In the winter, cardinals will seek shelter in evergreen trees and shrubs. Planting evergreens is a good way to make your yard cardinal friendly.Cardinals prefer thickly covered nest sites and will not nest in bird houses. Planting viney shrubbery like junipers, honeysuckle, grapevines, and dogwoods can provide a place where cardinals will build nests. Because cardinals are ground feeders, they are especially vulnerable to predation by house cats. Make sure to keep your cats inside if you want the birds to feel comfortable in your yard.
I will be on vacation with my family, starting tomorrow Sunday February 17th, I will not blog any posts until my return on Sunday February 24th. Thank you! – H.J.
The Yellow-rumped Warbler (Setophaga coronata) is a North American bird species combining four closely related forms: the eastern myrtle warbler (ssp coronata); its western counterpart, Audubon’s warbler (ssp group auduboni); the northwest Mexican black-fronted warbler (ssp nigrifrons); and the Guatemalan Goldman’s warbler (ssp goldmani).
This is a mid-sized New World warbler, though it is one of the largest species in the genus Setophaga (formerly Dendroica) which comprises most of the species in the family. In total length, the species can range from 12 to 15 cm (4.7 to 5.9 in) long, with a wingspan of 19 to 24 cm (7.5 to 9.4 in). Body mass can vary from 9.9 to 17.7 g (0.35 to 0.62 oz), though averages between 11 and 14 g (0.39 and 0.49 oz). Among standard measurements, the wing chord is 6.3 to 8.4 cm (2.5 to 3.3 in), the tail is 5 to 6.6 cm (2.0 to 2.6 in), the bill is 0.8 to 1.1 cm (0.31 to 0.43 in) and the tarsus is 1.8 to 2.2 cm (0.71 to 0.87 in). In summers, males of both forms have streaked backs of black on slate blue, white wing patches, a streaked breast, and conspicuous yellow patches on the crown, flank, and rump (the latter giving rise to the species’s nickname “butterbutt” among birdwatchers). Audubon’s warbler also sports a yellow throat patch, while the myrtle warbler has a white throat and eye stripe, and a contrasting black cheek patch. Females of both forms are more dull, with brown streaking front and back, but still have noticeable yellow rumps. Goldman’s warbler, of Guatemala, resembles Audubon’s but has a white lower border to the yellow throat and otherwise darker plumage; males replace the slate blue of Audubon’s with black.
Audubon’s and the myrtle are among North America’s most abundant neotropical migrants. They are primarily insectivorous. The species is perhaps the most versatile foragers of all warblers. Beyond gleaning from leaves like other New World warblers, they often flit, flycatcher-like, out from their perches in short loops, to catch flying insects. Other places yellow-rumped warblers have been spotted foraging include picking at insects on washed-up seaweed at the beach, skimming insects from the surface of rivers and the ocean, picking them out of spiderwebs, and grabbing them off piles of manure. Common foods include caterpillars and other larvae, leaf beetles, bark beetles, weevils, ants, scale insects, aphids, grasshoppers, caddisflies, craneflies, and gnats, as well as spiders. They also eat spruce budworm, a serious forest pest, during outbreaks.
The Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Regulus calendula) is a very small passerine bird found throughout North America. It is a member of the kinglet family. The bird has olive-green plumage with two white wing bars and a white eye-ring. Males have a red crown patch, which is usually concealed. The sexes are identical (apart from the crown), and juveniles are similar in plumage to adults. It is one of the smallest songbirds in North America. The ruby-crowned kinglet is not closely related to other kinglets, and is put in its own subgenus, Corthylio. Three subspecies are currently recognized.
The kinglet is migratory, and its range extends from northwest Canada and Alaska south to Mexico. Its breeding habitat is spruce-fir forests in the northern and mountainous regions of the United States and Canada. The ruby-crowned kinglet builds a cup-shaped nest, which may be pensile or placed on a tree branch and is often hidden. It lays up to 12 eggs, and has the largest clutch of any North American passerine for its size. It is mainly insectivorous, but also eats fruits and seeds.
The ruby-crowned kinglet is a very small bird, being 9 to 11 cm (3.5 to 4.3 in) long, having a wingspan of 16 to 18 cm (6.3 to 7.1 in), and weighing 5 to 10 g (0.2 to 0.4 oz). It has gray-green upperparts and olive-buff underparts. It has two white wingbars and a broken white eye ring. The wingbar on the greater secondary coverts (closer to the wing-tip) is wider, and is next to a dark band. The kinglet has a relatively plain face and head, although the male has a scarlet-red crown patch, which is usually concealed by the surrounding feathers. The crown patch is rarely orange, yellow, or not present. Females are identical to males (except for the crown). Immature birds are similar to adult females, since young males lack a crown patch. The kinglet usually moves along branches or through foliage with short hops, and flies with bursts of rapid wing beats. It is constantly active, and is easily recognized by its characteristic wing-flicking. Its flight has been described as “swift, jerky, and erratic”.
Compared to the related golden-crowned kinglet, the ruby-crowned kinglet is slightly larger, more elongated, and has greener plumage. The bird can be mistaken for the Hutton’s vireo, which also displays wing-flicking, though less frequently than the kinglet. It can also be mistaken for the dwarf vireo in Mexico. However, both of the vireos are larger, have stouter bills and legs, and lack the kinglet’s black bar on the wings.
The ruby-crowned kinglet’s vocalizations are remarkably loud and complex for its size. Its song can be divided into three main parts: a series of high pitched notes (zee-zee-zee or tee-tee-tee), two to five low trills (turr or tu), and a repeated three note “galloping” phrase (tee-da-leet, tee-da-leet). However, there is variation in the songs of a given individual, and they often contain only one or two of the three parts. The third part is only sung by male birds; an abbreviated version is heard from the females. Other vocalizations of the ruby-crowned kinglet include alarm calls, simple contact calls, and begging calls produced by chicks.
Note: The Ruby-crowned Kinglet is # 218 on my List of “Lifers”