Sneaking up on a small heron

IMG_2762

I stalked a stalking bird this morning. I spy backyard bird #55, a Green Heron.

IMG_2765

This stealthy little bird has been fishing and hunting around the muddy edges of our pond for a week or so, according to my husband who has been spotting it off and on.

This morning I left my husband and dog inside and tiptoed through the woods to the pond.

IMG_2766

From a distance, the Green Heron is a dark, stocky bird hunched on slender yellow legs at the water’s edge, often hidden behind a tangle of leaves. Seen up close, it is a striking bird with a velvet-green back, rich chestnut body, and a dark cap often raised into a short crest.

I first saw and photographed one in the Everglades a couple of winters ago, along the Anhinga Trail. Photos HERE.

IMG_2770

Cool fact from Cornell Lab of Ornithology…

The Green Heron is one of the world’s few tool-using bird species. It creates fishing lures with bread crusts, insects, earthworms, twigs, feathers, and other objects, dropping them on the surface of the water to entice small fish.

I will keep an eye out for that!

Green Herons eat mainly small fish such as minnows, sunfish, catfish, pickerel, carp, perch, gobies, shad, silverside, eels, and goldfish. They also feeds on insects, spiders, crustaceans, snails, amphibians, reptiles, and rodents.

IMG_2782

Nicely camouflaged.

Green Herons are common and widespread, but they can be hard to see at first. Whereas larger herons tend to stand prominently in open parts of wetlands, Green Herons tend to be at the edges, in shallow water, or concealed in vegetation. Visit a wetland and carefully scan the banks looking for a small, hunch-backed bird with a long, straight bill staring intently at the water.

IMG_2797

We are in a drought right now and the pond is the lowest level it’s been since we moved here 18 years ago. I hope some rain comes soon to replenish.

House sale update: we may be under contract soon.

Looking good, little peep

IMG_2477

Tiny little sandpiper spotted splashing in a puddle in the parking lot of Little Jack’s seafood restaurant, Hampton Beach, this morning.

IMG_2478

Extremely adorable shorebird.

IMG_2498

Since it is so tiny and has yellow-green legs, I think it is a Least Sandpiper.

Least Sandpipers are the smallest of the small sandpipers known as “peeps”—not much bigger than a sparrow. They have distinctive yellow-green legs and a high-pitched creep call.

IMG_2499

This little bird is just passing through. It’s migration time.

Eastern populations probably fly nonstop over the ocean from the Gulf of St. Lawrence and New England to wintering grounds in northeastern South America, a distance of about 1,800 to 2,500 miles.

That is mind-boggling.

A chime of wrens

IMG_2329

Backyard bird #54, the House Wren!

Three of them were chattering in the maple tree by the big garden this morning.

IMG_2333

Noisy little birds. Peppy and adorable. Funny I’ve never noticed them in our backyard before.

A plain brown bird with an effervescent voice, the House Wren is a common backyard bird over nearly the entire Western Hemisphere. Listen for its rush-and-jumble song in summer and you’ll find this species zipping through shrubs and low tree branches, snatching at insects.

IMG_2334

Guess they nest elsewhere and are just passing through. Maybe they are migrating south already?

trog_aedo_AllAm_map.gif

There were other signs this morning that it is bird autumn: Great Blue Heron lifted off from pond edge as I walked out back with the dog; flock of eight or ten Tree Swallows were dipping down to drink from the pond on the wing.

IMG_2343

House Wrens on the garden fence.

In summer, House Wrens are at home in open forests, forest edges, and areas with scattered grass and trees. Backyards, farmyards, and city parks are perfect for them. In winter they become more secretive, preferring brushy tangles, thickets, and hedgerows.

IMG_2352

Oh stay, little bird. Do not fly away with our summer too soon!

Hello, kingfisher

IMG_2295

Driving along Route 1A near Rye Harbor, I spotted a small bird with a distinctive profile perched on a wire overlooking Awcomin Marsh.

IMG_2299

Belted kingfisher!

IMG_2302

Keeping an eye out for an afternoon snack on a rainy summer day.

Belted Kingfishers live mostly on a diet of fish including sticklebacks, mummichogs, trout, and stonerollers. They also eat crayfish and may eat other crustaceans, mollusks, insects, amphibians, reptiles, young birds, small mammals, and even berries. A kingfisher looks for prey from a perch that overhangs water, such as a bare branch, telephone wire, or pier piling. When it spots a fish or crayfish near the surface, it takes flight, dives with closed eyes, and grabs the prey in its bill with a pincer motion. Returning with its prize, it pounds the prey against the perch before swallowing it head first. It may also hover above the water instead of searching from a perch. As nestlings, Belted Kingfishers digest the bones and scales they consume, but by the time they leave the nest they begin disgorging pellets of fish skeletons and invertebrate shells.

There are some very beautiful, colorful members of the family Alcidinidae.