to hunt fish and other aquatic animals.

Nesting and Nestlings:

Western Grebes are monogamous, and have an interesting courtship display. The display concludes of a complex, synchronized dance called, “rushing,” where the birds stand in an upright position and swim or “rush” across the surface of the water side by side, and at the end, diving underwater. Both partners make the nest together, which is a large, floating depression, made of plant materials like grasses, twigs and mosses, anchored to vegetation.

Females lay about 2-4 bluish-white eggs, which she incubates for about 24 days (3 1/2 weeks). A few minutes after hatching, juveniles will climb onto the backs of their parent’s to be carried across the water and the young will stay on their backs even when they dive. About 10 weeks after hatching, the nestlings learn to fly and no longer need to be cared for by their parents.

Diet:

During all seasons and in all habitats, Western Grebes eat small fish, crustaceans, insects, worms and sometimes feathers.

 

Posted in Bird Watching, nonfiction, Uncommon birds, waterbirds | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment