Tuesday, October 27, 2015


A shorebird you can see without going to the beach, Killdeer are graceful plovers common to lawns, golf courses, athletic fields, and parking lots. These tawny birds run across the ground in spurts, stopping with a jolt to see if they’ve startled up any insect prey.
The Killdeer’s broken-wing act leads predators away from a nest, but doesn’t keep cows or horses from stepping on eggs. To guard against large hoofed animals, the Killdeer uses a quite different display, fluffing itself up, displaying its tail over its head, and running at the beast to attempt to make it change its path.

"My largest count for the killdeer was made today (10/29/15) at 158. They congregate into large flocks during migration."

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Yellow-rumped Warblers

Yellow-rumped Warblers are impressive in the sheer numbers with which they flood the continent each fall. Shrubs and trees fill with the streaky brown-and-yellow birds.
The Yellow-rumped Warbler is the only warbler able to digest the waxes found in bayberries and wax myrtles. They are perhaps the most versatile foragers of all warblers. They're the warbler you're most likely to see fluttering out from a tree to catch a flying insect, and they're also quick to switch over to eating berries in fall. There are two separate races, "Audubon's" (western) and "Myrtle" (eastern).
"A large flock was encountered eating wax myrtle berries in Burkes Garden on October 17, 2015. The registered count was 24, but many were flying away that could not officially be counted."


Friday, October 9, 2015

Ruffed Grouse

The dappled, grayish or reddish Ruffed Grouse is hard to see, but its “drumming on air” display is a fixture of many spring forests. It can come as a surprise to learn this distant sound, like an engine trying to start, comes from a bird at all.
Ruffed Grouse can digest bitter, often toxic plants that many birds can’t handle. The toes of Ruffed Grouse grow projections off their sides in winter, making them look like combs. The projections are believed to act as snowshoes to help the grouse walk across snow.
"After three years of effort, I was able to photograph this Grouse in Burkes Garden on October 9, 2015. This is the first recorded Ruffed Grouse in Burkes Garden."

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Loggerhead Shrike

The Loggerhead Shrike is a songbird with a raptor’s habits. A denizen of grasslands and other open habitats throughout much of North America, this masked black, white, and gray predator hunts from utility poles, fence posts and other conspicuous perches, preying on insects, birds, lizards, and small mammals. Lacking a raptor’s talons, Loggerhead Shrikes skewer their kills on thorns or barbed wire or wedge them into tight places for easy eating. Their numbers have dropped sharply in the last half-century.
"Burkes Garden and surrounding areas still have Loggerhead Shrikes. This one was seen in Burkes Garden on October 7, 2015"

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Northern Pintail

Slim and long-necked, the Northern Pintail has a distinctive silhouette. The male is easy to identify by his striking markings and long tail, but even the female can be recognized by her graceful, long-necked shape.
Northern Pintail populations have declined throughout most of their range at a rate of 2.6 percent per year between 1966 and 2010, resulting in a cumulative decline of 69 percent, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey.
"This pair of Pintails was seen in Burkes Garden on October 3, 2015. A very early occurrence for this location."