BIRDS OF PREY
Eagles, Hawks, Ospreys, Falcons & More!
This broad collection of galleries deals with hunting birds sometimes known as raptors, carrion eaters, night hunters and other winged predators that use speed, sharp talons, hearing and or phenomenal eyesight to actively catch prey on the wing.
Anhingas (derived from the Brazilian Tupi language which means devil bird or snake bird) are common and very effective fish-hunters found along the coasts and interior of Florida, along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico and as far south as the Southern Amazon in Brazil. They are related to both cormorants and pelicans.
BLACKBIRDS, COWBIRDS AND ALLIES
Orioles, Meadowlarks, New World Blackbirds, Cowbirds & Grackles.
Collectively known as the icterids, this very common and widespread family of songbirds is characterized by males with black feathers with yellow, red and/or orange highlights. While this isn't always the case, females are always much more drab to the point of almost looking like another species.
CHICKADEES, NUTHATCHES AND ALLIES
Most Common of the Songbirds.
Often seen in mixed-species flocks in forests, edges of habitat zones or suburban treetops, this multi-family group of small songbirds are very commonly seen at birdfeeders and are both very active and agile fliers.
CRANES, LIMPKINS AND RAILS
Gallinules, Coots, Cranes, Rails, Moorhen, Limpkins.
Collectively known as gruiformes, these saltmarsh and wetland-loving birds are most often seen hunting small animals at the water's edge.
Masters of diving, cormorants have a very unusual feature for a bird: their feathers do not repel water or keep them afloat. This means that along with strong swimming wings and large webbed feet, they are especially agile and fast underwater and along with a long thin hooked bill, they are fishing experts. The drawback is that they have to completely dry their wings in the sun in order to fly after a dive.
CROWS, RAVENS, MAGPIES & JAYS
Corvids (crows, ravens, magpies & jays) are known to be not only the smartest of birds, but are also suspected of being among the most intelligent of animals, even expressing a sense of self-awareness. These large social and omnivorous songbirds tend to prefer a particular type of seed or seeds specific to their species.
FINCHES AND OLD WORLD SPARROWS
This group includes finches, goldfinches, crossbills, grosbeaks, redpolls, siskin (family: Fringillidae) and the house sparrow (family: Passeridae). They are small to medium-sized birds with conical bills and short tails who mostly feed on seeds. Females are drab in appearance and males usually have bright patches of color.
DUCKS AND GEESE
The family Anatidae includes ducks, swans and geese. These birds have evolved for swimming, floating and in some cases diving. They are mostly herbivorous, some undertake yearly migrations.
These small loon-like freshwater diving birds are excellent, agile swimmers, but not very graceful walking on dry land, but can swim underwater with the help of specialized body feathers with just their necks and heads showing above the water's surface.
Gulls and Terns
Unique to waterbirds, gulls (or seagulls) are at home in three places: land, sea and air. Other waterbirds are better in some of these than others, but not all can walk, swim and fly as easily as gulls. Terns are very close relatives that are also included in this gallery.
If you've ever spent the night near a lake in in the chillier parts of North America, you've no doubt heard the haunting call of a loon at night. Unlike other waterbirds, loons can propel themselves forward underwater using their webbed feet as an advantage, at the expense of being able to walk easily on land.
Unique to the New World and distantly related to swifts, these surprisingly aggressive, extremely beautiful and highly active tiny fliers can flap their wings up to 12 beats per second while hovering above wildflowers feeding on their sweet nectar, often in exchange for pollination!
MOCKINGBIRDS, CATBIRDS & THRASHERS
Family Mimidae includes mockingbirds, catbirds and thrashers, birds known for their songs, especially some species ability to mimic other birds and random sounds. They have long tails, slightly or obviously curved bills, strong legs that help them run on the ground foraging in the undergrowth for arthropods and fruits.
Owls (families: Strigidae, Tytonidae) are mostly solitary and nocturnal predators, feeding on small mammals and insects. They have hooked bills, sharp talons, forward-facing eyes with circular facial discs and are adept at silent flight.
NEW WORLD SPARROWS AND ALLIES
Family Emberizidae includes new world sparrows, towhees, and juncos. They are a large family of mostly small birds with short conical bills that eat seeds and insects and live in brush, grassland, marsh or woodland habitats.
PARROTS AND ALLIES
Although there are no remaining native parrot species (Psittacidae) found today in North America, several non-native species can be found in small flocks - typically breeding escapees from the pet trade that have filled new local ecological niches left open by recently extinct native species.
With a fossil record dating back some 30 million years, the distinct-looking pelican (Pelecanidae family) is a large waterbird inhabiting coastal and inland waters. All species have a very long bill with a peculiar and often colorful throat pouch that is used when hunting to scoop up their prey from the water in a manner similar to using a net.
PLOVERS, OYSTERCATCHERS, STILTS & AVOCETS
This is a large, varied group of birds with differing features. They mostly inhabit coasts and ponds and feed on small aquatic prey and invertebrates. (Families: Charadriidae, Haematopodidae, Recurvirostridae).
PIGEONS AND DOVES
Pigeons and Doves (family Columbidae) are medium-sized birds with small heads and short legs. They feed on seeds and fruit, give low cooing calls and bob their heads when they walk. Familiar to most people, feral rock pigeons are common city dwellers.
These waders (family: Scolopacidae) vary in size and features, but generally have thin bills, long legs and dull plumage. They feed on small invertebrates on beaches and mudflats. Different bill length allows different species to forage in the same habitat without competition with each other.
Swallows (family: Hirundinidae) are distinct-looking birds. They have very short legs and bills. Their long and pointed wings make them very efficient and maneuverable flyers that feed on insects caught in flight.
SHRIKES AND VIREOS
Shrikes (family: Laniidae) are medium-sized predatory birds with hooked bills, they catch insects and small vertebrates up to the size of mice. Vireos (family: Vireonidae) are small birds with thick bills, dull plumage and usually a light eye-stripe. They live in forest habitats and feed on insects and some fruit.
TANAGERS, CARDINALS AND ALLIES
These birds are small to medium-sized with thick bills. They live in wooded or brushy habitats and feed on insects, fruit and seeds. Males are usually brightly colored. They include tanagers (family: Thraupidae) and cardinals, buntings, grosbeaks and dickcissel (family: Cardinalidae).
TERNS AND SKIMMERS
Terns and skimmers (Families: Sternidae and Rynchopidae respectively) are seabirds with long pointed wings, straight pointed bills and short legs. They feed almost exclusively on fish by plunge-diving, catching prey from the water surface, or skimming the water while flying, depending on the species.
Tyrant flycatchers (family: Tyrannidae) got their name for catching insects in midair in short flights from a perch; some also eat berries. This is a very large group of birds and they vary in size, habitat and features, but most of them have dull plumage and short broad bills. Some species can look so similar that voice is the main identification factor in the field.
Birds of family Turdidae include robins, bluebirds, and thrushes, and are known for their beautiful songs. These short to medium-sized birds have short blunt bills and long legs, they feed on insects, snails and fruit in wooded, brushy or open habitats.
Egrets, Bitterns and Herons.
Find water at low elevation anywhere in North America and you are likely to find a solitary egret or heron, silently hunting for fish or frogs - exactly the same as they have done for millennia. This gallery also includes their elusive and secretive and close cousins: the bitterns!
UPLAND GAME BIRDS
Grouse, Quail, Partridge, Turkey, Ptarmigan.
This beautiful and often secretive group known and loved by hunters and food-lovers alike is usually found across North America combing the ground in small flocks and coveys feeding on vegetation, seeds and sometimes insects. When startled, they will take to the air in explosive group takeoffs.
WAXWINGS, SILKY-FLYCATCHERS & STARLINGS
Phainopepla, Waxwings, Starlings, Mynas, Silky-Flycatchers.
Medium in size, these attractive songbirds often sport a black mask and typically are seen in large flocks stripping local trees and bushes of their ripe berries and fruit. Many of the species found in North American in the wild are native, and other species have naturalized over the years (especially starlings) and can be found in the wild across the continent.
Redstarts, Ovenbirds, Warblers, Yellowthroats, Chats, Parula.
These small beautiful songbirds with often strikingly contrasting patterns and bright colors are usually seen actively hunting insects, nipping on berries or even sipping nectar from wildflowers with their short, pointed bills as they migrate with the seasons across North America.
Nearly always seen singly, wrens live an active yet solitary life poking around trees, rocks and other structures for insects, berries, and other fruits with tails held high, using highly adapted bills specific to their species to seek out a meal.
With their chisel-like bills and distinctive high-contrast plumage, woodpeckers not only shape their surroundings to create their preferred environment, they leave behind holes and hollows in living and dead trees that are beneficial to other wildlife that shares their specific habitat.
Loudmouth of the Sonoran Desert
This male black-tailed gnatcatcher and his mate weren’t very happy when I peered out of my tent in the bright Sonoran Desert...
Mountain Death Camas – Beautiful and Deadly
Over the summer I found myself in the Rocky Mountains looking for native orchids at around 8000-9000 feet...
The Cat-Faced Spider!
Recently I was out on a day off from the photography studio, working on a side project that involved foraging of lots of wild apples in one of my favorite recreation places...
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