Thursday, September 23, 2010

Cooper's Hawk

I found a new super great place to bird today about 4 miles from my house. It is a very large power line clear cut strip that runs for miles and miles. I always thought about going there, so today I finally did. I spotted a Cooper's Hawk having a late afternoon snack. It flew up in the tree and looked at me until I left.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Dyke Marsh

I went down to Dyke Marsh today to see if there were any more birds transiting through. I did get a great picture of a Lesser Yellowlegs.

I saw a very large bird flying down the middle of the Potomac River. Any idea what it is?

My first real Bald Eagle picture. Although not super close, I will take it. It is a permanent resident to Northern VA.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Carolina Wren

I finally got a decent enough picture of a Carolina Wren in my backyard. It flew in to check out the suet, but in the end just wanted to dig around for some insects.

Notice the prominent white eyebrow and orange-ish belly. This is how you can distinguish it from the House Wren.

This is a permanent resident bird in Northern VA.

Duck, duck, duck, Gull???

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The migration is on

I saw my first winter visitors of the year today down at Dykes Marsh. There were several American Coots trying to get out of the rain. I should have followed their lead.

I usually don't added to a blog later but I will probably never blog about a coot again, so here is another picture.

Friday, September 10, 2010


Birds molt to get rid of dead feathers. I didn’t really notice this until I started reading some of my favorite bird blogs. Then last night while I was sitting outside eating dinner, a Blue Jay flew in to eat at one of the feeders. While he or she had most of its lower feathers, its head was nearly bald. This got me to thinking. What kind of birds molt and how often?

Molting is usually done in the fall right before a bird would migrate, so it is the perfect time of year to see molting birds. Birds that do molt generally fall into 3 categories; ones that molt 1 time a year, ones that molt 1 complete and 1 partial a year and ones that molt 2 times a year. Although scientists don’t completely know why birds molt, they generally agree it is a hormonal change brought on by the onset of fall.

If a feather goes bad, they must shed it to replace it. It can’t heal itself.

This is only about backyard birds.

One molt per year:
Many species have one complete molt per year. These include:


One complete molt and one partial molt per year:

Some species molting into their basic plumage and also their bright breeding plumage.  Males always molt and change colors while females molt and keep their same colors. These include:


Two complete molts per year:

Only a few species undergo two full molts per year. Most of these live in areas where the environment causes significant feather wear and tear.

Marsh Wrens 

Hummingbirds aren't picky

Notice the flower is missing, but the hummingbird doesn't care.  I must make some good juice.