Anne Elliott

Anne Elliott

Posted on 10/17/2015

Photo taken on October  8, 2015

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Sturnus vulgaris
European Starling
Panasonic DMC-FZ200
Anne Elliott
Irrigation Canal
Family: Sturnidae
8 October 2015
introduced to North America
heart pattern

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Covered in hearts

Covered in hearts
"First brought to North America by Shakespeare enthusiasts in the nineteenth century, European Starlings are now among the continent’s most numerous songbirds. They are stocky black birds with short tails, triangular wings, and long, pointed bills. Though they’re sometimes resented for their abundance and aggressiveness, they’re still dazzling birds when you get a good look. Covered in white spots during winter, they turn dark and glossy in summer. For much of the year, they wheel through the sky and mob lawns in big, noisy flocks." From AllAboutBirds.

This photo was taken on 8 October 2015. Friend Sandy had asked if I wanted to go with her to join friends down at the Irrigation Canal in the city, for a birding walk. This was a long walk - three and a half hours - along both sides of the canal. As you can see in this image, it was a beautiful fall day with a lovely blue sky. Also, enough trees were still dressed in gold to give some colourful reflections in parts f the canal. The water level was very low, creating just a narrow strip of water with a wide mud bank on either side, that had attracted a number of Greater Yellowlegs and a single American Golden-plover juvenile. The latter was a new bird for me and, though I could only get a very distant, poor shot, I did post it on Flickr. To me, a juvenile American Golden Plover looks so similar to a juvenile Black-bellied Plover (from photos I've seen), but the ID for the bird we saw was given as American Golden-plover. Much of the time, there were pale, dead grasses in the background and this bird was almost impossible to see. Great camouflage.

I don't often see Hooded Mergansers and, when I do see one, it's always a long way away. They are quite spectacular ducks, especially the males, who have a crest at the back of their head and can raise this black and white "hood" or lower it.

The list of the 31 bird species seen (not all by me) from our leaders, Dan and David:

1. Canada Goose - 60+
2. Mallard - 150+
3. Northern Shoveler - 1
4. Green-winged Teal - 2
5. Hooded Merganser - 3 males
6. Common Merganser - 20+
7. Double-crested Cormorant - 4
8. Bald Eagle - 1, immature
9. Red-tailed Hawk - 1 (Harlan’s subspecies)
10. Rough-legged Hawk - 5 (4 dark phase, 1 light phase)
12. Killdeer - 1
13. Greater Yellowlegs - 38+
14. Long-billed Dowitcher - 11
15. Ring-billed Gull - 400+
16. Herring Gull - 2
17. Rock Pigeon - 32+
18. Downy Woodpecker - 1
19. Hairy Woodpecker - 2
20. Northern Flicker - 2
21. Merlin - 2
22. Black-billed Magpie - 15+
23. American Crow - 6
24. Common Raven - 2
25. Black-capped Chickadee - 7
26. White-breasted Nuthatch - 1
27. American Robin - 8
28. European Starling - 18+
29. Yellow-rumped Warbler - 2
30. American Tree Sparrow - 1
31. House Finch - 1