Birds

Puerto Rican Parrot

In 1493, when Christopher Columbus sailed into the Caribbean island now known as Puerto Rico, he was warmly greeted by the Taíno inhabitants while hundreds of noisy bright-green parrots with beautiful white-ringed eyes, which the Taínos called Higuaca, swooped overhead. It is estimated that the beginning of the sixteenth century, there were nearly a million of these beautiful birds living in the all major habitats of Puerto Rico and the adjacent smaller islands of Culebra, Mona, Vieques, and possibly the… Continue reading

Piping Plover

The piping plover (Charadrius melodus), a sparrow-sized, coastal dwelling bird, is a true North American treasure. Found only along the Atlantic coast, surrounding the Great Lakes, and on the alkalai flats of the northern Great Plains, the piping plover derives its name from the bell-like whistled peeps it uses for communication. The inland populations are endangered and the coastal population is listed as threatened according to the Endangered Species Act of 1973. Piping plovers were common along coasts until the… Continue reading

Greater Sage-grouse

The sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) is a large, rounded-winged, spike-tailed, ground-dwelling bird, about two feet tall and weighing from two to seven pounds. The birds are found at elevations ranging to 9,000 feet and are highly dependent on sagebrush for nesting, cover and feed. A population of smaller birds, known in the U.S. as Gunnison Sage-Grouse, was recently recognized as a separate species. Sagebrush steppe is home to a surprising abundance of flora and fauna that depend on this complex, fragile… Continue reading

Whooping Crane

The Whooping Crane (Grus americana) is the tallest North American bird. They are early five feet tall and live for more than 30 years. The crane’s common name comes from the “whooping” call it makes with its mate. Whooping crane pairs participate in “unison calling”—a kind of bird duet in which the whooping crane couple make a series of complex calls, which they coordinate with each other. They also dance—bow, jump, run and flap their wings. Due to Endangered Species… Continue reading

Spectacled Eider

The Spectacled Eider (Somateria fischeri) is a large sea duck that breeds on the coasts of Alaska and northeastern Siberia. They are named for the large white “spectacles” around its eyes, the Spectacled Eider’s striking look sets them apart from other marine birds. When they are not nesting, these ducks spend most of the year in the frigid waters of the Arctic, where they eat bottom-dwelling mollusks and crustaceans. During the winter months, these ducks move far offshore to deep… Continue reading

Akikiki

The `Akikiki (Oreomystis bairdi) is s a small honeycreeper. The Akikiki is found only in the highest elevation native rainforests of Kokeʻe State Park and the Alakaʻi Wilderness Preserve on Kauaʻi. The current population is estimated to be 1,312. The ʻAkikiki’s habitat has been reduced to a fragment of its former range by deforestation and deterioration by invasive species. Avian malaria is a serious threat to the `Akikiki, and global warming could exacerbate that threat by eliminating nearly all areas… Continue reading

Whooping Crane

The whooping crane is the tallest bird in North America with dazzling white feathers, a red cap and a loud whooping call. The birds migrate from the Canadian north to the southern United States. Because whooping crane populations were dropping alarmingly, the government listed them as endangered and began a captive breeding program. In partnership with non-profit organizations, they trained cranes to follow behind aircraft to teach them how to migrate. If you live in the Midwest, keep your eye… Continue reading

Spotted Owl

The Spotted Owl (Strix occidentalis) is 43 cm (17 inches), a wingspan of 114 cm (45 in), and a weight of around 600 g (21 oz). Its eggs are a little over 50 mm (2.0 in) long, and are white and smooth with a slightly grainy texture. “Three distinct subspecies of Spotted Owl range from Canada’s British Columbia to Mexico’s Michoacan State. The “California” Spotted Owl (Strix occidentalis occidentalis) is found in several mountain ranges throughout California. The “Northern” Spotted… Continue reading

Bald Eagle

The Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) is a bird of prey in North America. It can be found in North America, Canada, Alaska, and Northern Mexico. Bald Eagles can be found mainly near large areas of open water with enough food sources and large trees for nesting. Bald Eagles are not actually bald; the name derives from an older meaning of “white headed”. The adult is mainly brown with a white head and tail. The Bald Eagle is usually quite sensitive… Continue reading