Birds


Common birds found in the Southeastern United States

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Below are several birds that are found commonly around the Southeastern United States.  Most of these pictures I took in my back yard in North Alabama.

 

Northern Cardinal

           

 

The Northern Cardinal is in the fench family.  The male is an all red bird with a pointed creast and a black patch at the base of it's red bill.  The female is buff brown, with some red on the wings and tail.  The immature birds are similar to the female but have a more blackish bill.  Northern Cardinals are 7.5-9 inches long and enjoy woodland edges, thickets, suburban gardens and towns.  They are a year round resident throughout the Eastern United States.  Northern Cardinals are very common where I live in North Alabama.  I enjoy them year round and especially welcome their beauty on a gray winter day.

 

 Eastern Bluebird

      

 

Eastern Bluebirds are in the thrush family.  They are 7inches long and blue with a rusty red breast.  The female is duller than the male and the young has a speckled breast that is grayish with no red.  Eastern Bluebirds enjoy open country with scattered trees, farms and roadsides.  They can be found year round throughout the Eastern United States.  When I was a young girl, it was a rare treat to see a bluebird...but now they are a common site at my North Alabama home.  The pair pictured above nested in my back yard.  The female is very pale, I would say a near albino.  Other females that visit my yard have more color.

 

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

 

        

The Ruby-Throated Hummingbird is the only hummingbird found in the Eastern United States.  It is a small bird. 3-3.75 inches long.  The male has a glowing red throat, iridescent green back and forked tail.  the female lacks the red throat and has a blunt tail with white spots.  They can be found feeding from flowers in backyard gardens and frequently visit hummingbird feeders.  Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds are spring and summer visiters to my North Alabama home and spend their winters in Mexico and Central America.

 

Carolina Chickadee

The Chickadee is a small feisty bird.  A backyard favorite of mine.  The Carolina Chickadee is 4.5 inches long and very similar to the slightly larger (4.74-5.75 inch) Black-Capped Chickadee.  Chickadees enjoy a habitat of mixed and deciduous woods, willow thickets, groves and shade trees.  They are frequent feeder visitors and enjoy suet and sunflower seeds.  The Carolina Chickadee can be found year round in the Southeastern United States.

My favorite Chickadee story...I bought a different seed mix for my backyard feeder.  The new mix contained dried fruit.  A Northern Mockingbird discovered the new mix and decided to make it his own...chasing away any other bird who dared to feed at that feeder.  The Mockingbird was sitting proudly on the perch next to the feeder when a little Chickadee flew up and pecked the Mockingbird on the tush.  The Mockingbird was startled and flew off and the Chickadee hopped onto the feeder and enjoyed his meal!  It was a hilarious sight.

 

Tufted Titmouse

The Tufted Titmouse is a small gray bird with a tufted crest and rusty flanks.  The Tufted Titmouse is 6 inches long and enjoyes woodlands, shade trees, groves and feeders.  It's a year round resident in the Eastern United States.

American Goldfinch

The American Goldfinch is a small yellow bird.  It's 5 inches long and displays it's color in the summer.  The male is yellow with black wings, tail and forehead patch.  The female is a dull yellow-olive, darker above than below, with blackish wings and conspicuous wing bars.  Both sexes look similar in the winter, a bit grayer than the summer female.  The goldfinch enjoys patches of thistles and weeds, dandelions and sunflowers.  It is year round through out much of the Eastern United States, though only a winter visitor to the most southern areas.

 

 House Finch

 

A pair of house finches enjoy my backyard feeder

 

Bewick's Wren

Wrens are small, energetic brown birds.  They're stumpy and their tails are often cocked.  The bewick's Wren is 5.25 inches long and enjoys thickest, underbrush and gardens (and apparently my basement and garage where they often build nests).  They range thoughout the Eastern United States, winter only in the more Eastern area, year round from North Alabama to the Kentucky - Indiana border.

 

Nuthatch

 

Nuthatches are small stout tree-climbers with strong woodpecker like bills.  They usually go down trees head first.  They like bark insects, seeds, nuts and are attracted by suet and sunflower seeds.  Pictured above are the Brown-Headed Nuthatch and the White-Breasted Nuthatch.  The White-Breasted Nuthatch is 5-6 inches long, while the Brown-Headed Nuthatch is only 4.5 inches long.  The White Breasted Nuthatch is found year round through out the Eastern United States.  The Brown-Headed Nuthatch is found year round along the Southeastern coast, in as far as North Alabama and North Georgia.

 

Northern Mockingbird

The Northern Mockingbird is a large (9-11 inches) gray bird.  It is an excellent songster, often mimicing other birds or even mechanical sounds.  It can be found in towns, farms, roadsides and thickets.  The Northern Mockingbird can be found year round through out the Eastern United States.  A Northern Mockingbird is very protective of it's territory.  If it has a nest in an area, it may 'dive bomb' and innocent passer-by.  My mother had a particularly protective Mockingbird nesting in her yard last year.  It drove any human or cat inside with it's constant fussing and diving towards anyone  anywhere in mom's yard.

 

American Robin

 

The American Robin is a familiar bird, often seen on lawns.  It is 9-11 inches long with a dark gray back and brick-read breast.  the females are a bit lighter than the males and the young have a speckled breast.  They can be found in cities and towns, on farmland and lawns, in shade trees and forests.  I've noticed around my property, in addition to the worms and grubs they snag from the ground, they enjoy the berries from my dogwood trees and from my english ivy.  They can be found year round throughout the Eastern United States, but seem to make a mass showing in early spring.

 

Rufous-Sided Towhee

The Rofous-Sided Towhee is easily recognized by the rufous sides.  At 7-8.5 inghes, it is smaller and more slender than a Robin.  The male's head and upper parts are black, with the rufous sides and a white belly.  The female is similar, but brown where the male is black.  The Towee rummages noisily among dead leaves.  They like open woods, undergrowth and brushy edges.  The Rofous-Sided Towhee can be found year round in much of the Eastern United States, North into Canada in the summer and west into Texas in the winter.

Red-Winged Blackbird 

I took this picture of a Red-Winged Blackbird in Clearwater Beach, Florida.  This is a winter photo, so the red on the wing isn't very conspicuous.  The Red-Winged Blackbird is a black bird that is 7-9.5 inches long.  The red on it's shoulder is more visible in the spring.  The Red-Winged Blackbird breeds in marshes, brushy swamps and hayfields and also forages in cultivated land along edges of water.  It is a year round resident throughout the Eastern United States.

 

 Mallard
 

The Mallard is a marsh duck that is 20-28 inches long.  Marsh ducks are surface feeders of creeks, ponds, rivers, lakes and marshes.  They feed on aquatic plants, seeds, grass, small aquatic animals and insects  by dabbling and upending and sometimes feedind on land.  They take flight directly into the air.  The male mallard is recognized by it's uncrested glossy green head and white neck ring.  It has a chestnut chest, white tail, yellowish bill and orange feet.  The female in mottled brown with a whitish tail, bill patched with orange and orange feet.  Flying shows a white bar of each side of a blue speculum.  They can be found throughout the Eastern United States.  The ducks pictures above use to live in my pond.  Unfortunately, the young are often prey to snapping turtles and hawks.  I have frequent visits from ducks to my pond, but no longer have any permanent residents.

 
 
Downy Woodpecker
 

The Downy Woodpecker is a small woodpecker.  It is 6.5 inches long with black and white wings, a white back and a small bill.  It enjoys forests, woodlots, river groves and shade trees.  It is a welcome visitor to suet feeders.  It can be found year round thoughout the Eastern United States.

Red-Bellied Woodpecker

The Red-Bellied Woodpecker doesn't have a red belly at all.  It  is a zebra-backed woodbecker with a red cap and white rump and is 9-10.5 inches long.  The red covers the crown and nape in the male and only the nape in the female.  The juvenal is also zebra-backed but doesn't have the red head.  The juvenal's head is brown.  These woodpeckers enjoy woodlands and groves and can also be found in towns.  It is a year round resident thoughout the Eastern United States.

 

Pileated Woodpecker

I'm always overjoyed when I hear a Pileated Woodpecker.  The first time I heard one, I thought, who's outside hammering...then followed the sound to this magnificant bird.  The Pileated Woodpecker is a black crow-sized (16-19.5 inches) woodpecker with a red crest.  The female has a blackish forehead while the male's red flows down to it's beak.  The Pileated Woodpecker enjoys a habitat of conifers and mixed hardwood forests.  It can be found year round throughout the Eastern United States, where habitat allows.
 
 
Great Horned Owl
 

The Great Horned Owl is a large owl (18-25 inches) with ear tufts that resemble horns.It is heavily barred beneath and has a conspicuous white throat bib.  In flight it looks neckless and large headed.  It enjoys a habitat of forests, woodlands, thickets, streamsides and open country.  It can be found year round throughout the Eastern United States and Southern Canada.  The Owl pictured above visits, or possibly nests (I haven't found the nest) on my property.  I usually hear a couple of owls hooting back and forth in the early evening in the Spring.  I'm always thrilled to find the owl roosting in the daytime when I can get a picture.  I can thank the crows and other birds for alerting me to an owls presence.  Many birds will make a fuss at a roosting raptor, to chase it away...when I hear the birds fussing, I grab my camera and follow the noise.  I've found this owl several times due to the noisy birds.

 

Cooper's Hawk

 

The hawk above is a juvenile Cooper's Hawk.  I was surprised the other morning, to find this hawk perched low in a tree right behind my back yard.  Of course, I ran in and got my camera and the hawk stayed around long enough for me to get a few shots.  I enjoy watching hawks soar above my fields, but wasn't happy when I read that cooper's hawks prey largely on songbirds (and some small mammals).  It doesn't bother me when the birds of prey eat field mice or some of the other various rodents that roam the land...but I sure don't like to think about them eating my sweet little birds...and I especially don't like them to target birds that are eating at my feeders.  I guess it's all part of the circle of life.

This reminds me of a hawk story...several years ago, when our 10 yr old tom cat, Oliver was young, he was always bringing me 'presents' (in the form of 'those various rodents' I mentioned above).  One day he was at the front door, wanting in really bad.  He had a large mouse in his mouth.  I wasn't about to let him in with his gift.  He finally sat the mouse down and I quickly opened the door, grabbed the mouse by it's tail and flung it off of the porch.  Well, unknown to me, a hawk was perched in a tree right next to our porch...I couldn't see it, or it me because of our porch's roof.  That hawk must have thought 'what a treat' and flew down to get the mouse...at the exact same time, my cat Oliver jumped off of the porch to retrieve his mouse.  So, there was Oliver and Mr. Hawk, about a foot apart from each other, with a dead mouse between them.  The surprised hawk raised it's wing and flared them and squawked in an effort to frighten Oliver.  Oliver ever so quickly grabbed his mouse and ran under the porch with it.  The hawk just look confused then flew away.  It was quite a sight to see...too bad no one was video taping it...surely it would have won on funniest home videos! lol