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 Bird Talk 101
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By: HikerBikerGram (offline) on Wednesday, February 15 2012 @ 10:36 PM EST (Read 34244 times)  
HikerBikerGram

Welcome To Bird Talk 101


Click on image to download
Collage by HikerBikerGram from her photos of favorite birds.

Hello Bird Loving Friends,

This thread is for all those that love to watch birds or those that want to start watching birds. Birds are fascinating creatures and they are all around us in the Great Outdoors. I learned my love for them while on hiking adventures and short walks. Birds are amazing to watch, listen to, and photograph.

I will be posting some of my bird photos or non-copyrighted photos from the internet. My purpose will be to provide information about the bird such as it's description, habitat, diet, breeding and nesting, behavior, migration, conservation, and the sound/call and other information of interest. There will also be links to videos of the birds activity. This will not be an open thread, so please PM me any comments, request, or questions.

I look forward to sharing our love of birds and getting to know them better and being able to identify them when out in the Great Outdoors.

Thank You,
Linda
HikerBikerGram


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Bird Talk 101 Index

To locate birds listed in the index, just click on name. Birds are listed alphabetically. ** If the bird you click on does not open the first time, please arrow back and click on the bird again.


Some photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.


American Bald Eaglet (Birth to Fledgling)

American Kestrel

American White Pelican

American Woodcock

Barn Owl

Belted Kingfisher

Black-capped Chickadee

Brown Thrasher

Chinese Goose

Double-crested Cormorant

Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Screech Owl

Great Blue Heron

Great Egret

Green Heron

Little Blue Heron

Mourning Dove

Mute Swam

The Northern Cardinal

Northern Flicker

Northern Shoveler

Osprey

Peregrine Falcon

Pied-billed Grebes

Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Rufous Hummingbird

Wood Duck


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Linda/HikerBikerGram

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By: HikerBikerGram (offline) on Wednesday, February 15 2012 @ 10:37 PM EST  
HikerBikerGram

:hello:Welcome My Bird Loving Friends,




It Is A "New Beginning" Here At Bird Talk 101


And I'm Looking Forward


To Bringing More Birds Your Way!







Wildlife Photography, Nature Provides It And We Pass It On

Linda/HikerBikerGram

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By: HikerBikerGram (offline) on Wednesday, February 15 2012 @ 10:37 PM EST  
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By: HikerBikerGram (offline) on Wednesday, February 15 2012 @ 10:59 PM EST  
HikerBikerGram

Bird talk 101

The American Bald Eaglet (From Birth to Fledgling)


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I observed an eagles nest in 2011, this photo was of one of the two eaglets peeking up out of the nest. One of the parents are perched in the tree above the nest guarding its young.


Description
Newly hatched eaglets have soft grayish-white down that covers their small bodies. Their wobbly legs are too weak to hold their weight, and their neck is also very weak, giving them the movement of their heads that is referred to as bobble heads. They are also born with very limited vision. Their sole protection and food provider is their parents. Generally one parent will stay on the nest brooding the young while the other parent finds prey to feed the young hatchlings. The parents do switch offs on who is brooding, feeding and foraging for food for the hatchlings. Generally the female does most of the brooding and feeding while the male forages for the food.

At three or four weeks, this eaglet is covered in it's secondary coat of gray down. In another two weeks or so, black juvenile feathers will begin to grow in. While downy feathers are excellent insulators, they are useless as air foils, and must be replaced with juvenile feathers before an eaglet can take its first flight, some 10 to 13 weeks after hatching.

Habitat for the Bald Eagles Nest
When a pair of Bald Eagles builds a brand new nest, their first job is to find a place for it. They prefer a territory close to water, where they can catch fish for their young without wasting time flying back and forth a long distance, but in some areas may nest several miles from fishing areas.

In parts of Alaska and northern Canada where trees are scarce and short, eagles have built a nest nest on the ground. In forested areas, they usually select one of the tallest trees to build their nest in. If this is a top of the tree canopy, the eagles can see all around, and also can fly in and out of the nest without wing disturbance in the branches.

Canada and the northern and western states eagles almost always select a coniferous tree-usually a pine, spruce, or fir. In the Eastern states regions, where large conifers may not be available in otherwise good habitat, eagles are more likely to nest in an oak, hickory, cottonwood, or other large leafy tree.

Behavior
When there are two or three chicks in the nest there is sibling rivalry for food. Therefore the older eaglet sometimes kills the smaller one, especially if the older is a female, as females are consistently larger than the males. Generally should one chick decide to kill its sibling, neither parent will make the slightest effort to stop the fratricide. parents that are good providers of food for the eaglets generally have all three survive.

Diet
The eaglets are fed a diet consisting of mammals, birds, reptiles, and fish. Eagles feed their young by shredding pieces of meat from their prey with their beaks and gently coaxes the chick to take a morsel of meat from her beak. She will offer food again and again, eating rejected morsels herself, and then tearing off another piece for the eaglet.

Incubation and Nesting

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In this photo I caught both nestlings with their heads up and checking things out.

Bald eagles build their nests in large trees near large bodies of water, lakes, rivers, and oceans. A typical nest is generally around 5 feet in diameter. Eagles often use the same nest year after year, adding new limbs and nest bedding as needed. Over the years, some nests can become very large, as much as 9 feet in diameter, weighing two tons. If a nest tree falls or a wind blows a nest down, the pair usually rebuilds at or near the site within a few weeks, especially if it is near the breeding season. The nest may be built in a tree, on a cliff, or even on the ground if there are no other options available.

Eagles are territorial during nesting season, running other eagles out of their nesting area. Their nesting territory is generally one to two square miles.

The laying of eggs depends on the region the eagles reside in. Vancouver eagles eggs are laid in late March and early April. In northern Canada and Alaska eggs are laid in May. Florida eagles eggs are laid from November through January. They lay from one to three eggs generally five to ten days after a successful copulation. the eggs are speckled off-white or buff colored egg about the size of a goose's egg. The second egg is laid a few days later, followed by a possible third.

The 35 days of incubation duties are shared by both parents, but it is the female who spends most of her time on the nest. At times trading places on the nest can be a tense time. The brooding parent may have to call for relief, or may be reluctant to leave and have to be pushed off the eggs or young. During incubation, the male brings green sprigs of conifer branches to the nest. Why he does this is not really know, some think it could be for deodorizing the nest or possibly providing shade for the eaglets. During incubation, one parent is always on the nest or above it, not only to keep the eggs warm but to protect them from squirrels, ravens, and gulls which will break open and eat the eggs or fly off with the egg.

The eggs hatch in the order they were laid. Eaglets break through their shell by using their egg tooth, a pointed area on the top of the beak. Generally it takes from twelve to forty-eight hours to hatch after making the first break in the shell (pipping). Once the eggs begin to hatch, the parents vigilance becomes nearly constant. The male provides the most of the food needed by his rapidly growing family. Eventually the female will take up her share of the hunting, once the eaglets are nearly as big as the parents. The parents are very careful while on the nest with very young eaglets, parents move about with their talons balled into fists to avoid accidentally skewering their offspring.

Eaglet Growth
The young eaglets grow rapidly, they add one pound to their body weight every four or five days. At two weeks, it is possible for them to hold their head up for feeding. By three weeks they are approximatly 1 foot high and their feet and beaks are very nearly adult size. At four and five weeks, the young eaglets are able to stand, at which time they can began tearing up their own food. At six weeks, the eaglets have grown near to the size of their parents. At eight weeks, the appetites of the eaglets are at their greatest. Both parents must hunt almost continuous to feed them. At the nest the eaglets are beginning to stretch their wings in response to gusts of wind and may even be lifted off their feet for short periods. They perch on the edges of the nest and check out their surroundings, forever watching for there parents to bring in more food.

Once the young eagles have fledged and have acquire the feathers necessary for flight they will remain around the nest for 4 to 5 weeks. They will take short flights while their primary feathers grow and strengthen. Their parents continue provide all of their food. The young eagles, with the exception of their color, resemble their parents, but are nothing like them in behavior. Their parents will teach them how to hunt, and they only have the remainder of the summer to learn. Then they're on their own. The first winter is the most dangerous and difficult part of a young eagle's llife. They are born with instincts that urge them to fly, to bite or to pounce, but precisely how to do these things is another matter. Through the first several months it is trial and error, the young eagles called juveniles acquire basic skills such as lighting on perches or stooping on prey through practice.

Migration Of Juveniles
Prior to the expansive study on the ecology of the bald eagle in Arizona conducted by Biosystems Analysis, Inc. (Hunt et al 1992) little to nothing was known about the movements of juvenile eagles. a large majority of bald eagles nesting in inland Canada and Alaska migrate south into the United States in winter. Similarly, eaglets banded in the Great Lakes region migrated south into the Midwest and southern Mississippi Valley states, and also into Texas. During the 1930s and 1940s, over 1000 nestlings in Florida were banded in one of the first studies of the migration of bald eagles native to the southern portions of the United States. Bands were recovered throughout the states east of the Mississippi River, but most recoveries showed the eagles moved northward up the east coast, some all the way to Canada.

Survival Of The Juvenile Bald Eagle
During 1987-89, VHF transmitters were placed and colored identification bands on 15 nestling Bald Eagles in central Arizon a to determine the direction and the extent of their post-fledging migration. Thirteen of the juveniles fledged successfully , and one transmitter failed. Eleven eagles survived the post-fledging premigration period which ranged from 18 to 65 days . One eagle was lost by trackers after departure, but 10 eagles with tranmitters traveled north from 925 kin to 1955 kill before stopping for extended periods or until weather prevented further tracking. Habitats varied among stopping locations and included interior reservoirs and lakes, open ranchland, and the Pacific marine coast. Food at inland destinations included spawning fish and fish carrion. At least nine of 13 fledged juveniles survived their first year, (69%), and a minimum of six (46%) survived to breeding age.

Interesting Facts
* There are an estimated 7,066 nesting pairs of bald eagles, due to the efforts of federal agencies, tribes, state and local governments, conservation groups, universities, corporations, and thousands of individuals.

* From the time the parents build the nest and the young are on their own, takes about 20 weeks. During the nesting cycle the parents remain within one to two miles of the nest

* The shape of the eagle nest or aerie is determined mainly by the branch point where it's built. Sticks placed in tree forks result in cylindrical or conical shaped nests. Disk shaped nests are built on the ground or a tree branch which is nearly level. Bowl shaped nests occur where the tree trunk branches off into smaller upright branches. Inverted cone shaped nest.

* From the time the parents build the nest and the young are on their own, takes about 20 weeks. During the nesting cycle the parents remain within one to two miles of the nest.

* After fledging, young eagles stay near the nest for six to nine weeks practicing their ability to fly and hunt. The parents cannot tell juveniles how to hunt, they have to learn by watching the parents and practicing. During this time, they seem to spend more time looking at prey than they do actually attacking it.

* Until the first winter after they fledge, young eagles near the nest are often still fed by their parents, but have little other contact with them. Although a young eagle has the instincts to hunt, it lacks the skills. Eventually, they learn to soar and spot prey. If food is scarce during the winter, it could die.

*Communal gatherings of bald eagles offer many advantages to younger inexperienced eagles. Not only is food abundant on the salmon spawning grounds, but here the juveniles can watch their elders to learn how food is caught. They also learn very quickly how to steal food.

Click on image to download
I arrived one July afternoon to find one of the eaglets had branched up in the tree over the nest. This was approximately 12 weeks since I first saw a fussy little top of one of the eaglets heads in April . The second eaglet branched that day too as I was watching.

References: Baldeagleinfo.com, Wikipedia.org, and All About Birds

The sound of first week eaglets.

Sound/calls of older eaglets as the parent brings in food.

In this video the parents are feeding their three eaglets. There are several other videos posted at this site.

This is a wonderful slide show video of the Decorah Eagles nest from the begining of the breeding season to the eaglets fledging.


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By: HikerBikerGram (offline) on Wednesday, February 15 2012 @ 11:11 PM EST  
HikerBikerGram

Bird Talk 101

The Red-bellied Woodpecker


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This male Red-bellied Woodpecker was stashing seeds from a feeder between the bark crevices of a Oak tree, I caught him in action.



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A female Red-bellied Woodpecker, photo by Tom Friedel licensed under the Creative Common Attribution 3.0 up ported license and found at Wikipedia Free Encyclopedia, Wikimedia Commons.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Red-b ... Female.jpg


General Description
The Red-bellied Woodpecker, Melanerpes carolinus, is a medium-sized woodpecker of the Picidae family. It breeds in southern Canada and the northeastern United States, ranging as far south as Florida and as far west as Texas. Its name is somewhat misleading, as the most prominent red part of its plumage is on the head, but it has red plumage in the lower belly area.

The adults are mainly light gray on the face and underparts; they have black and white barred patterns on their back, wings and tail. Adult males have a red cap going from the bill to the nape; females have a red patch on the nape and another above the bill. The reddish tinge on the belly that gives the bird its name is difficult to see for identifying this bird. They are 9 to 10.5 inches long, and have a wingspan of 15 to 18 inches. The juvenile is a gray version of the adult, no red crown or nape.

Habitat
They breed from South Dakota, Great Lakes, and southern New England south to the Gulf Coast and Florida. Northernmost birds sometimes migrate south for winter. Inhabits open and swampy woodlands and can be seen in parks during migration and to feeders in winter.

Behavior
Red-bellied woodpeckers are noisy birds, and have many varied calls. Calls have been described as sounding like churr-churr-churr or chuf-chuf-chuf with an alternating br-r-r-r-t sound. Males tend to call and drum more frequently than females, but both sexes call. These woodpeckers "drum" to attract mates. They tap on aluminum roofs, metal guttering, hollow trees and even transformer boxes, in urban environments, to communicate with potential partners.

Diet
The Red-headed Woodpecker mainly search out arthropods on tree trunks. They also catch insects in flight. They are omnivores, eating insects, fruits, nuts and seeds. They nest in the decayed cavities of dead trees, old stumps, or in live trees that have softer wood such as elms, maples, or willows. The male and female assist in digging nesting cavities.

Breeding and Nesting

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A male at his nest cavity, photo by Badjoby and found at Wikipedia Free Encyclopedia Wikimedia Commons.This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Red_b ... r_nest.jpg

The Red-bellied Woodpecker nests in cavities of dead trees, dead limbs of live trees, and fence posts. The same pair may use the same nest in the same tree year after year. But usually excavate a new cavity each year, often placing the new one beneath the previous year’s. They lay three to eight white eggs in their nest cavity built by both parents or at times in an abandoned hole of other woodpeckers. Incubation ranges from 11 to 14 days and is carried out by both parents, male at night, female during the day.

Migration
The Red-bellied Woodpecker is normally nonmigratory. Northernmost birds at times migrate south for winter.

Conservation
The Red-bellied Woodpecker has a large range, estimated globally at 3,000,000 square kilometers, with a global population estimated at 10,000,000 individuals. The Red-bellied Woodpecker does not show signs of decline that would put it on the IUCN Red List. The current status of the Red-bellied Woodpecker is Least Concern.

Interesting Facts
* Red-bellied Woodpeckers are attracted to resonating noises. The male will tap loudly on metal gutters, aluminum roofs and even vehicles to attract a mate.

* A Red-bellied Woodpecker has a tongue reach of nearly 2 inches past the end of its beak. The tip of the its tongue is barbed and is sticky. The bird uses it to snatch prey from deep crevices. Males have a longer, wider-tipped tongues than females, allowing a breeding pair to forage in different places on their territory and maximize their use of available food.

* The European Starling will often take over the nest of a Red-bellied Woodpecker.

* A group of woodpeckers are called by many nouns, including a "descent", "drumming", and "gatling" of woodpeckers.

* Red-bellied Woodpeckers wedge seeds and nuts into bark crevices, then peck them into smaller pieces using their beaks. They also use cracks in trees and fence posts to store food for later.Most Woodpeckers share this habit stashing food.

* Red-bellied Woodpeckers have been known to take over the nests of other birds, such as the Red-cockaded Woodpecker. But more often they fall victim to the aggressive European Starling. As many as half of all Red-bellied Woodpecker nests in get invaded by starlings

* You may see a Red-bellied Woodpecker flying quickly and erratically through the forest, abruptly changing direction, landing for a moment and then taking off again, and keeping up a chatter of calls. Some scientists think this odd behavior as a type of play that helps young birds practice the evasive action they may need one day.

References: What Bird, All About Birds, and Wikipedia

The sound/call and region map of the Red-bellied Woodpecker.

Three videos of the Red-bellied Woodpecker.

In this video a female Red-bellied Woodpecker is at its nest cavity.

The male Red-bellied Woodpecker looking out of the nest cavity hole.


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By: HikerBikerGram (offline) on Wednesday, February 15 2012 @ 11:20 PM EST  
HikerBikerGram

Bird talk 101

The Barn Owl


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An adult Barn Owl, photo found at Wikimedia Commons. It was provided by the British Wildlife Center. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license, see link below.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Tyto_ ... 281%29.jpg

General Description
The Barn Owl (Tyto alba) is the most widely distributed species of owl, and one of the most widespread of all birds. It is also know as the Common Barn Owl.

The Barn Owl is a gray-and-light brown owl with a white, heart-shaped face and dark eyes. It has long legs with plumage at the upper part of the leg. This owl is mostly white underneath, but may have a buffy coloration or spots on its breast. The male and female look similar, but the female tends to be more spotted or darker below. The female is slightly larger than the male, and has a rounder face.

Habitat
Barn Owls occur through out the world, and are usually found in open or semi-open habitats. In some areas, their habitats on in agricultural areas or basalt cliffs, as well as forest openings, wetlands, and other relatively large, open spaces. They roost in dense conifers or barns in the winter.

Behavior
Barn Owls exhitit a bobing of their heads and weave back and forth, giving them a spooky appearance. They are mostly nighttime hunters, flying low over open ground, listening and watching for prey. Their vision is perfect for low light levels, and their hearing is highly developed. Barn Owls can locate prey entirely by sound and strike their target in total darkness. No other animal tested, has as great an ability to locate prey by sound in the dark.

Diet
Their diet consist of small mammals, rodents are their main prey. When voles are plentiful, they become a major source of food. In these plentiful vole years, some Barn Owls may be able to raise more then one brood.

Breeding and Nesting

Click on image to download
Barn Owlet, found at Wikimedia Commons. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. Photographer is Max Grenne has made this statement "I, the copyright holder of this work, release this work into the public domain. This applies worldwide. See at below link.
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File: ... ola%29.jpg

The Barn Owl male attracts a female with a display flight, and brings food to the female during the courtship, which generally starts in winter. They form a life long bond, that often lasts as long as both are alive. Nesting begins early in the year, with most egg-laying between March and May. Their nests are located on cliffs, in haystacks, hollow trees, burrows in irrigation canals, in barns, old buildings, or other cavities. The Barn Owls use barns and buildings less often in eastern coastal areas. This is due to many of these nesting sites have been taken over by Great Horned Owls.

They do not build a nest like other birds with twigs, but much of the debris around the nest, including pellets, is formed into a depression. The female lays 2-11 eggs and incubates them for 29-34 days. She starts incubation as soon as the first egg is laid, so the young hatch 2-3 days apart. The male provides the female with food while she incubates. After the eggs hatch the female broods the young hatchlings for 2-3 weeks. The male continues to brings food for the female and the owlets. He brings the food to the nest and the female feeds the young. In the second to third week the female begins to leave the young and hunt as well. The owlets first start to fly at about 60 days. After fledging the owlets continue to return to the nest site at night for a few more weeks for feeding and rest. Barn Owls generally raise one or two broods per year, but when food is abundant, they may raise three.

Migration Status
Barn Owls are considered residential in most of their regions, but some young birds wander great distances in their area. Some migratory movements have been recorded in both juvenile and adult birds.

Conservation Status
There is a concern that this worldwide species is declining, but owls are hard to survey for population trends. They have a difficult time in harsh winters, and deaths are often observed in severe winters. More habitat is destroyed due to the expansion of human population. Nest-box programs have aided the Barn owls greatly. Farmers have begun to recognize their value for pest control, in that a family of Barn Owls can kill about 1,300 rats a year and have begun providing nesting sites, which may help in the face of habitat destruction. Roadside kills by vehicles are a major cause of mortality and may threaten population levels in some areas.

Interesting Facts
* The female Barn Owl tends to be have more spotted on the breast than the male. These spots may act as an attraction to the male, indicating the quality of the female. If a female's spots were experimentally removed, her mate fed their owlets at a lower rate than if the females spots were left alone.

*Ther are up to 46 different races of the Barn Owl have been described worldwide. The North American form is the largest, weighing more than twice as much as the smallest race from the Galapagos Islands.

* The Barn Owl is one of the few bird species with the female having brighter plumage than the male. The female has a more red colored chest that is more heavily spotted. The number of spots may signal to a potential mate the quality of the female. Females with great number of spots get fewer parasitic flies and may be more resistant to parasites and diseases.

* The Barn Owl has excellent night vision, and can easily find prey at night by sight. Its ability to locate prey by sound alone is the best of any animal that has been tested. It can catch prey in complete darkness in the lab, or covered by vegetation or snow out in the real world.

Click on image to download
This photo was taken in Germany of an adult Barn Owl, the photo was found at Wikimedia Commons. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license, see link below.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Flying_owl.jpg

References: Bird Web, Wikipedia, and All About Birds

The "hissing" sound/call and the region map of the Barn Owl.

Beautiful video of a Barn Owls in flight.

A video of a Barn Owl hunting and feeding. There are several other excellent Barn Swallow videos at this site.


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By: HikerBikerGram (offline) on Wednesday, February 15 2012 @ 11:34 PM EST  
HikerBikerGram

Bird talk 101

The Great Blue Heron


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I observed and photographed this Great Blue Heron foraging in the water along the shore of Horseshoe Lake, as it caught a small turtle.

General Description
The Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) is a large wading bird in the heron family Ardeidae, it is common near the shores of open water and in wetlands over most of North and Central America as well as the West Indies and the Galápagos Islands.

The Great Blue Heron is the largest heron in North America. It has a slate-gray body, chestnut and black accents, and very long legs and neck. In flight, it looks enormous, with a six-foot wingspan. Adults have a shaggy ruff plumage at the base of their necks. A black eyebrow extends back to black plumes emerging from the head. Juveniles have a dark crown with no plumes or ruff, and a mottled neck. A Great Blue Heron when in flight, typically holds its head in toward its body with its neck bent.

Habitat
The Great Blue Heron is very adaptable and found in a wide variety of habitats. When foraging, it walks in shallow water in a stalking like manner. It pauses to focus in on its prey and when the prey is sited it plunges its head into the water to catch its prey . Great Blue Herons inhabit shallow bays and inlets, sloughs, marshes, wet meadows, shores of lakes, and rivers. Nesting colonies are found in forests, on islands, or near mudflats. They pick nesting sites that are free of human disturbance and have foraging areas close by.

Click on image to download
This photo of mine illustrates how the Great Blue Heron plunges its head forward into the water to catch its prey.

Behavior
Great Blue Herons fly high overhead with slow wing-beats and frequently making a loud honking sound, especially when disturbed. When foraging, they stand silently along riverbanks, lake shores, or in wet meadows, waiting for prey to come by, which they then strike with their bills. They will also stalk prey slowly and deliberately in the water, plunging their heads into the water to catch their prey. They hunt predominantly by day, but they may also be active at night hunters. They are most of the time solitary, but at times can be seen in small-groups foraging, but they nest in large colonies. Males typically choose shoreline areas for foraging, and females and juveniles forage in more upland areas.

Diet
The variety of diet of the Great Blue Herons allows them to forage in a many habitats. This also enables them to winter farther north than most herons. Fish, amphibians, reptiles, invertebrates, small mammals, and even other birds are all potential prey of the Great Blue Heron which they normally swallow whole. At times they spike their prey and then bring the prey to shore and pick it up with their beak. They then dip the prey in water to help in the process of swallowing the prey whole. They usually take a drink or two of water after swallowing their prey.

Click on image to download
I caught this Great Blue Heron as it caught a very large fish by spiking it with its long sharp beak. It brought the fish to land and then picked the fish up to swallow. Since this fish was so large, the Great Blue Heron had to dip the fish in water several times to get the fish down whole. It then drank water from the lake to wash it down. See the video below.

Breeding and Nesting
Great Blue Herons usually breed in large colonies containing a few to several hundred pairs. Singular pair-breeding is rare. They begin their nest building in February, a male selects a nesting territory and starts displaying to attract a female. The nest is usually situated high up in a tree. The male does the gathering of sticks for the female who places them into a platform style nest lined with small twigs, bark strips, and conifer needles.The eggs are incubated by both parents, 3-5 eggs for 25-29 days. The parents regurgitate food for the young. The young Fledge at about 60 days old, and continue to return to the nest and be fed by their parents for another few weeks. Pair bonds only last for the nesting season, they form new bonds each year.

Migration
Most Great Blue Herons remain in their regions year round. Those that migrate are from regions where food is not available in the winter. Great Blue Heron populations concentrate along major rivers where food is available, or they hunt rodents on land.

Conservation
The Great Blue Heron’s regions are located throughout Florida, Mexico, the Caribbean and South America, and many territories in North America. These include Alaska, British Columbia, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. The current conservation status of the Great Blue Heron is Least Concern.

Interesting Facts
* Great Blue Herons gather at fish hatcheries, potentially creating problems for the fish farmers. However, studies have shown that the herons tend to eat sick fish floating near the surface of the water, that would have died anyway.

* They are the largest herons in North America.

* Their main diet is fish but will also eat other small animals. They have been known to choke to death on prey that is too large.

* A group of Great Blue Herons are called, a "battery", "hedge", "pose", "rookery", and "scattering" of herons.

*The white type of the Great Blue Heron, known as the "Great White Hheron," is found nearly exclusively in shallow marine waters along the coast of southern Florida, the Yucatan Peninsula, and in the Caribbean. Where the dark and white forms interbreed in Florida, interbreed birds known as "Wurdemann's herons" can be found. They have the bodies of a Great Blue Heron, but the white head and neck of the great white heron.

Reference: All About Birds, Bird Web, What Bird, and Wikipedia

The sound/call and region map of the Great Blue Heron.

I made this recording on the Mississippi River, where the area had flooding occurring. With the flooding came fish and this Great Blue Heron spikes a fish and brings it to shore to eat.

This recording I made of a Great Blue Heron, as seen in the photos above, caught a very large fish. It illustrates the spiking technique and process of getting the fish swallowed.

A video from National Geographic of the Great Blue Heron.

A really cool video of the Great Blue herons nesting behavior. There are four in all videos at this link.


Wildlife Photography, Nature Provides It And We Pass It On

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By: HikerBikerGram (offline) on Wednesday, February 15 2012 @ 11:44 PM EST  
HikerBikerGram

Bird Talk 101

The Great Egret


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A photo I took at Horseshoe Lake of a Great Egret landing on a snag out on the water, to get a closer look for fish.

Description
The Great Egret (Ardea alba), is also known as the Great White Egret or Common Egret.

The Great Egret is a large bird with beautiful white plumage, it can reach one meter in height, weigh up to 950 grams (2.1 lb) and a wingspan of 165 to 215 cm (65 to 85 in). It is only slightly smaller than the Great Blue Heron. Besides by its size, the Great Egret can be distinguished from other white egrets by its yellow bill and black legs and feet. During breeding the bill may become darker and the lower legs lighter. In breeding season, delicate plume feathers are born on the back. Males and females are identical in appearance and juveniles look like non-breeding adults.

Habitat
Great Egrets habitats include freshwater wetlands, open areas of lakes, large marshes, and along large rivers.

Behavior
Great Egrets are at times solitary foragers or can be found feeding in flocks of other egrets or with other herons. When feeding, they stand or stalk slowly in shallow water waiting for prey to come by, and then they thrust their heads into the water to catch the prey with their bills. At times they forage in open fields, occasionally around livestock like cattle, such as thier smaller cousin the Cattle Egret.

When in flight it retracts its neck into its body. This is characteristic of herons and bitterns, and distinguishes them from storks, cranes, ibises, and spoonbills, which extend their necks while flying.

The Great Egret is not normally a vocal bird, except when disturbed and will call out as it flies off complaing. It often gives a loud croaking cuk cuk cuk while in their nesting colonies.

Diet
The Great Egret forages in shallow water or drier habitats, feeding mainly on fish, frogs, small mammals, and occasionally small birds and reptiles. At times they use their long sharp bills like a spear, standing still and allowing the prey to come within its striking distance of its bill. It dives its head into the water and either spears the prey or catches it with its bill. It will often wait motionless or slowly stalk its prey.

Click on image to download
This mature beautiful Great Egret caught a stripped bass for lunch, I was lucky to be there to catch this photo.

Breeding and Nesting
Great Egrets usually build their nests near water, in trees, shrubs, or thickets. They first breed around 2-3 years of age. Although some choice to have an isolated nest, there are those that sometimes nest in colonies.In multi-species colonies, the Great Egrets tend to have their nest higher than other species. The male picks the nest area where he performs his courtin displays to attract the female. The pair build the stick nest together, and both help incubate the 3-4 eggs for 23-26 days. Both female and male feed the young by regurgitation. At around the age of three weeks, the young may begin to branch about the nest, but do not fledge until 6-7 weeks.

Migration
Birds breeding in the northern regions, where water freezes migrate south in the winter. In milder climate regions, the birds remain through the winter. Some do chioce to remain in northern areas after the breeding season.

Conservation
The Great Egret is located in mostly warmer climates in the world, including southern Europe and Asia. Numbers in the United States have decreased due to habitat loss, and this species is highly endangered in New Zealand. However, the conservation rating for the Great Egret is Least Concern.

Interesting Facts
* The Great Egret is the symbol for the National Audubon Society, one of the oldest environmental organizations in North America. The Audubon was founded to protect birds from being killed for their plumage.

* Some young that hatch do not survive the nestling period. Aggressive behavior among nestlings is common and the large chicks frequently kill their smaller siblings.

* The oldest wide Great Egret on record is nearly 23 years.

References:All About Birds, What Bird, Bird Web, and Wikipedia

Click on image to download
The Great Egret is fairly fast in flight for its size, I caught this photo as it flew by me.

The sound/call and Region Map of the Great Egret.

I recorded this video of a Great Egret foraging and catching fish at Horseshoe Lake.

Beautiful video of the Great Egret in its habitat, by Jay Golden

Video of a Great Egret in its nest doing a mating dance.


Wildlife Photography, Nature Provides It And We Pass It On

Linda/HikerBikerGram

Joined May 12, 2009


"Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost"


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