All Photos posted on this blog unless otherwise noted were taken by me with my Canon Rebel XTI using a 300 mm zoom lens

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Yellowlegs, January 2012 Bird of the Month

Greater Yellowlegs
It is Winter here in Northern Utah and most of the Shore Birds have moved on to warmer climates, but one shore bird remains throughout the winter months, the Yellowlegs. But wait there are two species of Yellowlegs the Lesser and the Greater Yellowlegs. The challenge is to identify which is which.

Of course they both have long yellow legs for which they are named, their markings are almost identical, so how do you tell the difference? If you are lucky enough to see a Greater and Lesser together side by side you can see the Greater Yellowlegs are slightly bigger, but there are other markings that help ID Greater and Lesser yellowlegs.
Lesser Yellowlegs
Lesser Yellowlegs The length of the bill is the same as the width of the head, Greater Yellowlegs the bill is longer than the width of the head. Lesser Yellowlegs have an all dark bill while the non-breeding bill of the Greater Yellowlegs is lighter gray at the base.
Lesser Yellowlegs have a straight pointed bill.
Greater Yellowlegs have a slightly upturned bill that is more blunt.

Lesser Yellowlegs breed in open boreal forest with scattered shallow wetlands. Winters in wide variety of shallow fresh and saltwater habitats.

Greater Yellowlegs breed in muskeg, wet bogs with small wooded islands, and forests (usually coniferous) with abundant clearings. Winters in wide variety of shallow fresh and saltwater habitats.

Both actively feed wading in shallows foraging for aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates, particularly flies and beetles. Occasionally small fish and seeds.

Greater Yellowlegs with Winter Plumage American Avocets
Lesser Yellowlegs with Long-billed Dowitchers
Both Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs are found throughout most of North, Central and South America.

Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs are my pick for Birds of the Month for January 2012

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Redhead Duck, December 2011 Bird of the Month

The Redhead Duck is my pick for Bird of the Month for December. The Redhead is a permanent resident of the Great Salt Lake Wetlands and is one of the most abundant waterfowl of the area. Redheads can be seen during the winter months and they also nest in the wetlands of the Great Salt Lake.
Male Redhead Duck is a beautiful duck, Chestnut red head, gold eyes, black breast and rump, gray wings, steel blue bill with a black tip. 
The Canvasback is similar in appearance to the Redhead with a chestnut red head, black breast and rump, but the Canvasback has red eyes a sloped forehead, slanted black bill and black face. The back of the Canvasback is much lighter canvas color than the gray back of the Redhead. 
Both Redheads and Canvasbacks are Diving Ducks.

Redheads are parasitical nesters often laying their eggs in the nest of other ducks letting other species set the eggs and raise their young.
A strikingly beautiful duck and one I am always excited to see, the Redhead is my choice of December 2011 Bird of the Month

Backyard Birds

Cedar Waxwing
This morning I noticed more than usual activity in my yard, most of my trees and bushes were bustling. There was a large flock of Cedar Waxwings, moving about the shrubbery in my yard. There were Juncos, Robins, Scrub Jays, Flickers and House Sparrows. I noticed that the Waxwings and Robins were feasting on the berries of my Juniper tree. I took some pictures none are great because I had to take them from my kitchen window. I had great fun watching the bird activity this morning here are a few pictures.

American Robin
Female Oregon Dark-eyed Junco
Western Scrub Jay
Cedar Waxwing
Cedar Waxwings drinking water from the melting snow on the roof of my neighbors shed
Waxwings eating Juniper Berries
Cedar Waxwing
Another Waxwing you can see the red waxy buds on his wings that give this bird it's name
Male Oregon Dark-eyed Junco