Birds of the Week # 8
The Brown-headed Nuthatch are regularly observed using a small chips of bark, small twigs, and pine needles held in its beak as tools to dig for insects. The nuthatch exhibits other curious behaviors such a cooperative groups where groups of 3-5 adults provide care at a single nest. Recent genetic assessments suggest some of the putatively non-breeding adults associated with these groups may actually breed with individuals in neighboring territories.
The House Finch nests are made in cavities, including openings in buildings, hanging plants, and other cup-shaped outdoor decorations. Sometimes nests abandoned by other birds are used. Nests may be re-used for subsequent broods or in following years. The nest is built by the female, sometimes in as little as two days. It is well made of twigs and debris, forming a cup shape, usually 1.8 to 2.7 m (5 ft 11 in to 8 ft 10 in) above the ground.
The Downy Woodpecker is virtually identical in plumage pattern to the larger hairy woodpecker, but it can be distinguished from the hairy by the presence of black spots on its white tail feathers and the length of its bill. The downy woodpecker’s bill is shorter than its head, whereas the hairy woodpecker’s bill is approximately equal to head length.
The Blue Jay’s plumage is lavender-blue to mid-blue in the crest, back, wings, and tail, and its face is white. The underside is off-white and the neck is collared with black which extends to the sides of the head. The wing primaries and tail are strongly barred with black, sky-blue, and white. The bill, legs, and eyes are all black. Males and females are almost identical, but the male is slightly larger. The black plumage on its nape, face, and throat varies extensively between individuals; it is believed to assist in recognition between individuals. As with most other blue-hued birds, the blue jay’s coloration is not derived from pigments but is the result of light interference due to the internal structure of the feathers; if a blue feather is crushed, the blue disappears because the structure is destroyed. The actual pigment in its feathers is melanin. This is referred to as structural coloration.
© HJ Ruiz – Avian101