Birds of the Week # 18
The Willet is an inelegant and heavily built shorebird with a structure similar to that of the common redshank but being larger in size than the greater yellowlegs while resembling a godwit in flight with black primary coverts and primaries contrasting with a broad white band, white secondaries with a white rump and gray tail band. The black underwing coverts may be conspicuous in flight. Willets are identified on the ground by their gray legs and shortish, heavy but straight bill. The plumage is gray above with a white rump, and white below with a distinct white area above the lores and a narrow whitish eye ring giving the bird a spectacled appearance. The underparts are white. In breeding plumage the bird shows brown barring on the upperparts. Non-breeding birds are plainer.
Reddish Egrets’ breeding habitat is tropical swamps. It nests in colonies, often with other herons, usually on platforms of sticks in trees or shrubs. These colonies are usually located on coastal islands. These birds have raucous courtship displays. They generally involve shaking of the head during the greeting ceremony, followed by chases and circle flights. They also involve raising of the neck, back and crest feathers, accompanied by bill clacking, similar to the tricolored heron.
Some Eastern Kingbirds place their nests in the open, while others hide their nests well. Eastern kingbirds in southern British Columbia may nest in open fields, in shrubs over open water, high up in trees, and even in the tops of small stumps. Both male and female participate in nest defense, but females may stay on well-hidden nests longer than females with open nests, who may leave nests earlier to chase away predators. Those pairs nesting in the open may be able to see predators coming earlier and rely on aggressive behavior to protect their young.
This bird is a permanent resident in much of its range. Northern birds migrate in flocks to the Southeastern United States. The distribution of the Common Grackle is largely explained by annual mean temperature, and the species has expanded its range by greater than three-fold since the last glacial maximum, approximately 22,000 years ago.
The Eastern Phoebe, this tyrant flycatcher breeds in eastern North America, although its normal range does not include the southeastern coastal United States. The breeding habitat of the eastern phoebe is open woodland, farmland and suburbs, often near water. This phoebe is insectivorous, and often perches conspicuously when seeking food items. It also eats fruits and berries in cooler weather.
Red-winged Blackbird (Male)
Young Red-winged Blackbirds resemble the female, but are paler below and have buff feather fringes. Both sexes have a sharply pointed bill. The tail is of medium length and is rounded. The eyes, bill, and feet are all black. Unlike most North American passerines which develop their adult plumage in their first year of life so that the one-year-old and the oldest individual are indistinguishable in the breeding season, the red-winged blackbird does not. It acquires its adult plumage only after the breeding season of the year following its birth when it is between thirteen and fifteen months of age. Young males go through a transition stage in which the wing spots have an orange coloration before acquiring the most intense tone typical of adults.
© HJ Ruiz – Avian101