18 February, 2010

Horned Lark

Scientific Name: Eremophila alpestris

Population Estimate: 140M

Range: Year-round throughout most of US and Mexico. In summer will extend to Canada and Alaska.

Field Notes: Common bird of open country, usually found in small groups on the ground (and frequently in the road). Male face pattern is distinctive, as above, and will often display the little tufts or "horns" on its head for which it is named. May be confused at first glance with a longspur.

Personal Notes: The only true lark native to North America. Most times we've seen this bird we didn't a good look at the "horns" until we saw them in Wyoming.

14 February, 2010

Western Cattle Egret

Scientific Name: Bubulcus ibis

Population Estimate: 3.8M to 7.6M

Range / Habitat: Found throughout most of the US, Mexico, Central America, and South America. Preferred habitat is in fields, near cattle. Rarely seen near the water.

Field Notes: Stocky white heron with sturdy yellow bill and dark legs. Readily distinguished from other white herons by habitat. Great Egret much larger with elongated neck. Snowy Egret slimmer with black bill and yellow feet.

Personal Notes:

08 February, 2010

Common Tern

Scientific Name: Sterna hirundo

Population Estimate: 1.6M - 4.6M

Range: Breeds inland across the northern US and Canada. Winters along the coast in Mexico, Central America, and into northern South America.

Field Notes: Medium-sized, black-capped tern. Non-breeding plumage as above. Breeding plumage with orange bill and uniform black cap. Forster's Tern with black eye / ear mask in winter, and by brighter orange bill and legs in breeding plumage.

Personal Notes: We found this petite tern among the large gulls along the downtown beach in Puerto Vallarta.

Heermann's Gull

Scientific Name: Larus Heermanni

Population Estimate: 530K

Range / Habitat: Heermann’s gull breeds off the coast of Mexico and in the Gulf of California, particularly on Isla Rasa, where the population has a stronghold. Very occasionally it is seen breeding in San Francisco Bay. Non-breeders spend the breeding season at the wintering sites along the coasts of California and British Colombia.

Field Notes: The Heermann's Gull (Larus heermanni) is distinctive with a dark grey-brown back and wings, pale grey underside and rump, and white head, tips to the tail and wing feathers. The bill is bright red and sometimes tipped with black. The legs are black. Non-breeding adults have grey or brown streaks on the head and immature birds are dark brown all over, with a pale base to the red bill.

Personal Notes:

01 February, 2010

Common Raven

Scientific Name: Corvus corax

Population Estimate: 16M, Least Concern status

Range / Habitat: Extreme habitat generalist, found throughout the Northern Hemisphere.

Field Notes: Large, all-black passerine with shaggy throat feathers. In flight, ravens have long, wedge-shaped tails.

Personal Notes: It's easy to see why this is such a bird of lore.