Beak of the Week – Broad-winged Hawk

Broad-winged Hawk (Buteo platypterus) Family: Accipitridae The Broad-winged Hawk is a small sized raptor with a brown upper body, reddish head, barred undersides, and a black and white banded tail. Broad-winged Hawks are what birders like to call “Buteos” which refers to their genus. Buteos are typically distinguished from the other major genus of hawk […]

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Beak of the Week – Pileated Woodpecker

✏️ By Ryan Call, Houston Audubon Young Professionals Advisory Council 2021 Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus) Family: Picidae Records show that the Pileated Woodpecker is the largest woodpecker in North America—the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker and the Imperial Woodpecker were larger but are presumed extinct. An unmistakable, crested, red and black, crow-sized bird, the Pileated Woodpecker makes its […]

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Beak of the Week – Least Bittern

Least Bittern (Ixobrychus exilis) Family: Ardeidae The Least Bittern is the smallest North American heron and blends into its marshy habitat exceptionally well. Measuring only about 12-13 inches, these tiny herons have a long neck, with a dark brown to black crown and back blending to warm tan on the sides and tan and white […]

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Feathers aren’t Forever

By Ryan Call, Houston Audubon 2021 Young Professionals Advisory Council (YPAC) About this time every summer, we receive questions about ridiculous-looking birds: birds with oddly mismatched feathers, birds without feathers, birds that seem bedraggled or undernourished or sickly-looking. For the most part, these birds are perfectly fine! They’re just in the midst of a completely natural […]

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Beak of the Week – Downy Woodpecker

✏️ By Ryan Call, Houston Audubon Young Professionals Advisory Council 2021 Downy Woodpecker (Dryobates pubescens) Family: Picidae Perhaps the most common woodpecker in North America, the Downy Woodpecker thrives all across the continent: from the tree line in Alaska and Canada to the southernmost forests of California and Florida (Birds of the World). In Houston, […]

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Beak of the Week – Turkey Vulture

✏️ By Ryan Call, Houston Audubon Young Professionals Advisory Council 2021 Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura) Family: Cathartidae A hardy, adaptive bird, the Turkey Vulture thrives in the Houston area and beyond. It’s a bird you can often see high above the terrain, its wings upswept in a shallow dihedral, the bird rocking back and forth […]

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Beak of the Week – Roseate Spoonbill

By Ryan Call, Houston Audubon Young Professionals Advisory Council 2021 Roseate Spoonbill (Platalea ajaja) Family: Threskiornithidae Being married to a non-birder, I strive to make birding as easy and as convenient as possible for my family. I’m not always successful, of course—I sometimes return too late from a long day of birding or dally a […]

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Beak of the Week – Reddish Egret

By Ryan Call, Houston Audubon Young Professionals Advisory Council 2021 Reddish Egret (Egretta rufescens) Family: Ardeida Throughout coastal flats, saltmarshes, tidal ponds, and lagoons, the Reddish Egret excitedly forages for prey—primarily fish—accomplishing what many birders call a “drunken dance.” The bird hunts shallow water, lurching back and forth, half-jumping and half-marching, its wings half-extended or […]

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Beak of the Week – Great Crested Flycatcher

Great Crested Flycatcher (Myiarchus crinitus) Family: Tyrannidae The Great Crested Flycatcher is a large perching bird in the large and diverse family of tyrant flycatchers. This bird is distinguished by its bright yellow belly and under-tail coverts (bottom of tail), dull white throat and namesake head crest. Although not extremely inconspicuous the Great Crested Flycatcher […]

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Beak of the Week – Cattle Egret

Cattle Egret (Bulbulcus ibis) Family: Ardeidae The stout white Cattle Egret is most often seen in fields rather than shallow water with other herons and egrets. It prefers to follow grazing cattle (hence the name) as well as tractors and mowers, snatching up small lizards and insects that scatter after the disturbance. The Cattle Egret […]

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