Sunday, November 18, 2012

Today's Bird: The Common Ground Dove

This whole week, I'm going to be posting birds from a single trip to a single park, Estero Llano Grande in Weslaco, Texas. I'm extremely grateful to live so close to one of the greatest state parks in the country and one of the best hotspots I could imagine. In addition, I'm thankful for the wonderful folks who work and volunteer there including Huck, John, Kyle, Mary and all the desk workers who swipe my pass. You guys make my Saturdays amazing.

Today's bird is the Common Ground Dove.  They live all over the deep, deep south, including the lovely Weslaco, Texas.  They're a bunch smaller than a Rock Pigeon or a White-Wing Dove and they spend mot of their time on the ground (duh) foraging for seeds to eat.  I don't see them every time I'm out, but when I do, I'm always struck by their beautiful color. 

This picture is from Saturday's bird walk--November 17, 2012.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Today's Bird: Sayaca Tanager

Today's bird is the Sayaca Tanager.  The Sayaca Tanager is one of the birds that I only got to see in the lowlands of Bolivia and after that, they disappeared.  These little guys get replaced by birds that look and move similarly at different elevations, but this bird is unique to the lowlands.  They have the same shape and habits as our our tanagers (here's one from a previous post) but better colors, for sure.

This entrepreneurial little guy had figured out how to slip through the chain link fences of the parrot cages at the Santa Cruz Zoo.  He was more than delighted to steal the food from the fancy tropical birds.  I took this picture in Santa Cruz on June 22, 2012.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Today's Bird: Cinnamon Flycatcher

This is a Cinnamon Flycatcher! I liked this bird because the name makes so much sense.  South American birds are usually named for what they are (like the Black-Capped Warbling Finch) but even then I still get a bit confused.  What is a warbling finch, exactly?  Anyway, unlike those, this name is really obvious.  The bird is structured like most of the flycatchers I'm used to seeing around back home.  And as for the Cinnamon part, the name appears to be a perfect fit.

I took this picture along a dirt road somewhere in Bolivia...probably a couple hours outside Cochabamba on June 28, 2012.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Today's Bird: Spotted Sandpiper

Today's bird is the Spotted Sandpiper.  They're pretty common in marshes and wetlands around here.  They're always bobbing their tails and poking around for food in the mud.  I know this bird doesn't look like a Spotted anything, but this fellow (or lady, can't tell) is in the fall plumage, which is actually kind of dull looking.  You can tell Spotted Sandpipers apart from semi-similar birds by checking out the yellow legs, white notch on the flank and the black and white eyebrow stripe.

They live all over the United States, so check out your local wetland.  This one happened to be at Santa Anna National Wildlife Refuge on November 5, 2012.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Today's Bird: The American Kestrel

Happy Hundredth Blog Post!  Today's bird is one of my favorite birds ever, the American Kestrel.  The Kestrel is a type of Falcon--it's a smaller, sleeker bird of prey.  Coming in at only about 9 inches, it's pretty small.  I think I like them so much because they're so colorful and they're so intense looking. The nice colors on this one make him particularly attractive--he's a full grown, adult male.

I took this picture at Delta Lake in Edcouch on October 28, 2012.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Today's Bird: Snowy Egret

Today's bird is the Snowy Egret.  Snowy Egrets are everywhere around here.  I see them flapping their wings over the expressway all the time.  They're in your canals, in the local ponds (hide your kids, hide your wife?)

Anyway, my favorite feature of these waders is the big, yellow feet.  It's like they're wearing socks.  Nice, fashionable look!  I took this picture at Delta Lake in Edcouch, Texas on November 4, 2012.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Today's Bird: Summer Tanager

Today's bird is the Summer Tanager!  Summer tanagers live mostly in the southeastern United States with a little bit of overlap inthe New Mexico and Arizona.  During migrations, they often pass through and a few sometimes even spend the winter here in the RGV.  I think they're pretty awesome looking: the boys are fire-engine red like this one and the girls are a lovely yellow.  You can tell the apart from other birds that may look or move similarly because of the big, thick bill.

I took this picture on October 8, 2012 at the Sheepshead lots on South Padre Island.