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Category Archives: Beautiful Birds

The Brazen Blue Jay

The Brazen Blue Jay

Blue Jay in snow - ecotime.blogspot.com

Blue Jay in snow – ecotime.blogspot.com

Yes, they’re beautiful, bountiful, brazen, and bold. Marked by flagrant and insolent audacity, this large songbird of eastern and central North America is well known for its behavior and loud calls. I have several times seen Blue Jays repeatedly swoop down to attack cats and drive them away. Cats are FAST, but the jays skillfully avoid the flashing claws and quickly frustrate the cat who usually retires with a frown on its face. You know that disgusted look that cats can get. It’s all very amusing to human onlookers.

Blue Jay - cs.birdwatchingdaily.com

Blue Jay – cs.birdwatchingdaily.com

Blue Jays are also known for their intelligence and complex social systems with tight family bonds. Their fondness for acorns is credited with helping spread oak trees after the last glacial period.

They have a prominent perky crest with bright blue, white, and black plumage; The tail is broad and rounded. Blue Jays are smaller than crows, but larger than robins.

Songs

The Blue Jay vocalization most often considered a song is the “whisper song,” a soft, quiet conglomeration of clicks, chucks, whirrs, whines, liquid notes, and elements of other calls; a singing bout may last longer than 2 minutes.

Blue Jay Family - birddirectory.blogspot.com

Blue Jay Family – birddirectory.blogspot.com

Calls

Blue Jays make a large variety of calls that carry long distances, and are most often detected by these noisy calls. Most calls are produced while the jay is perched in a tree. Usually they fly across open areas silently, especially during migration. The most often heard is a loud jeer, Blue Jays also make clear whistled notes and gurgling sounds. They frequently mimic hawks, especially Red-shouldered Hawks.

Where to See Them

They are common and prefer wooded areas, often in small noisy groups. Near shorelines they migrate in loose flocks; you can recognize them by their steady flight, rounded wings, long tail, and white underside. Resident birds may associate in flocks; they usually fly across open areas one at a time, often silently. Also watch for them at feeders.

Blue Jays prefer tray feeders or hopper feeders on a post rather than hanging feeders, and they prefer peanuts, sunflower seeds, and suet. Planting oak trees will make acorns available for jays of the future. Blue Jays often take drinks from birdbaths. They will often stuff food items in a throat pouch to cache elsewhere. When eating, they hold a seed or nut in feet and peck it open.

Baby Blue Jay - paulduann.com

Baby Blue Jay – paulduann.com

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Posted by on May 14, 2013 in Beautiful Birds

 

Red and Yellow Barbet

Red and Yellow Barbet - Pinterest via Lara Probert

Red and Yellow Barbet – Pinterest via Lara Probert

The Red and Yellow Barbet (Trachyphonus erythrocephalus) is a species of African barbet found in eastern Africa. Males have distinctive black (spotted white), red, and yellow plumage; females and juveniles are similar, but less brightly colored. The species lives in broken terrain and nests and roosts in burrows. Omnivorous, the species feeds on seeds, fruit, and invertebrates. Where not hunted, they are tame, but their feathers are used by certain tribes, such as the Maasai.

The female is similar to the male, but is, overall, much duller, with less red and orange, and more yellow and white. Specifically, females lack the throat patch, and typically lack the crown. Young birds are also duller- they typically have less red and orange, as with the female. The spots on the back are less white, and all blacks are more brown. The eyes are typically grey.

Red and Yellow Barbet by Rob Bobert

Red and Yellow Barbet by Rob Bobert

 

The species avoid both very open areas and areas of dense woodland, instead preferring broken terrain such as riverbeds and cliffs or termite mounds. It nests and roosts in tunnels, and forages on or close to the ground. Red-and-yellow Barbets are omnivores, feeding on seeds, fruit, and invertebrates.

Red and Yellow Barbet - wild4photographicsafaris.blogspot.com

Red and Yellow Barbet – wild4photographicsafaris.blogspot.com

 

 

They are found from central Kenya to north-east Tanzania. Trachyphonus erythrocephalus versicolor is found in south-east Sudan, north-east Uganda, south-west Ethiopia and north Kenya. Trachyphonus erythrocephalus shelleyi is found in Somalia and eastern Ethiopia.
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Posted by on April 21, 2013 in Beautiful Birds

 

Mystery Bird of December – SOLVED

Many thanks to Jay (at naturalistsangle.blogspot.com), for identifying our December Mystery Bird! This colorful bird is a Golden-browed Chlorophonia (Chlorophonia callophrys), native to Costa Rica and Panama. Here’s some more info on it…

Golden Browed Chlorophonia - tsuyukibird.hustle.ne.jp

Golden Browed Chlorophonia – tsuyukibird.hustle.ne.jp

The golden-browed chlorophonia is found from northern Costa Rica to western Panama, where they are restricted to subtropical or tropical montane forests (usually just below treeline altitudes). The species is typically uncommon and somewhat local, being found in the canopy of highland forests on both Pacific and Caribbean slopes, but only at relatively high elevations (above 3,000 ft). It may venture lower in the wet season when food is scarce in the mountains.

Males are striking and easily identified birds with bright grass green upperparts, throat and upper breast, while the rest of the underparts and broad supercilium are yellow. There is also a patch of bright green on the lower flanks, and the crown is blue. Females are somewhat less distinctive, but share the blue crown and nape, and have some yellow on the underparts, but are otherwise mainly green.

Mystery Bird of December

Mystery Bird of December

Golden Browed Chlorophonia - by Joel Delgado

Golden Browed Chlorophonia – by Joel Delgado

This little bird is 5 inches long and weighs about 25g. It’s diet consists of mistletoe fruits, berries of various epiphytes, and figs. Also eats insects and spiders, and hunts by leaning forward to peek under leaves and branches. Its voice is a series of clear but melancholy and disconnected whistles; sometimes sounding like squeeky hinges. The nests are holes in mosses and other epiphytes, found high up (35-100 ft) on trees in mountain forest clearings. At least three eggs per brood. Regurgitates food to feed young.

Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population is suspected to be in decline owing to ongoing habitat destruction.

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Posted by on December 16, 2012 in Beautiful Birds

 

Splendid Fairywren

Splendid Fairywren

Splendid Fairywren (Malurus splendens)

Cuddling Splendid FairyWrens – hideawaydenmark.com

The Superb Fairywren (Malurus cyaneus) is a small long-tailed vivid pale blue and black bird. Also known as the Superb Blue-wren or colloquially as the Blue Wren, is common and familiar across southeastern Australia. The species is sedentary and territorial, and exhibits a high degree of sexual dimorphism; the male in breeding plumage has a striking bright blue forehead, ear coverts, mantle, and tail, with a black mask and black or dark blue throat. Non-breeding males, females and juveniles are predominantly grey-brown in color; this gave the early impression that males were polygamous, as all dull-colored birds were taken for females.

Like other fairywrens, the Superb Fairywren is notable for several peculiar behavioral characteristics; the birds are socially monogamous and sexually promiscuous, meaning that although they form pairs between one male and one female, each partner will mate with other individuals and even assist in raising the young from such pairings. Male wrens pluck yellow petals and display them to females as part of a courtship display.

The Superb Fairywren can be found in almost any area that has at least a little dense undergrowth for shelter, including grasslands with scattered shrubs, moderately thick forest, woodland, heaths, and domestic gardens. It has adapted well to the urban environment and is common in suburban Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne. The Superb Fairywren mainly eats insects and supplements its diet with seeds.

Splendid Fairy Wren

Splendid Fairy Wren – biolsci.monash.edu.au

The Superb Fairywren is 14 cm (5½ in) long and weighs 8–13 g (0.28–0.46 oz), with males on average slightly larger than females. The average tail length is 5.9 cm (2⅓ in). The bill is relatively long, narrow and pointed and wider at the base. Wider than it is deep, the bill is similar in shape to those of other birds that feed by probing for or picking insects off their environs.

Like other fairywrens, the Superb Fairywren is notable for its marked sexual dimorphism, males adopting a highly visible breeding plumage of brilliant iridescent blue contrasting with black and grey-brown. The brightly colored crown and ear tufts are prominently featured in breeding displays. The breeding male has a bright-blue forehead, ear coverts, mantle and tail, brown wings, and black throat, eye band, breast and bill. Females, immatures, and non-breeding males are a plain fawn color with a lighter underbelly and a fawn (females and immatures) or dull greyish blue (males) tail. The bill is brown in females and juveniles and black in males after their first winter. Immature males moult into breeding plumage the first breeding season after hatching, though incomplete moulting sometimes leaves residual brownish plumage that takes another year or two to perfect. Both sexes moult in autumn after breeding, with males assuming an eclipse non-breeding plumage. They moult again into nuptial plumage in winter or spring. Breeding males’ blue plumage, particularly the ear-coverts, is highly iridescent because of the flattened and twisted surface of the barbules. The blue plumage also reflects ultraviolet light strongly, and so may be even more prominent to other fairywrens, whose color vision extends into this part of the spectrum.

Splendid Fairy Wren 3

Splendid Fairy Wren – photobucket.com

The Superb Fairywren is common throughout most of the relatively wet and fertile south-eastern corner of the continent, from the south-east of South Australia (including Kangaroo Island and Adelaide) and the tip of the Eyre Peninsula, through all of Victoria, Tasmania, coastal and sub-coastal New South Wales and Queensland, through the Brisbane area and extending inland – north to the Dawson River and west to Blackall; it is a common bird in the suburbs of Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra. It is found in wooded areas, generally with plenty of undergrowth, and has also adapted to urban existence and can be found in gardens and urban parks as long as there is an undergrowth of native plants nearby. source: wikipedia CC-BY-SA

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Posted by on September 28, 2012 in Beautiful Birds

 

Baltimore Oriole

Baltimore Oriole

Baltimore Oriole

Source: via Jack and Nancy on Pinterest

The Baltimore Oriole (Icterus galbula) is a small blackbird that commonly occurs in eastern and central North America as a migratory breeding bird. This bird received its name from the fact that the male’s colors resemble those on the coat-of-arms of Lord Baltimore. It measures 6.7–8.7 inches in length and spans 9.1–13 inches across the wings. They have a sturdy body, a longish tail, fairly long legs and a thick, pointed bill. The body weight averages 1.19 oz. Adults always have white bars on the wings. The adult male is orange on the underparts shoulder patch and rump, with some birds appearing a very deep flaming orange and others appearing yellowish-orange. All of the rest of the male’s plumage is black. The adult female is yellow-brown on the upper parts with darker wings, and dull orange-yellow on the breast and belly. The juvenile oriole is similar-looking to the female, with males taking until the fall of their second year to reach adult plumage.

Baltimore Orioles are often found high up in large, leafy deciduous trees, but don’t generally live in deep forests. The species has been found in summer and migration in open woodland, forest edge, and partially wooded wetlands or stands of trees along rivers. They are very adaptable and can breed in a variety of secondary habitats. In recent times, they are often found in orchards, farmland, urban parks and suburban landscapes as long as they retain woodlots. In Mexico, they winter in flowering canopy trees, often over shade coffee plantations.

Baltimore Oriole2

source: harrier at flickriver

They forage in trees and shrubs, also making short flights to catch insects. They acrobatically clamber, hover and hang among foliage as they comb high branches. They mainly eat insects, berries and nectar, and are often seen sipping at hummingbird feeders. Their favored prey is perhaps the Forest Tent Caterpillar Moth, which they typically eat in their larval stage. The larvae caterpillar are beaten against a branch until their protective hairs are skinned off before being eaten. Unlike American Robins and many other fruit-eating birds, Baltimore Orioles seem to prefer only ripe, dark-colored fruit. Orioles seek out the darkest mulberries, the reddest cherries, and the deepest-purple grapes, and will ignore green grapes and yellow cherries even if they are ripe. Baltimore Orioles sometimes use their bills in an unusual way, called “gaping”: they stab the closed bill into soft fruits, then open their mouths to cut a juicy swath from which they drink with their tongues. During spring and fall, nectar, fruit and other sugary foods are readily converted into fat, which supplies energy for migration.

Many people now attract Baltimore Orioles to their backyards with oriole feeders. Oriole feeders contain essentially the same food as hummingbird feeders, but are designed for orioles, and are orange instead of red and have larger perches.

Source: From Wikipedia, licensed under CC-BY-SA

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Posted by on August 26, 2012 in Beautiful Birds

 

The Blue Jay

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The Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata) measures 9–12 inches from bill to tail and weighs 2.5–3.5 oz, with a wingspan of 13–17 in. There is a pronounced crest on the head, a crown of feathers, which may be raised or lowered according to the bird’s mood. When excited or aggressive, the crest may be fully raised. When frightened, the crest bristles outwards, brushlike. When the bird is feeding among other jays or resting, the crest is flattened to the head. They are widespread throughout Eastern and Central United States.

They are a noisy, bold and aggressive passerine. A moderately slow flier, it flies with body and tail held level, with slow wing beats. Due to its slow flying speeds, this species makes easy prey for hawks and owls when flying in open areas.

Blue Jays can be beneficial to other bird species, as it may chase predatory birds, such as hawks and owls, and will scream if it sees a predator within its territory. It will often sound an alarm call when hawks or other dangers are near, and smaller birds often recognize this call and hide themselves away accordingly. It may occasionally impersonate the calls of raptors, especially those of the Red-tailed and Red-shouldered Hawks, possibly to test if a hawk is in the vicinity, though also possibly to scare off other birds that may compete for food sources. It may also be aggressive towards humans who come close to its nest, and if an owl roosts near the nest during the daytime the Blue Jay mobs it until it takes a new roost. However, Blue Jays have also been known to attack or kill other smaller birds. Jays are very territorial birds, and they will chase others from a feeder for an easier meal. Additionally, the Blue Jay may raid other birds’ nests, stealing eggs, chicks, and nests. However, this may not be as common as is typically thought, as only 1% of food matter in one study was compromised by birds. Despite this, other passerines may still mob jays who come within their breeding territories.

They are highly curious and are considered intelligent birds. Young individuals playfully snatch brightly colored or reflective objects, such as bottle caps or pieces of aluminum foil, and carry them around until they lose interest. While not confirmed to have engaged in tool use in the wild, blue jays in captivity have been observed using strips of newspaper as tools to obtain food, while captive fledglings have been observed attempting to open the door to their cages.

Source: From Wikipedia, licensed under CC-BY-SA.

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Posted by on August 12, 2012 in Beautiful Birds

 

African Crowned Crane

African Crowned Crane

African Crowned Crane

Wow, that lightening strike was close!!

During their mating ritual two African Crowned Cranes (Balearica pavonin) hop and jump gracefully together, their wings partly spread. Then they open their wings fully, bow to each other, and jump several feet in the air. When they land, they run around each other and start all over again. Crowned cranes have a guttural grunt and a trumpeting call.

They are the only cranes to perch in trees, preferring solitary trees in open areas. Living in Kenya, Natal, Uganda, and Namibia, Africa, they are omnivores. Their diet consists of eating insects, frogs, snakes, fish, worms and eggs as well as plants, grain and seeds. They have a habit of stamping as they walk to flush insects from the grass.

All in all, a beautiful and amusing bird.

Jack
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Posted by on August 8, 2012 in Beautiful Birds