Monday, March 26, 2012

Western Bluebird

While at the Buffalo Lake NWR, I spotted another first for me: a Western Bluebird. It is one of the most attractive thrushes in North America. Vivid colors catch the eye easily in the sunlight. The Eastern Bluebird is similar in color, but are paler than the Western Bluebird.

This Bluebird usually spend nesting season in open woodlands and savannas, then in winter turns to deserts, farm fields and riparian woodlands. They swoop down from a perch to catch flying insects, and forage on the ground for invertebrates. In winter they rely on ground foraging heavily. Mistletoe berries are also on their menu in winter.

(Western Bluebird)

Friday, March 16, 2012


Many people confuse the three varieties of doves we have here - the Euro-Collared, the White Winged, and the Mourning doves. The two here are more similar than they are to its cousin, the Mourning Dove. I managed to get a good side-by-side comparison shot of two of them this morning: the Euro-Collared and the White Winged doves.

Euro-Collared Dove (L) and White Winged Dove (R).
It's easy to see the differences here. While both have red eyes and very similar overall coloring, the Euro-Collared dove lacks the white edge of the wing, as well as the vivid blue "eyeliner" of its counterpart. The White Winged dove only has a small black cheek mark, as opposed to the collar around the back of the neck. These differ from the Mourning Dove that is characterized by its general coverage of black spots. From my observations, the Euro-Collared dove emits a kind of a low-key "scream" right before, or as it lands on its perch. The White Winged dove is generally silent as it lands. Both doves do have the characteristic "coo-ing" sounds.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Wood Duck

The Wood Duck is at the edge of its Summer and Winter ranges in the Panhandle. It nests in tree cavities and duck boxes, usually over water.  They eat seeds and nuts, and prefer acorns and hickory nuts. The male's green iridescent head appears mostly black until the light hits it at the right angle. The vivid markings on its head are easy to spot.

(Male Wood Duck.)

(Male Wood Duck.)
(Male Wood Duck, preening.)