Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Bird of the Week - XXXlV

The last "Bird of the Week" is the Eastern Bluebird. It is not a common bird in Reading. As a matter of fact, I saw my first Bluebird in Reading in April of 2008. We just don't have enough of the necessary habitat to attract a lot of Bluebirds. The Male Eastern Bluebirds are vivid, deep blue above and rusty or brick-red on the throat and breast. Blue in birds always depends on the light, and males often look plain gray-brown from a distance. Females are grayish above with bluish wings and tail, and a subdued orange-brown breast. Blue tinges in the wings and tail give the grayer females an elegant look. Eastern Bluebirds sing a fairly low-pitched, warbling song made up of several phrases.

You can find Eastern Bluebirds in open country with patchy vegetation and large trees or nest boxes. Meadows, old fields, and golf courses are good places. Bluebirds typically sit in the open on power lines or along fences, with an alert, vertical posture. When they drop to the ground after an insect, they make a show of it, with fluttering wings and a fairly slow approach, followed by a quick return to the perch. Eastern Bluebirds eat mostly insects, wild fruit and berries.

Eastern bluebirds nest in cavities (holes). These holes may be in old trees, old fence posts, etc. They take readily to nest boxes erected in the proper habitat. The male Eastern Bluebird displays at his nest cavity to attract a female. He brings nest material to the hole, goes in and out, and waves his wings while perched above it. That is pretty much his contribution to nest building; only the female Eastern Bluebird builds the nest and incubates the eggs.
Eastern Bluebirds typically have more than one successful brood per year. Young produced in early nests usually leave their parents in summer, but young from later nests frequently stay with their parents over the winter.
The best place to see Bluebirds in Reading is at the Bare Meadow Conservation land off of Pearl St. Two years ago, a pair raised 3 broods (families)! I observed 1 male bird there this spring.
Photos from All About Birds.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Bird of the Week - XXXll

Chimney swift in flight.

You will often see, and hear, several Chimney swifts in flight together.

It is very rare to see a Chimney swift nest.

This weeks "Bird of the Week" is the Chimney swift. A "flying cigar," the Chimney Swift is rarely seen perched. Its high-pitched twittering is a familiar sound during summertime as it flies high above, catching small flying insects. The Chimney swift has a fast, erratic flight. They are among the most aerial of birds, flying almost constantly except when at the nest or roosting at night. The Chimney Swift bathes in flight, gliding down to water, smacking the surface with its breast, then bouncing up and shaking the water from its plumage as it flies away. Chimney swifts feed on flying insects by pursuing the flying insects and catches them in their bill. They feeds in flocks or alone. Chimney swifts can devour over 1,000 insects in a day!

It's nest is a half saucer of woven small twigs held together with saliva. It's glued with saliva to inside wall of chimney.
Photos from All About Birds.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Bird of the Week - XXXl

Male Baltimore oriole.

Female Baltimore oriole.

This week's "Bird of the Week" is the Baltimore oriole. This is the time of the year that the Baltimore oriole returns to Reading from it's wintering grounds in Central and South America. The male Baltimore oriole has brilliant orange and black plumage. It's wings, throat, back, and tail are black while it's underparts, shoulders, rump, and the tip and edges of tail are orange.

Male Baltimore oriole at it's nest.

The Baltimore oriole breeds along woodland edges and open areas with scattered trees, especially deciduous trees. They also frequent parks and wooded urban areas. There nest is gourd-shaped and woven from hair, plant fibers, and synthetic fibers. It is hung by the rim from thin branches or a fork in a tall tree.
The Baltimore oriole eats caterpillars, fruits, insects, spiders, and nectar. They can sometimes be attracted to your backyard by putting out halved of oranges or grape jelly!

It's song is a series of rich whistled notes interspersed with rattles. It's call is a chatter.
Photos from All About Birds

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

More LINX Wind Vehicles pictures

Getting ready to test!

Making some adjustments.

Almost ready!
The students have been doing a great job with their LINX Wind powered vehicles!  More than 75% of the students have accomplished the task and are now working on extra credit.