Tag Archives: Bird Identification

Swans of Maine (2 Species to Know)

Swans are iconic birds known for their elegance and grace. There are 7 difference species of swans in the world, and only 3 species that breed in North America. Two of these three species can be found in Maine. Here is everything you need to know about these species.

Tundra Swan (Rare)

Tundra Swan (Michael Schramm/USFWS)
Identification

Adult Tundra Swans are bright white birds with a black bill extending to the eyes. Their legs are black. They can be differentiated from Trumpeter Swans by having a more slender head and “u-shaped forehead when looking at it head on, compared to a more “V-shaped” forehead and bell-shaped head of the Trumpeter Swan. Tundra Swans will sometimes have yellow markings on their bill, but these should not be used as a sole identification marker since Trumpeter Swans and other swan species can have these as well.

Range

Tundra Swans winter in eastern and western North America and migrate through northern North America to their breeding grounds in the far north.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Tundra Swans feed mostly on aquatic vegetation such as roots and stems of aquatic plants, as well as seeds, algae, and grains. They can often be seen with their heads underwater and backsides up as they feed.

Where to Find this Bird

Look for Tundra Swans in or near water, in marshes, or in open or grassy fields, often in massive flocks during migration. They can also be found in mixed flocks with other swan species.

Mute Swan

Mute Swan
Identification

Mute Swans are large white birds with a long neck, black legs, orange bill, and black knob on the forehead.

Range

Mute Swans are native to Europe and Asia but have been introduced into parts of North America. Certain populations breed in North America while other individuals may be escaped pets or farm birds.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Mute Swans feed on aquatic vegetation, mussels, worms, small fish, frogs, and other small vertebrates.

Where to Find this Bird

Mute Swans are normally seen as individual birds or in pairs and tower over smaller geese species. They can be found in marshes, open water lakes, or small urban ponds.

Summary

Swans are certainly impressive and elegant birds. Knowing which swans are likely in your state can be a major help when observing them in the field. Have you seen any of these swans before? Let us know in the comments below, and we hope you found this information helpful!

Be sure to check out the Badgerland Birding YouTube channel for videos on all things bird related.

Swans of Minnesota (3 Species to Know)

Swans are iconic birds known for their elegance and grace. There are 7 difference species of swans in the world, and only 3 species that breed in North America. All three species can be found in Minnesota annually. Here is everything you need to know about these species.

Trumpeter Swan

Trumpeter Swan
Identification

Adult Trumpeter Swans are bright white birds with a black bill extending to the eyes. Their legs are black. They can be differentiated from Tundra Swans by having a more bell-shaped head, and a more “V-shaped” forehead when looking at the bird head on, compared to the “u-shaped” forehead of the Tundra Swan.

Range

Trumpeter Swans are common year-round in select areas of North America and have a spotty wintering distribution that moves north in the summer to parts of northern North America.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Trumpeter Swans feed mostly on aquatic vegetation such as roots and stems of aquatic plants. They can often be seen with their heads underwater and backsides up as they feed.

Where to Find this Bird

Look for Trumpeter Swans in or near water, in marshes, or in open or grassy fields, often in large flocks. They can also be found in mixed flocks with other swan species.

Tundra Swan

Tundra Swan (Michael Schramm/USFWS)
Identification

Adult Tundra Swans are bright white birds with a black bill extending to the eyes. Their legs are black. They can be differentiated from Trumpeter Swans by having a more slender head and “u-shaped forehead when looking at it head on, compared to a more “V-shaped” forehead and bell-shaped head of the Trumpeter Swan. Tundra Swans will sometimes have yellow markings on their bill, but these should not be used as a sole identification marker since Trumpeter Swans and other swan species can have these as well.

Range

Tundra Swans winter in eastern and western North America and migrate through northern North America to their breeding grounds in the far north.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Tundra Swans feed mostly on aquatic vegetation such as roots and stems of aquatic plants, as well as seeds, algae, and grains. They can often be seen with their heads underwater and backsides up as they feed.

Where to Find this Bird

Look for Tundra Swans in or near water, in marshes, or in open or grassy fields, often in massive flocks during migration. They can also be found in mixed flocks with other swan species.

Mute Swan

Mute Swan
Identification

Mute Swans are large white birds with a long neck, black legs, orange bill, and black knob on the forehead.

Range

Mute Swans are native to Europe and Asia but have been introduced into parts of North America. Certain populations breed in North America while other individuals may be escaped pets or farm birds.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Mute Swans feed on aquatic vegetation, mussels, worms, small fish, frogs, and other small vertebrates.

Where to Find this Bird

Mute Swans are normally seen as individual birds or in pairs and tower over smaller geese species. They can be found in marshes, open water lakes, or small urban ponds.

Summary

Swans are certainly impressive and elegant birds. Knowing which swans are likely in your state can be a major help when observing them in the field. Have you seen any of these swans before? Let us know in the comments below, and we hope you found this information helpful!

Be sure to check out the Badgerland Birding YouTube channel for videos on all things bird related.

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!

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!

Shrikes of Connecticut (2 Species)

Shrikes are unique in that they are predatory songbirds with a hooked bill, and cheery call. Nicknamed “Butcher Birds”, shrikes will hang their prey from thorns or barbed wire fences. There are two species of shrikes that can be found in Connecticut (one significantly rarer than the other), and they both look similar with a few noticeable differences.

Northern Shrike

Northern Shrike
Northern Shrike
Identification

Northern Shrikes look similar to Loggerhead Shrikes, with a gray back, white stomach, black mask, and black and white wings and tail. However, an adult Northern Shrike will have a thinner black mask, and a barred stomach, as opposed to a clean white stomach.

Click here for more information about how to tell Northern Shrikes and Loggerhead Shrikes apart

Range

The Northern Shrike has some year-round range in Alaska, but mostly lives in Northern North America in summer and migrates down to the Northern and Central United States in winter.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Northern Shrikes feed mostly on insects and small vertebrates, but will sometimes also eat carrion. Although they do not have talons, Shrikes will use different tactics to kill their prey, including driving it into the ground or using their hooked bill. Once dead, Shrikes will sometimes wedge the prey onto a thorn or wire.

Where to Find this Bird

Northern Shrikes are almost exclusively found in Indiana in winter. They can be found in edge habitat with open landscape nearby, and ample perches, whether manmade or natural.

Watch us search for a Northern Shrike in winter

Loggerhead Shrike (Rare)

Loggerhead Shrike
Loggerhead Shrike
Identification

The Loggerhead Shrike is a gray bird with a thick, black mask, hooked black bill, gray body, clean white stomach, black and white wings, and black tail feathers. They look similar to the Northern Shrikes, but adults will have a thicker black mask and a clean white stomach, as opposed to the barred stomach of the Northern Shrike. Loggerhead Shrikes also have a more head-heavy appearance.

Watch us search for and find a Loggerhead Shrike in Texas
Range

Loggerhead Shrikes can be found year-round in many parts of Southern North America, and move further north in their breeding season, going as far as parts of Southern Canada. During their nonbreeding season, some individuals may expand further south into areas where they are not normally found year-round.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Loggerhead Shrikes feed mostly on insects, reptiles, amphibians, small mammals, and birds, but they will also eat organisms that are already dead such as roadkill.

Where to Find this Bird

Look for Loggerhead Shrikes in open areas that also have isolated perching structures such as low trees, shrubs, or fences.

Listen to the Loggerhead Shrike Call – Jonathan Jongsma (CC by 3.0)
A juvenile Loggerhead Shrike (Bill Grossmeyer photo)

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

Vultures of Maryland (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 Maryland. 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

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!

Vultures of Missouri (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 Missouri. 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

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!

Swans of Virginia (3 Species to Know)

Swans are iconic birds known for their elegance and grace. There are 7 difference species of swans in the world, and only 3 species that breed in North America. All three species can be found in Virginia annually. Here is everything you need to know about these species.

Trumpeter Swan

Trumpeter Swan
Identification

Adult Trumpeter Swans are bright white birds with a black bill extending to the eyes. Their legs are black. They can be differentiated from Tundra Swans by having a more bell-shaped head, and a more “V-shaped” forehead when looking at the bird head on, compared to the “u-shaped” forehead of the Tundra Swan.

Range

Trumpeter Swans are common year-round in select areas of North America and have a spotty wintering distribution that moves north in the summer to parts of northern North America.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Trumpeter Swans feed mostly on aquatic vegetation such as roots and stems of aquatic plants. They can often be seen with their heads underwater and backsides up as they feed.

Where to Find this Bird

Look for Trumpeter Swans in or near water, in marshes, or in open or grassy fields, often in large flocks. They can also be found in mixed flocks with other swan species.

Tundra Swan

Tundra Swan (Michael Schramm/USFWS)
Identification

Adult Tundra Swans are bright white birds with a black bill extending to the eyes. Their legs are black. They can be differentiated from Trumpeter Swans by having a more slender head and “u-shaped forehead when looking at it head on, compared to a more “V-shaped” forehead and bell-shaped head of the Trumpeter Swan. Tundra Swans will sometimes have yellow markings on their bill, but these should not be used as a sole identification marker since Trumpeter Swans and other swan species can have these as well.

Range

Tundra Swans winter in eastern and western North America and migrate through northern North America to their breeding grounds in the far north.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Tundra Swans feed mostly on aquatic vegetation such as roots and stems of aquatic plants, as well as seeds, algae, and grains. They can often be seen with their heads underwater and backsides up as they feed.

Where to Find this Bird

Look for Tundra Swans in or near water, in marshes, or in open or grassy fields, often in massive flocks during migration. They can also be found in mixed flocks with other swan species.

Mute Swan

Mute Swan
Identification

Mute Swans are large white birds with a long neck, black legs, orange bill, and black knob on the forehead.

Range

Mute Swans are native to Europe and Asia but have been introduced into parts of North America. Certain populations breed in North America while other individuals may be escaped pets or farm birds.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Mute Swans feed on aquatic vegetation, mussels, worms, small fish, frogs, and other small vertebrates.

Where to Find this Bird

Mute Swans are normally seen as individual birds or in pairs and tower over smaller geese species. They can be found in marshes, open water lakes, or small urban ponds.

Summary

Swans are certainly impressive and elegant birds. Knowing which swans are likely in your state can be a major help when observing them in the field. Have you seen any of these swans before? Let us know in the comments below, and we hope you found this information helpful!

Be sure to check out the Badgerland Birding YouTube channel for videos on all things bird related.

Vultures of Connecticut (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 Connecticut. 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

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!

Shrikes of Ohio (2 Species)

Shrikes are unique in that they are predatory songbirds with a hooked bill, and cheery call. Nicknamed “Butcher Birds”, shrikes will hang their prey from thorns or barbed wire fences. There are two species of shrikes that can be found in Ohio, and they both look similar with a few noticeable differences.

Northern Shrike

Northern Shrike
Northern Shrike
Identification

Northern Shrikes look similar to Loggerhead Shrikes, with a gray back, white stomach, black mask, and black and white wings and tail. However, an adult Northern Shrike will have a thinner black mask, and a barred stomach, as opposed to a clean white stomach.

Click here for more information about how to tell Northern Shrikes and Loggerhead Shrikes apart

Range

The Northern Shrike has some year-round range in Alaska, but mostly lives in Northern North America in summer and migrates down to the Northern and Central United States in winter.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Northern Shrikes feed mostly on insects and small vertebrates, but will sometimes also eat carrion. Although they do not have talons, Shrikes will use different tactics to kill their prey, including driving it into the ground or using their hooked bill. Once dead, Shrikes will sometimes wedge the prey onto a thorn or wire.

Where to Find this Bird

Northern Shrikes are found in Iowa in winter significantly more frequently than in other months. They can be found in edge habitat with open landscape nearby, and ample perches, whether manmade or natural.

Watch us search for a Northern Shrike in winter

Loggerhead Shrike

Loggerhead Shrike
Loggerhead Shrike
Identification

The Loggerhead Shrike is a gray bird with a thick, black mask, hooked black bill, gray body, clean white stomach, black and white wings, and black tail feathers. They look similar to the Northern Shrikes, but adults will have a thicker black mask and a clean white stomach, as opposed to the barred stomach of the Northern Shrike. Loggerhead Shrikes also have a more head-heavy appearance.

Watch us search for and find a Loggerhead Shrike in Texas
Range

Loggerhead Shrikes can be found year-round in many parts of Southern North America, and move further north in their breeding season, going as far as parts of Southern Canada. During their nonbreeding season, some individuals may expand further south into areas where they are not normally found year-round.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Loggerhead Shrikes feed mostly on insects, reptiles, amphibians, small mammals, and birds, but they will also eat organisms that are already dead such as roadkill.

Where to Find this Bird

Look for Loggerhead Shrikes in open areas that also have isolated perching structures such as low trees, shrubs, or fences.

Listen to the Loggerhead Shrike Call – Jonathan Jongsma (CC by 3.0)
A juvenile Loggerhead Shrike (Bill Grossmeyer photo)

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