Pine Nursery Park Wildlife Field Guide

January 13, 2018 | Author: Anonymous | Category: Science, Biology, Zoology, Entomology
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Pine Nursery Park Bird Field Guide

Contents 1. Swans, Geese and Ducks 2. Game Birds 3. Vultures and Diurnal Raptors 4. Shorebirds 5. Pigeons and Doves 6. Owls 7. Hummingbirds 8. Woodpeckers 9. Jays, Crows and Ravens 10. Swallows 11. Chickadees 12. Nuthatches 13. Thrushes 14. Sparrows 15. Blackbirds 16. Finches and Old World Sparrows

Swans, Geese and Ducks

Pigeons and Doves

Game Birds


Vultures and Diurnal Raptors




Jays, Crows and Ravens







Finches and Old World Sparrows







Small animals



Open woodland









Canada Goose Branta canadensis Canada Geese have a black head with white cheeks and chinstrap, long black neck, tan breast , brown back, large webbed feet and flat bill. They feed by dabbling in the water or grazing in fields and on large lawns. In spring and summer, geese concentrate their feeding on grasses and sedges, including skunk cabbage leaves and eelgrass. During fall and winter, they rely more on berries and seeds, including agricultural grains, and seem especially fond of blueberries. They are often seen in flight moving in pairs or flocks; flocks often assume a V formation.

Mallard Anas platyrhynchos Male Mallards have a dark, iridescent-green head and bright yellow bill. The gray body is sandwiched between a brown breast and black rear. Females and juveniles are mottled brown with orange-and-brown bills. Both sexes have a white-bordered, blue “speculum” patch in the wing. Mallards are “dabbling ducks”—they feed in the water by tipping forward and grazing on underwater plants. They almost never dive. They also roam around on the shore and pick at vegetation and prey on the ground. During the breeding season, they eat mainly animal matter including aquatic insect larvae, earthworms, snails and freshwater shrimp.

Calfornia Quail Callipepla californica California Quail are plump, short-necked game birds with a small head and bill. They fly on short, very broad wings. The tail is long and square. Both sexes have a comma-shaped topknot of feathers, longer in males than females. Adult males are rich gray and brown, with a black face outlined with bold white stripes. Females are a plainer brown and lack the facial markings. Both sexes have a pattern of white, creamy, and chestnut scales on the belly. Young birds look like females but have a shorter topknot. California Quail spend most of their time on the ground, walking and scratching in search of food. In morning and evening they forage beneath shrubs or on open ground near cover. They usually travel in groups called coveys. Their flight is explosive but lasts just long enough to reach cover.

Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura Turkey Vultures have long "fingers" at their wingtips and long tails. They appear black from a distance but up close are dark brown with a featherless red head and pale bill. While most of their body and forewing are dark, the undersides of the flight feathers (along the trailing edge and wingtips) are paler, giving a two-toned appearance. Turkey Vultures are majestic but unsteady soarers. Their teetering flight with very few wingbeats is characteristic. Look for them gliding relatively low to the ground, sniffing for carrion, or else riding thermals up to higher vantage points. They may soar in small groups and roost in larger numbers. You may also see them on the ground in small groups, huddled around roadkill or dumpsters.

Red-tailed Hawk Buteo jamaicensis Most Red-tailed Hawks are rich brown above and pale below, with a streaked belly and, on the wing underside, a dark bar between shoulder and wrist. The tail is usually pale below and cinnamon-red above, though in young birds it’s brown and banded. “Dark-phase” birds are all chocolate-brown with a warm red tail. “Rufous-phase” birds are reddish-brown on the chest with a dark belly. Red-tailed Hawks soar above open fields, slowly turning circles on their broad, rounded wings. Other times you’ll see them atop telephone poles, eyes fixed on the ground to catch the movements of a vole or a rabbit, or simply waiting out cold weather before climbing a thermal updraft into the sky.

Bald Eagle Haliaeetus leucocephalus Adult Bald Eagles have white heads and tails with dark brown bodies and wings. Their legs and bills are bright yellow. Immature birds have mostly dark heads and tails; their brown wings and bodies are mottled with white in varying amounts. Young birds attain adult plumage in about five years. You'll find Bald Eagles soaring high in the sky, flapping low over treetops with slow wingbeats, or perched in trees or on the ground. Bald Eagles scavenge many meals by harassing other birds or by eating carrion or garbage. They eat mainly fish, but also hunt mammals, gulls, and waterfowl.

Osprey Pandion haliaetus Ospreys are brown above and white below, and overall they are whiter than most raptors. From below, the wings are mostly white with a prominent dark patch at the wrists. The head is white with a broad brown stripe through the eye. Juveniles have white spots on the back and buffy shading on the breast. Ospreys search for fish by flying on steady wingbeats or circling high in the sky over relatively shallow water. They often hover briefly before diving, feet first, to grab a fish. Ospreys fly with a marked kink in their wings, making an Mshape when seen from below.

Killdeer Charadrius vociferus Killdeer are brownish-tan on top and white below. The white chest is barred with two black bands, and the brown face is marked with black and white patches. The bright orange-buff rump is conspicuous in flight. When disturbed they break into flight and circle overhead, calling repeatedly. Their flight is rapid, with stiff, intermittent wingbeats. Killdeer are graceful plovers common to lawns, golf courses, athletic fields, and parking lots. These birds run across the ground in spurts, stopping with a jolt every so often to see if they’ve startled up any insect prey. Their voice, a far-carrying, excited kill-deer is a common sound even after dark

Mourning Dove Zenaida macroura Mourning Doves often match their open-country surroundings. They’re delicate brown to buffy-tan overall, with black spots on the wings and black-bordered white tips to the tail feathers. Mourning Doves fly fast on powerful wingbeats, sometimes making sudden ascents, descents, and dodges, their pointed tails stretching behind them.

Great Horned Owl Bubo virginianus Great Horned Owls are large owls with bulky wings, obvious ear tufts and brown facial disc. They are heavily patterned on back, barred on the belly and have glowing yellow or orange eyes. They hunts at night, mostly from perches next to open areas. Broad diet of animals, from small mammals to rabbits, geese, and herons. Some birds, amphibians, reptiles, and invertebrates, but mostly mammals.

Northern Pygmy Owl Glaucidium gnoma This owl has a round white spotted head, weakly defined facial disc, and dark upper breast, wings and tail, the latter quite long compared to other owls. The eyes are yellow and the bill is yellowish-green. The bird has two black nape spots outlined in white on the back of its head, which look like eyes. They swoop down on prey; they may also catch insects in flight. They eat small mammals, birds and large insects.

Rufous Hummingbird Selasphorus rufus The plumage of the male Rufous Hummingbird glows like coals: bright orange on the back and belly, with a vivid iridescent-red throat. Females are green above with rufous-washed flanks, rufous patches in the green tail, and often a spot of orange in the throat. They are pugnacious birds that tirelessly chase away other hummingbirds, even in places they’re only visiting on migration. Like other hummers, they eat insects as well as nectar, taking them from spider webs or catching them in midair.

Northern Flicker Colaptes auratus Flickers appear brownish overall with a white rump patch that’s conspicuous in flight. The undersides of the wing and tail feathers are red, in western birds. With a closer look you’ll see the brown plumage is richly patterned with black spots, bars, and crescents. Only males have a red malar stripe. Northern Flickers spend lots of time on the ground eating ants, and when in trees they’re often perched upright on horizontal branches instead of leaning against their tails on a trunk. They fly in an up-and-down path using heavy flaps interspersed with glides, like many woodpeckers.

Western Scrub-Jay Aphelocoma californica The Western Scru-Jay is blue and gray above, with a pale underside broken up by a blue necklace. In flight it seems underpowered and slow, with bouts of fluttering alternating with glides. Western Scrub-Jays eat mostly insects and fruit during spring and summer, and switch to nuts and seeds during fall and winter. They eat small animals such as lizards and nestling birds, sometimes shadowing adult birds to find their nests. For plant material, scrub-jays eat acorns, pine nuts, juniper berries, and grass seeds; sunflower seeds and peanuts at feeders; as well as cultivated corn, almonds, walnuts, and cherries.

Common Raven Corvus corax Not just large but massive, with a thick neck, shaggy throat feathers, and a huge beak. In flight, ravens have long, wedge-shaped tails unlike the short tail of a crow. They're more slender than crows, with longer, narrower wings, and longer, thinner “fingers” at the wingtips. Common Ravens are entirely black, right down to the legs, eyes, and beak. They aren’t as social as crows; you tend to see them alone or in pairs except at food sources like landfills. Ravens are confident, inquisitive birds that strut around or occasionally bound forward with light, two-footed hops. In flight they are buoyant and graceful, interspersing soaring, gliding, and slow flaps. They will eat almost anything they can get hold of

American Crow Corvus brachyrhynchos American Crows are all black. In flight, the wings are fairly broad and rounded with the wingtip feathers spread like fingers. The short tail is rounded or squared off at the end. American Crows are very social, sometimes forming flocks in the millions. Inquisitive and sometimes mischievous, crows are good learners and problem-solvers, often raiding garbage cans and picking over discarded food containers. They’re also aggressive and often chase away larger birds including hawks, owls and herons. A frequent nest predator, the American Crow eats the eggs and nestlings of many species including sparrows, robins, jays, terns, loons, and eiders.

Violet- green Swallow Tachycineta thalassina Small slender songbird with white underneath and shiny greenish bronze on top. White cheeks extending above the eye is the best way to distinguish this bird from the Tree Swallow. Small bill and long wings. Juvenile sooty gray on back, underparts washed with gray, face dusky. Catches insects in flight. May forage in large flocks. Swallows are acrobatic flyers.

Tree Swallow Tachycineta bicolor White underneath and shiny blue-green on top including around the eyes. Small bill and long wings. Juvenile sooty gray on back, without a trace of blue. Underparts dull white. Dirty brown band across chest. Catches insects in flight and will also eat some berries.

Mountain Chickadee Poecile gambeli Black-and-white on the head, gray elsewhere. The white stripe over the eye identifies Mountain Chickadees from all other chickadees. Active and acrobatic, clinging to small limbs and twigs or hanging upside down from pine cones. In winter, Mountain Chickadees flock with kinglets and nuthatches, with birds following each other one by one from tree to tree.

Red-breasted Nuthatch Sitta canadensis Red-breasted Nuthatches are blue-gray birds with strongly patterned heads: a black cap and stripe through the eye broken up by a white stripe over the eye. The underparts are rich rusty-cinnamon, paler in females. Redbreasted Nuthatches move quickly over trunks and branches probing for finsects in crevices and under flakes of bark. They creep up, down, and sideways and don’t lean against their tail the way woodpeckers do. Flight is short and bouncy.

White-breasted Nuthatch Sitta carolinensis White-breasted Nuthatches are the largest nuthatch species. They are gray-blue on the back, with a frosty white face and underparts. The black or gray cap and neck frame the face and make it look like this bird is wearing a hood. The lower belly and under the tail are often chestnut. They get their common name from their habit of jamming large nuts and acorns into tree bark, then whacking them with their sharp bill to “hatch” out the seed from the inside.

Pygmy Nuthatch Sitta pygmaea This bird has a gray-brown crown, gray back and buffy white belly. The juvenile is similar to the adult, but the crown and nape are gray unlike the brown crowned adult. Note the dark eye-line. Their winter diet consists of insects and seeds, mostly pine seeds. Their summer diet includes mainly insects and spiders. They will eat suet and sunflower seeds at feeders.

Townsend’s Solitaire Myadestes townsendi The Townsend’s Solitaire is a long and slim bird. It is dull gray all over with a white eyering, white outer tail feathers and a buffy wing patch. The juvenile is heavily spotted all over in black, white, and buff. This bird descends in the winter to lower elevations where it feeds almost exclusively on fleshy female cones ("berries") of junipers. It flycatches for flying insects, picks insects off trees and the ground.

Western Bluebird Sialia mexicana Male Western Bluebirds are shiny blue above with rust-orange extending from a vest on the breast onto the upper back. Females are gray-buff with a pale orange wash on the breast and blue tints to the wings and tail. The throat is blue in males and gray-buff in females, and the lower belly is whitish. In summer they hunt for terrestrial insects by dropping to the ground from a low perch. In winter they switch to eating mostly fruits and seeds, supplemented with insects. They typically catch ground-dwelling insects such as grasshoppers, caterpillars, beetles, ants, wasps, and pillbugs, as well as eating spiders and snails. Winter foods include many kinds of berries, particularly elderberry, grapes, mistletoe, raspberries and blackberries, serviceberry, sumac, chokecherries, juniper, and poison oak.

American Robin Turdus migratorius American Robins are gray-brown birds with warm orange underparts and dark heads. In flight, a white patch on the lower belly and under the tail can be conspicuous. Compared with males, females have paler heads that contrast less with the gray. When foraging on the ground, the American Robin runs a few steps, then stops abruptly. In long grass, robins may hop or fly just above the ground powered by slow, powerful wingbeats. Particularly in spring and summer they eat large numbers of earthworms as well as insects and some snails. Robins also eat an enormous variety of fruits, including chokecherries, hawthorn, dogwood, and sumac fruits, and juniper berries.

Dark-eyed Junco Junco hyemalis Juncos are dark gray or brown birds with a pink bill and white outer tail feathers seen in flight. Dark-eyed Juncos are birds of the ground. They hop around the bases of trees and shrubs in forests or venture out onto lawns looking for fallen seeds. You’ll often hear their high chip notes while foraging. Dark-eyed Juncos are primarily seed-eaters, with seeds of chickweed, buckwheat, lamb’s quarters, sorrel, and the like making up about 75% of their year-round diet. During the breeding season, they also eat insects including beetles, moths, butterflies, caterpillars, ants, wasps, and flies.

Brewer’s Blackbird Euphagus cyanocephalus Males are glossy black all over with a staring yellow eye and a blue sheen on the head grading to greenish iridescence on the body. Females are plainer brown, darkest on the wings and tail, with a dark eye. Immature birds look like washed out, lighter-brown versions of the females. Brewer’s Blackbirds feed on open ground or underfoot in parks and busy streets. Their long legs give them a halting walk, head jerking with each step almost like a chicken’s. In flocks, Brewer’s Blackbirds rise and fall as they fly. At landing, birds may circle in a slow fluttering flight before settling. They eat mostly seeds and grains, but like many small birds they also eat lots of insects while they’re plentiful in summer – sometimes catching them in midair, or picking them off the backs of livestock.

House Finch Carpodacus mexicanus Adult males are rosy red around the face and upper breast, with streaky brown back, belly and tail. In flight, the red rump is conspicuous. Adult females aren’t red; they are plain grayish-brown with thick, blurry streaks and an indistinctly marked face. Their flight is bouncy, like many finches. House Finches feed mainly on the ground or at feeders or fruiting trees. At rest, they commonly perch on the highest point available in a tree, and flocks often perch on power lines. House Finches eat almost exclusively plant materials, including seeds, buds and fruits.

American Goldfinch Carduelis tristis Adult males in spring and early summer are bright yellow with black forehead, black wings with white markings, and white patches both above and beneath the tail. Adult females are duller yellow beneath, olive above. Winter birds are drab, unstreaked brown, with blackish wings and two pale wingbars. American Goldfinches are active, acrobatic finches that balance on the seedheads of thistles, dandelions, and other plants to pluck seeds. They have a bouncy flight during which they frequently make their po-tato-chip calls.

House Sparrow Passer domesticus Male House Sparrows are brightly colored birds with gray heads, white cheeks, a black bib, and rufous neck. Females are a plain buffy-brown overall with dingy gray-brown underparts. Their backs are noticeably striped with buff, black, and brown. House Sparrows hop rather than walk on the ground. They are social and feed in crowded flocks. They eat mostly grains and seeds, as well as livestock feed and, in cities, discarded food. In summer, House Sparrows eat insects and feed them to their young. They catch insects in the air, by pouncing on them, or by following lawnmowers or visiting lights at dusk.

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