Birds of the Week # 15
Eastern Towhee (Male)
Eastern Towhees typically nest on or near the ground. Several literature reviews note the predominance of eastern towhee nests below 5 feet (1.5 m) In a study of cowbird parasitism on Sanibel Island, all 5 eastern towhee nests located were within 6 feet (1.8 m) of the ground. Nests as high as 18 feet (5.5 m) have been reported in literature reviews. Nests higher off the ground in mixed aspen stands of varying ages in Pennsylvania had significantly (p<0.001) lower nest success. Of 13 unsuccessful eastern towhee nests, 11 were greater than 1-foot (0.30 m) above the ground.
Both Northern Mockingbird, male and female of the species reach sexual maturity after one year of life. The breeding season occurs in the spring and early summer. The males arrive before the beginning of the season to establish their territories. The males use a series of courtship displays to attract the females to their sites. They run around the area either to showcase their territory to the females or to pursue the females. The males also engage in flight to showcase their wings. They sing and call as they perform all of these displays. The species can remain monogamous for many years, but incidents of polygyny and bigamy have been reported to occur during a single bird’s lifetime.
White-throated Sparrows almost always pair with the opposite color morph for breeding. The two color morphs occur in approximately equal numbers. Both male and female white-striped birds are more aggressive than tan-striped birds during the breeding season. The aggression is because of high level of estrogen receptor alpha in white-striped birds. The breast has gray/tan streaks and the streaks continue down the flanks but the belly is generally light gray. The wings are rufous with two distinct white wing bars. Sexes are morphologically similar.
Lincoln’s Sparrows adults have dark-streaked olive-brown upperparts and a light brown breast with fine streaks, a white belly, and a white throat. They have a brown cap with a grey stripe in the middle, olive-brown wings, and a narrow tail. Their face is grey with brown cheeks, a buffy mustache, and a brown line through the eye with a narrow eye ring. Males and females are alike in plumage. They are somewhat similar in appearance to the song sparrow although smaller and trimmer with finer breast streaks.
The Osprey is the second most widely distributed raptor species, after the peregrine falcon, and is one of only six land-birds with a cosmopolitan distribution. It is found in temperate and tropical regions of all continents, except Antarctica. In North America it breeds from Alaska and Newfoundland south to the Gulf Coast and Florida, wintering further south from the southern United States through to Argentina. It is found in summer throughout Europe north into Ireland, Scandinavia, Finland and Great Britain though not Iceland, and winters in North Africa. In Australia it is mainly sedentary and found patchily around the coastline, though it is a non-breeding visitor to eastern Victoria and Tasmania.
The Common Moorhen will consume a wide variety of vegetable material and small aquatic creatures. They forage beside or in the water, sometimes walking on lilypads or upending in the water to feed. They are often secretive, but can become tame in some areas. Despite loss of habitat in parts of its range, the common moorhen remains plentiful and widespread.
© HJ Ruiz – Avian101