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Author Topic: BIRDS OF TENNESSEE  (Read 9518 times)

Phyl

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Re: COMMON BIRDS OF TENNESSEE
« Reply #60 on: August 16, 2021, 09:36:39 AM »

Great Horned Owl
Bubo virginianus



The Great Horned Owl is the largest owl nesting in Tennessee and is easily identified by its large size, ear tufts and yellow eyes.  It is a nocturnal bird, common and widespread across North America from the arctic tundra, south through Mexico and Central America, and locally to Tierra del Fuego.

There is little evidence of an annual migration even among the northernmost populations.  Its very low pitched five to six note hooting makes the Great-horned Owl easiest to detect in December and January when they are establishing territories. Like the Barred Owl, the Great Horned Owl is sometimes called a "hoot owl."

Description: Sexes alike in plumage, but as with most birds of prey, the female is larger.  The Great Horned Owl is a large, bulky, brown owl with prominent ear tufts widely spaced on head, a white throat, tawny facial disk outlined in black, and yellow eyes.

The male's voice is lower-pitched than the female's.

Length: 22" (height)

Wingspan: 44"

Weight: 3.1 lbs.

Voice: Song is five or six low-pitched, quivering hoots translating as Are you awake? me, too.

Similar Species:

Long-eared Owls, a rare winter visitor to Tennessee, are slimmer, and have proportionately larger ear tufts that are closer together on the head.
Barred Owls have no ear tufts, and dark eyes.
Habitat: The Great Horned Owl uses the widest range of habitats of any North American owl and is found in desert, grassland, suburban areas, deciduous and coniferous forest habitats.

In Tennessee, it is found in areas of mixed fields and woodlands, including upland and bottomland forest, agricultural areas, and urban woodlands.

Diet: Broad range of prey items including rabbits, geese, herons, some smaller birds, amphibians, reptiles, and invertebrates, but mostly mammals. They are the only bird known to readily kill and eat skunks.

Nesting and reproduction: Great Horned Owls are the earliest nesting species in Tennessee with courtship beginning in late fall or early winter. Eggs are usually laid in January. Great Horned Owls do not begin nesting until they are two years old.

Clutch Size: 2 eggs, rarely up to 5.

Incubation: The female does most of the incubating that lasts 26 to 35 days.

Fledging: Both adults feed the young. They leave the nest at 5 weeks old but do not fly well until about 9 weeks old. They remain with the parents for up to 3 more months.

Nest: Great Horned Owls use a variety of nest sites, including trees, cliffs, buildings, and the ground. They often put nests in hollows or broken-off snags in trees and sometimes use the nests of other bird species. Nest height ranges from 30 to 50 feet above the ground.

Status in Tennessee: Fairly common permanent resident nesting throughout the state. Found in areas of mixed woodland and open habitat including upland and bottomland forest, agricultural areas, and urban woodlands.
'Which is more beautiful — feline movement or feline stillness?' Elizabeth Hamilton

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Phyl

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Re: COMMON BIRDS OF TENNESSEE
« Reply #61 on: August 16, 2021, 09:40:33 AM »

Great Horned Owlcontinued



Fun Facts:

Although its eyes do not move, flexibility in the upper neck enables this owl to swivel its head more than 180° and to look in any direction.
They have modified flight feathers that make their flight nearly soundless.
The Great Horned Owl is the only animal that regularly eats skunks. They will also regularly kill and eat other species of owls.
Even though the female Great Horned Owl is larger than the male, it is the male that has a deeper voice.
Obsolete English Names: hoot owl, horned owl

Best places to see in Tennessee: Owls are never easy to see but can be located by their call in appropriate habitat statewide.









Sources:

Houston, C. S., D. G. Smith, and C. Rohner. 1998. Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus). The Birds of North America, No. 372 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, PA, and The American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C.

Nicholson, C. P. 1997. Atlas of Breeding Birds of Tennessee. Univ. of Tennessee Press, Knoxville.

'Which is more beautiful — feline movement or feline stillness?' Elizabeth Hamilton

'A man who never sees a bluebird only half lives.'
Edwin Way Teale

Phyl

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Re: COMMON BIRDS OF TENNESSEE
« Reply #62 on: August 21, 2021, 11:28:57 AM »

Barred Owl
Strix varia


Barred Owls are highly vocal and their hooting call is often phrased as Who cooks for you, Who cooks for you all?  They are more active during the day than other Tennessee owls and will even call occasionally in the daytime.

Barred Owls are widespread in the eastern half of the United States and across central Canada to northern California. Like the Great Horned Owl, Barred Owls are sometimes referred to as "hoot owls."

Description: This stocky, round-headed, medium-sized gray-brown owl has no ear tufts and dark eyes.  The underparts are whitish with dark streaks, and the bill is dull yellow.  T

he sexes are alike in plumage, but the female is larger, even though the male has the lower-pitched voice.

Length: 17.5" (height)

Wingspan: 40"

Weight: 1.3 lbs.

Voice: The song is usually characterized as 8 or 9 clear hoots: who cooks for you, who cooks for you (all).

Similar Species:

Great Horned Owl has ear tufts and yellow eyes.
Habitat: Forested areas especially large blocks of bottomland forest and wooded swamps, but also in mature upland forest. Also, occurs in suburban neighborhoods where tracts of forest remain.

Diet: Small mammals, rabbits, birds, amphibians, reptiles, and invertebrates.

Nesting and reproduction: Barred Owls nest later than Great Horned Owls. Peak egg laying is in early March.

Clutch Size: 2 to 3 eggs, occasionally 1 to 5.

Incubation: The female does most of the 28 to 33 days of incubation.

Fledging: Both adults feed the young. They leave the nest at 4 to 5 weeks old but do not fly well until about 6 weeks. They remain with the parents for up to 3 more months.

Nest: Barred Owls prefer to nest in cavities in deciduous trees but occasionally will use open nests made by hawks, crows, or squirrels. They will also use nest boxes where cavities are limited. Nest heights range from 20 to 50 feet above the ground.

Status in Tennessee: Barred Owls are fairly common residents in Middle and West Tennessee, and less common in East Tennessee.  Their population is stable or increasing, but local declines have occurred in regions where large tracts of forest have been converted to pine plantations, or bottomland forest converted to agricultural production.

 
'Which is more beautiful — feline movement or feline stillness?' Elizabeth Hamilton

'A man who never sees a bluebird only half lives.'
Edwin Way Teale

Phyl

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Re: COMMON BIRDS OF TENNESSEE
« Reply #63 on: August 21, 2021, 11:30:14 AM »

Barred Owl, continued


Fun Facts:

This is the only owl in Tennessee with dark eyes.
The Barred Owl is able to hybridize with the endangered Northern Spotted Owl in the western United State. Recently the more aggressive Barred Owl has expanded westward into the range of the Northern Spotted Owl, further threatening that species.
Great Horned Owls are predators of Barred Owls. They often share the same habitat, but Barred Owls will avoid those areas occupied by a Great Horned Owl.
The oldest known Barred Owl in the wild was 18 years 3 months old.
Best places to see in Tennessee: Owls are never easy to see, but Barred Owls are easier than most because they can be active during the day. They can be found in appropriate woodland habitat statewide, and the Warner Parks and Radnor Lake State Park provide excellent opportunities for seeing Barred Owls in Middle Tennessee.

For more information:

The Owl Pages

Barred Owl Range Map

Sources:
Mazur, K. M., and P. C. James. 2000. Barred Owl (Strix varia). The Birds of North America, No. 508 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, PA, and The American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C.

Nicholson, C. P. 1997. Atlas of Breeding Birds of Tennessee. Univ. of Tennessee Press, Knoxville.

Sibley, D. A. 2000. The Sibley Guide to Birds. A. A. Knopf, New York, NY.

'Which is more beautiful — feline movement or feline stillness?' Elizabeth Hamilton

'A man who never sees a bluebird only half lives.'
Edwin Way Teale

Phyl

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Re: COMMON BIRDS OF TENNESSEE
« Reply #64 on: August 21, 2021, 11:32:42 AM »

Common Nighthawk,
Chordeiles minor



The name “Common Nighthawk” is a bit of a misnomer because this species is not a hawk and is most active at dawn and dusk, not at night.

Its distinctive bouncy, erratic flight is a familiar sight over urban areas and lighted ball fields on summer evenings.

This flight pattern may have reminded some of a large bat, hence the local name “bullbat.”

Nighthawks breed to the northern limit of forest in Canada, throughout the United States and south to Honduras.

The Common Nighthawk has among the longest migrations of any North American bird, wintering entirely in South America.

Description: This medium-sized bird has a large head, a tiny, but the wide bill, and its camouflaged brown mottled plumage makes it difficult to observe at rest.

In flight, wings are long, pointed, and bent, with a prominent white patch near the tip.

Sexes are similar in plumage, but the female has a smaller white wing patch, and lack the small white tail stripe of male.

Length: 9.5
Wingspan: 24"
Weight: 2.2 oz

Voice: A nasal, buzzy peent, heard at dawn and dusk, often while foraging.

Similar Species:

Chuck-will’s-widow and Whip-poor-will have larger heads, rounded tails, and long rounded wings with no white patches.
Habitat: Breeds in areas with exposed gravel or soil and few trees, and commonly on gravel rooftops. In Middle Tennessee, they are commonly found in cedar glades.

Diet: Flying insects

Nesting and reproduction: During the breeding season, the male makes a spectacular “booming” dive both during courtship and for territorial defense.

The male swoops down to within a few feet of the ground making a large sound as the wind vibrates through its flight feathers.

Clutch Size: Usually 2 eggs, occasionally one.

Incubation: The female incubates for 19 days.

Fledging: Both the female and male feed regurgitated insects to their chicks. Young begin flying at 23 days and remain dependent on adults for another week.

Nest: Eggs are laid directly on the ground, on gravel roofs, exposed rock in cedar glades, in pastures, or in plowed fields. No nesting material is used.

Status in Tennessee: The Common Nighthawk is a fairly common summer resident across the state.

It is present from late April through early October and is sometimes seen in large flocks during fall migration.

Populations have declined in recent years.
'Which is more beautiful — feline movement or feline stillness?' Elizabeth Hamilton

'A man who never sees a bluebird only half lives.'
Edwin Way Teale

Phyl

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Re: COMMON BIRDS OF TENNESSEE
« Reply #65 on: August 21, 2021, 11:37:18 AM »

Common Nighthawk, continued

Dynamic map of Common Nighthawk eBird observations in Tennessee


Fun Facts:

Researchers have documented over 500 mosquitoes in the stomachs of individual Common Nighthawks.
The Common Nighthawk belongs to the Goatsucker Family, found in the Old and New World. This name is based on an ancient belief that these birds fed on goats' milk at night.
The oldest known Common Nighthawk in the wild was 10 years old.
Obsolete English Names: bull-bat, booming nighthawk

Best places to see in Tennessee: This bird can be seen over most large urban areas and many lighted ball fields across the state in summer. In summer, dozens may be seen flying through the lights over the pedestrian bridge by the football stadium in Nashville.









Sources:

Nicholson, C. P. 1997. Atlas of Breeding Birds of Tennessee. Univ. Tennessee Press, Knoxville.
Poulin, R. G., S. D. Grindal, and R. M. Brigham. 1996. Common Nighthawk (Chordeiles minor). The Birds of North America, No. 213 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, PA, and The American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C.
Robinson J. C. 1990. An Annotated Checklist of the Birds of Tennessee. Univ. Tennessee Press, Knoxville.
Sibley, D. A. 2000. The Sibley Guide to Birds. A. A. Knopf, New York, NY.
'Which is more beautiful — feline movement or feline stillness?' Elizabeth Hamilton

'A man who never sees a bluebird only half lives.'
Edwin Way Teale

Phyl

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Re: COMMON BIRDS OF TENNESSEE
« Reply #66 on: August 24, 2021, 12:24:32 AM »

Chimney Swift
Chaetura pelagica



Chimney Swifts once nested and roosted in hollow trees in old-growth forests.  When European settlers arrived, they greatly increased the number of potential nesting sites for swifts by putting chimneys on their buildings.

Now, Chimney Swifts only occasionally use trees.  These twittering, “flying-cigar” shaped gray birds are easy to identify as they fly over cities and suburbs catching flying insects. Chimney Swifts are most noticeable at dusk during migration when flocks numbering in the hundreds or thousands circle in tornado-like flocks above roost-chimneys and then suddenly descend, like reverse smoke, into the chimney to spend the night.

Chimney Swifts breed in the eastern half of North America and winter in South America. They usually arrive in Tennessee by late March and depart by mid-October. The name “chimney sweep” is still commonly used.

Description: Chimney Swifts are uniformly dark gray with long, narrow, curved wings, and a short tail, that is not obvious in flight. They are rarely seen perching. Male and female are alike in plumage.

Length: 5.25"

Wingspan: 14"

Weight: 0.81 oz

Voice: A high-pitched musical twittering given in flight.

Similar Species:

This is the only swift commonly found in eastern North America.
Swallows have broader triangular shaped wings, and a noticeable tail.
Habitat: Nests in variety of habitats, especially common in urban areas. Forages over open areas.

Diet: Flying insects

Nesting and reproduction: Only one pair will nest in a chimney, but unmated helpers may assist, and non-breeding individuals may also roost in the chimney at night.
Clutch Size: 4 or 5 eggs, range from 3 to 6.
Incubation: Male and female incubate for 19 to 20 days
Fledging: Both parents feed nestlings, which often leave the nest when 3 weeks old and cling to the chimney wall for a week before being able to fly.
Nest: Both parents build a half-cup of loosely woven twigs, cemented together and to the wall of the chimney, with the bird’s glue-like saliva. Pairs often use the same nest site in subsequent years.

Status in Tennessee: Common migrant and summer resident across the state, but most numerous in urban and suburban areas. They are present in Tennessee from late March or early April until mid-October. The population is declining rangewide, possibly because new style chimneys are less suitable for nest sites.
'Which is more beautiful — feline movement or feline stillness?' Elizabeth Hamilton

'A man who never sees a bluebird only half lives.'
Edwin Way Teale

Phyl

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Re: COMMON BIRDS OF TENNESSEE
« Reply #67 on: August 24, 2021, 12:28:51 AM »

Chimney Swift, continued


Fun Facts:

The wintering range of the Chimney Swift was not discovered until 1943, when 13 bands were recovered from Indians in Peru. Eight of these bands came from birds that were banded in Tennessee. Over 108,000 swifts were banded in Tennessee between 1928 and 1944 at banding stations in Chattanooga, Knoxville, Nashville, Clarksville, and Memphis.
Chimney Swifts do not perch like other birds. They use their long claws to cling to the walls of chimneys, and use their stiff tail feathers as a prop.
Swifts spend their entire day in the air except when roosting or nesting. They even bathe in flight by swooping down and touching their breast feathers on the surface of the water.
The sound of swifts in a chimney sometimes causes alarm among homeowners, but by the time the calls of the nestlings are loud enough to be heard the nestlings have only a week or two before they will fledge. There will be only one active nest in a chimney, but a “helper” adult may also be present. On occasion, non-breeding individuals may roost in a chimney with an active nest.
The oldest known Chimney Swift in the wild was 14 years old.
Obsolete English Names: Chimney sweep, American swift, chimney bat

Best places to see in Tennessee: Chimney Swifts can be found in urban, suburban and rural settings statewide.





Sources:

Cink, C. L., and C. T. Collins. 2002. Chimney Swift (Chaetura pelagica). The Birds of North America, No. 646 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Birds of North America, Inc., Philadelphia, PA.

Nicholson, C. P. 1997. Atlas of Breeding Birds of Tennessee. Univ. Tennessee Press, Knoxville.

Robinson J. C. 1990. An Annotated Checklist of the Birds of Tennessee. Univ. Tennessee Press, Knoxville.

Sibley, D. A. 2000. The Sibley Guide to Birds. A. A. Knopf, New York, NY
'Which is more beautiful — feline movement or feline stillness?' Elizabeth Hamilton

'A man who never sees a bluebird only half lives.'
Edwin Way Teale

Phyl

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Re: COMMON BIRDS OF TENNESSEE
« Reply #68 on: August 24, 2021, 12:32:56 AM »

Ruby-throated Hummingbird,
Archilochus colubris





The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is the only hummingbird breeding in eastern North America and is a familiar summer inhabitant of gardens, parks, and woodlands from mid-April to early October.

In the fall it flies nonstop across the Gulf of Mexico, a distance of nearly 500 miles and taking 18 to 20 hours under favorable conditions, to winter in southern Mexico or northern Central America.  To accomplish this tremendous migration, a hummingbird will double its body mass by fattening on nectar and insects in the weeks prior to departure.

Description: This tiny bird has a long thin bill and an iridescent green back. Both the male and female are white below, but the male has a brilliant iridescent red gorget (throat) that can look black under certain lighting conditions.  Juveniles (June-September) look like the adult female, but juvenile males often develop a few red feathers in the gorget by the end of the summer.

Length: 3.75"
Wingspan: 4.5"
Weight: 0.11 oz

Voice: The song is a rapid series of high-pitched squeaky notes.

Similar Species:

No other hummingbird species breeds in Tennessee, but several Western species have been found in the state during the non-breeding season. They arrive anytime after late August and usually depart in April. As of 2008 a total of 7 Western species had been recorded: Rufous, Black-chinned, Allen's, Anna's, Calliope, and Broad-tailed Hummingbirds, and one Green Violet-ear. Some of these birds have been banded, so we know that some individuals have returned to the same yard for several years in a row.
Habitat: Breeds in mixed woodlands and eastern deciduous forest, gardens, and orchards. Winters in tropical deciduous forest, tropical dry forests, scrubland, citrus groves, and second growth.

Diet: Flower nectar, small insects, and tree sap. Readily uses hummingbird feeders.

Nesting and reproduction: Males establish territories soon after they arrive in spring and will mate with several females. The male has no further role in nesting.

Clutch Size: 2 (pea-sized) eggs, rarely 1 or 3.

Incubation: The female alone incubates the eggs for 12 to16 days.

Fledging: The nestling period can vary from 14 to 31 days, probably due to the availability of food, 18 to 23 days is normal. When they leave the nest, the young are considerably larger than their mothers, and will be fed by her for another 10 days or so.

Nest: The walnut-sized open cup nest is built by the female on top of a small tree branch, often over a stream or other opening. The nest is made of thistle and dandelion down, held together with spider web, and covered on the outside with lichen. The nest will stretch to contain the growing nestlings, and may sometimes be reused (rebuilt) the following year.

Status in Tennessee: Common summer resident and migrant at all elevations across the state. The population is stable or slightly declining.


'Which is more beautiful — feline movement or feline stillness?' Elizabeth Hamilton

'A man who never sees a bluebird only half lives.'
Edwin Way Teale

Phyl

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Re: COMMON BIRDS OF TENNESSEE
« Reply #69 on: August 24, 2021, 12:37:29 AM »

Dynamic map of Ruby-throated Hummingbird eBird observations in Tennessee





Fun Facts:

In one yard in Nashville, 353 individual Ruby-throated Hummingbirds were banded between 8 June and 23 September 2008, including 13 recaptures (2 of these birds had originally been banded as adults in 2004) (S. Bivens pers. com).
The number of Western hummingbirds wintering in Tennessee appears to be increasing. Before the late ‘80s there was only one record of a Rufous Hummingbird. As of the winter of 2007-2008 there had been over 100 records. This is either because the actual numbers of hummingbirds is increasing or because more people are leaving their hummingbird feeders out into the fall and report birds that visit them.
The Ruby-throated Hummingbird beats its wings an average of 53 times per second.
Though most hummingbird feeders are red, the location of a feeder is more important to hummingbirds than the color of the feeder.
The oldest known Ruby-throated Hummingbird was 9 years old.
Obsolete English Names: spinetail

Best places to see in Tennessee: Suburban neighborhoods with mature trees and shrubby cover nearby. They are found in all counties in Tennessee in spring and summer.

For more information:

The Hummer Bird Study Group and has plenty of information about attracting hummingbirds:



https://www.tn.gov/content/dam/tn/twra/images/birds/ruby-throated-hummingbird-007.jpg


Sources:

Nicholson, C. P. 1997. Atlas of Breeding Birds of Tennessee. Univ. Tennessee Press, Knoxville.

Robinson, T. R., R. R. Sargent and M. B. Sargent. 1996. Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris), The Birds of North America (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, PA, and The American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C.

Sibley, D. A. 2000. The Sibley Guide to Birds. A. A. Knopf, New York, NY.
'Which is more beautiful — feline movement or feline stillness?' Elizabeth Hamilton

'A man who never sees a bluebird only half lives.'
Edwin Way Teale

Phyl

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Re: COMMON BIRDS OF TENNESSEE
« Reply #70 on: August 24, 2021, 12:41:58 AM »


Belted Kingfisher
Megaceryle alcyon




The Belted Kingfisher is one of the most widespread landbirds in North America with a breeding range that extends from western Alaska, throughout Canada and in all states but the southwestern United States.

This bird excavates nesting cavities in riverbanks, but human activity such as road building and digging gravel pits, has created additional nesting habitat allowing kingfishers to expand their range into areas without suitable natural nest sites.

The kingfisher can often be seen perching or hovering over clear open water before suddenly diving for fish.  This species winters throughout the breeding range where there is open water.  Other individuals migrate south into Mexico, Central America, and very northern South American.

Description: This medium-sized bird has a large head, large, thick bill, and a shaggy crest. The head, back, and wings are bluish; the underparts are white with a bluish chest band. Females have an additional rust colored band and rusty flanks.

Length: 13"

Wingspan: 20"

Weight: 5 oz

Voice: The call is a loud, distinctive, raspy rattle.

Similar Species:

Blue Jays have a more pointed crest, a thin dark necklace instead of a broad chest band, and don't hunt fish.
Habitat: Kingfishers breed along streams, rivers, lakes, roadcuts, and quarries with earthen banks nearby for nest holes. They winter along rivers, streams, and lakes.

Diet: Kingfishers eat primarily fish, but also consume aquatic invertebrates, insects, and small vertebrates.

Nesting and reproduction: In Tennessee, breeding activities begin in March. Courtship involves high circling flights with prolonged rattling calls.

Clutch Size: 6 to 7 eggs, range 5 to 8.

Incubation: Both parents incubate the eggs for 23 to 24 days.

Fledging: The young fledge at 27 to 29 days, and are taught by their parents to fish. They will remain with their parents for approximately 3 weeks and are fed by them before dispersing.

Nest: Both sexes participate in excavating the burrow in an earthen bank near water. The male does most of the digging, using his bill and pushing the dirt out with his small feet. No lining is used. The burrows may be reused, but site tenacity is weak. Burrow length ranges from 1 to 8 feet.

Status in Tennessee: Fairly common permanent resident in all counties of the state. Occurs locally wherever there is relatively clear water with small fish, and nearby vertical earth banks for nesting. The population in Tennessee, and rangewide, has been declining in recent decades.

'Which is more beautiful — feline movement or feline stillness?' Elizabeth Hamilton

'A man who never sees a bluebird only half lives.'
Edwin Way Teale

Phyl

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Re: COMMON BIRDS OF TENNESSEE
« Reply #71 on: August 24, 2021, 12:45:41 AM »

Belted Kingfisher,    continued




Fun Facts:

The Belted Kingfisher is one of the few bird species where the female is more brightly colored than the male.
The breeding territory of a Belted Kingfisher pair is along a stream and includes just the streambed and the vegetation along it. Territories average 0.6 miles long.
Belted Kingfishers have been known to share their tunnels with swallows. The swallows dig out small rooms tucked in the tunnel walls.
Undigested remains of prey are regurgitated as pellets, which fall beneath fishing and roosting perches. This makes the study of diet possible without collecting the birds or directly observing their foraging behavior.





Best places to see in Tennessee: Most open water lakes, streams, and ponds in Tennessee.

Sources:
Kelly, J.F., E.S. Bridge and M.J. Hamas. 2009. Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon), The Birds of North America (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, PA, and The American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C.

Nicholson, C. P. 1997. Atlas of Breeding Birds of Tennessee. Univ. Tennessee Press, Knoxville.

Sibley, D. A. 2001. The Sibley Guide to Bird Life and Behavior. A. A. Knopf, New York, NY.
'Which is more beautiful — feline movement or feline stillness?' Elizabeth Hamilton

'A man who never sees a bluebird only half lives.'
Edwin Way Teale

Phyl

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Re: COMMON BIRDS OF TENNESSEE
« Reply #72 on: August 25, 2021, 10:54:36 AM »

Red-headed Woodpecker
Melanerpes erythrocephalus


The Red-headed Woodpecker is a dramatically patterned bird.  At rest and in-flight its bright red head contrasts with its bold black and white wings. In addition to eating nuts and berries, this woodpecker is an expert at catching flying insects and is one of the few woodpeckers that will cache (store) food for the winter months.

It breeds from south-central Canada across the eastern United States and withdraws to the southern portion of its range in the non-breeding season. The number of individuals wintering in an area varies greatly from year to year and may depend on food availability. The Red-headed Woodpecker is a year round resident in Tennessee and is most common in the western portion of the state, especially in winter.

Description: This medium-sized woodpecker is the only woodpecker with a completely red head.  That red head and its black wings with large white panels make it an easy species to identify at rest or in flight.

The chest and rump are white, while the tail is black with white outer feathers. The male and female are identical in appearance. The juvenile (July-February) has a similar pattern to the adults, but the head is brown at first, gradually becoming red during the winter.

Length: 9.25"
Wingspan: 17"
Weight: 2.5 oz

Voice: The call is a slightly trilled churr churr churr, and a husky chatter. It also has a bold queerpnote, that is less vibrant than a Red-bellied Woodpecker.

Similar Species:

Red-bellied Woodpeckers only have red on the back of the head and have a back that is barred with black and white.
Habitat: Breeds in open deciduous woodlands, river bottoms, groves of dead and dying trees, orchards, parks, and open wooded swamps with dead trees and stumps. Attracted to burns and recent clearings. Winters in the mature bottomland hardwood forest and upland forest, especially those with oaks.

Diet: This is a most omnivorous woodpecker eating beech and oak mast, seeds, berries, fruit, insects, bird eggs, nestlings, and mice. Regularly caches food in winter for later consumption.
'Which is more beautiful — feline movement or feline stillness?' Elizabeth Hamilton

'A man who never sees a bluebird only half lives.'
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Phyl

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Re: COMMON BIRDS OF TENNESSEE
« Reply #73 on: August 25, 2021, 10:54:50 AM »

Red-headed Woodpecker, continued

Nesting and reproduction: Red-headed Woodpeckers start nesting in late April or early May, which is later than other Tennessee woodpeckers. They may have two broods in a season.

Clutch Size: Usually 4 to 5 eggs. Range: 3 to 7

Incubation: Both the male and female incubate the eggs for 12 to 13 days.

Fledging: The young leave the nest at 27 to 30 days.

Nest: Nests in holes in dead trees or in dead branches, preferring snags with little bark remaining. Red-headed Woodpeckers will occupy an existing cavity or dig a new one. It may take as little as 2 or 3 days to excavate a new cavity.

Status in Tennessee: Common to locally abundant year-round in West Tennessee and less common in the rest of the state. More northerly nesters join resident birds in winter. The Red-headed Woodpecker is declining in Tennessee, as it is over much of its breeding range, and competition with European Starlings for nest cavities may be partly responsible.

Dynamic map of Red-headed Woodpecker eBird observations in Tennessee



Fun Facts:

The Red-headed Woodpecker stores food to be eaten later. It hides insects and seeds in cracks in wood, under bark, and in fence posts, hammering acorns into crevices so tightly that other animals (especially Blue Jays) cannot remove them.
This woodpecker was a war symbol of the Cherokee Indians, and its head was used as a battle ornament, particularly by Plains tribes.
The oldest reported Red-headed Woodpecker in the wild was 9 years 11 months old.
'Which is more beautiful — feline movement or feline stillness?' Elizabeth Hamilton

'A man who never sees a bluebird only half lives.'
Edwin Way Teale

Phyl

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Re: COMMON BIRDS OF TENNESSEE
« Reply #74 on: August 25, 2021, 10:55:05 AM »

Red-headed Woodpecker, continued

Best places to see in Tennessee: Populations of this woodpecker are scattered and somewhat unpredictable. Some likely places to find them include Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park (especially in winter), and Catoosa WMA (specifically the savannah restoration area year round). Cedar Hill Swamp WMA, in Middle Tennessee, has a population that are readily found.





Sources:

Nicholson, C. P. 1997. Atlas of Breeding Birds of Tennessee. Univ. of Tennessee Press, Knoxville.

Sibley, D. A. 2000. The Sibley Guide to Birds. A. A. Knopf, New York, NY.

Smith, K. G., J.H. Withgott and P.G. Rodewald. 2000. Red-headed Woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus), The Birds of North America, No. 518 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, PA, and The American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C.
'Which is more beautiful — feline movement or feline stillness?' Elizabeth Hamilton

'A man who never sees a bluebird only half lives.'
Edwin Way Teale
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