Rock Pigeons A common sight in cities around the world, Rock Pigeons crowd streets and public squares, living on discarded food and offerings of birdseed. In addition to the typical blue-gray bird with two dark wing bars, you'll often see flocks with plain, spotted, pale, or rusty-red birds in them. Introduced to North America from Europe in the early 1600s, city pigeons nest on buildings and window ledges. In the countryside they also nest on barns and grain towers, under bridges, and on natural cliffs.
Identification Size & Shape Larger and plumper than a Mourning Dove, Rock Pigeons are tubby birds with small heads and short legs. Their wings are broad but pointed wings and the tail is wide and rounded. Color Pattern Variable in color, but most birds are bluish gray with two black bands on the wing and a black tip to the tail. Most birds have iridescent throat feathers. Wing patterns may include two bars, dark spots, or can be plain. The tail is usually dark tipped. Behavior Pigeons often gather in flocks, walking or running on the ground and pecking for food. When alarmed, the flock may suddenly fly into the air and circle several times before coming down again. Habitat Pigeons are familiar birds of cities and towns. You'll also see them around farmland and fields, as well as in their archetypal habitat, rocky cliffs. Nesting Site Nesting Facts Clutch Size 1–3 eggs Number of Broods 1-6 broods Incubation Period 18 days Nestling Period 25–32 days Egg Description White. Condition at Hatching Helpless, with sparse yellow or white down. Nest Description During nest building, the female sits on the nest and makes a flimsy platform of straw, stems, and sticks from materials brought to her one at a time by the male. Pigeons reuse their nests many times, and they don't carry away the feces of their nestlings the way many birds do. This means that over time the lightweight nest grows into a sturdy, pot like mound, sometimes incorporating un-hatched eggs and mummies of dead nestlings. Damage to Roofs by Droppings Bird droppings are very acidic in nature. They actually eat away at many substrates, especially tar-based roofing materials. Droppings which are allowed to accumulate on roofs will eat into the material and eventually cause leaks. The life expectancy of a warehouse roof can be cut in half by just a light, but continuous, application of bird droppings. The accumulation of pigeon droppings caused a gas station canopy to collapse in Arizona in 2008. Bird Damage to Roofs by Nests Pigeon, starling and sparrow nests are often built in rain gutters, drains and corners of roofs where drains are located. Several warehouses every year experience great damage, even collapsed roofs, when drainage systems are blocked and standing water is allowed to rise just six inches. A collapsed roof that resulted in death or great physical damage could put a company out of business. Bird Damage to Machinery Acidic bird droppings can do great damage to air conditioning equipment, industrial machinery, siding, insulation etc. Not only is the equipment being damaged, but workers are exposed to a dangerous health-risk any time they work on or around the machinery. Fires Started by Bird Nests Nesting materials are usually very flammable due to their construction of straw, twigs and dried droppings. When birds build their nests inside electric signs or other machinery there is a great risk of fire. Electric sign companies blame bird nests for most of their sign fires. Ventilation Systems Blocked by Bird Nests Bird nests built in chimneys and ventilation systems can not only spread diseases through the system, but can actually block air-flow which can have horrible consequences. A family of five in Cleveland was killed by carbon monoxide poisoning just before Christmas 1995 because the exhaust system of their fireplace was blocked by bird nests. Automobile Finishes Damaged by Bird Droppings Most bird droppings, but especially pigeon and gull, will fade paint finishes by actually eating into the protective coating and the paint itself. The longer the droppings are allowed to sit on the paint, the more damage it will do. Damage to Food and Other Products by Bird Droppings Birds flying around the insides of warehouses, airplane hangars, factories and convention centers can wreak havoc. Bird droppings can ruin plastics when they are being molded, they can destroy any number of different chemicals and liquids which are being manufactured, they will ruin new and old paint jobs on aircraft, and they can contaminate food which is being made or packaged. These types of ruined products often cost millions of dollars in waste. Droppings and nesting materials on or around a building send a message to the public that this building is not properly maintained. One is forced to wonder how clean a restaurant's kitchen could be if they don't even care about bird droppings dripping down the sign. Collapsed Ceilings Pigeons have been know to enter attics of houses, apartments, restaurants and other buildings through openings that have been either broken or never sealed off in the first place. In most cases the pigeons set up homes in these protected areas, build nests and discard their bodily waste. Often the weight of the droppings becomes so great that the actual ceiling collapses. One would guess that this type of occurrence would be extremely random but it happens with alarming frequency.
Male House Sparrow
House Sparrow You can find House Sparrows most places where there are houses (or other buildings), and few places where there aren’t. Along with two other introduced species, the European Starling and the Rock Pigeon, these are some of our most common birds. Their constant presence outside our doors makes them easy to overlook, and their tendency to displace native birds from nest boxes causes some people to resent them. But House Sparrows, with their capacity to live so intimately with us, are just beneficiaries of our own success.
Measurements: Both Sexes Length: 5.9–6.9 in, 15–17 cm Wingspan: 7.5–9.8 in, 19–25 cm Weight: 1–1 oz, 27–29 g Relative Size: About the size of a Song Sparrow or Dark-eyed Junco, but stockier. History and Cool Fact: The House Sparrow was introduced into Brooklyn, New York, in 1851. By 1900 it had spread to the Rocky Mountains. Two more introductions in the early 1870s, in San Francisco and Salt Lake City, aided the bird’s spread throughout the West. House Sparrows are now common across all of North America except Alaska and far northern Canada. The House Sparrow takes frequent dust baths. It throws soil and dust over its body feathers, just as if it were bathing with water. In doing so, a sparrow may make a small depression in the ground, and sometimes defends this spot against other sparrows. The House Sparrow prefers to nest in man made structures such as eaves or walls of buildings, street lights, and nest boxes instead of in natural nest sites such as holes in trees. Due to its abundance, ease to raise and general lack of fear towards humans, the House Sparrow has proved to be an excellent model organism for many avian biological studies. To date, there have been almost 5,000 scientific papers published with the House Sparrow as the study species. House Sparrows aggressively defend their nest holes. A scientist in 1889 reported cases of House Sparrows attacking 70 different bird species. House Sparrows sometimes evict other birds from nest holes, including Eastern Bluebirds, Purple Martins, and Tree Swallows. House Sparrows in flocks have a pecking order much the way chickens in a farmyard do. You can begin to decipher the standings by paying attention to the black throats of the males. Males with larger patches of black tend to be older and dominant over males with less black. By wearing this information on their feathers, sparrows can avoid some fights and thereby save energy. House Sparrows have been seen stealing food from American Robins and piercing flowers to drain them of nectar. The oldest recorded House Sparrow was 15 years 9 months old. Habitat Town House Sparrows are closely associated with people and their buildings. Look for them in cities, towns, suburbs, and farms (particularly around livestock). You won’t find them in extensive woodlands, forests, or grasslands. In extreme environments such as deserts or the far north, House Sparrows survive only in the immediate vicinity of people. Food: Seeds House Sparrows eat mostly grains and seeds, as well as livestock feed and, in cities, discarded food. Among the crops they eat are corn, oats, wheat, and sorghum. Wild foods include ragweed, crabgrass and other grasses, and buckwheat. House Sparrows readily eat birdseed including millet, milo, and sunflower seeds. Urban birds readily eat commercial bird seed. In summer, House Sparrows eat insects and feed them to their young. They catch insects in the air, by pouncing on them, or by following lawnmowers or visiting lights at dusk. Nesting Facts Clutch Size 1–8 eggs Number of Broods 1-4 broods Egg Length 0.8–0.9 in 2–2.2 cm Egg Width 0.6–0.6 in 1.4–1.6 cm Incubation Period 10–14 days
Nestling Period 10–14 days Egg Description Light white to greenish white or bluish white, usually spotted with gray or brown. Condition at Hatching. Entirely naked upon hatching with bright pink skin, eyes closed, clumsy. Nest Description House Sparrow nests are made of coarse dried vegetation, often stuffed into the hole until it’s nearly filled. The birds then use finer material, including feathers, string, and paper, for the lining. House Sparrows sometimes build nests next to each other, and these neighboring nests can share walls. House Sparrows often reuse their nests. Nest Placement: Cavity House Sparrows nest in holes of buildings and other structures such as streetlights, gas-station roofs, signs, and the overhanging fixtures that hold traffic lights. They sometimes build nests in vines climbing the walls of buildings. House Sparrows are strong competitors for nest boxes, too, at times displacing the species the nest box was intended for, such as bluebirds and Tree Swallows. House Sparrows nest in holes in trees somewhat less often. Behavior: Ground Forager House Sparrows hop rather than walk on the ground. They are social, feeding in crowded flocks and squabbling over crumbs or seeds on the ground. House Sparrows are a common sight at bird feeders; you may also see them bathing in street-side puddles or dust bathing on open ground, ruffling their feathers and flicking water or dust over themselves with similar motions. From living in such close company, House Sparrows have developed many ways of indicating dominance and submission. Nervous birds flick their tails. Aggravated birds crouch with the body horizontal, shove their head forward and partially spread and roll forward their wings, and hold the tail erect. This can intensify to a display with wings lifted, crown and throat feathers standing on end, tail fanned, and beak open. Males with larger amounts of black on the throat tend to dominate over males with less black. When males display to a prospective mate, they fluff up their chest, hold their wings partially open, fan the tail, and hop stiffly in front of the female, turning sideways and sometimes bowing up and down. Sometimes, other males who spot such a display in progress will fly in and begin displaying as well. In flocks, males tend to dominate over females in fall and winter, but females assert themselves in spring and summer. Conservation: Least Concern House Sparrow populations declined by over 3.5 percent between 1966 and 2010, resulting in a cumulative decline of 81 percent, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey. Partners in Flight estimates their global breeding population at 540 million with 13 percent in the U.S., 2 percent in Canada and 2 percent in Mexico. They rate an 8 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Scale and are not on the 2012 Watch List. Nest holes in trees and nest boxes are valuable commodities for birds that require them for breeding. House Sparrows are fierce competitors for these, and their abundance can squeeze out some native cavity-nesting species. After becoming common in North American cities, House Sparrows moved out to colonize farmyards and barns during the twentieth century. With the recent industrialization of farms, House Sparrows now seem to be declining across most of their range.
European Starlings First brought to North America by Shakespeare enthusiasts in the nineteenth century, European Starlings are now among the continent’s most numerous songbirds. They are stocky black birds with short tails, triangular wings, and long, pointed bills. Though they’re sometimes resented for their abundance and aggressiveness, they’re still dazzling birds when you get a good look. Covered in white spots during winter, they turn dark and glossy in summer. For much of the year, they wheel through the sky and mob lawns in big, noisy flocks.
Size & Shape Starlings are chunky and blackbird-sized, but with short tails and long, slender beaks. In flight their wings are short and pointed, making them look rather like small, four-pointed stars (and giving them their name). Color Pattern At a distance, starlings look black. In summer they are purplish-green iridescent with yellow beaks; in fresh winter plumage they are brown, covered in brilliant white spots. Behavior Starlings are boisterous, loud, and they travel in large groups (often with blackbirds and grackles). They race across fields, beak down and probing the grass for food; or they sit high on wires or trees making a constant stream of rattles, whirrs, and whistles. Habitat Starlings are common in towns, suburbs, and countryside near human settlements. They feed on the ground on lawns, fields, sidewalks, and parking lots. They perch and roost high on wires, trees, and buildings.
American Crows American Crows are familiar over much of the continent: large, intelligent, all-black birds with hoarse, cawing voices. They are common sights in treetops, fields, and roadsides, and in habitats ranging from open woods and empty beaches to town centers. They usually feed on the ground and eat almost anything – typically earthworms, insects and other small animals, seeds, and fruit but also garbage, carrion, and chicks they rob from nests. Their flight style is unique, a patient, methodical flapping that is rarely broken up with glides.
Description Crows measure from 8 to 28 inches and are the largest of the passerines (perching birds). Corvus species are all black or black with some white or grey plumage. Some species have head crests. Their wings are long and pointed, and their tails are much shorter than their wings. They are stout with strong bills and legs. The sexes differ little in appearance. They form tight, social colonies, calling to each during emergencies and at flock roosting times at night. Bold, inquisitive, gregarious and highly adaptable, crows are easily seen and heard, with voices that are loud and harsh. Diet / Feeding Originally from Asia, a grouping of crows has an unusual title: a “murder.” This term comes from the crow’s propensity to kill one of its own if it is near death. They are an aggressive bird, using their hooked beaks to tear meat. They are omnivorous scavengers, eating almost anything they can swallow. They have been known to eat insects, mollusks, seeds, fruit, nuts, animal carrion, mice, eggs, fish, as well as domestic substances such as rubber and plastic insulation material. The North American Fish Crow (common in the eastern United States) also feeds on crustaceans - including shrimp, fiddler crabs and crayfish. They will also take turtle eggs. Crows and Jays Size & Shape A large, long-legged, thick-necked bird with a heavy, straight bill. In flight, the wings are fairly broad and rounded with the wingtip feathers spread like fingers. The short tail is rounded or squared off at the end. Color Pattern American Crows are all black, even the legs and bill. When crows molt, the old feathers can appear brownish or scaly compared to the glossy new feathers. Behavior American Crows are very social, sometimes forming flocks in the millions. Inquisitive and sometimes mischievous, crows are good learners and problem-solvers, often raiding garbage cans and picking over discarded food containers. They’re also aggressive and often chase away larger birds including hawks, owls and herons. Habitat American Crows are common birds of fields, open woodlands, and forests. They thrive around people, and you’ll often find them in agricultural fields, lawns, parking lots, athletic fields, roadsides, towns, and city garbage dumps.
Common Raven The intriguing Common Raven has accompanied people around the Northern Hemisphere for centuries, following their wagons, sleds, sleighs, and hunting parties in hopes of a quick meal. Ravens are among the smartest of all birds, gaining a reputation for solving ever more complicated problems invented by ever more creative scientists. These big, sooty birds thrive among humans and in the back of beyond, stretching across the sky on easy, flowing wing beats and filling the empty spaces with an echoing croak.
Size & Shape Not just large but massive, with a thick neck, shaggy throat feathers, and a Bowie knife of a beak. In flight, ravens have long, wedge-shaped tails. They're more slender than crows, with longer, narrower wings, and longer, thinner “fingers” at the wingtips. Color Pattern Common Ravens are entirely black, right down to the legs, eyes, and beak. Behavior Common Ravens aren’t as social as crows; you tend to see them alone or in pairs except at food sources like landfills. Ravens are confident, inquisitive birds that strut around or occasionally bound forward with light, two-footed hops. In flight they are buoyant and graceful, interspersing soaring, gliding, and slow flaps. Habitat Common Ravens live in open and forest habitats across western and northern North America. This includes deciduous and evergreen forests up to treeline, as well as high desert, sea coast, sagebrush, tundra, and grasslands. They do well around people, particularly rural settlements but also some towns and cities.
Robins The quintessential early bird, American Robins are common sights on lawns across North America, where you often see them tugging earthworms out of the ground. Robins are popular birds for their warm orange breast, cheery song, and early appearance at the end of winter. Though they’re familiar town and city birds, American Robins are at home in wilder areas, too, including mountain forests and Alaskan wilderness.
Size & Shape American Robins are fairly large songbirds with a large, round body, long legs, and fairly long tail. Robins are the largest North American thrushes, and their profile offers a good chance to learn the basic shape of most thrushes. Robins make a good reference point for comparing the size and shape of other birds, too. Color Pattern American Robins are gray-brown birds with warm orange under-parts and dark heads. In flight, a white patch on the lower belly and under the tail can be conspicuous. Compared with males, females have paler heads that contrast less with the gray back. Behavior American Robins are industrious and authoritarian birds that bound across lawns or stand erect, beak tilted upward, to survey their environs. When alighting they habitually flick their tails downward several times. In fall and winter they form large flocks and gather in trees to roost or eat berries. Habitat American Robins are common across the continent in gardens, parks, yards, golf courses, fields, pastures, tundra, as well as deciduous woodlands, pine forests, shrublands, and forests regenerating after fires or Regional Differences Western populations are often paler than eastern populations and have almost no white at the tail corners. Breeding robins on the Canadian Atlantic coast are richly colored, with black on the upper back and neck.
Little Brown Bat
Bats: Warning Bats are susceptible to rabies, a serious viral disease that results in death if untreated. Rabid bats rarely attack humans or other animals, but bats found lying on the ground may be rabid. Never touch or pick up any bat. Stay away from any animal that seems to be acting strangely and report it to animal-control officers. If you are bitten by a possibly rabid animal, you must immediately consult a doctor for a series of injections; there is no cure once symptoms emerge
Eastern Pipistrelle Humeralis: Little Brown Bat, Indiana Bat Eastern Pipistrelle - Pipistrellus Subflavus Common Name: Eastern Pipistrelle Scientific Name: Pipistrellus Subflavus Range: Throughout east coast of North America to northern South America Habitat: Edges of forests and agriculture or watercourses. The Eastern pipistrelle is one of the 11 species of bats found in Ohio. It is also one of the smallest bats in the east growing up to 3.5" long with a wings span of up to 10" and they can weigh up to 1/4 of an ounce. Mostly found roosting under loose bark or in the cavity of a tree. However, they will also be found in buildings. In the winter time they either hibernate living off of stored fat, or they migrate to warmer climates where food is still available. Diet: Eastern pipistrelles feed on insects, especially leafhoppers, plant hoppers, moths, beetles, and flies. Usually hunting above the tree canopy they are one of the first bats to emerge in the evening. They find their food using echolocation. Bats are the only members of the mammal family that can fly. Like all mammals they have fur and are warm blooded. Habitat They also give live birth and produce milk for their babies. Bats are in the scientific order Chiroptera (kie-rop-ter-a), which means 'hand-wing' and are known to live from 10 to 32 years. While most people generally think of bats living in caves, in the summer time bats actually live behind bark, in tree's, jungles, and man made structures such as buildings, barns, and bridges. Ecosystem Bats provide an extremely important service for the environment in that they eat large quantities insects. In fact some bats can eat as many as 1,200 insects in one hour. Since some insects such as misquotes carry diseases including the West Nile Virus and other insects like Cucumber Beatles and moths can cause severe crop damage, bats are doing humans a huge favor as well.
Humeralis Common Name: Evening Bat Scientific Name: Nycticeius Humeralis Range: Eastern US The Evening Bat is one of the 11 species of bats found in Ohio. Adults grow to about 4 inches, have a wingspan of 11 inches, and weigh about 1/4 ounce. Evening Bats are insectivores eating mostly flying insects. Usually hunting above the tree canopy they are one of the first bats to emerge in the evening. They find their food using echolocation. Bats are the only members of the mammal family that can fly. Like all mammals they have fur and are warm blooded. They also give live birth and produce milk for their babies. Bats are in the scientific order Chiroptera (kie-rop-ter-a), which mean 'hand-wing' and are known to live from 10 to 32 years.
Common Name: Indiana Bat Scientific Name: Myotis Sodalis Range: Eastern US Is one of the 11 species of bats found in Ohio. Adults grow to about 3 inches, have a wing span of 10 inches, and weigh about 1/4 ounce. The Indiana Bat is on the U.S. Endangered Species List and classified as endangered throughout its range. States where they are found include AL, AR, GA, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, MD, MI, MO, MS, NC, NJ, NY, OH, OK, PA, SC, TN, VA, VT, WV. Indiana Bats are insectivore eating mostly flying insects. Usually hunting above the tree canopy they are one of the first bats to emerge in the evening. They find their food using echolocation. Limestone caves are used for winter hibernation. The following caves are considered Critical habitat in the Southeast: White Oak Blowhole Cave (Blount, TN); Bat Cave (Carter, KY); Coach Cave (Edmonson, KY). Bats are the only members of the mammal family that can fly. Like all mammals they have fur and are warm blooded. They also give live birth and produce milk for their babies. Bats are in the scientific order Chiroptera (kie-rop-ter-a), which means 'hand-wing' and are known to live from 10 to 32 years, While most people generally think of bats living in caves, in the summer time bats actually live behind bark, in tree's, jungles, and man made structures such as buildings, barns, and bridges.
Common Name: Little Brown Bat Scientific Name: Myotis Lucifugus Range: Forested areas of North America Habitat: Forest areas, often form maternity colonies in buildings, attics etc.. The Little Brown Bat is one of the 11 species of Bats found in Ohio. Adults grow to about 3.5 inches, have a wing span of 10 inches, and weigh about 1/4 ounce. Little Brown Bats are insectivores mostly flying insects. Including beetles, wasps, bees, flies and more. Usually hunting above the tree canopy they are one of the first bats to emerge in the evening. They find their food using echolocation. Bats are the only members of the mammal family that can fly. Like all mammals they have fur and are warm blooded. They also give live birth and produce milk for their babies. Bats are in the scientific order Chiroptera (kie-rop-ter-a), which means 'hand-wing' and are known to live from 10 to 32 years. While most people generally think of bats living in caves, in the summer time bats actually live behind bark, in tree's, jungles, and man made structures such as buildings, barns, and bridges. Bats provide an extremely important service for the environment in that they eat large quantities insects. In fact some bats can eat as many as 1,200 insects in one hour. Since some insects such as misquotes carry diseases including the West Nile Virus and other insects like Cucumber Beatles and moths can cause severe crop damage, bats are doing humans a huge favor.
Eastern Red Bat Eastern Small-footed Bat The Eastern Red Bat is a medium-sized Vespertilionid, averaging weights of 9.5-14 g and measurements of 112.3 mm in total length. Adults are usually dimorphic: males have red hair while females are chestnut-colored with whitish frosting on the tips of the fur. Like most Vespertilionids, eastern red bats are insectivorous. Moths (Lepidoptera) form the majority of the diet, but red bats also prey heavily on beetles (Coleoptera), flies (Diptera), and other insects. Echolocation calls have low minimum frequencies, but calls are highly variable ranging from (35-50 kHz). Eastern red bats are best suited for foraging in open spaces due to their body size, wing shape, and echolocation call structure. However, red bats are frequently captured by researches foraging over narrow streams and roads. Mating likely occurs in late summer or autumn and the sperm is stored in the female's reproductive tract until spring when ovulation and fertilization occurs. In June, females usually give birth to three or four young and then roost with their young until they are weaned. alone throughout the Summer. High temperature demands associated with gestation and rearing young may limit the northern range for reproductive females. Eastern red bats often roost amongst live or dead leaves on the branches of live hardwood trees, but have also been found using loblolly pine trees in pine plantations.
The Eastern Small-footed Bat is a species of vesper bat in the Vespertilionidae family. It can be found in Ontario and Quebec in Canada and in the eastern United States. It is among the smallest bats in eastern North America. The Eastern Small-Footed Bat is 65–95 mm in total length, and weighs between 4–8 grams. It has a 25–45 mm (1–1.75") tail length, has a 210–250 mm (8.3-9.2") wingspan. Like all bats, the Eastern Small-Footed Bat has a flight membrane that connects the body to the forelimbs and tail, which creates the bats flight. Its ears are under 15 mm (0.6"). Its fur is soft and silky, colored yellowish tan to golden brown . Its belly is gray, while its face, ears, wings, and interfemoral membrane are black. Its distinguishing characteristics are its black face mask, and its tiny 7–8 mm (0.3") hind feet. The Eastern Small-Footed Bat ranges from The Northeastern United States and Canada down to Georgia. They are active in mountainous regions from 240 to 1125 meters, preferring deciduous or coniferous forests. They may roost in rock bluffs, buildings, and turnpike tunnels during the spring and summer. They hibernate during winters in caves and mines, hanging near the opening, or moving deeper as winter temperatures drop. Little is known about the reproductive habits of the Eastern Small-Footed Bat. Mating usually occurs in Autumn, and the sperm is stored within the female until spring, when fertilization occurs. The offspring are born in late May to July.
Common Grackle Not likely to rank high on anyone’s list of favorite bird songs, grackles emit an abrasive variety of harsh, grating sounds, often concluding with a metallic squeak. It is a common place song too; common grackles are one of our most abundant birds, commonly found in residential areas. Our largest blackbird often forms enormous winter roosts that usually include other blackbird species, and European starlings.
Size & Shape Common Grackles are large, lanky blackbirds with long legs and long tails. The head is flat and the bill is longer than in most blackbirds, with the hint of a downward curve. In flight, the wings appear short in comparison to the tail. Males are slightly larger than females. Color Pattern Common Grackles appear black from a distance, but up close their glossy purple heads contrast with bronzy-iridescent bodies. A bright golden eye gives grackles an intent expression. Females are slightly less glossy than males. Young birds are dark brown with a dark eye. Behavior You’ll often find Common Grackles in large flocks, flying or foraging on lawns and in agricultural fields. They strut on their long legs, pecking for food rather than scratching. At feeders Common Grackles dominate smaller birds. When resting they sit atop trees or on telephone lines, keeping up a raucous chattering. Flight is direct, with stiff wing-beats. Habitat Common Grackles thrive around agricultural fields, feedlots, city parks, and suburban lawns. They’re also common in open habitats including woodland, forest edges, meadows, and marshes.
Barn Owl In Flight
Barn Owl Ghostly pale and strictly nocturnal, Barn Owls are silent predators of the night world. Lanky, with a whitish face, chest, and belly, and buffy upperparts, this owl roosts in hidden, quiet places during the day. By night, they hunt on buoyant wingbeats in open fields and meadows. You can find them by listening for their eerie, raspy calls, quite unlike the hoots of other owls. Despite a worldwide distribution, Barn Owls are declining in parts of their range due to habitat loss. Size & Shape These medium-sized owls have long, rounded wings and short tails, which combine with a buoyant, loping flight to give them a distinctive flight style. The legs are long and the head is smoothly rounded, without ear tufts. Color Pattern Barn Owls are pale overall with dark eyes. They have a mix of buff and gray on the head, back, and upperwings, and are white on the face, body, and underwings. When seen at night they can appear all white. Behavior Barn Owls nest and roost in cavities, abandoned barns and other buildings, and dense trees. At night, Barn Owls hunt by flying low, back and forth over open habitats, searching for small rodents primarily by sound. Habitat Barn Owls require large areas of open land over which to hunt. This can either be marsh, grasslands, or mixed agricultural fields. For nesting and roosting, they prefer quiet cavities, either in trees or man-made structures such as barns or silos.
Turkey Vulture Buzzard If you’ve gone looking for raptors on a clear day, your heart has probably leaped at the sight of a large, soaring bird in the distance– perhaps an eagle or osprey. But if it's soaring with its wings raised in a V and making wobbly circles, it's likely a Turkey Vulture. These birds ride thermals in the sky and use their keen sense of smell to find fresh carcasses. They are a consummate scavenger, cleaning up the countryside one bite of their sharply hooked bill at a time, and never mussing a feather on their bald heads.
Size & Shape Turkey Vultures are large dark birds with long, broad wings. Bigger than other raptors except eagles and condors, they have long "fingers" at their wingtips and long tails that extend past their toe tips in flight. When soaring, Turkey Vultures hold their wings slightly raised, making a ‘V’ when seen head-on. Color Pattern Turkey Vultures appear black from a distance but up close are dark brown with a featherless red head and pale bill. While most of their body and forewing are dark, the undersides of the flight feathers (along the trailing edge and wingtips) are paler, giving a two-toned appearance. Behavior Turkey Vultures are majestic but unsteady soarers. Their teetering flight with very few wing-beats is characteristic. Look for them gliding relatively low to the ground, sniffing for carrion, or else riding thermals up to higher vantage points. They may soar in small groups and roost in larger numbers. You may also see them on the ground in small groups, huddled around road kill or dumpsters. Habitat Turkey Vultures are common around open areas such as roadsides, suburbs, farm fields, countryside, and food sources such as landfills, trash heaps, and construction sites. On sunny days, look for them aloft as early as 9 a.m.; in colder weather and at night they roost on poles, towers, dead trees, and fence posts.
Red Tailed Hawk
Red Tailed Hawk This is probably the most common hawk in North America. If you’ve got sharp eyes you’ll see several individuals on almost any long car ride, anywhere. Red-tailed Hawks soar above open fields, slowly turning circles on their broad, rounded wings. Other times you’ll see them atop telephone poles, eyes fixed on the ground to catch the movements of a vole or a rabbit, or simply waiting out cold weather before climbing a thermal updraft into the sky.
Size & Shape Red-tailed Hawks are large hawks with typical Buteo proportions: very broad, rounded wings and a short, wide tail. Large females seen from a distance might fool you into thinking you’re seeing an eagle. (Until an actual eagle comes along.) Color Pattern Most Red-tailed Hawks are rich brown above and pale below, with a streaked belly and, on the wing underside, a dark bar between shoulder and wrist. The tail is usually pale below and cinnamon-red above, though in young birds it’s brown and banded. “Dark-morph” birds are all chocolate-brown with a warm red tail. “Rufous-morph” birds are reddish-brown on the chest with a dark belly. Behavior You’ll most likely see Red-tailed Hawks soaring in wide circles high over a field. When flapping, their wing-beats are heavy. In high winds they may face into the wind and hover without flapping, eyes fixed on the ground. They attack in a slow, controlled dive with legs outstretched – much different from a falcon’s stoop. Habitat The Red-tailed Hawk is a bird of open country. Look for it along fields and perched on telephones poles, fence posts, or trees standing alone or along edges of fields.