Although Yellow-billed Cuckoo is a common bird, people have observed it for a long time. They are hard to find as they hide in dense deciduous forests. It is only when you hear the sound of their call that you can notice their presence in the neighborhood. The croaky, stuttering calls can be heard from a considerable distance. The sound of cicadas in summer is often intermingled with that of Yellow-billed Cuckoos.
The idea of snipe hunts used as pranks in summer camps might have confused a lot of kids, but Wilson’s Snipes are actually the only creatures of imagination made up to play practical jokes on your peers. They are real, plump-bodied shorebirds with a wide range in North America. Their buff-brown color pattern doesn’t exactly make it easy to see them. Along with their secretive nature, the only time you can spot them is when they are too busy trying to attract a mate to care about you.
White-winged Doves are relatives of Mourning Dove. In fact, you might not be able to differentiate between the two species at first at all. A clear difference is visible in the bulkiness and the larger size of the White-winged Dove regardless. In the southwest US, this species appears as summer dwellers.
Spotted Towhees are a large species of sparrows you will mainly find on the west, right in the sun-kissed thickets. When they finally catch your line of sight, their back would be a sparkling black while white spots and strips the rest of their plumage. The rufous color on their flanks is a perfect match for the dry leaves they hop around all day. Among the dense leaves, the birds are by no means easy to spot. So, the best time to go around looking for this bird species would undoubtedly be spring, when the male Spotted Towhees go to the top of the shrubs and start singing their songs.
Snowy Egrets put even the most graceful herons to shame with their elegance. This slender beauty, with its black legs and yellow feet, has a total contrasting white plumage. The plumage is so white that we had no choice but to name it “Snowy” Egret. Their thin legs aren’t only useful for walking but play a vital role in their foraging habits.
Small as they are, the name ‘Piping’ certainly suits this species with a short bill. The pale color on their back is the perfect match for the white alkali flats and beaches with white sand. Generally, shorebirds are adaptable and can inhabit the shores of pretty much any area. Piping Plovers are mainly a specialty in North America. In winter, a small flock of them extends at most to Mexico.
A songbird with the habit of raptors; is the best way to describe Loggerhead Shrike. These inhibit the semi-open grasslands and overall open areas of North America. This small predator with a black mask and gray and white color patterns chooses high perches to hunt from. Small mammals, lizards, insects, and even other birds are the unfortunate victims.
In the New World, a Pied-billed Grebe is present in a lot of places. North America’s temperate regions are especially familiar with this bird species. They aren’t exactly a sociable bunch. If you compare them to other Grebes, the contrast is even more apparent. They seldom try to form a flock. Around marshy pond areas, you might even see a single, lonely one.
The Anhinga has so many names, and each appears appropriate than the other. It is the water turkey, the snakebird, the American darter, or just the darter. Either way, the connection of Anhingas to water is a no-brainer. You’re more likely to see these birds in some of America’s hotter states.
The Black Guillemot is a seabird of the coastal regions of the North Atlantic and Alaska. Much like its name, derived from the French ‘Guillaume’ or William, it is a strong-willed shorebird with striking characteristics. This duck-sized seabird has a dramatically contrasting winter and summer plumage, both equally impressive and unique.
The rocky shorelines of the Arctic and North Atlantic see Black Guillemots diving and swimming around in leisure. For a bird species with black in its name, it is only in summer that its plumage actually turns black. The winter season is spent with a rather ice-white appearance.
For inexperienced eyes, there aren’t many dissimilarities between the two species of Yellowlegs. A newbie birdwatcher might suffer from confusion for days while looking at Lesser Yellowlegs and Greater Yellowlegs side by side. They might even question why the species has been divided into two in the first place. If you observe them long enough, the difference in their personality becomes clearer than crystal.
The southwestern cities are certainly acquainted with the soft whistling notes of no hope as the Inca Dove sings out. Often, they will wander around your lawn, taking delicate steps or flutter around as their wings make rattling noises. A big part of their range sees them around human settlement.
Warblers tend to have a striking appearance. This is more so the case for a Golden-winged Warbler, where the unusual patterns on their plumage are contrasted by the places they chose to frequent, such as the swampy dumps and leafy areas going through their second growth.
Among all the species of Penguins alive today, Emperor Penguins are the heaviest and the tallest. There isn’t much notable difference between the male and female penguins in terms of size or plumage color. It is common knowledge that Penguins are flightless. In charge of a streamlined figure, what should have been wings are two stiff and flat flippers ideal for marine life. When they are hunting for food, they are capable of staying underwater for over 20 minutes. Several instances of adaptation occurred before they could reach this stage.
In some ways, the silhouette of a Chimney Swift is more familiar than a clear vision of the bird species. Their nimble movements are seen over rivers, fields, and rooftops as they go about catching insects. This species with a smudged gray color pattern is known for its fluid flying style characterized by shallow and stiff wingbeats. The small body can’t seem to bear the weight of the wings, which curves while on a flight.
Standing out among the white shorebirds, the breeding population of Black Terns happens to have a stunning mix of black and charcoal gray on their plumage. Their neat pointed wings which frame their delicate shape allows them to be immensely agile. They flutter about before swooping down to scoop out fish from water surfaces and pounce when they see flying insects. From that perspective, they are no different from Swallows.
The Warblers with crisps, chestnut-sided plumage are not the ones who can be considered average among the many warblers. The Chestnut-sided Warbler comes with a yellow cap, a slender body, and a penchant for the thickets and second-growth forests. In spring, their plumage molts into gray as they head to coffee plantations and the forests of Central America.
The largest tern in the world, Caspian Terns certainly have an air of royalty surrounding them. In terms of terns, they are also the easiest to recognize, owing to their pretty rasps in their calls and the red bill shaped like a fish knife. Present in pretty much every part of the world, Caspians are partial towards saltwater and freshwater habitats.
Once, the Audubon’s Warbler was mistaken for the Yellow-rumped Warbler and Myrtle Warbler. And while they are mostly the same bird species, for the most part, they do have some differences scientists didn’t manage to decipher until around 1973. For one, Myrtle Warbler is thought to reside in the east of the U.S. while Audubon’s Warblers stay to the west. The species might also have hybrids in places where their breeding ranges meet like in Western Canada.
Experts at camouflaging themselves amongst the leaf litter, the American Woodcock’s mottled brown plumage helps them trick humans and their prey. They maintain a slow gait on the floor of the forests. They probe around using their long bill until they find earthworms hiding in the soil.