Monday, December 20, 2010

Bird of the Week XlV - Monday, December 20th, 2010

This week's "Bird of the Week" is the Cooper's hawk. As the backyard bird feeding season gets underway, be on the outlook for this fleet hawk dashing into your feeding station and grabbing a bird for a meal! The Cooper's hawk is a medium sized hawk with rounded wings and a long tail. Adults are steely blue-gray above with warm reddish bars on the underparts and thick dark bands on the tail. Juveniles are brown above and crisply streaked with brown on the upper breast. Cooper's hawk and Sharp-shinned hawks can be difficult to tell apart. Here is an article that points out the differences between the two hawks.

The Cooper's hawk rarely flaps its' wings continuously when flying, but rather flies with a flap - flap - glide pattern.

Cooper's hawks frequent wooded habitats from deep forests to leafy subdivisions and backyards. They use their long tail like a rudder so that they can maneur quickly through trees, bushes, etc. in pursuit of its prey - small birds. An attack maneuver they will sometimes use is to fly fast and low to the ground, then up and over an obstruction to surprise prey on the other side.

First photo from:
Second photo from All About Birds.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Bird of the Week Xlll - Monday, December 13th, 2010

This week's "Bird of the Week" is the Northern mockingbird. The Mockingbird is a medium sized songbird, about 8 - 10 inches long with a wingspan of about 12 - 14 inches. It is pale gray above and whitish below, with a long tail. It has a thin bill. The Mockingbird has two white wingbars and large white patches show in the wings when it flies.

The Northern Mockingbird is known for its long, complex songs that include imitations of many other birds. It is a common bird of hedgerows and suburbs, and has been slowly expanding its range northward. The Northern Mockingbird is a loud and persistent singer. It sings all through the day, and often into the night.

The Mockingbird is found in areas with open ground and shrubby vegetation, such as in parkland, cultivated land, and suburbs. It eats insects and fruit. The male and female birds look alike.
Photos from All About Birds.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Bird of the Week - Xll Monday, December 6th, 2010

This week's "Bird of the Week" is the Wild turkey. If you have ever seen a Wild turkey, you can't miss it! They have a bronzy iridescence to their body feathers and their wing feathers are barred black and white. The male is much larger with a more prominent beard, and it's head and neck are completely bare, often with a blueish color and with red wattles. A wattle, or beard, is the skin that hangs from the turkey's throat.

The male Turkey, called a tom, gobbles to attract females, called hens. When she appears, he struts around her. He has his tail fanned and held up vertically, lowers his wings so that the wingtips drag on the ground, raises the feathers on his back, throws his head back onto his back with the bill forward, and inflates his crop. He makes occasional deep "chump" sounds, followed by a low "humm," and accompanied by a rapid vibration of his tail feathers. During the strut his facial skin engorges and the colors intensify, especially the white forehead.
Baby turkeys are called "poults." The male Wild Turkey provides no parental care. When the eggs hatch, the chicks follow the female. She feeds them for a few days, but they quickly learn to feed themselves. Several hens and their broods may join up into bands of more than 30 birds. Winter groups have been seen to exceed 200.

The Wild turkey was a main part of Native Americans and early settlers diet. By 1857, there were no more Wild turkey's in Massachusetts due to over hunting. In 1972 and 1973, the Massachusetts Department of Wildlife released 37Wild turkey's that were captured in New York into western Massachusetts. These turkeys survived and bred and between 1979 and 1996, Mass wildlife officials trapped more than 500 turkeys in the Berkshires(western Mass) and released them elsewhere in the state. Today, there are an estimated 20,000 Wild turkeys in Massachusetts