Beak of the Week – Red-bellied Woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus) Family: Picidae The Red-bellied Woodpecker’s name is a bit misleading as the red patch on its lower abdomen is difficult to see in the field. This sleek, medium-sized woodpecker has a black-and-white barred back, red nape, and white patches speckled with black on its rump and tail feathers. The red nape […]

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Beak of the Week – Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (Polioptila caerulea) Family: Polioptilidae The Blue-gray Gnatcatcher is a tiny bird that can be easily identified by its buzz-like ‘pzzz’ call that it makes as it energetically flits about and hovers in treetops, pursuing insects to eat. As its name indicates, its body is of a blue-gray color on top and paler gray […]

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Beak of the Week – Caspian Tern

Caspian Tern (Hydroprogne caspia) Family: Laridae The Caspian Tern is the world’s largest tern at up to 2 feet in length and topping out at an impressive 5 foot wingspan, slightly larger than the Royal Tern, which it superficially resembles. Similar to other terns, the Caspian Tern sports a black hood or skullcap, white plumage […]

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Beak of the Week – Wood Stork

Wood Stork (Mycteria americana) Family: Ciconiidae Wood Storks are large wading birds with long legs, a long curved bill, and a bald head and neck. They are mostly white with black flight feathers. Wood storks tower over most other wading birds standing over 3 feet tall. They often soar high in the sky, sometimes riding […]

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Beak of the Week – Mourning Dove

Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura) Family: Columbidae Mourning Doves are small gray-brown doves with black spots on the wings and a long, thin tail. In flight they show their long tapered tail with white tips. Mourning Doves get their name from their soft, drawn-out coos which sound like laments. Inexperienced listeners can mistake their coo-ah, coo, […]

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Beak of the Week – Purple Martin

Purple Martin (Progne subis) Family: Hirundinidae Purple Martins are the largest member of the swallow family in North America. Adult males are iridescent, dark blue-purple overall with brown-black wings and tail. Females and immatures have dusky throats, light bellies, and dull purplish-black upperparts. Purple martins have undergone a complete tradition shift in their nesting behavior. […]

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Beak of the Week – Eastern Wood-Pewee

Eastern Wood-Pewee (Contopus virens) Family: Tyrannidae Eastern Wood-Pewees are a medium-sized grayish flycatcher with long wings and tail, short legs, two wing bars, and a peaked crown giving the head a triangular shape. From the front, you can see the sides of the breast are dusky gray with a lighter throat and belly, making it […]

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Beak of the Week – Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) Family: Accipitridae Red-tailed Hawks are the most familiar and common large hawk in North America. Like other members of the genus Buteo, they have broad, rounded wings and a short, wide tail. Most Red-tailed Hawks are rich brown above and pale underneath with a streaked belly. The most defining ID characteristic […]

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Beak of the Week – White-eyed Vireo

White-eyed Vireo (Vireo griseus) Family: Vireonidae The White-eyed Vireo is a migratory songbird common throughout much of the eastern United States. Like other vireos, White-eyed Vireos are relatively stocky birds with a thick, straight, and slightly hooked bill. The White-eyed Vireo has a gray head, a pale throat, yellow flanks, an olive back, and two […]

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Beak of the Week – Summer Tanager

Summer Tanager (Piranga rubra) Family: Cardinalidae Summer Tanagers are medium-sized, chunky songbirds with big bodies and large heads. They have large, thick, blunt-tipped bills. The strawberry-colored male Summer Tanager is the only completely red bird in North America. Adult females have olive-green upperparts and mustard yellow underparts. First spring males may have varying patches of […]

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