WILD CHILD VERTICAL GARDEN PROJECT: PART II
BIRDS DOCUMENTED ON EXISTING NATURAL/WILD AREAS:
RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD: a very common back yard bird with a sharply-pointed bill, and rounded wings while in flight.
Red-winged Blackbirds eat insects, seeds, and grains, and are frequent visitors to our bird feeding station.
Females choose the nest site and construct the nest in 3 to 6 days. It is a fairly large open cup woven of grass or marsh vegetation and wet leaves that are lined with fine grass. The average nest height is 3 feet above the ground. Red-winged Blackbirds have 1 brood per year.
EASTERN BLUEBIRD: a medium-sized songbird with a large, round head, and a blue back, wings and tail. The chest is orange, the lower belly is white, and the male is brighter than the female.
Bluebirds eat caterpillars, beetles, crickets, grasshoppers, spider, fruit from native trees and shrubs, and mealworms are a special delight. We provide suet with mealworms year-round.
Our property has six nesting boxes designed specifically for bluebirds, and they are placed along the edges of the pond. Eastern Bluebirds are cavity nesters, and typically have 2 broods per year, however, our bluebirds have 4-5 broods annually.
INDIGO BUNTING: a slim songbird with a short and thick bill.
Indigo Buntings eat small insects, seeds, buds, and berries.
The female chooses the nest site and builds the nest. It is a well-made open cup of dead leaves, coarse grasses, stems, and strips of bark, held in place with spider web, and lined with fine grasses or deer hair. It is placed in a shrub or an herbaceous plant close to ground, and the average nest height is 3 feet above the ground. Indigo Buntings have 2 or more broods per year.
NORTHERN CARDINAL: a medium-sized song bird with a prominent crest and a red cone-shaped bill. The male is a brilliant crimson red with a black facemask, and the female is mostly grayish-brown with reddish wings, crest, and tail. Her facemask is gray to black and is less defined than that of the male. Juvenile birds look like the adult female but are duller and have a black bill that gets more orange through the fall.
Northern Cardinals eat seeds, fruits, buds, and insects, and frequently visit our bird feeding station for black oil sunflower seeds and mealworm suet.
The female chooses the nest site and builds the nest with occasional help from the male. The nest is an open bowl of weed stems and twigs that are lined with grass. It often contains paper or plastic in the outer layer. The nest is placed in a thick tangle of vines or twigs in a shrub or small tree, and the average nest height ranges from 1 foot to 12 feet. Northern Cardinals have 2 or more broods per year.
CAROLINA CHICKADEE: a small and short-billed songbird that has a black cap, black bib, and white cheeks. The back is an unstreaked gray, and the underparts are whitish with gray or brownish flanks. The tail and wings are gray, and upper wing feathers have no or only a little white edging. Males, females and immature birds are similar in appearance.
Carolina Chickadees eat insects, spiders, seeds, and fruits.
Carolina Chickadees nest in cavities that they either excavate or find. The nest is typically in dead trees or rotten branches. Within the cavity, the nest is constructed of green moss, and lined with either mammal hair or thin strips of plant fibers. The average nest height is 5 feet off the ground. Carolina Chickadees have 1 brood per year.
MOURNING DOVE: a medium-sized bird with a small head that has a black comma-shaped spot below and behind the eye. The body is light brown, the tail is long and pointed, and has white outer edges. The wings have black spots and whistle in flight. The male and female are similar in appearance, but the male is slightly larger and slightly more colorful with a bluish crown and pink chest.
Mourning Doves eat seeds, and forage on the ground below our bird feeding station.
The female builds the nest with the male bringing her sticks. It is a flimsy platform of twigs, often sparse enough to see the eggs from below. The nest is placed in deciduous or coniferous trees, tangles of shrubs, vines, on the deserted nest of another species, or on a rock ledge or other structure. Nests are frequently reused. Mourning Doves have multiple broods every year.
MALLARD DUCK: The male is easily identified with its iridescent green head, bright yellow bill, and curled short central black tail feathers that are unique to the species. The female is mottled brown overall, with an orange bill that is marked with black. Both sexes have red-orange legs, a mostly white tail, and a bright blue patch on the rear of the upper-wing that is bordered in white.
Mallards eat insects, aquatic invertebrates, seeds, acorns, aquatic vegetation, and grains.
The female builds a bowl of grasses and other plant material, and lines it with down feathers from her breast. The nest is placed in a fallen log, on a small island in a marsh, or under a dense bush near water. The fallen tree and the back of our property provides the perfect place for a Mallard nest. Mallards have 1 brood per year.
AMERICAN GOLDFINCH: A small songbird that is easily identified. The male in breeding plumage is bright lemon-yellow with a strongly contrasting black forehead, wings, and tail. The breeding female is olive above, dull yellow below, with blackish tail and wings, and two pale wing-bars. During the non-breeding season, from October to March, both male and female are a dull, unstreaked brown, with blackish wings, and two pale wing-bars. The male usually has more yellow in the face and on the shoulder. The bill of breeding season birds is pinkish, and gray during the non-breeding season.
The American Goldfinch eats the seeds of composite flowers like dandelions, sunflowers, and thistle, and they also eat a few insects. They cover our sunflowers in the fall, and pollinate them to other areas.
The female does most of the nest building. The open cup-nest is constructed of fine plant fibers, grasses, down from thistles or cattails, and it is lined with plant down. The nest is placed in a small shrub and lashed to branches with spider silk. Nest heights range from 3 to 25 feet above the ground, with the average being 7.5 feet. American Goldfinches have 1 brood per year.
CANADA GOOSE: Males and females are similar in size and appearance, and they can be identified by their black heads and necks marked with a contrasting white “chinstrap.” The back is brown, the chest and belly are pale, and the tail is black with a white rump band.
Canada Geese eat aquatic vegetation, grasses, grains, insects, mollusks, crustaceans, and small fish.
Canada Geese are always found near water, and we have a mating pair that return annually to lay their eggs. The female selects the nest site and builds the nest of grasses and forbs that are lined with body feathers. It is always placed near water, usually on a slightly elevated site. Canada Geese have 1 brood per year.
RED-TAILED HAWK: is a large hawk with a pale chest, a dark band across the belly, and a reddish unbarred tail. In flight, wings are long and broad with a dark bar on the leading edge. During their first year, birds have a streaked brown belly and brown tail with several dark bars. Males and females look alike, and the female is larger.
Red-Tailed Hawks eat small to medium sized mammals, birds, snakes, insects, and fresh carrion.
The large stick nest is built by both adults, and is usually placed in a large tree in an open area. The white pine on our property is a favorite nesting site. Nest material is added in subsequent years, and nests can reach a diameter of over 3 feet. Nest heights range from 25 to 100 feet above the ground, with an average height of 65 feet. Red-Tailed Hawks have 1 brood per year.
GREEN HERON: a small dark heron with a dark cap on the head, a dark iridescent, greenish-blue back, and a dark, rust-colored neck. The legs are yellowish, the bill is long dark and pointed, and the neck is often kept pulled in tight to the body giving the bird a stocky appearance. Juvenile birds are brownish overall, with a dark cap, and a brown-and-white streaked neck. Males and females look similar but females are slightly smaller and duller.
Green Herons eat small fish, invertebrates, insects, frogs, and other small animals.
The male starts the nest, bringing long, thin sticks to the female who finishes the nest. The nest is a thin platform placed in small trees or shrubs, usually near or over water, and may be reused in subsequent years. Nest heights range from 3 to 40 feet above the ground. Green Herons have 1 brood per year.
RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD: a very tiny bird that 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 or throat that can look black under certain lighting conditions. Juveniles look like the adult female, but juvenile males often develop a few red feathers in the gorget by the end of the summer.
Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds eat flower nectar, small insects, and tree sap. We have a large number that use our window-mount hummingbird feeders.
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 or rebuilt. Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds have 1 brood per year.
BARRED OWL: A stocky, round-headed, medium-sized gray-brown owl that has no ear tufts and dark eyes. The underparts are whitish with dark streaks, and the bill is dull yellow. The sexes are alike in plumage, but the female is larger, even though the male has the lower-pitched voice.
Barred Owls eat small mammals, rabbits, birds, amphibians, reptiles, and invertebrates.
Barred Owls prefer to nest in cavities in deciduous trees, but occasionally will use open nests made by hawks, crows, or squirrels. Nest heights range from 20 to 50 feet above the ground. We have a pair in the maple tree behind the master bedroom. Barred Owls have 1 brood per year.
BALTIMORE ORIOLE: a medium size songbird that visits our Oriole Feeding Station. Adult males have a black head and back, and a bright orange breast and underparts. The wings are black with orange and white wing bars, and the tail is black with orange corners. The female is variable but similar to the male. She is often brownish where the male is black, a duller orange below, and has dark wings with two white wing bars. First-year juveniles resemble the adult female but are paler. Males do not reach adult plumage until their second fall.
Baltimore Orioles eat caterpillars, fruits, insects, spiders, and nectar.
The female weaves the deep pouch nest from long strips of milkweed and other plant fibers, occasionally using string, hair, bits of rags, or fishing line. The nest is attached by its rim to the fork of a tree branch near the outer edge of the canopy, and they prefer our Sycamore trees. Nest height averages 28 feet above the ground, with a range of 12 to 75 feet. Baltimore Orioles have 1 brood per year.