Birds of the Week # 19
Cooper’s Hawk is a medium-sized hawk and largish for an Accipiter. Compared to related species, they tend to have moderate-length wings, a long, often graduated or even wedge-shaped tail and long though fairly thick legs and toes. Their eyes tend to be set well forward in the sides of the relatively large and squarish-looking head (though the head can look somewhat rounded if the feathers on the nape are held flush) and a relatively short but robust bill. They have hooked bills that are well adapted for tearing the flesh of prey, as is typical of raptorial birds. Generally, Cooper’s hawks can be considered secretive, often perching within the canopy, but can use more open perches, especially in the western part of the range or in winter when they may use leafless or isolated trees, utility poles or exposed stumps. On perched hawks, the wing-tips tend to appear to cover less than one third of the tail, sometimes seeming to barely cover the covert feathers. As adults, they may be a solid blue-gray or brown-gray color above.
The taxonomic placement of the Turkey Vulture and the remaining six species of New World vultures has been in flux.Though both are similar in appearance and have similar ecological roles, the New World and Old World vultures evolved from different ancestors in different parts of the world. Some earlier authorities suggested that the New World vultures were more closely related to storks. More recent authorities maintained their overall position in the order Falconiformes along with the Old World vultures.
Blue Grosbeak (Female & Male)
The male Blue Grosbeak is deep blue, with both black and brown on its wings. The female is mostly brown. Both sexes are distinguished by their large, deep bill and double wing bars. These features, as well as the grosbeak’s relatively larger size, distinguish this species from the indigo bunting. Length can range from 14 to 19 cm (5.5 to 7.5 in) and wingspan is from 26 to 29 cm (10 to 11 in). Body mass is typically from 26 to 31.5 g (0.92 to 1.11 oz).
Like other nuthatches, the White-breasted Nuthatch forages for insects on trunks and branches and is able to move head-first down trees. Seeds form a substantial part of its winter diet, as do acorns and hickory nuts stored in the fall. Old-growth woodland is preferred for breeding. The nest is in a hole in a tree, and the breeding pair may smear insects around the entrance as a deterrent to squirrels. Predators include hawks, owls, and snakes. Forest clearance may lead to local habitat loss, but there are no major conservation concerns over most of its range.
Carolina Chickadees are so similar to black-capped chickadees that they themselves have trouble telling their species apart. Because of this they sometimes mate producing hybrids. The most obvious difference between the three chickadees is that the Carolina chickadee sings four-note song, black-capped sing two-note songs, and the hybrids sing three-note songs.
© HJ Ruiz – Avian101Coop