23 March, 2010

Greater White-fronted Goose

Scientific Name: Anser Albifrons

Population Estimate:  2.6M to 3.1M

Range / Habitat: The nominate subspecies A. a. albifrons breeds in the far north of Europe and Asia, and winters further south and west in Europe. Two other restricted-range races occur in northern North America: A. a. gambeli in interior northwest Canada, and wintering on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, slightly larger than the nominate form, and Tule Goose, A. a. elgasi, in southwest Alaska, largest and longest-billed of all, wintering in California.

Field Notes: The Greater White-fronted Goose (Anser albifrons) is a species of goose. The Greater White-fronted Goose is more closely related to the smaller Lesser White-fronted Goose (A. erythropus).It is named for the patch of white feathers bordering the base of its bill.They are smaller than Greylag Geese. As well as being larger than the Lesser White-fronted Goose, the Greater White-fronted Goose lacks the yellow eye-ring of that species, and the white facial blaze does not extend upwards so far as in Lesser.The male is typical larger in size, both sexes are similar in appearance – greyish brown birds with light grey breasts dappled with dark brown to black blotches and bars. Both males and females also have a pinkish bill and orange legs and feet.

Personal Notes:


Scientific Name: Aythya Americana

Population Estimate: 590K

Range / Habitat: Winters in southern US and Mexico, up through the Mississippi River Valley and along the Atlantic coast. Breeds in western US and Canada.

Field Notes: Medium-sized diving duck with red, rounded head and blue bill with black tip.
Male with bright red head, gray back, and black chest and tail. Canvasback is larger with prominent, sloping bill profile and white back.

Personal Notes:

21 March, 2010

Red-winged Blackbird

Scientific Name: Agelaius phoeniceus

Population Estimate: 210M, Least Concern status

Range / Habitat: Year-round on fresh and saltwater marshes through most of the US and Mexico. In summer extending into Canada.

Field Notes: Medium-sized passerine. Males glossy black with red and yellow shoulder patches. Females are a subdued, streaky brown, almost like a large, dark sparrow with a dramatic eyebrow.

Personal Notes:
One of the most welcome sounds of spring in Minnesota!


Scientific Name: Bucephala albeola

Population Estimate: 1.2M, Least Concern status

Range / Habitat: Most winter in protected coastal waters, or open inland waters, on the east and west coasts of North America and the southern United States. Their breeding habitat is wooded lakes and ponds in Alaska and Canada, almost entirely included in the boreal forest or taiga habitat. Their distribution is limited to that of the Northern Flicker, as they use old flicker cavities as nesting sites.

Field Notes: Small diving duck. Adult males are striking black and white, with iridescent green and purple heads with a large white patch behind the eye. Females are grey-toned with a smaller white patch behind the eye and a light underside.

Personal Notes:

08 March, 2010

House Finch

Scientific Name: Carpodacus mexicanus

Population Estimate: 21M

Range / Habitat: Found year-round throughout most of US and Mexico. Favors shrubland; frequent visitor of feeders.

Field Notes: Widespread, melodic finch. Male with red to head, chest and rump but brown cheeks and heavy brown streaking of the flanks. Female is quite plain, no markings on head and faint streaking on breast. Purple Finch male has red extending to nape and back and no streaking on the flanks. Purple Finch female has a bold face pattern and darker streaking on chest. Cassin's Finch male has bright red crest and lacks brown flank streaking.

Personal Notes: We were struck by how boldly colored these birds were in Mexico (top photo) compared to what we had seen in Minnesota (bottom photos).