ABOUT BIRDS - ARTICLES

Published by Ken Dunn - Dunway Enterprises

aboutbirds.dunway.com

The origin of birds has been a contentious topic within evolutionary biology for many years, but more recently a scientific consensus has emerged which holds that birds are a group of theropod dinosaurs that evolved during the Mesozoic Era.

A close relationship between birds and dinosaurs was first proposed in the nineteenth century after the discovery of the primitive bird Archaeopteryx in Germany and has been all but confirmed since the 1960's by comparative anatomy and the cladistic method of analyzing evolutionary relationships.

The ongoing discovery of feathered dinosaur fossils in the Liaoning Province of China has shed new light on the subject for both specialists and the general public. In the phylogenetic sense, birds are dinosaurs.

ALL ABOUT BIRDS - ARTICLES

PHOEBE - DOWNY WOODPECKER - YELLOW-BELLIED WOODPECKER
GREAT-CRESTED FLYCATCHER - BLACKPOLL WARBLER - CHIMNEY SWIFT - KINGBIRD
THE CHEWINK - SNOWFLAKE - ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK - BOBOLINK - WOOD PEWEE

BIRD WATCHING - BASIC INFORMATION

All About Birds [Articles] Identify Birds All About Birds [Articles] Bird Watching All About Birds [Articles] Bird Guide All About Birds [Articles] WildBirds

A Guide To Bird Neighbours - Part 2

YELLOW-BELLIED WOODPECKER
(Sphyrapicus Varius)
Woodpecker family

Called also: THE SAPSUCKER;
[YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER, AOU 1998]

  • Length - 8 to 8.6 inches. About one-fifth smaller than the robin.

  • Male - Black, white, and yellowish white above, with bright-red crown, chin, and throat. Breast black, in form of crescent A yellowish-white line, beginning at bill and passing below eye, merges into the pale yellow of the bird underneath. Wings spotted with white, and coverts chiefly white. Tail black; white on middle of feathers.

  • Female - Paler, and with head and throat white.

  • Range - Eastern North America, from Labrador to Central America.

  • Migrations - April. October. Resident north of Massachusetts. Most common in autumn.

It is sad to record that this exquisitely marked woodpecker, the most jovial and boisterous of its family, is one of the very few bird visitors whose intimacy should be discouraged. For its useful appetite for slugs and insects which it can take on the wing with wonderful dexterity, it need not be wholly condemned.

But as we look upon a favorite maple or fruit tree devitalized or perhaps wholly dead from its ravages, we cannot forget that this bird, while a most abstemious fruit-eater, has a pernicious and most intemperate thirst for sap. Indeed, it spends much of its time in the orchard, drilling holes into the freshest, most vigorous trees; then, when their sap begins to flow, it siphons it into an insatiable throat, stopping in it's orgie only long enough to snap at the insects that have been attracted to the wounded tree by the streams of its heart-blood now trickling down its sides.

Another favorite pastime is to strip the bark off a tree, then peck at the soft wood underneath -- almost as fatal a habit. It drills holes in maples in early spring for sap only. If it drills holes in fruit trees it is for the cambium layer, a soft, pulpy, nutritious under-bark.

These woodpeckers have a variety of call-notes, but their rapid drumming against the limbs and trunks of trees is the sound we always associate with them and the sound that Mr. Bicknell says is the love-note of the family.

Unhappily, these birds, that many would be glad to have decrease in numbers, take extra precautions for the safety of their young by making very deep excavations for their nests, often as deep as eighteen or twenty inches.

THE CHEWINK
(Pipilo Erythrophthalmus)
Finch Family

Called also: GROUND ROBIN; TOWHEE; TOWHEE BUNTING; TOWHEE GROUND FINCH; GRASEL;
[EASTERN TOWHEE, AOU 1998]

  • Length - 8 to 8.5 inches. About one-fifth smaller than the robin.

  • Male - Upper parts black, sometimes margined with rufous. Breast white; chestnut color on sides and rump. Wings marked with white. Three outer feathers of tail striped with white, conspicuous in flight. Bill black and stout. Red eyes; feet brown.

  • Female - Brownish where the male is black. Abdomen shading from chestnut to white in the centre.

  • Range - From Labrador, on the north, to the Southern States; West to the Rocky Mountains.

  • Migrations - April. September and October. Summer resident. Very rarely a winter resident at the north.

The unobtrusive little chewink is not infrequently mistaken for a robin, because of the reddish chestnut on its under parts. Careful observation, however, shows important distinctions.

It is rather smaller and darker in color; its carriage and form are not those of the robin, but of the finch. The female is smaller still, and has an olive tint in her brown back.

Her eggs are inconspicuous in color, dirty white speckled with brown, and laid in a sunken nest on the ground. Dead leaves and twigs abound, and form, as the anxious mother fondly hopes, a safe hiding place for her brood.

So careful concealment, however, brings peril to the fledglings, for the most cautious bird-lover may, and often does, inadvertently set his foot on the hidden nest.

About Birds - Site Index

Bird Neighbors - Part 1 - Bird Neighbors - Part 2
Bird Neighbors - Part 3 - Bird Neighbors - Part 4
Bird Neighbors - Part 5 - Bird Neighbors - Part 6
Bird Neighbors - Part 7 - Bird Neighbors - Part 8
Bird Neighbors - Part 9 - Bird Neighbors - Part 10

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