Nuthatches of Connecticut (2 Species to Know)

Nuthatches are goofy birds that move along tree trunks and branches looking for food. There are four species of nuthatches that live in the United States and two of them can be found in Connecticut. Here is everything you need to know about these two species.

White-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatch
Identification

White-breasted Nuthatches have a blueish gray back and wings, white face and underside, and black back of the neck and top of the head. They have rust color on their underside near the tail.

Range

White-breasted Nuthatches are year-round residents of most states i the United States with only just a few regions such as South Texas not playing host to this species. They also live in southern Canada and much of Mexico with the exception of the coasts.

Diet and Foraging Habits

White-breasted Nuthatches eat primarily insects and other invertebrates. Much of the time they find such food items by climbing up and down branches and tree trunks and investigating each crevice in the bark. This species will also eat seeds, and even things such as suet and peanut butter. They are a common sight at bird feeders where they will take a seed and fly off to eat it or cache it for later.

Where to Find This Bird

White-breasted Nuthatches are a common species in deciduous forests. They also live in edge habitat and in parks and backyards. White-breasted Nuthatches are seen often at bird feeders and usually only stay for a short time to take food and leave, returning frequently to repeat this routine.

Red-breasted Nuthatch

Red-breasted Nuthatch
Identification

Red-breasted Nuthatches are personable and energetic birds with blueish gray backs, rusty orange undersides, and white heads with black stripes. Males have slightly more striking colors than females but both have the same general patterns and colors.

Range

Red-breasted Nuthatches live year-round in the northern forests of North America including the southwestern portion of Alaska, much of Canada, and parts of the Northern, Eastern, and Western United States. As early as July, Red-breasted Nuthatches start making their way south for the winter. They can end up as far south as Texas and Louisiana depending on the year.

Diet and Foraging Habits

Red-breasted Nuthatches eat insects and other invertebrates like spiders when they are available. In times of the year when insects are not around, these birds eat conifer seeds. They will also visit bird feeders and take seeds to either eat in a nearby tree or save for later.

Where to Find This Bird

Red-breasted Nuthatches are birds of conifer forests and can usually be found in locations with healthy cone crops. They will also visit bird feeders where they show up momentarily and are gone just as fast as they came in.

Badgerland Birding searches for Red-breasted Nuthatches

Summary

Nuthatches are goofy and entertaining species that are very fun to watch. They are commonly encountered birds due to their propensity for visiting bird feeders. They are certainly a species worth knowing since you are certain to run into them while out in the field.

We hope you enjoyed this post! Be sure to check out the Badgerland Birding YouTube channel for all different types of bird videos.

Terns of Nebraska (5 Species)

Terns are some of the most sleek and acrobatic species of birds in the world. They swiftly swoop, hover, and dive through the skies across North America. With many terns having similar looking plumages, they can be difficult to tell apart. Fortunately, with a little knowledge about tern identification and where they are most expected, it becomes easier to tell them apart.

Nebraska is home to five species of terns. Here is everything that you need to know about these five species.

Black Tern

Black Tern – Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast Region
Identification

In breeding plumage, Black Terns have gray wings with white on the shoulder area. They have an overall black body and head, black bill and legs, and white underside behind the legs. Nonbreeding Black Terns are much paler with a white head and body and just a small patch of black color near the eye.

Range

Black Terns winter in Northern South America and make their migratory journey north in spring when they spread out across most of Mexico and the continental United States. They breed in South-central Canada and the Northern United States.

Diet and Foraging Habits

Black Terns are very acrobatic as they forage for food and catch prey on the fly. They eat small fish and insects, usually by flying low over marshy areas. One interesting thing about Black Terns is that they do not plunge into the water to catch fish like many other tern species do.

Where to Find This Bird

In winter, Black Terns can be found around coastal habitats but in spring and summer, marshes and swamps become the best place to locate this species.

Caspian Tern

Caspian Tern
Identification

Caspian Terns are extremely large for terns. In fact, they are the largest tern species in the entire world. They are white with gray wings, black legs, and a chunky red bill. Caspian Terns also have a black cap in breeding plumage which fades in nonbreeding plumage and looks more like a black smudge near the eye.

Range

Caspian Terns are extremely widespread in not only North America but the entire world. This species got their name due to the fact that they were common around the Caspian Sea (which they still are to this day). Caspian Terns can be found along the coasts of Australia, Africa, Southern Asia, Europe, and North America.

In North America, Caspian Terns winter in Mexico, Souther California, the Gulf Coast, Florida, and along the Atlantic Coast. They migrate north in spring and nest in parts of Canada, the Western United States, and the Great Lakes.

Diet and Foraging Habits

Caspian Terns primarily feed on fish but will also eat crustaceans and insects. This species feeds in the same way that other terns do; flying above the water to search for food and diving headfirst into the water when they see something they want to catch.

Where to Find this Bird

Caspian Terns frequent ocean coastlines as well as the shores of large inland bodies of water. They are most easy to find during migration when they show up in fairly large numbers along beaches and can be seen and heard flying over the water. In the Midwestern states, the Great Lakes are a fantastic place to find this species.

Common Tern (Uncommon)

Common Tern – Photo by Michele Lamberti
Identification

In breeding plumage, Common Terns have a white head and body with gray wings, a black cap, an orange bill with a black tip, and orange legs. An important feature in Common Terns that separates them from the nearly identical Forster’s Tern is the color of the primary feathers in adults. In Common Terns they will be dark gray while in Forster’s Terns they will be light gray to white. Nonbreeding adults will not have a complete black cap but rather a partial cap with the front of the head showing white.

Range

Common Terns winter along the Coasts of South America, Central America, Mexico, and the Gulf of Mexico. In spring they move north into Canada and parts of the Northern United States, including the Great Lakes states.

Diet and Foraging Habits

Common Terns eat primarily small fish but will also eat crustaceans and other marine and freshwater invertebrates. They will catch fish from the surface of the water while flying or dive into the water to catch prey.

Where to Find this Bird

Common Terns are birds of coasts and shorelines. They are typically found along large bodies of water such as the oceans and the Great Lakes. They can be seen resting on beaches and sandbars.

Forster’s Tern

Forster’s Tern – Photo by Bill Grossmeyer
Identification

Breeding plumage Forster’s Terns have a white body and white forked tail, orange legs, an orange bill with a black tip, and a black cap going from their neck to their bill. They have light gray wings and light-colored wingtips (which is an import thing to note when differentiating between Forster’s Terns and Common Terns).

Nonbreeding Forster’s Terns look almost the same as in breeding plumage but instead of a full black cap, they have a black streak that covers their eye.

Range

Forster’s Terns winter along the Southern coasts of the United States and Mexico. They migrate north during the spring and breed in Southern Canada, portions of the Western U.S. and specific places along the Great Lakes. Forster’s Terns are year-round residents of Eastern Texas and Southern Louisiana in addition to parts of the Atlantic Coast near North Carolina and Maryland.

Diet and Foraging Habits

Forster’s Terns feed primarily on fish which they catch in a very distinctive manor. These terns will hover above the water, and suddenly plunge themselves below the surface. In addition to fish, they will also eat insects.

Where to Find this Bird

Forster’s Terns can be found in both freshwater and saltwater marshes in addition to coastlines.

Least Tern

Least Tern – Photo by U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Southwest Region
Identification

Least Terns are the smallest of all of the North American Terns. In breeding plumage, they have orangey-yellow legs as well as an orangey-yellow colored bill. One of their more distinctive features is their white forehead contrasting their black cap. Another thig to note is the black edging on the wings of this species. In nonbreeding plumage, they have a much darker colored bill, and their black cap turns into more of a black stripe. Immature birds show this black coloration as a smudge.

Range

Least Terns winter along the northern coasts of South America, around the Carribean Islands, and the southern coasts of Florida. In summer they breed along both coasts of the continental United States and Mexico. Some Least Terns also spend the summer in the central part of the continental United States breeding on or around rivers.

Diet and Foraging Habits

Least Terns are primarily fish-eaters, but they will also feed on other small aquatic creatures such as shrimp, insects, and tadpoles.

Where to Find this Bird

Least terns can be found along the coasts, particularly near beaches and on barrier islands. Inland, these birds tend to gravitate toward sandy rivers, particularly. in and around larger rivers such as the Mississippi.

Summary

Terns are quick and acrobatic birds that can sometimes be difficult to identify since so many of them are similar looking. Knowing the species that are expected in your state can be instrumental in identifying which one you are looking at in the field. Hopefully, this article has helped in answering some questions about the terns of Nebraska.

If you enjoyed this post, please give it a like and a comment. Also be sure to check out the Badgerland Birding YouTube Channel.

Vultures of Nebraska (2 Species to Know)

Vultures are large birds of prey that normally have a head or neck that is often devoid of feathers. Due to their habits of feeding on carrion, they have gotten a bad reputation, however their ecological niche is valuable, and they are quite interesting birds. There one vulture species that can be found in Nebraska. Here is everything you need to know about that species.

Turkey Vulture

Turkey Vulture (Cape Hatteras National Seashore Photo)
Turkey Vulture in flight (Brad Sutton Photo)
Identification

The Turkey Vulture is a large brown bird with a pinkish head that is featherless. In flight, the trailing edge of the wings will show white feathers, with the rest of the underside of the bird being brown. Turkey Vulture will often be seen soaring overhead, or perched on cliffs or other tall structures. They can also be seen near roadsides feeding on carrion.

Range

In North America, Turkey Vultures can be seen in southern states and central America year-round. They move into northern states and Southern Canada during the summer. The Turkey Vulture can normally be seen in Delaware during the spring, summer, and fall.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Turkey Vultures feed mostly on dead prey such as roadkill or carrion. It is said that Turkey Vultures will never attack live prey. They serve as a valuable “clean-up crew” in the ecosystems they inhabit.

Where to Find this Bird

Look for Turkey Vultures soaring overhead or perching up on high structures such as signs, power lines, cliffs, or tall trees. They will often roost or feed in groups. Also keep an eye out for these birds feeding in open areas or roadsides.

Have you seen this species? Leave a comment below and thanks for reading!

Cranes of North Carolina (1 Species to Know)

Cranes are among the largest and most noticeable birds in North America. These birds are always impressive to see when out birding and can turn up in some places you wouldn’t expect to see these tall, regal birds. In North America there are two crane species, and one of them can be found in North Carolina. Here is everything you need to know about that species.

Sandhill Crane

Sandhill Crane – Photo by Bill Grossmeyer
Identification

Sandhill Cranes have a mostly gray colored body with tan color mixed in. During the warmer months they typically are more tan than they are gray. They have a long neck and bill with white cheeks and red on top of their head.

Sandhill Crane chicks are a yellowish tan color and can often be seen tagging along with the adult parents.

Range

Sandhill Cranes winter in a few different areas around North America including northern Mexico, southern Texas, Florida, parts of California, parts of southern Louisiana, and other areas across the Great Plains states. In spring, they start heading north to breed in the northern United States and southern Canada. There are a few places where Sandhill Cranes stage prior to migration where they can be seen in absolutely massive numbers. Most of these areas are in the upper Midwest in states such as Minnesota and North Dakota.

Diet and Foraging Habits

Sandhill Cranes eat a wide variety of different food items. Much of their diet consists of plant matter such as tubers, berries, and seeds, but they also eat small vertebrates, insects and other invertebrates. Sandhill Cranes forage in shallow water as well as in farm fields where they eat grains from crops.

Where to Find This Bird

Sandhill Cranes can be seen in many different places. Some of the most common areas to find this species are shallow water marshes and open fields. However, Sandhill Cranes also show up on lawns in neighborhoods and even in parking lots in cities where they casually stroll around, often to the surprise of humans.

Summary

Cranes are spectacular birds to see as an avid birder or just a casual observer. Knowing where to expect them and which species are likely to be in your state and region can make it much easier to find and identify them.

If you enjoyed this post, please give it a like and a comment. Also be sure to check out the Badgerland Birding YouTube Channel.

Doves of Maine (3 Species to Know)

Doves are birds of cultural importance across many different civilizations. Typically representing peace, hope, and purity, doves have always been symbolic of some of the most beautiful and serene things in life. There are many different dove species that inhabit North America, and three of them that can be found in Maine. Here is everything you need to know about those three species.

Mourning Dove

Mourning Dove
Identification

Mourning Doves have a pinkish gray underside with a darker gray back and wings. They have black spots on the wings and a black spot on each side of their face. This species often looks pudgy when they sit in a resting position.

Range

Mourning Doves are not particularly migratory as they live throughout most of the continental United States year-round. They do however extend south into Central America and Southern Mexico in winter and farther into southcentral Canada in summer.

Diet and Foraging Habits

Most of the Mourning Doves diet consists of seeds. They can often be seen foraging on the ground and are regular visitors at bird feeders where they will eat at platform feeders or under feeders.

Where to Find this Bird

Mourning Doves can be found in many different places including sparse woodlands, backyards, parks, and even areas heavily inhabited by humans such as cities. They can often be seen on power lines and also frequently feed along the ground in brush.

Rock Pigeon

Rock Pigeon – Photo by Alan Schmierer
Identification

Rock Pigeons (also known as feral pigeons) come in many different varieties. Most of them are different shades of gray with darker gray on the head, neck and chest with lighter gray on the wings and underside. Rock Pigeons have two dark wing bars on each wing and blue, green, or even red iridescence on their head and neck. These birds can also be reddish in color and even pure white.

In my personal opinion, Rock Pigeons are actually quite beautiful and if they weren’t so common in the United States people would appreciate them more.

Range

Rock Pigeons can be found in almost every continent on Earth. However, they are only native to certain parts of Europe, Asia, and Northern Africa. In South America and North America Rock Pigeons are actually an introduced species and have spread to pretty much everywhere with the exception of Northern Canada.

Diet and Foraging Habits

Rock Pigeons feed mostly on fruits and seeds. They are also well known for eating scraps of foods in cities such as bread . They will move along the ground and peck at their desired meal while feeding.

Where to Find this Bird

In their wild range, Rock Pigeons live on cliffs and rock faces. In the United States, buildings and city structures imitate these habitats, meaning this species is now readily found in large cities. Additionally, look for Rock Pigeons in farmland where grains and seeds provide an easy meal.

White-winged Dove (Rare)

White-winged Dove – Photo by Alan Schmierer
Identification

White-winged Doves are grayish brown with their wings, head, and back being more brown, and their underside being more gray. They have blue near their eye and dark spots on their cheek. This bird gets its name from the distinctive white marking on each wing visible both when perched and in flight. In addition to the white wing markings, they also have white on the tips of their tail feathers.

Range

White-winged Doves live year-round in Mexico and parts of the Southern United States. In winter, they can be found more readily along the Gulf Coast. In summer, they move slightly north into more of the Southern United States.

Diet and Foraging Habits

White-winged Doves are primarily seed eaters but they will also consume fruit. In desert areas they have been known to eat the fruit of the Saguaro Cactus. In more urban places they will often feed on agricultural crops such as corn.

Where to Find this Bird

White-winged Doves can be found in a wide variety of habitats ranging from thickets, to desert, to urban environments. They will visit bird feeders, so if you live within their range keep an eye out for this species in your backyard. Another way to find White-winged Doves is to listen for their call which sounds similar to a Mourning Doves cooing but much deeper and more gruff.

Summary

Doves have learned to coexist with humans and thrive in places many other birds can’t. Knowing which species to expect in your region can be incredibly useful in identifying these plump and gregarious birds. Hopefully, this article has helped to answer some of your questions about the doves of Maine.

If you enjoyed this post, please give it a like and a comment. Also be sure to check out the Badgerland Birding YouTube Channel

Terns of Minnesota (4 Species)

Terns are some of the most sleek and acrobatic species of birds in the world. They swiftly swoop, hover, and dive through the skies across North America. With many terns having similar looking plumages, they can be difficult to tell apart. Fortunately, with a little knowledge about tern identification and where they are most expected, it becomes easier to tell them apart.

Minnesota is home to four species of terns that are annual and fairly common in the state. Here is everything that you need to know about these four species.

Black Tern

Black Tern – Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast Region
Identification

In breeding plumage, Black Terns have gray wings with white on the shoulder area. They have an overall black body and head, black bill and legs, and white underside behind the legs. Nonbreeding Black Terns are much paler with a white head and body and just a small patch of black color near the eye.

Range

Black Terns winter in Northern South America and make their migratory journey north in spring when they spread out across most of Mexico and the continental United States. They breed in South-central Canada and the Northern United States.

Diet and Foraging Habits

Black Terns are very acrobatic as they forage for food and catch prey on the fly. They eat small fish and insects, usually by flying low over marshy areas. One interesting thing about Black Terns is that they do not plunge into the water to catch fish like many other tern species do.

Where to Find This Bird

In winter, Black Terns can be found around coastal habitats but in spring and summer, marshes and swamps become the best place to locate this species.

Caspian Tern

Caspian Tern
Identification

Caspian Terns are extremely large for terns. In fact, they are the largest tern species in the entire world. They are white with gray wings, black legs, and a chunky red bill. Caspian Terns also have a black cap in breeding plumage which fades in nonbreeding plumage and looks more like a black smudge near the eye.

Range

Caspian Terns are extremely widespread in not only North America but the entire world. This species got their name due to the fact that they were common around the Caspian Sea (which they still are to this day). Caspian Terns can be found along the coasts of Australia, Africa, Southern Asia, Europe, and North America.

In North America, Caspian Terns winter in Mexico, Souther California, the Gulf Coast, Florida, and along the Atlantic Coast. They migrate north in spring and nest in parts of Canada, the Western United States, and the Great Lakes.

Diet and Foraging Habits

Caspian Terns primarily feed on fish but will also eat crustaceans and insects. This species feeds in the same way that other terns do; flying above the water to search for food and diving headfirst into the water when they see something they want to catch.

Where to Find this Bird

Caspian Terns frequent ocean coastlines as well as the shores of large inland bodies of water. They are most easy to find during migration when they show up in fairly large numbers along beaches and can be seen and heard flying over the water. In the Midwestern states, the Great Lakes are a fantastic place to find this species.

Common Tern

Common Tern – Photo by Michele Lamberti
Identification

In breeding plumage, Common Terns have a white head and body with gray wings, a black cap, an orange bill with a black tip, and orange legs. An important feature in Common Terns that separates them from the nearly identical Forster’s Tern is the color of the primary feathers in adults. In Common Terns they will be dark gray while in Forster’s Terns they will be light gray to white. Nonbreeding adults will not have a complete black cap but rather a partial cap with the front of the head showing white.

Range

Common Terns winter along the Coasts of South America, Central America, Mexico, and the Gulf of Mexico. In spring they move north into Canada and parts of the Northern United States, including the Great Lakes states.

Diet and Foraging Habits

Common Terns eat primarily small fish but will also eat crustaceans and other marine and freshwater invertebrates. They will catch fish from the surface of the water while flying or dive into the water to catch prey.

Where to Find this Bird

Common Terns are birds of coasts and shorelines. They are typically found along large bodies of water such as the oceans and the Great Lakes. They can be seen resting on beaches and sandbars.

Forster’s Tern

Forster’s Tern – Photo by Bill Grossmeyer
Identification

Breeding plumage Forster’s Terns have a white body and white forked tail, orange legs, an orange bill with a black tip, and a black cap going from their neck to their bill. They have light gray wings and light-colored wingtips (which is an import thing to note when differentiating between Forster’s Terns and Common Terns).

Nonbreeding Forster’s Terns look almost the same as in breeding plumage but instead of a full black cap, they have a black streak that covers their eye.

Range

Forster’s Terns winter along the Southern coasts of the United States and Mexico. They migrate north during the spring and breed in Southern Canada, portions of the Western U.S. and specific places along the Great Lakes. Forster’s Terns are year-round residents of Eastern Texas and Southern Louisiana in addition to parts of the Atlantic Coast near North Carolina and Maryland.

Diet and Foraging Habits

Forster’s Terns feed primarily on fish which they catch in a very distinctive manor. These terns will hover above the water, and suddenly plunge themselves below the surface. In addition to fish, they will also eat insects.

Where to Find this Bird

Forster’s Terns can be found in both freshwater and saltwater marshes in addition to coastlines.

Summary

Terns are quick and acrobatic birds that can sometimes be difficult to identify since so many of them are similar looking. Knowing the species that are expected in your state can be instrumental in identifying which one you are looking at in the field. Hopefully, this article has helped in answering some questions about the terns of Minnesota.

If you enjoyed this post, please give it a like and a comment. Also be sure to check out the Badgerland Birding YouTube Channel.

Cuckoos of Vermont (2 Species to Know)

Cuckoos are slender, medium sized birds, known for being difficult to find. Due to their secretive nature, they can be exciting for birders to see in the wild. In Vermont, there are two species of cuckoos that can be found on an annual basis. Here’s everything you need to know about them.

Black-billed Cuckoo

Yellow-billed Cuckoo – Photo by Alan Schmierer
Identification

Black-billed Cuckoos have a brown head, back, wings, and tail with a white underside. As their name would suggest, they have a black bill and a red eye.

Range

Black-billed Cuckoos winter in the northwestern part of South America. In spring they migrate north into northeastern and northcentral United States along with southern Canada.

Diet and Foraging Habits

Black-billed Cuckoos feed primarily on insects (especially caterpillars). In nonbreeding season, they also eat fruits and other plant matter such as seeds.

Where to Find this Bird

Black-billed Cuckoos are found in forests, edge habitat, woodlands, and marshes with numerous trees. They can be extremely elusive and are difficult to get eyes on even if they are in the area.

Yellow-billed Cuckoo

Yellow-billed Cuckoo – Photo by Alan Schmierer
Identification

Yellow-billed Cuckoos have a brown head, back, and wings. Their long tails are black with white at the end of the feathers giving their tails a spotted appearance. These birds have a clean white underside and a yellow bill with some black on the upper mandible.

Range

Yellow-billed Cuckoos winter throughout most of South America with the exception of the most southern and western parts of the country. In spring, they move north inhabiting the Carribean, parts of Mexico, the eastern United States, southeastern Canada, and seemingly random pockets in the western United States.

Diet and Foraging Habits

A large portion of the Yellow-billed Cuckoos diet consists of caterpillars. They will often find large quantities of tent caterpillars, fall webworms, and spongy moths. Aside from caterpillars they will also eat other types of insects and small invertebrates along with some types of fruits and seeds.

Where to Find this Bird

Yellow-billed Cuckoos frequent woodlands (especially woodlands with water nearby), scrublands with thick bushes, and even stands of trees in otherwise more open areas.

Summary

Cuckoos are goofy and elusive birds that are always fun to see in the field but can sometimes be tough to identify. We hope this post has helped you learn about and identify the Cuckoos of Vermont.

If you enjoyed this post, please give it a like and a comment. Also be sure to check out the Badgerland Birding YouTube Channel.

Eagles of Maine (2 Species to Know)

Eagles are thought of as regal and majestic birds that soar over the United States. There are a few different eagle species that make their way into the United States. In this post there is information about which species you can expect to find in your state in addition to identification tips and facts.

Bald Eagle

Adult Bald Eagle (Photo by Bill grossmeyer)
Juvenile Bald Eagle (Photo by Bill Grossmeyer)
Identification

The adult Bald Eagle is an unmistakable raptor species. They have a brown body with a white head and tail. In flight, they look quite flat as opposed to Turkey Vultures and other soaring species that sport a v-shaped wing pattern known as a dihedral. Bald Eagles have a large yellow bill.

Juvenile Bald Eagles don’t look quite as distinctive with varying degrees of mottled white mixed In with brown. Juveniles still have a noticeably large bill.

Range

Bald Eagles winter in most of the Southern United States and Northern Mexico. They migrate north into Canada and some of the Great Lakes states including Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan. There are many areas where Bald Eagles live year round, most of which are around coastlines, rivers, or other bodies of water.

Diet and Foraging Habits

Bald Eagles eat primarily fish but will also consume amphibians, mammals, reptiles, and carrion. In fact, Bald Eagles can often be seen around landfills searching for scraps, or roadsides searching for roadkill. Two places one wouldn’t expect to see such a majestic bird.

Where to Find This Bird

The easiest way to see Bald Eagles is to watch the skies and look for a large bird with broad, flat wings soaring. In terms of places to see many Bald Eagles at once, search out dams or other places where fish congregate, here, several different Eagles may be waiting to get an easy meal. To see Eagles in their nesting habitat, forests near rivers and bodies of water that are far away from human habitation are the best places.

Golden Eagle (Rare)

Golden Eagle (Photo by Bill Grossmeyer)
Identification

Golden Eagles are very large raptors that are brown in color with slightly lighter feathers mixed in. They have a white band on the tail, and the nape of their neck has golden colored feathers. Immature birds have white at the base of their primary feathers visible in flight from underneath.

Range

Golden Eagles live year round in the western half of the United States and Northern Mexico. Some members of this species migrate north and breed in Alaska and Canada. During winter, Golden Eagles move east with some birds traveling a significant distance away from their expected area. This species can also be found in Europe and parts of Asia.

Diet and Foraging Habits

Golden Eagles typically eat mammals such as squirrels and rabbits, but they will also eat birds. This particular species has also been known to to take on much larger prey such as deer or even other larger predators such as coyotes.

Where to Find This Bird

Golden Eagles aren’t typically found near human habitation or near large tracts of forest. They are a species of open areas as well as mountainous areas. The easiest way to find them is to look for them soaring over.

Summary

Eagles are large and noticeable birds. Their regal look and importance as symbols of strength certainly make them intriguing. Knowing which eagle species are expected in your state can be instrumental in identifying which exact species you’re looking at.

If you enjoyed this post, please give it a like and a comment. Also be sure to check out the Badgerland Birding YouTube Channel.

Vultures of Maine (2 Species)

Vultures are large birds of prey that normally have a head or neck that is often devoid of feathers. Due to their habits of feeding on carrion, they have gotten a bad reputation, however their ecological niche is valuable, and they are quite interesting birds. There are two different vulture species that can be found in Maine. Here is everything you need to know about those two species.

Turkey Vulture

Turkey Vulture (Cape Hatteras National Seashore Photo)
Turkey Vulture in flight (Brad Sutton Photo)
Identification

The Turkey Vulture is a large brown bird with a pinkish head that is featherless. In flight, the trailing edge of the wings will show white feathers, with the rest of the underside of the bird being brown. Turkey Vulture will often be seen soaring overhead, or perched on cliffs or other tall structures. They can also be seen near roadsides feeding on carrion.

Range

In North America, Turkey Vultures can be seen in southern states and central America year-round. They move into northern states and Southern Canada during the summer. The Turkey Vulture can normally be seen in Delaware during the spring, summer, and fall.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Turkey Vultures feed mostly on dead prey such as roadkill or carrion. It is said that Turkey Vultures will never attack live prey. They serve as a valuable “clean-up crew” in the ecosystems they inhabit.

Where to Find this Bird

Look for Turkey Vultures soaring overhead or perching up on high structures such as signs, power lines, cliffs, or tall trees. They will often roost or feed in groups. Also keep an eye out for these birds feeding in open areas or roadsides.

Black Vulture (Rare)

Black Vulture (Dennis Jarvis Photo – CC by 2.0)
Black Vulture in flight (cuatrok77 photo – CC by 2.0)
Identification

Black Vultures look similar to turkey vultures except they have an all black head and appear to have white/gray wingtips when viewed from below, as opposed to white on the trailing wing edge, among other features.

Range

The Black Vulture can be found in many southern and southeastern states in the U.S. as well as in Central America. They are often seen as vagrants in more northern states in the U.S.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Much like the Turkey Vulture, Black Vultures will feed on roadkill and carrion, often large mammals. However, unlike the Turkey Vulture, they have also been known to eat weak, or dying live prey.

Where to Find this Bird

Black Vultures can be seen soaring overhead, or perched on powerlines, snags, cliffs, or on other tall structures. They can also sometimes be seen in mixed groups of other raptors such as Turkey Vultures.

Which of these species have you seen? Leave a comment below and thanks for reading!

Cormorants of Louisiana (2 Species to Know)

Cormorants are slender diving waterbirds with a distinctive shape and set of habits. While there are many cormorant species that live in North America, there are only two that can typically be found in Louisiana, with one being extremely abundant and the other two being rare. Here is everything you need to know about these two species.

Double-crested Cormorant

Double-crested Cormorant
Identification

Adult Double-crested Cormorants have a dark brown to black head, neck, back, underside and wings. Juveniles will be lighter brown in color with a lighter throat and underside. Both adults and juveniles have orange by the eyes and base of the bill as well as a turquoise colored eye. Breeding adult birds have two tufts on their head that can sometimes be hard to see, but these crests are what this species is named for.

Range

Double-crested Cormorants live year round along the Pacific Coast of North America from Northwestern Mexico all the way up to the Aleutian Islands of Alaska. They also live year round in parts of Florida. This species winters in in the Southeastern United States and Northeastern Mexico. In spring, they move into the Northern United States and Southern Canada where they can be seen migrating in large flocks.

Diet and Foraging Habits

Double-crested Cormorants primarily eat fish which they catch by hunting them underwater. They will also eat other aquatic creature such as crustaceans and amphibians.

Where to Find This Bird

Double-crested Cormorants can be found in a variety of places with all of them usually being near bodies of water. Look for this species in trees lining lakes and ponds as well as in marshes. Often times, Double-crested Cormorants will congregate in large groups on islands or other places with adequate perches as they dry their wings and survey for prey.

Neotropic Cormorant

Neotropic Cormorant – Photo by Alan Schmierer
Identification

Neotropic Cormorants are small members of the cormorant family. Adult birds are a shiny black color with white feathers on their head, back, and wings. They have a white triangle on the base of the bill known as a gular. Neotropic Cormorants have yellowish orange on the base of the bill and a turquoise colored eye. Juveniles are lighter in color overall, sporting brown coloration instead of black.

Range

Neotropic Cormorants live year-round in South America, Central America, much of Mexico, and the Gulf Coast of the United States. While much of the population is not migratory, some birds move north in spring and have a habit of turning up north of their normal range.

Diet and Foraging Habits

Neotropic Cormorants eat mostly fish, but will also consume insects, crustaceans, and amphibians. These birds are sight feeders and search for prey underwater where their streamlined bodies make them adept swimmers.

Where to Find This Bird

Neotropic Cormorants live in a wide variety of places including inland lakes, saltmarshes, and along ocean coastlines. They can often be seen perched in branches and other structures near water keeping watch for food.

For information on how to differentiate a Double-crested Cormorant from a Neotropic Cormorant click here to read an article on the subject or check out the video below.

Neotropic vs. Double-crested Cormorant

Birds that are Similar to Cormorants

There is one North American bird species that technically is not a cormorant, but is similar enough to include it on the list.

Anhinga

Anhinga
Identification

Anhingas look extremely similar to cormorants with a long snake-like neck and a long pointed bill. They have longer tails than most cormorant species and show white on their wings. Overall, Anhingas are dark colored with dark brown to black bodies and lighter colored necks.

Range

Anhingas are year-round residents of the northern half of South America, the coasts of Central America and Mexico, and the southeastern coast of the continental United States. In summer, they move farther north and have a tendency to move pretty far north into the eastern United States.

Diet and Foraging Habits

Anhingas primarily feed on fish which they actively hunt for underwater and spear with their sharp, pointed bill. They will also eat crustaceans and other small invertebrates.

Where to Find This Bird

Anhingas can be found in areas with slow moving freshwater such as marshes, bayous, and general wetlands. Look for them drying their wings on perches or swimming in the water, sitting low mostly with just their head and neck above the waters surface.

Summary

Cormorants are unique, lanky birds that are a common sight near the water. Knowing the habits, range, and key identification features of each of these species can be incredibly useful in knowing what to look for in the field.

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