Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Plume Zoom #6, answers revealed

Okay, I admit I was a little harsh on you with this one. I didn't give you a whole lot to go on. While none of the guesses were correct, they were noble guesses indeed, and not without merit.

Let's review:

With regards to the one on the left, does this help?

Still unsure? How about this?

The correct answer is a female Red-winged Blackbird. The striping alone in that "teaser" picture really didn't give you enough information. Plus, you couldn't get any idea of the size of the bird (thus, Pine Siskin was a pretty darn good guess!)

According to Cornell's All About Birds site (and also according to my Peterson's guide), Red-wing Blackbirds are year-round residents in most of the United States? So where the HECK do they hang out when it's not breeding season? I've never seen a RWBB in fall or winter.

Some interesting facts about the RWBB:
  • The Red-winged Blackbird forms roosting congregations in all months of the year. In the summer it will roost in small numbers at night in the wetlands where it forages and breeds. In winter, it can form huge congregations of several million birds, which congregate in the evening and spread out each morning. Some may travel as far as 80 km (50 mi) between the roosting and feeding sites. It commonly shares its winter roost with other blackbird species and European Starlings.
  • Different populations and subspecies of Red-winged Blackbirds vary markedly in size and proportions. An experiment was conducted that moved nestlings between populations and found that the chicks grew up to resemble their foster parents. This study indicated that much of the difference seen between populations is the result of the different environments.
Next up, our little yellow friend. Here's a full view:

Isn't he cute? This is a Pine Warbler. I about drove myself crazy trying to ID this bird last year. After looking at the map for this little one, I see that its range is actually quite small. Doesn't get west of eastern Texas, and it only gets that far west down south. As I learned from experience last year, this is one of the first warbles to return north, arriving as early as February in areas just north of their winter range. This warbler was first spotted at our feeders March 9th last year.

Cool facts:
  • The Pine Warbler is the only warbler that eats large quantities of seeds, primarily those of pines. This seed-eating ability often brings them to bird feeders where they eat seeds in addition to suet.
  • It is rarely found in deciduous vegetation except during migration.

The reason I chose these birds for this Plume Zoom is because there's a possibility one or both of these birds might show up at YOUR feeders in the next couple of weeks, and I wanted you to be prepared. Sorry for the level of difficulty.

Until next time...

Bird info provided by All About Birds.

3 comments: said...

very pretty bird pics :-) i can't get any of them to come to my feeder except for a camprobber!!

KaHolly said...

Oh, I can't wait to start spotting these birds, at our feeders or otherwise! It's been a long, long winter.

John said...

Lovely series!