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Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Gila Woodpecker


The Gila Woodpecker (Melanerpes uropygialis) is a medium-sized woodpecker of the desert regions of the southwestern United States. They range through southeastern California, southern Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico.

he back and wings of this bird are spotted and barred with a black and white zebra-like pattern. The neck, throat, belly and head are greyish-tan in color. The male has a small red cap on the top of the head. Females and juveniles are similar, but both lack the red cap of the adult male. White wing patches are prominent in flight. The dark tail has white bars on the central tail feathers. They range from 8-10 in (20-25 cm) in length.

This woodpecker's habitat consists of low desert scrub typical of the Sonoran desert. They build nests in holes made in saguaro cacti or mesquite trees. There, they typically lay 3-5 white eggs.

This woodpecker's voice is a rolling churr sound.

Cardinal


The Cardinals or Cardinalidae are a family of passerine birds found in North and South America.

These are robust, seed-eating birds, with strong bills. They are typically associated with open woodland. The sexes usually have distinctive appearances; the family is named for the red plumage (like that of a Catholic cardinal's vestments) of males of the type species, the Northern Cardinal.

The “buntings” in this family are sometimes generically known as “tropical buntings” (though not all live in the tropics) or “North American buntings” (though there are other buntings in North America) to distinguish them from the true buntings. Likewise the grosbeaks in this family are sometimes called “cardinal-grosbeaks” to distinguish them from other grosbeaks. The name “cardinal-grosbeak” can also apply to this family as a whole.

Cardinals mate in early spring. Their nests are loosely woven in tall bushes such as honeysuckle and rose. Their diet includes seeds and small berries.

American Goldfinch


The American Goldfinch is a small finch, 11–13 centimeters (4–5 in) in length, with a wingspan of 19–22 centimeters (7–9 in). It weighs between 11–20 grams (0.39–0.71 oz).[8] The beak is small, conical, and pink for most of the year, though it turns bright orange with the spring molt in both sexes.[9] The shape and size of the beak are a result of adaptation, to aid in the extraction of seeds from the seed heads of thistles, sunflowers, and the other plants which make up its diet.

The American Goldfinch undergoes a molt in the spring and fall. The sexual dimorphism displayed in plumage coloration is especially pronounced after the spring molt, when the bright color of the male's summer plumage is needed to attract a mate.[10] It is the only cardueline finch to undergo a complete molt; other finches change plumage color by the gradual wearing-down of the feathers.[11] In each molt, it sheds all but the wing and tail feathers, which are dark olive in the female and black in the male. The markings on these feathers remain identical through each molt, with large white bars on the wings, and white feathers at the edges of the short, notched tail.

Once the spring molt is completed, the body of the male is a brilliant lemon yellow, a color produced by carotenoid pigments from plant materials in its diet,[12] with a striking jet black cap and white rump that is visible during flight.[13] The female is an olive yellow, with a yellow bib.[11] After the fall molt, the bright summer feathers are replaced with duller plumage. The goldfinch becomes buff below and olive-brown above, with a pale yellow face and bib. The fall plumage is almost identical in both sexes; the only markings which differentiate the sexes are the yellow shoulder patches of the male.[14] In some winter ranges, the goldfinches lose all traces of yellow, becoming a predominantly medium tan-gray color with an olive tinge evident only on close viewing.

The immature American Goldfinch is colored differently from the adult during its first fall and winter. The back is dull brown, and the underside is pale yellow. The shoulders and tail are dull black with buff-colored, rather than white, markings on wings and rump. This coloration is the same in both genders.

The song of the American Goldfinch is a series of musical warbles and twitters, often with a long note. A tsee-tsi-tsi-tsit call is often given in flight; it may also be described as per-chic-o-ree.[9] While the female incubates the eggs, she calls her returning mate with a soft continuous teeteeteeteete sound. The young begin to use a call of chick-kee or chick-wee shortly before fledging, which they use until they have left the nest entirely.[10] There are two defense calls made by adults during nesting; a sweeet call made to rally other goldfinches to the nest and distract predators, and a bearbee used to signal to the nestlings to quiet them and get them to crouch down in the nest (to become less conspicuous).

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Bluebird


Bluebirds are territorial, prefer open grassland with scattered trees and are cavity nesters (similar to many species of woodpecker). Bluebirds can typically produce between two to four broods during the spring and summer (March through August in the Northeastern United States). Males identify potential nest sites and try to attract prospective female mates to those nesting sites with special behaviors that include singing and flapping wings, and then placing some material in a nesting box or cavity. If the female accepts the male and the nesting site she alone builds the nest and incubates the eggs.

Predators of young in the nests can include snakes, cats and raccoons. Non-native bird species competing with bluebirds for nesting locations include the Common Starling and House Sparrow, both of which kill adult bluebirds sitting on their nests along with the young and eggs in order to claim the nesting site.

Bluebirds are attracted to platform bird feeders, filled with grubs of the darkling beetle, sold by many online bird product wholesalers as mealworms. Bluebirds will also eat raisins soaked in water. In addition, in winter bluebirds use backyard heated birdbaths.

Bluebird numbers declined by estimates ranging to 70% in the 1970s due to a decline in habitat. However, in late 2005 Cornell University's Lab of Ornithology reported bluebird sightings at many locations in the southern U.S. as part of its yearly Backyard Bird Count, a strong indication of the bluebird's return to the region.

Northern Cardinal


The Northern Cardinal is a mid-sized songbird with a body length of 8.3 to 9 inches (21-23 cm) and a wingspan of 10-12 in (25-31 cm). It weighs about 1.6 ounces (45 g). Males are slightly larger than females.

The male is a brilliant crimson red with a black face mask over the eyes and extending to the upper chest. Females are a fawn color, with mostly grayish-brown tones and a slight reddish tint in the wings and tail feathers. The face mask of the female is gray to black, and is less defined than that of the male. Both sexes possess prominent raised crests and strong bright coral-colored beaks. Young birds, both male and female, show the coloring of the adult female until the fall, when they will molt and grow their adult feathers.

Male American Goldfinch

American Goldfinch: Male is a small, noisy finch with a bright yellow body, black cap, wings, and tail, and white rump and undertail coverts. Wings have flashy white patches and bright yellow shoulder bar. Bill is pink and conical. Female is duller with olive back and lacks black cap and yellow shoulder bars. Winter male has olive-gray to olive-brown upperparts, paler underparts, yellow shoulder bar, white wing bar, dark bill, and may show black on forehead and yellow on throat and face. Winter female is duller with buff wing and shoulder bars, and lacks yellow and black on face and head. Juvenile resembles winter female but has yellow wash on throat and breast.