Category Archives: Birds

Birds of Cape Ann: How to Tell the Difference Between a Snowy Egret and a Great Egret

Great egret Gloucester ©Kim Smith 2014Great Egret

For the Chief, and anyone who wants a quick and easy reference on how to tell the difference between the Snowy and Great Egrets, both white and both often times found feeding in the marsh and tide pools together. The Great Egret is greater in size and has a bright yellow bill, with black legs and black feet. The smaller Snowy Egret has the opposite markings, with unmistakeable cadmium yellow feet and a black bill.
Great Egret Snowwy Egret how to tell the difference ©Kim Smith 2014

Snowy Egret and Great Egret

In the above photo taken this morning, the egrets were too far away for my camera’s lens to get a really clear picture however, when cropped, you can see a side-by-side comparison. The Snowy Egret, with black bill and bright yellow feet, is flying in the background and the Great Egret, with black feet and yellow bill, is perched.

Great Egret lobster Cove Gloucester ©Kim Smith 2014Great Egret Lobster Cove

More posts about Great Egret and Snowy Egrets:

BIRDS OF CAPE ANN: GREAT EGRET VS. GREAT EGRET

BEAUTIFUL GOOD HARBOR FOGGY MORNING SUNRISE, SNOWY EGRET, AND WHIMBRELS

Lights! Camera! Nature! Movies by kids ages 7-12 @ Cape Ann Community Cinema Tomorrow (SAT 7/12) NOON-2pm

From Cape Ann TV’s Lisa Smith:

Lights! Camera! Nature! Come to the Cape Ann Community Cinema on Sat., July 12 at Noon to 2 PM , to watch nature movies made by kids ages 7-12 in the the Kestrel Educational Adventure Program.

Here is one of the movies being screened “Telephone Island”:

Welcome to Telephone Island a magical island off the coast of Gloucester, Ma and it is filled with fascinating animals. This movie was made in the Spring-Summer of 2014 by a student in the Kestrel Foundation’s Lights, Camera, Nature program. The program is led by Jessica Kagle and made in co-operation with Cape Ann TV where the students edited their movies. Screening of this movie and the others made in the spring program will be at the Cape Ann Community Cinema on Main St. in Gloucester, Sat., July 12, 2014 at noon to 2pm along with NOVA’s “The Incredible Journey of the Butterflies”.

Baby Robins, Brought to You by Wolf Hill

We are so fortunate in Gloucester to have not one, but two, terrific garden centers, Wolf Hill and Goose Cove Gardens (and Corliss Brothers in Ipswich isn’t too far off the beaten track, either). Barbara and her team at Goose Cove are phenomenal as is the team at Wolf Hill–Kate, Joe, Ben, Dave, Jake, and all the guys. Baby American Robin ©Kim Smith 2014 Both Wolf Hill and Goose Cove take wonderful care of the wildlife that makes their home in the very inviting environment of their nurseries. Last year Kate kept me well supplied in butterfly eggs, which had been deposited on Wolf Hill plants, and whenever I shop at either garden center, a frequent topic of conversation is the robins because they oftentimes build their nests smack dab in the middle of a plant, or group of plants, that are for sale. Robins especially like to nest in hanging flower baskets. This year was no exception. Today when at Wolf Hill I spied a mama robin zooming away from a balled and burlapped tree. The nest was at eye level! I ran and got my cameras but filmed for only a moment because both parents found it highly disturbing. The babies were hungry, with wide gaping greedy mouths, and it was clear my presence was keeping them from their breakfasts. As soon as I turned away, the parents resumed feeding the babies.

_S956668Isn’t this sweet how they take care of the robins at Wolf Hill?

Whitey

WHITEY BULGER PIGEON-

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Looking across the parking lot at the dock I saw what looked like a white seagull bopping back and forth in the parking lot.  Upon further inspection it was this pigeon.  Note the white hair/feathers on its talons (is that what you call them when they’re on a pigeon, or do you call them feet or something else?)  Talons sounds a little too aggressive for a white pigeon but WTF do I know about pigeons?

Splish Splash

Bird Bath Gray Catbird ©Kim Smith 2014Click image to view larger

The day we planted blueberry bushes is the very same day the catbirds began to call our garden home. We now see Gray Catbirds (Dumetella carolinensis) throughout the seasons, devouring the seeds and fruit of holly, crabapple, winterberry, magnolia, blueberry, and shad. Their cat-like cries, which lends the species their common name, are welcome and often heard. Gray Catbirds are in the Mimidae Family and, like their relatives the Mockingbirds, also mimic the songs of other birds.

Although I have read that catbirds are shy, they seem relatively sociable in our garden and aren’t threatened by the presence of people within close proximity. We keep the bird baths filled with fresh clean water and I especially love to watch the catbirds from our kitchen window as they are so exuberant in their bathing habits–diving and splashing and then drying their wings at the edge of the basin. Oh Joyous Spring!

Gray Catbird Dumetella carolinensis ©Kim Smith 2014

I am Magnificent

This beautiful Red Tail Hawk came visiting on Wednesday morning.

Some information regarding this beautiful bird from the Audubon Society.  The red-tailed hawk is 18-25 inches in length with a wingspan of four feet. It weighs two to four pounds. It is dark brown to gray brown on its back and on the top of its wings. It has light brown or cream undersides and a cinnamon colored neck and chest. It has a dark band across its belly and a broad, round, rusty red tail. The female is larger than the male.

May 7, 2014 I am magnificent

Sing Your Heart Out Fella!

Male Red-winged Blackbird Singing ©Kim Smith 2014Male Red-Winged Blackbird

Although Red-winged Blackbirds are spied around Niles Pond during the winter months, spring brings flocks, and the males are an especially welcome sight chortling atop the pussy willow branches along the water’s edge. Red-winged Blackbirds are one of North America’s most abundant birds. If you were a male of the kind, you might be singing your heart out, too. The species is highly polygynous and some males have been known to have as many as 15 mates during a single season!

Female_Red-winged_Blackbird manijith KainickaraFemale Red-winged Blackbird Image Courtesy Wiki Commons Media

The males are glossy black with distinctive red epaulettes and yellow wing bars, which they often puff out confidently when singing from their perches. The females have a streaky brown song sparrow-like wing patterning and stay close to the ground feeding and building their intricately woven nests at the base of cattails and reeds, along the marsh’s edge.

If you have a spare moment, send us a photo of your favorite signs welcoming spring and we’ll post them under a group ‘welcome spring’ post. Send photos to me at kimsmithdesigns@hotmail.com (thanks Lenny).

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I am presenting 2 lectures this coming week, Monday on Butterfly Gardening in Shrewsbury and Wednesday evening on The Pollinator Garden at the Flint Library in North Reading. Please visit the events page of my website for more information.

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