Monday, May 29, 2006

Questions and Answers #2

Many people who visit this site come here via Google and other searches. Sometimes the keywords are simple terms like "birding," some are more specific, and others are just plain strange. Certain search terms are phrased in the form of a question. In this post, I will highlight a few of those and try to answer them.

A lot of searches looking for the identity of red birds in the Mid-Atlantic bring people here. I assume these are in response to birds that people have seen. Without seeing the birds in question, I cannot identify these. However, I can offer a few possibilities:

  • Northern Cardinals are among the most common birds of the area. Males are almost all red, with a red crest and black face. Females are mostly brown, with some red feathers in the wings and tail. Both sexes have a red bill.
  • Spring migration has brought us Scarlet Tanagers. The adult male of this species is all bright red except for its wings, which are black.
  • Summer Tanagers also breed in the Mid-Atlantic and southern states.
What time of year does a kingfisher reproduce?

Like other birds, kingfishers reproduce in the spring and early, when food sources are the most plentiful. According to the Maryland "Yellow Book," belted kingfishers in this area lay their eggs sometime between April 11 and June 4.

a graph of the decline in population for the red-shouldered hawk

This is not really a question, but I will provide some information anyway. Christmas Bird Count data can be used to show trends in population over time; the data can be arranged as tables or graphs. Here is a graph of the red-shouldered hawk population in the United States over the past 50 years.

CBC data actually shows an increase over this time period because the population crashed in the 1960s and then rebounded with the banning of DDT. However, their future stability remains a concern due to habitat destruction. See also my profile of red-shouldered hawks.

Acadian flycatcher: what's it eat?

Acadian flycatchers, like other members of the family Tyrannidae, are insectivores. They primarily eat true flies, but will take other insects as well, and even seeds or berries on occasion.

What does the Cape May Warbler eat?

As I noted in my profile of the species, cape may warblers primarily eat spruce budworms, and occasionally will feed on nectar or fresh catkins during migration.

What does yellow finch look like in Virginia area?

I assume this question refers to the American goldfinch, which is the most common yellow-colored finch in this region. In winter, the pine siskin, which has patches of yellow in its wings, may appear at feeders. Many warblers also have yellow coloration.

Cerulean warbler song

See my post on cerulean warblers, here, for links to sound files.