Category Archives: Bird of the Week

Bird of the week: Rufous Sided Spotted Towhee

Rufous Sided Spotted Towhee

(early spring visitor)

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link: to larger photos
more: Photos by Local Color Photography

Spotted Towhee
Pipilo maculatus
Size and Shape: A large sparrow with a thick, pointed bill, short neck, chunky body, and long, rounded tail.
About a third again bigger than a Song Sparrow and twice as heavy. Smaller than a robin.
Both Sexes
Length: 6.7-8.3 in
Weight: 1.2-1.7 oz
Wingspan: 11.0 in
Color Pattern: Male Spotted Towhees have jet-black upperparts and throat; their wings and back are spotted bright white. The flanks are warm rufous and the belly is white. Females have the same pattern but are grayish brown where males are black. In flight, look for white corners to the black tail.
Learn more about this bird: The Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Link to Birds Page
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Bird of the week: Gray Jay

Gray Jay
(year around higher elevations)
GrayJay-a
(photo © Alix d’Entremont)
more photos: Macaulay Library

Canada Jay, Whiskey Jack
Perisoreus canadensis
Canada Jays are dark gray above and light gray below, with black on the back of the head forming a partial hood. Juveniles are grayish black overall, and usually show a pale gape at the base of the bill.
The deceptively cute Canada Jay is one of the most intrepid birds in North America, living in northern forests year-round and rearing chicks in the dark of winter. Highly curious and always on the lookout for food, Canada Jays eat just about anything, from berries to small animals. They may even land on your hand to grab a raisin or peanut. During summer they hoard food in trees to sustain themselves through bleak winters.

Learn more about this bird: The Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Link to Birds Page
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Bird of the week: Eastern Blue Jay

Eastern Blue Jay

(uncommon, rare visitor)

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link: to more photos
more: Photos by Local Color Photography

Blue Jay
Cyanocitta cristata
Size and Shape: Large crested songbird with broad, rounded tail. Blue Jays are smaller than crows, larger than robins. About the same size as a Western Scrub-Jay
Both Sexes
Length: 9.8-11.8 in (25-30 cm)
Weight: 2.5-3.5 oz (70-100 g)
Wingspan: 13.4-16.9 in (34-43 cm)
Color Pattern: White or light gray underneath, various shades of blue, black, and white above.
Blue Jays make a large variety of calls that carry long distances. Most calls produced while the jay is perched within a tree. Usually flies across open areas silently, especially during migration. Stuffs food items in throat pouch to cache elsewhere; when eating, holds a seed or nut in feet and pecks it open.
Learn more about this bird: The Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Link to Birds Page
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Bird of the week: Steller’s Jay

Steller’s Jay

(common, year around)

2011 May 11
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2020 January 25
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link: to larger photos
more: Photos by Local Color Photography

Steller’s Jay
Cyanocitta stelleri
Size and Shape: Steller’s Jays are large songbirds with large heads, chunky bodies, rounded wings, and a long, full tail. The bill is long, straight, and powerful, with a slight hook. Steller’s Jays have a prominent triangular crest that often stands nearly straight up from their head.
Both Sexes
Length: 11.8-13.4 in (30-34 cm)
Weight: 3.5-4.9 oz (100-140 g)
Wingspan: 17.3 in (44 cm)
Color Pattern: At a distance, Steller’s Jays are very dark jays, lacking the white underparts of most other species. The head is charcoal black and the body is all blue (lightest, almost sparkling, on the wings). White markings above the eye are fairly inconspicuous.
Like other jays, Steller’s Jays are bold, inquisitive, intelligent, and noisy. Steller’s Jays spend much of their time exploring the forest canopy, flying with patient wingbeats. They come to the forest floor to investigate visitors and look for food, moving with decisive hops of their long legs.
Learn more about this bird: The Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Link to Birds Page

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Bird of the week: Clark’s Nutcracker

Clark’s Nutcracker
(year around higher elevations, locally seen in fall and winter)
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link to more photos including juveniles:
Photos by Local Color Photography

Clark’s Nutcracker
Nucifraga columbiana
Size and Shape: Clark’s Nutcrackers are the size of a jay but the shape of a crow, with short tails and rounded, crestless heads. The bill is long, straight, and sharp-tipped.
Both Sexes
Length: 10.6-11.8 in (27-30 cm)
Weight: 3.7-5.7 oz (106-161 g)
Color Pattern: Clark’s Nutcrackers are pale gray birds with black wings. In flight, the wings show large white patches along the trailing edges (secondaries). The tail is black in the center with broad white along either side. Nutcrackers have black bills, legs, and feet.
Nutcrackers travel in flocks and use their spike-like bills to pick seeds out of pine cones. They eat some of the seeds and bury thousands of others for the winter. Nutcrackers fly on broad, floppy wings and make rolling, gravelly calls audible from far away.
Learn more about this bird: The Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Link to Birds Page
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Bird of the Week: Sandhill Crane

Sandhill Crane

(not common)
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photo by Ann F 20190920 in Yellow Pine
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photo by Local Color Photography 20150329 near Cascade

Sandhill Crane
Antigone canadensis
Size and Shape: Sandhill Cranes are very large, tall birds with a long neck, long legs, and very broad wings. The bulky body tapers into a slender neck; the short tail is covered by drooping feathers that form a “bustle.” The head is small and the bill is straight and longer than the head. About the same size, but considerably bulkier, than a Great Blue Heron. Smaller than a Whooping Crane.
Both Sexes
Length: 47.2 in (120 cm)
Weight: 119.9-172.8 oz (3400-4900 g)
Wingspan: 78.7 in (200 cm)
Color Pattern: These are slate gray birds, often with a rusty wash on the upperparts. Adults have a pale cheek and red skin on the crown. Their legs are black. Juveniles are gray and rusty brown, without the pale cheek or red crown.
Sandhill Cranes breed in open wetland habitats surrounded by shrubs or trees. They nest in marshes, bogs, wet meadows, prairies, burned-over aspen stands, and other moist habitats, preferring those with standing water. Breeders gravitate toward the edges between wetland and upland habitats, while nonbreeders may prefer open, grassy sites. Sandhill Cranes winter in the southern U.S. and northern Mexico, roosting on shallow lakes or rivers at night and spending the day in irrigated croplands, pastures, grasslands, or wetlands.
Learn more about this bird: The Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Link to Birds Page
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Bird of the week: Raven

Raven

(year around)
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(click image for larger size)
link to more ravens
Photos by Local Color Photography

Common Raven
Corvus corax
Size and 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.
Both Sexes
Length: 22.1-27.2 in (56-69 cm)
Weight: 24.3-57.3 oz (689-1625 g)
Wingspan: 45.7-46.5 in (116-118 cm)
Color Pattern: Common Ravens are entirely black, right down to the legs, eyes, and beak.
Learn more about this bird: The Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Link to Birds Page
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Bird of the Week: Black-backed Woodpecker

Black-backed Woodpecker
(year around, not common)

male
IMG_2330-Black-Backed-Woodpecker-2web-a
(click image for full size)

More photos by Local Color Photography

Black-backed Woodpecker
Picoides arcticus
Size and Shape: Medium-sized woodpecker.
Both Sexes
Length: 9.1 in (23 cm)
Weight: 2.1-3.1 oz (61-88 g)
Color Pattern: Back entirely black. Sides barred black-and-white. Throat, chest, and belly white. Face black with white and black mustache marks. Male with yellow cap.
Learn more about this bird: The Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Link to Birds Page
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Bird of the Week: Three-Toed Woodpecker

Three-Toed Woodpecker

(year around, not common)
Male
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Female
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Photos by Local Color Photography

American Three-toed Woodpecker
Picoides dorsalis
Size and Shape: A medium-sized black-and-white woodpecker, more black than white.
Both Sexes
Length: 7.9 in (20 cm)
Weight: 2.3 oz (65 g)
Color Pattern: Head black with a white mustache stripe and a thin white line behind eye. Throat, breast, and belly white. Adult males (and juveniles of both sexes) have a yellow crown patch.
Learn more about this bird: The Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Link to Birds Page
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Bird of the Week: Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker

(year around, not common)

downy1web-a
(click image for larger size)
Male (female lacks the red patch)

link to more Downy Woodpecker photos:
Photos by Local Color Photography

Downy Woodpecker
Dryobates pubescens
Size and Shape: Downy Woodpeckers are small versions of the classic woodpecker body plan. They have a straight, chisel-like bill, blocky head, wide shoulders, and straight-backed posture as they lean away from tree limbs and onto their tail feathers. The bill tends to look smaller for the bird’s size than in other woodpeckers. About two-thirds the size of a Hairy Woodpecker.
Both Sexes
Length: 5.5-6.7 in (14-17 cm)
Weight: 0.7-1.0 oz (21-28 g)
Wingspan: 9.8-11.8 in (25-30 cm)
Color Pattern: Downy Woodpeckers give a checkered black-and-white impression. The black upperparts are checked with white on the wings, the head is boldly striped, and the back has a broad white stripe down the center. Males have a small red patch on the back of the head. The outer tail feathers are typically white with a few black spots.

Learn more about this bird: The Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Link to Birds Page
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