Monday, November 16, 2015

Rusty Blackbird

Rusty Blackbird is one of North America’s most rapidly declining species. The population has plunged an estimated 85-99 percent over the past forty years and scientists are completely puzzled as to what is the cause. They are relatively uncommon denizens of wooded swamps, breeding in the boreal forest and wintering in the eastern U.S. In winter, they travel in small flocks and are identified by their distinctive rusty feather edges and pallid yellow eyes.
Rusty Blackbirds are often gather in small flocks in winter, sometimes mix with Common Grackles, Red-winged Blackbirds and European Starlings.
The Rusty Blackbird has undergone one of the sharpest and most mystifying recent declines of any North American songbird. The North American Breeding Bird Survey estimates that populations declined by 6.2 percent every year between 1966 and 2010—a cumulative decline of 94 percent.

"Only, three sightings in two years: (7) individuals in January 2014 at Burkes Garden, (2) individuals in October 2014 at Falls Mills and (15) individuals with Red-winged Black Birds in October 2015 at Burkes Garden".

Friday, November 13, 2015

Wilson’s Snipes

Though the long tradition of “snipe hunt” pranks at summer camp has convinced many people otherwise, Wilson’s Snipes aren’t made-up creatures. These plump, long-billed birds are among the most widespread shorebirds in North America. They can be tough to see thanks to their cryptic brown and buff coloration and secretive nature.
Because a Wilson’s Snipe’s eyes are set far back on its head, it can see almost as well behind as in front and to the sides. This arrangement makes it difficult for a potential predator to sneak up on a feeding snipe—it almost literally has “eyes in the back of its head.”
The word “sniper” originated in the 1770s among British soldiers in India who hunted snipe as game. The birds are fast, erratic flight style means they are difficult targets.

Monday, November 2, 2015

House Finch

The House Finch is a recent introduction from western into eastern North America (and Hawaii), but it has received a warmer reception than other arrivals like the European Starling and House Sparrow.
The House Finch was originally a bird of the western United States and Mexico. In 1940 a small number of finches were turned loose on Long Island, New York, after failed attempts to sell them as cage birds (“Hollywood finches”). They quickly started breeding and spread across almost all of the eastern United States and southern Canada within the next 50 years.
The more pigment in the food, the redder the male are. Females (plain grayish-brown with thick, blurry streaks) prefer to mate with the reddest male they can find.

"The female (bottom/right) seems to be having a difficult time choosing from the suitors."