This page is an aid to bird
identification. To see more
songbirds (Feb. 13, 2005-present), such as those pictured in the top rows, visit the
Bird Blog. To see birds that live near water, go to
Shore Birds. To see birds in captivity, visit
Zoo Birds. Or see the wild birds in the
Audubon Swamp Garden, Charleston County,
Mockingbirds and Allies (Mimidae family, Oscines suborder, Passeriformes order)
These birds each have a large repertoire of songs, not all borrowed from other
Brown Thrasher (Toxostoma
Brown Thrasher (Toxostoma rufum),
Durham, NC, 3/23/05.
It has the most attention-getting song, somewhat more high-pitched than
the Northern Mockingbird. its 1100 mostly original varieties of song.
which was eating the suet in this feeder on 2/2/10, but
apparently not until after working on a plan.
(perhaps the same bird as the one on the left).
Durham, NC, 1/30/10,
the biggest bird ever to come, well, close to our feeders, on a cold,
snowy day. But it
flew away and showed up in a tree in the front yard for a while.
Brown Thrasher (Toxostoma rufum),
Durham, NC, 6/8/08, in its preferred habitat: on the ground, mostly
Gray Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis),
Durham, NC, 9/2/06. This very curious bird was watching me very
closely in a power line cut.
Gray Catbird, Durham, 4/25/06.
This bird's song, with all its squealing and smacking sounds, was
quite an attention-getter.
interesting that the Northern Mockingbird, the bird with the most popular
song among humans, is also the most abundant -- and fearless -- species in
this group. This may be because mockingbirds stay with their parent(s)
as long as the latter will let them, insisting on their lessons about what
(not) to fear. Even after they fledge, they continue to follow around a
long-suffering parent, making baby bird peeping sounds. As adults, they
are tough, independent and tend to attack fiercely those they deem to be
encroaching on turf or threatening their families. Mockingbirds in my
neighborhood don't do a lot of singing, but stake out the same places year
after year. They are more abundant farther south.
Palm Warbler, at
the edge of the woods at the far end of some Jordan Lake mudflats,
Chatham County, NC, 10/9/11. See other birds.
Warbler at the Jordan Lake mudflats.
Warbler. Durham, NC, 1/22/11
Yellow-rumped Warbler, Durham, NC,
Yellow-rumped Warbler, Durham, NC,
2/1/10, two days after a big snow. The pink snow is an artifact of
image-processing of an under-exposed photo.
2/26/08. This is about as well-fed as they get!
2/23/07. Transitional plumage is evident here.
Yellow-rumped Warbler, Durham, 4/23/05. I was hoping to see a gradual transition in
plumage, but migration apparently interfered. This bird and
another appeared briefly after I'd thought the Yellow-rumped Warblers
had been gone for the year.
Yellow-rumped Warbler, Fort Fisher Recreational Area,
Subadult Yellow-rumped Warbler, Fort Fisher
Recreational Area, 3/7/09
Yellow-rumped Warbler, Snow's Cut Park, New Hanover
Pine Warbler, Durham, NC,
Pine Warbler (Dendroica Pinus),
Durham, 3/12/05. These used to be rare visitors, but at least one
is coming regularly now.
Pine Warbler, Durham,
NC, 11/29/08. Pine Warblers seem to prefer to show up on gloomy
near bird feeder behind the Visitor Center, 3/22. Note the banded
dominica), White Pines Nature Preserve, Chatham County, NC, 4/16/06
Ovenbird (Seiurus aurocapillus),
the Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve, Wake County, NC on 5/8/05. It gets its funny name from the shape of its
nest, which looks like a Dutch oven.
Eno River State Park, Old Cole Mill Road access, 4/24/09. Here the
yellow head stripe that gives this bird its species name (literally,
"golden hair") is clearly visible.
Warbler on a Bald Cypress knee in Congaree National Park, Richland
County, SC, 4/30/11
Wrens are the most curious birds, sometimes coming
within a few feet of this photographer, but rapidly disappear when they figure
out what's going on.
FledglingCarolina Wren, Durham, 5/20/06.
To order products bearing this photo, visit
Adult Carolina Wren, Durham, NC, 12/08/08
This Carolina Wren seemed to trying
to face me down when I encountered it on my front steps in Durham,
Durham, NC, 1/30/10
Singing Carolina Wren, Durham,
(Emberizidae family, Oscines
suborder, Passeriformes order)
Dark-eyed Juncos, the most common birds in my neighborhood
in the winter, prefer to eat seed that has
been dropped on the ground. White-throated Sparrows, also extremely
common, have a special tendency to
go after seeds dropped on the ground under the deck, and can gather there
by the dozens. But the only bird in this group to visit our bird feeders
is the Chipping Sparrow, a summer resident.
Male Eastern Towhee, Duke Gardens, Durham, 2/22/05,
presumably scratching for seeds since no insects were around on this
date. It's unusual to see one of these birds out in the open; I
typically see them hiding inside bushes or in heavy brush.
Eastern Towhee, 12/5/08. Their backs and heads
are chocolate brown, in contrast with the males' black coloring.
Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)
Male Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis),
"slate-colored" subspecies (the only one that is found in the
eastern US), Craggy Gardens parking lot (5500 feet
elevation), Macon County, NC, 7/20/03. This place is near the
southern extreme of this bird's breeding range. Obviously very
Dark-eyed Junco, Durham, NC, 2/20/09. Click on the
thumbnail to see an especially large, detailed picture.
White-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia
Durham, NC, 12/2/06. This is a "white-striped" type.
Hillsborough, Orange County, NC, 1/14/06.
Here is another "white-striped" type.
Mason Farm Biological Reserve, Orange
County, NC, 12/29/07. This is a "tan-striped" type.
Song Sparrow (Melospizea melodia)
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia),
Durham, NC, 11/9/08
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia), Duke Gardens,
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia),
Durham, NC, 2/26/07
Song Sparrow, NC Arboretum, Asheville, Buncombe County, NC, 4/30/12
Swamp Sparrow, Bay St. Louis, Hancock County, MS, 1/9/09
Sometimes sparrows are hard to tell apart.
It helps, though, to remember the Chipping Sparrow (Spizzella
passerina) is the one that looks like Jack Nicholson.
Chipping Sparrow, Durham, NC, 11/17/08. This one
looks more like William Shatner, though.
Chipping Sparrows engaged in a
territorial battle, Durham, NC, 3/24/09
Vesper Sparrow (Pooecetes gramineus)
Vesper Sparrow (Pooecetes
gramineus), Battery Buchanan Tour Stop, Fort Fisher State
Recreation Area, New Hanover County, NC, 11/10/12
Savannah Sparrow(Passerculus sandwichensis)
one of many hopping around large rocks at the beach at Ft. Fisher (beach
rocks near Battle Acre), 3/10/10
Sparrow, at Battle Acre beach rocks, Ft. Fisher Recreation Area, New
Hanover County, NC, 3/13/11
Thrushes and Robins
(Turdidae family, Oscines
suborder, Passeriformes order)
This is a very varied group. Although they can get
along nicely without people, some have had trouble coping with destruction of
their habitat. Putting out birdhouses for Eastern Bluebirds has helped,
however. Thrushes have some trouble with conventional birdfeeders
(although a few Eastern Bluebirds have proved to be exceptions on suet feeders)
because of their inability to figure out how to land on them. Although
they can perch on branches and similar structures at least 10 mm thick, they
have trouble landing on the smaller ones typically used on tube feeders or suet
Scott Jackson-Ricketts of Grayson County, VA has discovered how to enable a
Hermit Thrush to eat from a feeder. He keeps "one tube feeder hanging from
(his) porch, with an adjacent water pan, more often than not void of water.
He/she uses the water pan as a perch, and reaches into the tube feeder holes."
However, he says, this thrush only comes "during snow, wind, cold."
Jeff Lewis of Manteo, NC reported that his neighbor had Hermit Thrush success with a "suet
Veery (Catharus fuscescens)
Veery (a kind of
thrush). Thanks to Simon Thompson and Dave Lenat for ID.
Tanawha Trail (Mileposts 299-300), NC, 5/6/11
Hermit Thrush (Catharus guttatus), Durham, 3/12/05. This one showed up in our back yard early one morning,
far from the feeders.
12/15/07. This thrush sought food in the immediate vicinity of our
feeders, but simply studied the corn for a while and hovered near the
suet feeder without landing, giving up altogether after that.
Biological Reserve, Orange County, NC, 12/29/07
Wood Thrush (Hylocichla mustelina)
Wood Thrush (Hylocichla mustelina),
Durham, 7/4/05. This bird got my attention during a walk
through the woods with its beautiful gurgling song.
Winston-Salem, Forsyth County, NC, 5/3/13
American Robin, Winston-Salem, Forsyth County, NC,
Male American Robin
migratorius), Durham, 3/24/05.
Male American Robin
migratorius), Durham, 1/30/09.
Young American Robin,
Durham, NC, 7/18/05
Fledgling American Robin, Durham, NC, 8/29/09
Male American Robin
migratorius), Durham, 3/18/06.
Male Eastern Bluebird with
worm, Durham, NC, 4/21/12
Male and female
(Sialia sialis),Durham, NC,
Blackbirds and Allies
(Icteridae family, Oscines
suborder, Passeriformes order)
This is another varied group, with only their
long bills and tails in common. The ones I've seen seem very
adaptable, taking advantage of people and other birds alike. Boat-tailed
Grackles hang out wherever people are fishing, hoping a scrap will come their
way. Cowbirds, of course, are notorious for taking advantage, but people
have successfully fended them off in most places; Cedar Island, NC, is a notable
Grackle (Quiscalus major),
Kure Beach Pier, New Hanover County, NC,
11/19/04. Better known as "Brown Bird" to search engines,
this is my most popular (and most often pirated) image. Visit
my online store
for products bearing this image.
Very young Boat-tailed
Grackle Kure Beach, NC, 12/14/04.
Boat-tailed Grackle adult
female, Kure Beach, NC, 12/14/04.
Adult female Boat-tailed Grackle, Kure Beach, NC, 4/29/05
Boat-tailed Grackle, Carolina Beach, New
Hanover County, NC, 11/11/13
Male Boat-tailed Grackle,
Ft. Fisher State Recreation Area, New Hanover County, NC,
Lake Park, Carolina Beach, New Hanover County,
Adult male Boat-tailed Grackle, Kure
Beach, New Hanover County, NC, 12/12/05.
Boat-tailed Grackles: four females, one
male at the Ft. Fisher State Recreation Area, New Hanover County, NC,
Grackle (Quiscalus mexicanus)
Grackle males displaying territorial aggressive bluffing.
San Antonio Botanical Garden, Bexar County, TX, 5/26/10
Female Great-tailed Grackle
in downtown San Antonio, Bexar County, TX, 5/25/10
Male Common Grackle (Quiscalus
quiscala), Duke Gardens, Durham, NC, 4/2/05
Common Grackle, illustrating iridescence characteristic of this
Greater Antillean Grackle
Male Greater Antillean Grackle (Quiscalus
Verde, San Juan, Puerto Rico, 1/9/05. Identified by Prof. Christopher E. Hill,
Carolina Coastal University, Conway, SC. Prof. Hill says that this
is a smaller species than the Boat-tailed Grackle, with a shorter tail.
Male Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius
County, NC, 5/15/07. These birds can control how much of the red
portion of their wings shows.
or young Red-winged Blackbird, Ocracoke, South Point Road, Hyde County,
Blackbird, Lake Park, Carolina Beach, New Hanover County, 5/22/11
Red-winged Blackbird, Pine Knoll Shores, Carteret County, NC,
Male Red-winged Blackbird , Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, NC, 5/13/04.
Tricolored Blackbird (Agelaius tricolor)
Female Tricolored Blackbird,
San Rafael, CA, 10/5/12
Blackbird, Bear Valley Visitors Center, Marin County, CA,
Ocracoke, Hyde County, NC, on 5/23/12
town of Ocracoke, NC, 5/10/04. These parasitic birds invade the
Triangle in late spring, alas.
It was light brown; the blue color is apparently an artifact of flash
photography. ID thanks to Harry LeGrand and
Cardinals and Allies
(Cardinalidae family, Passeriformes order)
Northern Cardinals are among the most common birds
where I live in Durham, NC, but are not always the easiest to photograph.
They prefer to come to our birdfeeder when the light is dim, and are quick to
flee when spotted in the woods. Indigo Buntings, on the other hand, are
always a pleasant surprise in my area.
Portrait of a male
Northern Cardinal, Durham, 2/12/05. Amazing what great artistic
effects you can get from inadequate morning (9:16 am) light!
Male Northern Cardinal, Penny's
Bend, Durham County, NC, 11/30/05. This cardinal apparently thought he was
well-hidden in this thicket, about 20 feet away from me.
Male Northern Cardinal, Durham, NC,
Male Northern Cardinal,
northern Durham, NC, 6/8/04. This bird, which apparently lives at least
partly on handouts at a public place, has lost nearly all of the
feathers on his head, revealing gray skin. Cornell Ornithology's Bald-headed Bird Page
ponders the phenomenon of birds' (abnormal) loss of all head feathers at
once (while staggered molting is the rule), but says that this hasn't
been researched well enough for anyone to draw any conclusions.
Female Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis
cardinalis), Durham, 3/5/05. This bird braved pouncing squirrels
to eat seeds dropped on the deck.
Female Northern Cardinal, Durham,
Baby Northern Cardinal in nest out front,
Durham, NC, 6/1/12
Northern Cardinal babies
early on 6/5/12
Somewhat later on 6/5/12
One bird has disappeared,
Perhaps one the little
Northern Cardinals, 6/9/12
(Thraupidae family, Passeriformes order)
Tanager (Piranga rubra), Eno River State Park, Bobbitt's Hole trail,
8/27/10. ID thanks to Kent Fiala.
Chickadees and Titmice (Paridae Family, Passeriformes order)
Birds in this group come to our birdfeeders more
often than all others put together. They painstakingly carry each seed to
a nearby tree branch, peck the shell open, eat the seed and return for another
over and over again. They are bold but alert and I suspect they work hard
sizing us up.
Tufted Titmouse (Bacolphus
Tufted Titmouse, Durham, NC, 1/20/09
Tufted Titmouse, Durham, NC, 1/18/09
Tufted Titmouse, with fruit, Sandy
Creek Park, Durham, NC, 3/20/11
Tufted Titmouse (Bacolphus bicolor),
Durham, 3/2/05. These birds balance their curiosity and wariness
nicely. They make very rapid trips to and from the birdfeeder, but
sometimes stop to study me carefully, usually (but not always) from a
Brown Creeper Certhia americana, subfamily Certhiinae), Durham, NC,
1/31/09. The name is misleading: this is the
fastest-moving bird I've ever seen go up (and down) the side of a tree.
ID thanks to Jeff Pippen, Phil Dickinson, Michael Boatwright, Ric
Carter, John Haire and many others confirming the ID.
Flycatchers and Phoebes
(Tyrannidae family, Passeriformes order)
Does anyone know what is tyrannical about these
birds? It has to be hard to be a tyrant when you're an especially tiny
little bird hiding out from people and never even attempting to conquer a
Flycatcher (Myarchus crinitus)
Great Crested Flycatcher (Myarchus crinitus),
Durham, NC, 6/23/08. Seen in a tree
in the marsh fronting my neighborhood swamp.
Willow Flycatcher (Empidonax traillii)
Flycatcher (Empidonax traillii, species in doubt). ID thanks to
Harry LeGrand. Boone Greenway, Boone, Watauga County, NC,
Eastern Phoebe (Sayornis phoebe),
Leucistic Eastern Phoebe (Sayornis phoebe),
1/19/09. Photo by Karl D. Gottschalk.
Eastern Kingbird (Tyrannus tyrannus), Pea Island
NWR, 5/7/06. This one does look kingly, if not tyrannical!
Male American Goldfinches undergo plumage changes from
late fall through April each year. Goldfinches make their feathers fluff
out in very cold weather.
Contrary to popular belief, goldfinches can get interested in
black sunflower seeds, but it's not a predictable occurrence.
Finches are very efficient eaters. They break seeds
open in their beaks, drop their hulls, and proceed without leaving their
Male American Goldfinch,
in breeding plumage, at the
"Enter the Wild" exhibit, Museum
of Life & Science,Durham, NC, 7/9/08
American Goldfinch, Durham, NC, 1/12/07
American Goldfinch, Durham, NC, 3/12/06
American Goldfinch, Durham, NC, 3/12/06
American Goldfinch, Durham, NC, 3/25/06
American Goldfinch, Durham, NC, 4/2/05
American Goldfinches, Durham, 3/8/05.
Male (left, with summer breeding plumage) and female
Pine Siskin (Carduelis pinus)
with seed, Durham, NC, 1/2/09
Pine Siskin, Durham, NC, 1/4/09
Pine Siskins, jostling for position, Durham, NC, 1/2/09
Durham, NC, 3/3/09
Male Purple Finch, Durham, NC, 1/15/08. Purple Finches were very common this winter,
always appearing in dim light.
Female Purple Finch, Durham, NC, 12/19/07
Male House Finch
Durham, NC, 4/24/07
Female House Finch,
Durham, NC, 12/25/07.
(Passeridae family, Passeriformes order)
These birds originally came from Europe, and like
the finches are real survivors. They're the ultimate rat race birds: the
heck with the scenery, let's get down to business! Why go to the
trouble of building a nest when you can stay in the big letters on the front of
a grocery store, or take over a birdhouse intended for Eastern Bluebirds?
They may be domesticated, but they are not especially nice to others! The
family name implies that they are "true" songbirds. It's worth noting, however, that they've never made it to our
Female House Sparrow (Passer
Male House Sparrow,
Male House Sparrow,
Cedar Island, NC, 3/21/05
Fledgling House Sparrow, Raleigh, NC, 9/14/12
(Sturnidae family, Passeriformes order)
Common Starling, formerly known as the
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)
These birds are another European import, or
should we say, invasion?
Adult breedingCommon Starling
3/8/09, downtown Carolina Beach, New Hanover County, NC about 3 blocks
from Lake Park.
Adult non-breedingCommon Starling
(Sturnus vulgaris), Durham,
NC, 3/13/05. This bird was perched in a tree near a Wild Birds
Adult breedingCommon Starling,
Ocracoke, Hyde County,
Common Starlings, Carolina
Beach, New Hanover County, NC, 12/2/12
Common Starlings, non-breeding adults, Ft. Fisher State Recreational
Area, New Hanover County, NC, 1/7/08
Fledgling European Starling, San
Francisco, CA, 8/6/07
Fledgling European Starling, Pine Knoll Shores, Carteret
County, NC, 7/22/08
Kinglets (Regulidae family, Passeriformes order)
(Regulus calendula), Southern Village, Chapel Hill, Orange
County, NC, 11/30/12
Ruby-crowned Kinglet, which
appeared in the bushes just a few inches away and came up to
take a brief, curious look. Lake Crabtree County Park,
Wake County, NC, 11/2/11
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Regulus calendula), Lake Crabtree County Park,
Wake County, NC, 12/28/08
Golden-Crowned Kinglet: side
front views, Durham, NC, 1/22/09
Crows and Jays
(Corvidae family, Passeriformes order)
Not all Passeriformes are songbirds!
These birds are reputed to be the most intelligent of this order, and at any
rate they manage to get along without having to deal with people at all in my
neighborhood. The crows in my neighborhood fly around in large vocal groups which I can't resist
calling "caw-cuses," although I understand the official term is "murders."
Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata)
Blue Jay, Southpoint Swamp, Durham, NC, 11/12/07
Durham, NC, 7/7/09
Durham, 5/7/05. These birds are
found most often in deep woods, but are showing up around my house in
greater numbers lately.
Blue Jay, Durham, NC, 5/15/06
Fledgling Blue Jay,
Durham, NC, 5/18/08. Was seen wandering on
the edge of a wooded area.
Fledgling Blue Jay, Durham, NC, 6/15/09. It flew away shortly after this photo was
(Corvus brachyrhynchus) and Fish Crow
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchus), Asheboro,
Randolph County, NC, 4/6/05. The wide beak, large body and long wings
give it a rather grand presence. This very tame crow was hanging
around the NC Zoo picnic area, near a pond.
Myrtle Beach, SC, 3/18/08. This species has a narrower
beak and shorter wings. Note the stray feather.
These birds mostly hang out in trees near the
swamp in my neighborhood in small groups. They engage in dust-bathing to
rid themselves of parasites. And that's about all I know about them except
State Park, Cox Mountain, Orange County, NC, 4/12/06. This bird
Swallows and Martins
(Hirundinidae family, Passeriformes order)
Barn Swallows are in flight nearly all the time during the
day, so it's always a treat to catch them taking a break.
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica), Ocracoke, Hyde County,
Barn Swallow, Ocracoke, Hyde County, NC, 5/14/07
about to fly under the Pasquotank River Bridge between Pasquotank and
Camden Counties, NC, 4/27/09
Barn Swallows in nest under
walkway at NC Zoo, Asheboro, NC, 6/21/09.
Purple Martins are thoroughly dependent on people
for housing, although they are quite capable of collecting materials and
stuffing them into these units to build nests. They have no problems
living in apartments. So far, they sound kind of like most people!
Other swallows are less specific in their expectations of human-made housing
provisions, but still quite dependent on us.
The Purple Martins in my neighborhood seemed to be social,
getting together and making a rapid series of widely varying sounds that are
tempting to read as conversation. They also seemed to have learned not to be
afraid of me, patiently and with apparent curiosity letting me take their
pictures at fairly close range. However, they have not returned here since
Adult male Purple Martin
(Progne subis), Durham, 5/12/05.
Purple Martins, a kind of swallow, are attracted to birdhouses (even bird apartments, as
shown here), where they build nests from various objects, including
pieces of paper, as is illustrated here.
YoungPurple Martin, Durham, 7/5/05
YoungPurple Martin, Durham, 6/26/05.
To order products with this photo, visit
YoungPurple Martin, manifesting no
fear (but perhaps disapproval!) at close range. Durham, 4/28/06.
Cedar Waxwings are supposed to move in groups nearly all the time, but
exceptions obviously exist.
Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum). This
bird was part of a large group flying together in search of food, landing in the upper
branches of trees.
This Cedar Waxwing
was on its own, and one of
two such loners I saw on 12/16/02 in Durham.
Cedar Waxwing, NC Botanical Garden, Orange
County, NC, 3/3/06,
eating a berry.
Cedar Waxwing, NC Botanical Garden, 3/3/06,
moving to another branch. You can see some yellow tail feathers.
Cedar Waxwings, Carolina Beach State Park, New
Hanover County, NC, 12/20/06
(Sittidae Family, Passeriformes order)
Nuthatches were the first birds to come to our
new birdfeeder; in fact, the White-breasted Nuthatch was the only one for
awhile. Their agility may be a factor, since they have no trouble walking
up and down tree trunks.
White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta Carolinensis),
Durham, 1/17/08. This was the first species of bird that I photographed,
the first to appear on the deck. But it didn't come to the feeder
nearly as often as Northern Cardinals, American Goldfinches, Tufted
Titmice or Carolina Chickadees.
Like all nuthatches (genus Sitta), this bird can walk around on tree
trunks, while birds of other genera have to stay erect on branches or
walk up the trunk.
Brown-headed Nuthatch, Durham, NC, 2/8/11
Brown-headed Nuthatch, Durham, NC, 2/2/9
Brown-headed Nuthatch, Durham, NC, 12/9/11
Brown-headed Nuthatch, Durham, NC, 12/27/07
Brown-headed Nuthatch, Durham, NC, 12/13/08
Nuthatch making a hole in a wooden chimney. This behavior
is similar to that of Downy Woodpeckers in this respect, except that
Downies can be scared off! Durham, NC, 3/16/09
Mystery Bird, Passeriformes order?
Durham, 8/7/02. This is probably a
Cuckoos (Cuculidae family, Cuculiformes
Yellow-billed Cuckoo (Coccyzus americanus, Phaenicophaeinae
subfamily), Durham, NC, 9/7/06. This bird arrived in the wake of
Tropical Storm Ernesto.
(Picidae family, Piciformes order)
These are what Edward O. Wilson calls "true woodpeckers"
(as opposed to the honeycreepers of Hawaii) in The Diversity of Life
(1999, p. 100) because of their sheer numbers, variety of natural habitats, and
"élan and precision," i.e., they can really go to town on that tree (or your
Woodpeckers prefer "mature forest," i.e., they
seek out dead trees, because 1) they build their nests in tree holes (which they
often create themselves) and 2) that's where the wood-munching insects are.
Downy Woodpeckers especially look for hollow-sounding wooden surfaces.
That's bad news for anyone who lives in a wooden house with any empty space, as
well as for the woodpecker that enters through a hole in a thin wall and can't
find its way out.
Red-bellied Woodpecker(Melanerpes carolinus),
Mountain, Eno River State Park, Fews Ford access, 11/25/06
Red-bellied Woodpecker, Durham, 2/22/08
Woodpecker, Durham, NC, 4/18/08
Though seldom seen, these woodpeckers are regularly heard
in deep woods: they have a loud, squawking cry with many repetitions. They peck slowly and
Female Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus
pileatus), Johnston Mill Nature Preserve, Orange County, NC, 12/24/06.
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Downies are the most common
woodpecker where I live. Their pecking is often rapid and loud.
Male Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens),
Durham, 3/31/05. Downy Woodpeckers are similar to Hairy
Woodpeckers, but lack their long, sharpened-pencil-like beaks.
Female Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens),
Durham, 3/4/05. We bribe them with suet to keep them from working on our
Flickers used to be more common in Durham and Chapel Hill
than they are today.
Northern Flicker, Durham,
Male Northern Flicker
(Colaptes auratus), NC
Botanical Garden, Orange County, NC, 3/18/05
Northern Flicker couple, Durham, 3/30/05.
The male is on the upper branch.
Female Northern Flicker, showing a rear
view of the head. Durham, NC, 3/19/09
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius)
are fast-moving and rarely photographed, but they may not be as uncommon as they
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, in breeding plumage.
Seen on the Third Fork Creek Trail on 11/21/11.
Male Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Al
Buehler Trail, Duke University, Durham, NC, 12/28/06. In breeding
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius), Southern
Village, Orange County, NC, 1/18/10. A few patches of red are
coming in on the head. Note the three holes it has pecked.
varius), my back yard in Durham, 4/5/05. In non-breeding plumage.
Identified by Marsha Stephens and Will Cook. Will says the white
wing stripe is characteristic.
Red-cockaded Woodpecker (Picoides borealis)
Female Red-cockaded Woodpecker
(Picoides borealis), Weymouth Woods-Sandhills Nature
Preserve, Southern Pines, Moore County, NC, 10/23/12
(Columbidae family, Columbiformes order)
Rock Doves (Columba livia), Plaza de las Palomas, Old San Juan, Puerto
Rico. And all this time you didn't know pigeons were cuddly?
This is a favorite spot for both tourists and locals, including the
Myrtle Beach, Horry County, SC, 3/19/08
Lake Park, Carolina Beach, New Hanover County, NC, 6/25/08. This
is the classic form of this bird species.
Leucistic Rock Dove, San Francisco, CA, 8/6/07
A Rock Dove with
anomalous white tail feathers. Lake Park,
Carolina Beach, New Hanover County, NC, 3/11/11
Zenaida genus doves
Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroaura), Durham, NC,
(Zenaida asiatica), San Antonio Botanical Garden,
Bexar County, TX, 5/26/10
Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)
This is the only dove species I have ever seen in Ocracoke. They are an invasive species.
Dove, Carolina Beach, New Hanover County, NC, 5/23/11
Collared Dove, town of Ocracoke, Hyde County, NC, 5/13/09
Collared Dove in flight, Ocracoke, Hyde County, NC, 5/13/09
Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris), NC Arboretum, Asheville, NC,
7/8/05. Order products with this picture on them at our store.
family, Falconiformes order) Believe it or not, the
Integrated Taxonomic Information System classified (as of 12/19/10) this species in the Ciconiidae Family,
Black Vulture (Coragyps
Vultures, this time on my street! Durham, NC, 12/25/11
Vultures (Coragyps atratus),
Santee State Park, Orangeburg County, SC. These were sitting on top of
a cabin. The leftmost vulture may be a young bird.
Black Vulture, one of two seen together on a power line tower.
One kept watch while the other looked away. Durham, NC, 10/13/08
Jordan Lake Dam area, Chatham County, NC, 9/3/11
Mason Farm Biological Reserve, Orange County, NC, 1/5/10. This
bird came low to take a close look. Since a severe cold spell
began (highs in the 30s) around the beginning of that year, Turkey
Vultures had been doing this often.
Birds of a feather
flock together, but sometimes they just sit around waiting for an
opportunity on dam gate control areas. Turkey Vultures at
the Jordan Lake Dam, Moncure, Chatham
County, NC, 9/20/10.
Hawks (Accipitridae family, Falconiformes order)
Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)
This is reputed to be the most common North Carolina hawk
species. However, in my neighborhood, they are greatly outnumbered by
Red-tailed Hawk, which
was trying to avoid running into me as a big fog swirling up
from the west brought it to the top of the hill.
Hawk, Mason Farm Biological Reserve, Orange County, NC, 3/20/09
This hawk species dominates my neighborhood and is regularly seen there. Sightings of other species of hawks are very rare. See the Red-shouldered
Hawk page for more photos.
Juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk,
Durham, 3/27/05, a visitor to the birdfeeder area in my back yard. I've also
seen one hanging around White-Throated Sparrows in the woods. ID
thanks to Bill Clark of Harlingen, TX.
Osprey (Pandion haliaetus), Seaforth
Recreational Area, Chatham County, NC, 3/13/05. Ospreys drop
feet first to capture fish. Note the big talons. They have a
loud chirping cry. According to Sibley
(2003), we are in the osprey's migration range and near its summer
flying over a dock on Bogue Sound, Pine Knoll Shores,
Carteret County, NC, 7/23/08
Osprey, Airlie Gardens, Wilmington,
New Hanover County, NC, 6/23/06.
Belted Kingfisher (Ceryle alcyon)
Adult male Belted Kingfisher
(Ceryle alcyon, Cerylinae subfamily).
Same adult male
Belted Kingfisher in flight,
Lake Crabtree County Park, Wake County, NC, 10/31/12
Belted Kingfisher, Museum
of Life & Science, Durham, NC, 6/7/12
Turkeys (Phasianidae family, Galliformes)
One Wild Turkey, at one
edge of the flock near Abbott Lake, Peaks of Otter, Bedford
County, VA, 7/18/12
Another Wild Turkey at the
other end, trading sentinel duty
A part of the Wild Turkey flock
African Guinea Fowl, Winston-Salem, Forsyth
County, NC, 7/31/06, appeared in a backyard
in Old Salem. Thanks to Amy Barbe of Athens-Clarke County, GA for
ID: she says they are "very handy for eating ticks in your yard
and as a watch 'dog.'"
Chickens, Ocracoke, NC.
Yes, they're domesticated, but who could resist this scene?
Rooster, Quebradillas, Puerto Rico, 1/31/02.
I guess we don't normally think of chickens as wildlife, but in Puerto
Rico some feral roosters run around loose.
Rooster, town of Ocracoke, NC,
6/10/02. This one was domesticated.