Birds of the Week # 1
The American Pekin is large and solidly built. The body is rectangular as seen from the side and is held at about 40º to the horizontal; the tail projects above the line of the back. The breast is smooth and broad and does not show a pronounced keel. The head is large and rounded, and the neck is thick. The plumage is creamy white, the legs and feet are a yellowish orange. The beak is yellow, fairly short, and almost straight.
This species is native to North America. It breeds in Canada and the northern United States in a wide range of habitats. The Great Lakes region maintains a very large population of Canada Geese. Canada geese occur year-round in the southern part of their breeding range, including the northern half of the United States’ eastern seaboard and Pacific Coast, and areas in-between. Between California and South Carolina in the southern United States and in northern Mexico, Canada geese are primarily present as migrants from further north during the winter.
The Lincoln’s Sparrow’s breeding habitat is subalpine and montane zones across Canada, Alaska, and the northeastern and western United States, although they are less common in the eastern parts of their range. They are found mainly in wet thickets, shrubby bogs, and moss-dominated habitats. They prefer to be near dense shrub cover and their nests are well-concealed shallow open cups on the ground under vegetation. At lower elevations, they can also be found in mixed deciduous groves, mixed shrub-willows, and black spruce-tamarack bogs.
The Song Sparrows forage on the ground, in shrubs or in very shallow water. They mainly eat insects and seeds. Birds in salt marshes may also eat small crustaceans. They nest either in a sheltered location on the ground or in trees or shrubs. Song sparrows with areas of shrub cover in their territory, away from the intertidal coastline, have greater over-winter survival, as well higher reproductive success.
Red-bellied Woodpeckers are noisy birds, and have many varied calls. Calls have been described as sounding like churr-churr-churr or thrraa-thrraa-thrraa with an alternating br-r-r-r-t sound. Males tend to call and drum more frequently than females, but both sexes call. The drum sounds like 6 taps. Often, these woodpeckers “drum” to attract mates. They tap on hollow trees, and even on aluminum roofs, metal guttering and transformer boxes in urban environments, to communicate with potential partners. Babies have a high-pitched begging call of pree-pree-pree. They will continue to give a begging call whenever they see their parents for a while after fledging.
Brown Thrashers are typically monogamous birds, but mate-switching does occur, at times during the same season. Their breeding season varies by region. In the southeastern United States, the breeding months begin in February and March, while May and June see the commencement of breeding in the northern portion of their breeding range. When males enter the breeding grounds, their territory can range from 2 to 10 acres (0.81 to 4.05 ha). Around this time of the year the males are usually at their most active, singing loudly to attract potential mates, and are found on top of perches.The courting ritual involves the exchanging of probable nesting material. Males will sing gentler as they sight a female, and this enacts the female to grab a twig or leaf and present it to the male, with flapping wings and chirping sounds. The males might also present a gift in response and approach the female. Both sexes will take part in nest building once mates find each other, and will mate after the nest is completed.
© HJ Ruiz – Avian101