31 January, 2010

Purple Finch

Scientific Name: Carpodacus Purpureus

Population Estimate: 3M

Range / Habitat: It is included in the finch family, Fringillidae, which is made up of passerine birds found in northern hemisphere and Africa. Their breeding habitat is coniferous and mixed forest in Canada and the northeastern United States, as well as various wooded areas along the U.S. Pacific coast.

Field Notes: This species and the other "American rosefinches" are placed in the genus Haemorhous by the American Ornithologists' Union but have usually been included in Carpodacus. The plumage of both males and females are darker, and the coloration of the females is more greenish.Adults have a short forked brown tail and brown wings and are about 15 cm (4 in) in length and weigh 34 g (1.2 oz).Adult males are raspberry red on the head, breast, back and rump; their back is streaked. Adult females have light brown upperparts and white underparts with dark brown streaks throughout; they have a white line on the face above the eye.

Personal Notes:

White-winged Crossbill

Scientific Name: Loxia leucoptera

Population Estimate: 40M

Range / Habitat: It has two subspecies, White-winged Crossbill Loxia leucoptera leucoptera in North America, and Two-barred Crossbill Loxia leucoptera bifasciata in NE Europe and N Asia.
This bird breeds in the coniferous forests of Alaska, Canada, northernmost USA and across Asia extending into northeast Europe.

Field Notes:
The Two-barred Crossbill (Loxia leucoptera), known as the White-winged Crossbill. . There are also white tips to the tertials. The adult male is also a somewhat brighter (pinker) red than other male crossbills. Some Common Crossbills occasionally show weak white wingbars, so care is needed with the correct identification of this species.

Personal Notes:

Boreal Chickadee

Scientific Name: Parus Hudsonicus

Population Estimate: 8M

Range / Habitat: The boreal chickadee inhabits the northern coniferous forests of North America, breeding throughout Alaska, Canada and the northernmost states of the U.S.

Field Notes: A small songbird, the boreal chickadee (Parus hudsonica) is, as its name suggests, almost entirely restricted to the boreal forests of North America. The top of the head and the back of the neck often have a greyish tinge, which extends down the sides of the head to below the eye. A white stripe runs from the base of the bill to below the eye, while the chin and throat are black. The back, wings, rump and uppertail-coverts of the boreal chickadee are generally pale grey-brown, and the breast and abdomen are white.

Personal Notes:

Pine Siskin

Scientific Name: Carduelis Pinus

Population Estimate: 8M

Range / Habitat: The range of the pine siskin extends south from southern Alaska and Canada, through the United States to Mexico. This species is also found as a vagrant in Guatemala.

Field Notes: The pine siskin (Carduelis pinus) is a very small songbird with brown, heavily streaked upperparts, white or grey underparts and subtle yellow markings on the tips of the tail and wings. The tail and wings are otherwise dusky brown or black, apart from two buffy wingbars, which fade to white as the individual ages. The tail is short and notched, and the yellow markings on the tail and wings are more visible when the bird is in flight. The pine siskin’s bill is sharp, pointed and notched and can vary in colour between dusky brown and black. The colour of the legs and feet varies between dark brown, red or dark horn, and the eyes of this species are brown.

Personal Notes:

Great Grey Shrike

Scientific Name: Lanius excubitor

Population Estimate: 1M to 10M

Range / Habitat: Solitary, predatory bird on prominent perches. Found year-round in southern Alaska. Summers north and east in the subarctic. Winters extending down into Canada and the northern US.

Field Notes: Noticeably long tail, thin black mask, hooked bill. Loggerhead Shrike has a more southerly range and is smaller with larger mask and all black bill. Northern Mockingbird also is more southerly in range with thin dark eye stripe, no mask.

Personal Notes: Also known as the Northern Shrike. Only a winter visitor to Minnesota. Can hover when hunting.

Common Redpoll

Scientific Name: Carduelis flammea

Population Estimate: 100M

Range / Habitat: Breeds in the long summer of the Arctic tundra. Winters in Canada, down to northern US. Also migratory across northern Europe and Asia. Frequent bird of feeders in the winter, but preferred habitat is open thickets and weedy fields. Introduced to Australia and New Zealand.

Field Notes: Small, rolly-polly finch with distinctive red patch on head, variable pink on the breast, and heavily streaked sides. The less common Hoary Redpoll is sometimes mixed in and appears lighter overall, more white on secondaries, no streaking on flanks, and unstreaked white rump patch.

Personal Notes: First seen in Sax-Zim Bog. Later, we delighted in flocks of these birds at a winter feeder on the Gunflint Trail (with a bonus Hoary mixed in, though no photo).

Northern Hawk Owl

Scientific Name: Surnia ulula

Population Estimate: 130K

Range / Habitat: The Northern Hawk-Owl (Surnia ulula), or Northern Hawk Owl in North America, is a non-migratory owl that usually stays within its breeding range, though it sometimes irrupts southward.Three subspecies exist across the northern holarctic.The North American subspecies S.u.caparoch spans from eastern Alaska through to Newfoundland and in some areas extends south into northern United States. The other two subspecies are found in Eurasia: S. u. tianschanica breeds in central Asia reaching Xinjiang (China) and S. u. ulula resides across Eurasia reaching Siberia at its most eastern range. Occasionally, S.u.caparoch can extend its territory as far south as northern Minnesota and many other states in the northern United States including more central states such as West Virginia, New York, and South Dakota.

Field Notes: The Northern Hawk-Owl plumage is relatively dark brown with an off white spotting pattern on all dorsal parts of the body with the exception of the back of the neck which boasts a black v-shaped pattern. The underbelly is generally white or off-white which continues to the toes with brown bands on the breast and stomach. It also boasts a long tail with brown banding. The Northern Hawk-Owl has a smokey white face with a black border, a flat head, yellow eyes and a yellow curved beak.

Personal Notes: First seen in an irruptive year in Sax-Zim Bog, northern Minnesota. Later seen in Yoho National Park, British Columbia. 

Pine Grosbeak

Scientific Name: Pinicola enucleator

Population Estimate: 4M

Range / Habitat: The wide range of the pine grosbeak stretches across the northern hemisphere, from Europe, across Russia, China and Japan, to Canada and the United States. It is also found as a vagrant in western parts of Europe, such as Austria, the United Kingdom, Denmark and Germany.

Field Notes: The pine grosbeak (Pinocla enucleator) is a large, plump, heavy-chested bird, which differs in appearance between sexes. The distinctive plumage of the male is deep rose-pink on the head, neck, breast and rump, grey on each side of the body, and streaked black on the upperparts. The throat is grey or white and there are also white or grey patches underneath the eyes. The male pine grosbeak has a long, notched black-brown tail with a grey underside, and there are conspicuous white wingbars on its brown-black wings. The tips of some of the flight feathers are white.

Personal Notes:

Evening Grosbeak

Scientific Name: Coccothraustes Vespertinus

Population Estimate: 6M

Range / Habitat: A North American species, the evening grosbeak is widespread across Canada and the United States, reaching as far south as Mexico. The breeding range of C. v. brooksi stretches south from western Canada to California, Arizona and New Mexico in the U.S., while C. v. montanus occurs from southeast Arizona into parts of Mexico. C. v. vespertinus has a more easterly distribution, breeding from central and eastern Canada south to northern Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, New York, Vermont and Massachusetts in the U.S.

Field Notes: The Evening Grosbeak (Coccothraustes vespertinus) is a large finch. In the past, it was treated in a genus of its own as Hesperiphona vespertina. The male evening grosbeak is quite distinctive, being mostly bright yellow with a brownish-black head, neck and throat, a black tail and wings, and large white wing patches. The dark head is marked by a conspicuous bright yellow forehead and yellow stripes above the eyes. Outside of the breeding season, the heavy bill is off-white or buff, but it becomes pale greenish-yellow in spring. The evening grosbeak’s legs and feet are fleshy pink to brown.

Personal Notes:

Bohemian Waxwing

Scientific Name: Bombycilla Garrulus

Population Estimate: 3M

Range / Habitat: It travels in large, nomadic groups with a strong, direct flight. It breeds in coniferous forests throughout the most northern parts of Europe, Asia and western North America. As the Cedar Waxwing inhabits only North America and the Japanese Waxwing only Asia, the Bohemian Waxwing is the only member of this family whose range circumnavigates all the continents just below the sub-Arctic latitudes.

Field Notes: The Bohemian Waxwing (Bombycilla garrulus) is a member of the waxwing family of passerines. It is larger, fatter and greyer than the Cedar Waxwing and has bright yellow, black or rusty orange color on its tail feather tips and a yellow, white, red or black stripe along the wing feathers. Under tail coverts are a deep rust color. Both beak and feet are dark and the brown eyes are set in a narrow black mask underlined with white.

Personal Notes:

21 January, 2010

Black Vulture

Scientific Name: Coragyps atratus

Population Estimate: 20M

Range / Habitat: Year-round throughout southeastern and southern US, Mexico, Central America and nearly all of South America.

Field Notes: Large black bird with grey, weathered head. Vultures characterized by large size, wheeling glides, finger-like wing tips. Easy to distinguish from Turkey Vulture in flight as Black Vulture will flap wings more frequently, does not appear headless and has silvery patches at wingtips.

Personal Notes: Common vulture in Mexico though we also have seen in Florida. The bottom photo is of the vulture perched atop Chichen Itza, which was quite dramatic.

Thick-billed Kingbird

Scientific Name: Tyrannus Crassirostris

Population Estimate: 2M

Range / Habitat: This bird breeds from southeastern Arizona, extreme southwestern New Mexico, and northern Sonora, (the Madrean sky islands), in the United States and Mexico, through western and western-coastal Mexico, south to western Guatemala.

Field Notes: The Thick-billed Kingbird (Tyrannus crassirostris) is a large bird in the Tyrannidae family, the tyrant flycatchers.Adults are dusky olive-brown on the upperparts with light underparts; they have a long dark brown or black tail. The underside is a dull white to pale yellow. They have a yellow patch on their crown, but is not visible very often.

Personal Notes:

20 January, 2010

Rufous-backed Robin

Scientific Name: Turdus Rufopalliatus

Population Estimate: Unknown but Least Concern status

Range / Habitat:  Its main range extends from southeastern Sonora to the southeastern corner of Oaxaca along the coast and in the Río Balsas drainage. The isolated populations in Mexico City and Oaxaca City are probably descended from escaped cage birds. A number of vagrants have reached the Mexican-border states of the United States, where they are often found in riparian woods.

Field Notes: The Rufous-backed Thrush (Turdus rufopalliatus) is a songbird of the thrush family. It is endemic to the Pacific slope of Mexico. It is named for the adult's rufous or olive-rufous upper back, which contrasts with the grayish head, nape, and rump. The chest and flanks are also rufous. The belly and undertail coverts are white; the throat is white with many black streaks. The bill and eye-ring are yellow. Females are typically somewhat duller-colored than males. Juveniles, like other juvenile Turdus thrushes, are spotted below; they are browner and have pale flecks above.

Personal Notes:

19 January, 2010

Cinnamon Hummingbird

Scientific Name: Amazilia Rutila

Population Estimate: 500K to 5M

Range / Habitat:  It is found from northwestern Mexico to Costa Rica. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical dry forests, subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests, subtropical or tropical dry shrubland, and heavily degraded former forest. Common in native Mexico to Central America.

Field Notes: The Cinnamon Hummingbird (Amazilia rutila) is a species of hummingbird in the Trochilidae family. Relatively large hummingbird that is mostly green above and rich cinnamon-orange below. Adult: Green cap and face. Dark eye and medium-length bright red, black-tipped bill. Green back and wing coverts. Green rump blending with cinnamon-rufous upper tail coverts. Dark wingtips. Bright cinnamon throat and underparts. White undertail coverts. Square tail. Dark cinnamon under and upper tail with black tips to tail-feathers. Juvenile: Paler than adult, with mostly dark upper mandible.

Personal Notes:

White-collared Seedeater

Scientific Name: Sporophila torqueola

Population Estimate: 20M

Range / Habitat: Grasslands, savannas, shrubland throughout Mexico down to Panama.

Field Notes: Small bird, males distinctive as above. Much geographic and individual variation in this species.

Personal Notes: The above plumage is characteristic of the torqueola group in western Mexico.

Inca Dove

Scientific Name: Columbina Inca

Population Estimate: 1.9M

Range / Habitat:   It ranges from the southwestern United States and Mexico through Central America to Costa Rica; the Inca Dove only lives on the Pacific side of Central America. Despite being named after the Inca Empire, this species does not occur in any of the lands that constituted that region. Occurs from Oklahoma, Texas, and southern New Mexico and Arizona south through much of Central America.

Field Notes: The Inca Dove (Columbina inca) is a small New World dove; it might belong to the genus. The Inca Dove is grayish-brown with heavy, gray or black scaling or scallops over most of its plumage. The tail is long, and the eyes of adults are red. In flight, shows reddish primaries. Males have a pale face and darker scaling than females.

Personal Notes:

Eurasian Collared-dove

Scientific Name: Streptopelia decaocto

Population Estimate: 14-33M, Least Concern status

Range / Habitat: Widespread in artificial and scrubland habitats throughout much of Europe and Asia. Introduced to the Americas via the Bahamas in the 1970's. 

Field Notes: Medium-sized dove, overall pink to grey to brown. Distinctive black half-collar on back on neck. Song a three-part coo.

Personal Notes: More common than pigeons in Cancun, Mexico.


Scientific Name: Catoptrophorus semipalmatus

Population Estimate: 250K, Least Concern status

Range: Summers in the interior western US. Winters along along the ocean and found from the mid-Atlantic and Pacific Northwest US down through northern South America.

Field Notes: Large, stocky sandpiper. Striking black and white wing pattern in flight. Otherwise nondescript.

Personal Notes: It was a treat seeing theses birds in the tree tops in Rhode Island.

Turkey Vulture

Scientific Name: Cathartes aura

Population Estimate: 5M

Range / Habitat: Year-round throughout southeastern and southern US, Mexico, Central America and nearly all of South America. In summers will push up into the rest of the US.

Field Notes: Large black bird with small, red head. Vultures characterized by large size, wheeling glides, finger-like wing tips. Viewed when in flight, Turkey Vulture has silver from their wingtips all along the trailing wing edge, small head, and rarely flap wings. Black Vulture has silver on underside of wingtips only, obvious head, and with frequently flap wings.

Vermilion Flycatcher

Scientific Name: Pyrocephalus rubinus

Population Estimate: 5M to 50M

Range / Habitat: Found in southwestern United States, Central America, and northern and central South America, down to central Argentina. Also in the Galapagos Islands. Prefer semi-open areas with scrub, fences, scattered trees.

Field Notes: Medium-small flycatcher with strongly dimorphic plumage. Males (top photos) have bright red head and underparts with dark back and eyestripe. Females (bottom photo) have a drab brown head and back with white supercilium. Neck and chest is white, often streaked dusky, with salmon belly. Female similar to Say's Phoebe.

Personal Notes: We missed a photo opportunity in San Blas, Mexico but were rewarded with lots of these stunning birds in Belize.

White-throated Thrush

Scientific Name: Turdus Assimilis

Population Estimate: 500K to 5M

Range / Habitat: It is found in Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, and the United States.

Field Notes: The White-throated Thrush (Turdus assimilis) is a species of bird in the Turdidae family. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical dry forests, subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests, and subtropical or tropical moist montane forests.

Personal Notes:

Green Kingfisher

Scientific Name: Chloroceryle americana

Population Estimate: 20M

Range / Habitat: Inland wetlands, particularly by running water, throughout southwestern US, Mexico, Central America and South America.

Field Notes: Small, green kingfisher with white in wings. Male with rufous bib and green below. Female with two green breast bands. Amazon Kingfisher with similar coloring but much larger and lacking white in wings.

Personal Notes: Seen along the Rio Cuale in Puerto Vallarta.

Yellow Warbler

Scientific Name: Dendroica Petechia

Population Estimate: 40M

Range / Habitat: Yellow Warblers breed in most of North America from the tundra southwards, but they do not range far southwestwards and avoid the Gulf of Mexico coasts also. The Mangrove and Golden Warblers occur to the south of it, to the northern reaches of the Andes. Yellow Warblers winter to the south of their breeding range, from southern California to the Amazon region, Bolivia and Peru.

Field Notes: The Yellow Warbler (Setophaga petechia, formerly Dendroica petechia) is a New World warbler species. Other than in male breeding plumage and body size, all subspecies are very similar. Winter, female and immature birds all have similarly greenish-yellow uppersides and are a duller yellow below. Young males soon acquire breast and, where appropriate, head coloration. Females are somewhat duller, most notably on the head. In all, the remiges and rectrices are blackish olive with yellow edges, sometimes appearing as an indistinct wing-band on the former. The eyes and the short thin beak are dark, while the feet are lighter or darker olive-buff.

Personal Notes:

18 January, 2010

Snail Kite

Scientific Name: Rostrhamus Sociabilis

Population Estimate: 2M

Range / Habitat: The Snail Kite breeds in tropical South America, the Caribbean, and central and southern Florida in the United States. It is resident all-year in most of its range, but the southernmost population migrates north in winter and the Caribbean birds disperse widely outside the breeding season.

Field Notes: The Snail Kite (Rostrhamus sociabilis) is a bird of prey within the family Accipitridae, which also includes the eagles, hawks, and Old World vultures. The adult male has dark blue-gray plumage with darker flight feathers. The legs and cere are red. The adult female has dark brown upperparts and heavily streaked pale underparts. She has a whitish face with darker areas behind and above the eye. The legs and cere are yellow or orange. The immature is similar to adult female, but the crown is streaked.

Personal Notes:

Elegant Tern

Scientific Name: Thalasseus elegans

Population Estimate: 50K - 90K, Near Threatened status

Range / Habitat: Breeds in dense colonies on Pacific coast and offshore islands of southern US and Mexico. Winters south along Pacific coast to Peru, Ecuador and Chile

Field Notes: Medium tern with grey wings, black legs, shaggy black crest, and thin orange bill which is lighter at the tip and can appear to droop. In non-breeding adults, black cap recedes but still contiguous with eye. Royal Tern larger, darker bill, cap does not extend to eyes in non-breeding adults. Caspian Tern much larger, bright red bill with dark tip, no crest.

Personal Notes: Seen in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Little Blue Heron

Scientific Name: Egretta caerulea

Population Estimate: 300K to 450K

Range / Habitat: From southeastern US through Mexico, Central American and into northern South America in marsh and costal areas.

Field Notes: Small, active heron. Grey-blue throughout with head and neck darker, occasionally more purple or reddish (as in the top photo). Eyes yellow, bill grey with distal portion black. Legs and feet greenish. Great Blue Heron much larger. Tricoloured Heron is similar size but has distinctive white belly and rump. Juvenile is entirely white but differentiated from the Snowy Egret by its pale green legs. Reddish Egret with distinctly cinnamon head and neck, white eyes, pink base to bill, and grey legs and feet.

Personal Notes: