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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Major Mitchell Cockatoo

The Major Mitchell's Cockatoo, Lophocroa leadbeateri also known as Leadbeater's Cockatoo or Pink Cockatoo is a medium-sized cockatoo restricted to arid and semi-arid inland areas of Australia. It was usually placed in the genus Cacatua in recent times, but all available evidence suggests that placement of this species in a monotypic genus, Lophocroa is advocated (Brown & Toft, 1999).

With its soft-textured white and salmon-pink plumage and large, bright red and yellow crest, it is generally recognised as the most beautiful of all cockatoos. It is named in honour of Major Sir Thomas Mitchell, who wrote "Few birds more enliven the monotonous hues of the Australian forest than this beautiful species whose pink-coloured wings and flowing crest might have embellished the air of a more voluptuous region".

Female Orchard Oriole, Rio Grande Valley, Texas

The Orchard Oriole, Icterus spurius, is the smallest species of icterid blackbird at 6.3 inches (16 cm) long and a weight of 20 g. The specific name spurius refers to the original misidentification of the male as a female Baltimore Oriole. These birds are sometimes mistakenly identified as New World warblers.

The adult has a pointed bill and white wing bars. The adult male is chestnut on the underparts, shoulder and rump, with the rest of the plumage being black. One-year males are yellow with a black bib. The adult female is olive-green on the upper parts, yellowish on the breast and belly.

The breeding habitat is semi-open areas with deciduous trees across eastern North America south to central Mexico, often near water. The nest is a tightly woven pouch attached to a fork on a horizontal branch. In some parts of their range, they may nest in small colonies.

These birds migrate in flocks for wintering from central Mexico south through Central America to northern Colombia and northwestern Venezuela. In the Caribbean, they can often be found on the Bahamas, Cuba, Cayman Islands, Jamaica and the Turks and Caicos Islands.

They forage in trees and shrubs, also making short flights to catch insects and feed from flowers. These birds mainly eat insects, particular fruit[1] and nectar, and also other plantstuff.

Snowy Egret in Breeding Plumage, Florida

The Snowy Egret (Egretta thula) is a small white heron. It is the American counterpart to the very similar Old World Little Egret, which has established a foothold in the Bahamas.

Adults are typically 61 cm long and weigh 375 g. They have a slim black bill and long black legs with yellow feet. The area of the upper bill, in front of the eyes, is yellow but turns red during the breeding season, when the adults also gain recurved plumes on the back, making for a "shaggy" effect. The juvenile looks similar to the adult, but the base of the bill is paler, and a green or yellow line runs down the back of the legs.

Their breeding habitat is large inland and coastal wetlands from the lower Great Lakes and southwestern United States to South America. The breeding range in eastern North America extends along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts from Maine to Texas, and inland along major rivers and lakes. They nest in colonies, often with other waders, usually on platforms of sticks in trees or shrubs. Their flat, shallow nests are made of sticks and lined with fine twigs and rushes. Three to four greenish-blue, oval eggs are incubated by both adults. The young leave the nest in 20 to 25 days and hop about on branches near the nest before finally departing.

In warmer locations, some Snowy Egret are permanent residents; northern populations migrate to Central America and the West Indies. They may wander north after the breeding season, very rarely venturing to western Europe—the first bird sighted in Britain wintered in Scotland from 2001–2002.