Alderleaf Commons: Forum & Online Community
Identify the species and answer the associated questions.
1) Who? What species might it be confused with?
2) Who? What does the molt pattern tell you about this bird and the time of year?
3) Who? What is pretty unique about their tracks?
4) Who? Name as many species as you can.
8) Who? What advantage are the feet being so far back on the body? What disadvantage?
9) Who? What is it searching for?
10) Who? What gender?
1. Cooper's Hawk. It has a dark crown with lighter colored feathers on the neck and the tail is rounded. Very similar to the Sharp-shinned Hawk.
2. Forster's Tern. I believe it's spring since the underbelly is white signifying breeding season.
3. Clay-colored Sparrow. Not sure what makes their tracks unique. Really Long Toe 1?
4. Great Egret. Other species in the pic are American Wigeon, Green-winged Teal, Common Merganser, Snowy Egret.
5. Ring-billed Gull
6. Little Blue Heron
7. Loggerhead Shrike
8. Eared Grebe. Advantage to having the feet far back is that it can swim upright. I'd imagine the disadvantage would be takeoff would be difficult.
9. Long-billed Curlew. It's looking for anything burrowing in the sand (insects, crabs, worms etc)
10. Male Mallard
Nice work, Gabe!
2) Yes, it is indeed a Forster's tern. The black eye mark, black bill and slightly darker gray primaries are all signs of a non-breeding adult. This is general considered "winter plumage" for adults, though that really means anytime between (Aug.- Feb.). Breeding birds have a black cap, red bill with black tip and bright red legs. Primaries are white.
3) This bird is actually a Horned Lark. It is puffed up like that because although this was taken in a very arid area of CA, it was 28 degrees out!
4) You got them all. I did not notice till now that there is a really blurry pintail facing away from the camera in the upper right.
5) Got it.
6) This is a reddish egret, which is a very rare West Coast visitor. This and several others spotted along the southern CA coast have made a huge wave of excitement among birders. These birds are considered vagrants, but I have heard some rumors that they might be breeding now. Their native range in the USA is largely restricted to the coastal wetlands of the extreme SE regions...
7) Nailed it.. no pun intended.
8) Correct. Legs and feet further back on the body are definitely advantageous in water for better stream-lining and propulsion. On land, they are very poor for moving around. And as you pointed out, not helpful in taking off from the water!
10) Got it!