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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Why ‘Plastic-Free July’?

By Berri Moffett, Conservation Specialist, Houston Audubon Everyone wants clean water to drink and air to breathe. All of us want natural areas free from trash, rivers and streams to swim in and fish in, and beautiful beaches with turquoise waves. We also enjoy modern conveniences and safe food, medical and personal safety (like masks […]

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