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American Woodcock (Scolopax minor)

American Woodcock from Birds Illustrated by Color Photography, 1897 From col. Chi. Acad. Sciences.

THE AMERICAN WOODCOCK.

I
SN’T this American Woodcock, or indeed any member of the family, a comical bird? His head is almost square, and what a remarkable eye he has! It is a seeing eye, too, for he does not require light to enable him to detect the food he seeks in the bogs. He has many names to characterize him, such as Bog-sucker, Mud Snipe, Blind Snipe. His greatest enemies are the pot hunters, who nevertheless have nothing but praise to bestow upon him, his flesh is so exquisitely palatable. Even those who deplore and deprecate the destruction of birds are not unappreciative of his good qualities in this respect.

The Woodcock inhabits eastern North America, the north British provinces, the Dakotas, Nebraska and Kansas, and breeds throughout the range.

Night is the time when the Woodcock enjoys life. He never flies voluntarily by day, but remains secluded in close and sheltered thickets till twilight, when he seeks his favorite feeding places. His sight is imperfect by day, but at night he readily secures his food, assisted doubtless by an extraordinary sense of smell. His remarkably large and handsome eye is too sensitive for the glare of the sun, and during the greater part of the day he remains closely concealed in marshy thickets or in rank grass. In the morning and evening twilight and on moonlight nights, he seeks his food in open places. The early riser may find him with ease, but the first glow from the rays of the morning sun will cause his disappearance from the landscape.

He must be looked for in swamps, and in meadows with soft bottoms. During very wet seasons he seeks higher land—usually cornfields—and searches for food in the mellow plowed ground, where his presence is indicated by holes made by his bill. In seasons of excessive drought the Woodcock resorts in large numbers to tide water creeks and the banks of fresh water rivers. So averse is he to an excess of water, that after continued or very heavy rains he has been known suddenly to disappear from widely extended tracts of country.

A curious habit of the Woodcock, and one that is comparatively little known, is that of carrying its young in order to remove them from danger. So many trustworthy naturalists maintain this to be true that it must be accepted as characteristic of this interesting bird. She takes her young from place to place in her toe grasps as scarcity of food or safety may require.

As in the case of many birds whose colors adapt them to certain localities or conditions of existence, the patterns of the beautiful chestnut parts of the Woodcock mimic well the dead leaves and serve to protect the female and her young. The whistle made by their wings when flying is a manifestation of one of the intelligences of nature.

The male Woodcock, it is believed, when he gets his “intended” off entirely to himself, exhibits in peculiar dances and jigs that he is hers and hers only, or rises high on the wing cutting the most peculiar capers and gyrations in the air, protesting to her in the grass beneath the most earnest devotion, or advertising to her his whereabouts.

American Woodcock (Scolopax minor) on nest © USFWS

American Woodcock (Scolopax minor) on nest © USFWS

THE WOODCOCK.

Here is a bird that is not often seen in the daytime. During the day he stays in the deep woods or among the tall marsh grasses.

It is at twilight that you may see him. He then comes out in search of food.

Isn’t he an odd-looking bird? His bill is made long so that he can bore into the soft ground for earthworms.

You notice his color is much like the Ruffed Grouse in June “BIRDS.” This seems to be the color of a great many birds whose home is among the grasses and dried leaves. Maybe you can see a reason for this.

Those who have watched the Woodcock carefully, say that he can move the tip end of the upper part of his bill. This acts like a finger in helping him to draw his food from the ground.

What a sight it must be to see a number of these weird-looking birds at work getting their food. If they happen to be in a swampy place, they often find earthworms by simply turning over the dead leaves.

If there should be, near by, a field that has been newly plowed, they will gather in numbers, at twilight, and search for worms.

The Woodcock has short wings for his size. He seems to be able to fly very fast. You can imagine how he looks while flying—his long bill out in front and his legs hanging down.
Summary

AMERICAN WOODCOCK.Philohela minor. Other names: “Bog-sucker,” “Mud Snipe,” “Blind Snipe.”

Range—Eastern North America, breeding throughout its range.

Nest—Of dried leaves, on the ground.

Eggs—Four; buffy, spotted with shades of rufous.

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Lee’s Addition:

You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:13 ESV)

For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. (Matthew 7:14 ESV)

That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: (Acts 17:27 KJV)

Thinking about how the Woodcock is protected by the way the Lord created it to blend in to the leaves and bark reminded me of trying to find something. The above verses came to mind. I trust we are all seeking the Lord, His Salvation and His Blessings.

The American Woodcock (Scolopax minor), sometimes colloquially referred to as the Timberdoodle, is a small chunky shorebird species found primarily in the eastern half of North America. Woodcock spend most of their time on the ground in brushy, young-forest habitats, where the birds’ brown, black, and gray plumage provides excellent camouflage.

Because of the male Woodcock’s unique, beautiful courtship flights, the bird is welcomed as a harbinger of spring in northern areas. It is also a popular game bird, with about 540,000 killed annually by some 133,000 hunters in the U.S.

The American Woodcock is the only species of Woodcock inhabiting North America. Although classified with the sandpipers and shorebirds in Family Scolopacidae, the American Woodcock lives mainly in upland settings. Its many folk names include timberdoodle, bogsucker, night partridge, brush snipe, hokumpoke, and becasse.

The American Woodcock has a plump body, short legs, a large, rounded head, and a long, straight bill. Adults are 10 to 12 inches (25 to 30 cm) long and weigh 5 to 8 ounces (140 to 230 g). Females are considerably larger than males. The bill is 2.5 to 2.75 inches (6.3 to 7.0 cm) long.

American Woodcock (Scolopax minor) 1891 ©WikiC

American Woodcock (Scolopax minor) 1891 ©WikiC

“Woodcock, with attenuate primaries, nat. size.” 1891.

The plumage is a cryptic mix of different shades of browns, grays, and black. The chest and sides vary from yellowish white to rich tans. The nape of the head is black, with three or four crossbars of deep buff or rufous. The feet and toes, which are small and weak, are brownish gray to reddish brown.

Woodcock have large eyes located high in the head, and their visual field is probably the largest of any bird, 360° in the horizontal plane and 180° in the vertical plane.

The Woodcock uses its long bill to probe in the soil for food, mainly invertebrates and especially earthworms. A unique bone-and-muscle arrangement lets the bird open and close the tip of its upper bill, or mandible, while it is sunk in the ground. Both the underside of the upper mandible and the long tongue are rough-surfaced for grasping slippery prey.

Color Key - Many of the members of the family Scolopacidæ are probing Snipe. The Woodcock, Wilson Snipe, and Dowitcher are good examples. Their bill is long and sensitive and they can curve or move its tip without opening it at the base. When the bill is thrust into the mud the tip may therefore grasp a worm and it thus becomes a finger as well as a probe.

Besides the American Woodcock, there are these: (Photos from IBC)

Eurasian Woodcock (Scolopax rusticola)
Amami Woodcock (Scolopax mira)
Javan Woodcock (Scolopax saturata) or Dusky
New Guinea Woodcock (Scolopax rosenbergii)
Bukidnon Woodcock (Scolopax bukidnonensis)
Sulawesi Woodcock (Scolopax celebensis)
Moluccan Woodcock (Scolopax rochussenii)
American Woodcock (Scolopax minor)

Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited

The above article is an article in the monthly serial for May 1897 “designed to promote Knowledge of Bird-Live.” These include Color Photography, as they call them, today they are drawings. There are at least three Volumes that have been digitized by Project Gutenberg.

To see the whole series of – Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited

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(Information from Wikipedia and other internet sources)

Next Article – The American Scoter

The Previous Article -  The Snake Bird

Sharing The Gospel

Links:

Scolopacidae – Sandpipers, Snipes

American Woodcock – All About Birds

American Woodcock – Wikipedia

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image
From col. F. C. Baker.

THE ANHINGA OR SNAKE BIRD.

T

HE Snake Bird is very singular indeed in appearance, and interesting as well in its habits. Tropical and sub-tropical America, north to the Carolinas and Southern Illinois, where it is a regular summer resident, are its known haunts. Here it is recognized by different names, as Water Turkey, Darter, and Snake Bird. The last mentioned seems to be the most appropriate name for it, as the shape of its head and neck at once suggest the serpent. In Florida it is called the Grecian Lady, at the mouth of the Mississippi, Water Crow, and in Louisiana, Bec a Lancette. It often swims with the body entirely under water, its head and long neck in sight like some species of water snakes, and has no doubt more than once left the impression on the mind of the superstitious sailor that he has seen a veritable sea serpent, the fear of which lead him to exaggerate the size of it.

This bird so strange in looks and action is common in summer in the South Atlantic and Gulf States, frequenting the almost impenetrable swamps, and is a constant resident of Florida.

As a diver the Snake Bird is the most wonderful of all the Ducks. Like the Loon it can disappear instantly and noiselessly, swim a long distance and reappear almost in an opposite direction to that in which naturally it would be supposed to go. And the ease with which, when alarmed, it will drop from its perch and leave scarcely a ripple on the surface of the water, would appear incredible in so large a bird, were it not a well known fact. It has also the curious habit of sinking like a Grebe.

The nests of the Anhinga are located in various places, sometimes in low bushes at a height from the ground of only a few feet, or in the upper branches of high trees, but always over water. Though web footed, it is strong enough to grasp tightly the perch on which it nests. This gives it a great advantage over the common Duck which can nest only on the ground. Sometimes Snake Birds breed in colonies with various species of Herons. From three to five eggs, bluish, or dark greenish white, are usually found in the nest.

Prof. F. C. Baker, secretary of the Chicago Academy of Sciences, to whom we are indebted for the specimen presented here, captured this bird at Micco, Brevard Co., Florida, in April, 1889. He says he found a peculiar parasite in the brain of the Anhinga.

The Anhingas consist of but one species, which has a representative in the warmer parts of each of the great divisions of the earth. The number seen together varies from eight or ten to several hundred.

The hair-like feathers on the neck form a sort of loose mane.

When asleep the bird stands with its body almost erect. In rainy weather it often spends the greater part of the day in an erect attitude, with its neck and head stretched upward, remaining perfectly motionless, so that the water may glide off its plumage. The fluted tail is very thick and beautiful and serves as a propeller as well as a rudder in swimming.
Summary

SNAKE BIRD.Anhinga anhinga. Other names: “Water Turkey,” “Darter,” “Water Crow,” “Grecian Lady.”

Range—Tropical and sub-tropical America.

Nest—Of sticks, lined with moss, rootlets, etc., in a bush or tree over the water.

Eggs—Two to four; bluish white, with a chalky deposit.


Anhinga (Anhinga anhinga) Dryed at Lake Hollingsworth by Dan

Anhinga Dryed at Lake Hollingsworth

Lee’s Addition:

Anhingas are very common here in central Florida. We see them “hanging out to dry” all the time. That, or swimming in the lake with only their neck sticking out. They do look like a snake at times.

The Anhinga (Anhinga anhinga), sometimes called SnakebirdDarterAmerican Darter, or Water Turkey, is a water bird of the warmer parts of the Americas. The word anhinga comes from the Brazilian Tupi language and means devil bird or snake bird.

It is a cormorant-like bird with an average body length of 85 cm (33 in), a wingspan of 117 cm (46 in), and a mass of up to 1.35 kg (3.0 lb). It is a dark-plumaged piscivore with a very long neck, and often swims with only the neck above water. When swimming in this style the name Snakebird is apparent, since only the colored neck appears above water the bird looks like a snake ready to strike.

Most of the male Anhinga’s body is a glossy black green with the wings, base of wings, and tail being a glossy black blue. The tip of the tail has white feathers. The back of the head and the neck have elongated feathers that have been described as gray or light purple white. The upper back of the body and wings is spotted or streaked with white.

Anhinga Female resting - Lake Morton 6-28-12 by Lee

Anhinga Female resting

The female Anhinga is similar to the male Anhinga except that it has a pale gray-buff or light brown head, neck, and upper chest. The lower chest or breast is a chestnut color and as compared to the male, the female has a more brown back.

This bird is often mistaken for the Double-crested Cormorant due to its similar size and behavior. However, the two species can be differentiated by their tails and bills. The tail of the anhinga is wider and much longer than that of the cormorant. The bill of the anhinga is pointed, while the bill of the cormorant has a hook-tip.

The Anhinga is placed in the darter family, Anhingidae, and is closely related to Indian (Anhinga melanogaster), African (A. rufa), and Australian (A. novaehollandiae) Darters.

Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited

The above article is an article in the monthly serial for May 1897 “designed to promote Knowledge of Bird-Live.” These include Color Photography, as they call them, today they are drawings. There are at least three Volumes that have been digitized by Project Gutenberg.

To see the whole series of – Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited

*

(Information from Wikipedia and other internet sources)

Next Article – The American Woodcock

Previous Article - Wood Duck

Sharing The Gospel

Links:

Anhingida – Anhings and Darters Family

SULIFORMES – Gannets, Cormorants, Frigatebirds, Anhingas - Order

Anhinga – Wikipedia

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Ian’s Bird of the Week – White-throated Dipper  ~ by Ian Montgomery

Newsletter – 8-5-12

Here’s another species from Bushy Park in Dublin, the White-throated Dipper, this time on the River Dodder. This featured as bird of the week 5 years ago, so please forgive the repetition but I have some nice photos to share. Dippers – there are 6 species world-wide – are rather special in that they are the only truly aquatic Passerines (song birds), living exclusively on and in fast flowing streams and rivers and getting all their food from the water. They are dumpy, short-tailed, starling-sized birds and, as they often cock their tails, look a bit like giant (Winter) Wrens.

White-throated Dipper (Cinclus cinclus) by Ian 1

White-throated Dipper (Cinclus cinclus) by Ian 1

They also build domed nests but the resemblance to wrens ends there, though, and they are unrelated belonging to their own family, the Cinclidae. They feed on aquatic larvae, such as Caddis Fly larvae, and other invertebrates such as freshwater crustaceans and molluscs.

White-throated Dipper (Cinclus cinclus) by Ian 2

White-throated Dipper (Cinclus cinclus) by Ian 2

Not only do they wade and swim with ease, they will also walk along the bottom of the stream gripping onto stones with their strong feet and even dive, using their wings to propel themselves under water.

White-throated Dipper (Cinclus cinclus) by Ian 3

White-throated Dipper (Cinclus cinclus) by Ian 3

The bird in the third photo is almost completely submerged, and if you look carefully at the fourth photo, the brown shape in the centre is a completely submerged one with only a little eddy to show where it went under the surface.

White-throated Dipper (Cinclus cinclus) by Ian 4

White-throated Dipper (Cinclus cinclus) by Ian 4

They use their slightly upturned bill to probe for food under rocks and stones. The one in the fifth photo has just surfaced with a tasty grub.

White-throated Dipper (Cinclus cinclus) by Ian 5

White-throated Dipper (Cinclus cinclus) by Ian 5

This same bird only moments before had appeared with a Caddis Fly larva in its characteristic tube, made out of spun silk and often camouflaged with attached sand, sixth photo. The presence of Caddis Fly larvae is supposed to indicated a healthy river system, though the depressing amount of water-borne litter in the River Dodder makes it look otherwise.

White-throated Dipper (Cinclus cinclus) by Ian 6

White-throated Dipper (Cinclus cinclus) by Ian 6

We saw Dippers on most occasions when we took the dogs for a walk. It’s popular jogging and dog-walking spot and the Dippers are used to disturbance and are remarkably approachable, being usually rather shy. They nest here too, and the slight bemused looking individual in the seventh photo is a recently-fledged juvenile, distinguishable by the scaly pattern on the chest, the overall grey colour and the pale legs.

White-throated Dipper (Cinclus cinclus) by Ian 7

White-throated Dipper (Cinclus cinclus) by Ian 7

I’ve seen Brown Dippers in the Himalayas in Sikkim, White-capped Dippers in the Andes in Ecuador and American Dippers in the Cascade Mountains of Northeastern California. The White-throated Dipper is a bird of mainly and often icy, highland streams in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. Seeing them so easily in suburban Dublin, between Terenure and Rathfarnham 6 km from the city centre (take the 15B bus) is truly wonderful.

Best wishes
Ian
**************************************************
Ian Montgomery, Birdway Pty Ltd,
454 Forestry Road, Bluewater, Qld 4818
Tel 0411 602 737 ian@birdway.com.au
Check the latest website updates:
http://www.birdway.com.au/#updates


Lee’s Addition:

Let the rivers clap their hands; Let the hills be joyful together before the LORD, (Psalms 98:8 NKJV)

What an amazing little bird. Its ability to swim and walk underwater is very interesting. Thanks again, Ian, for sharing another of your adventures.

As Ian mentioned they are in the Cinclidae family. There are five species in that family. After checking out his photos, check the Birds of the World page here.

Ian’s Cinclidae Family page.

Cinclidae – Dipper Family

Dippers – Wikipedia

Dippers – IBC

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Herons

Color Key to North American Birds, by Frank M. Chapman, 2011

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Ardeidae – Herons, Bitterns, Egrets Family

Herons

the stork, the heron of any kind, the hoopoe, and the bat. (Leviticus 11:19 ESV)

All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. (John 1:3 NKJV)

Color Key To North American Birds cover

bird images 192. Great White Heron (Ardea occidentalis). Ads. White, no “aigrette” plumes. A white Heron about the size of a Great Blue Heron. What is supposed to be a gray-blue phase of this bird has been called, a bird which resembles No. 194, but has the head and neck whitish.Range.—Southern Florida, Cuba and Jamaica.

196. American Egret (Herodias egretta). L. 41. Ads. White, about 50 straight “aigrette” plumes grow from the back between the wings; legs and feet black. Ads. when not breeding and Yng., the same, but no plumes.Range.—Tropical and temperate America; breeds north to Virginia, southern Illinois, and California; later strays to New Brunswick, Minnesota, and Oregon; winters from southern California and Gulf States southward.

197. Snowy Heron (Egretta candidissima). L. 24. Ads. White, about 50 recurved “aigrette” plumes grow from back between the wings; legs black, feet yellow. Ads. when not breeding and Yng. The same, but no plumes.Range.—Tropical and temperate America; bred formerly north to Long Island, southern Illinois and California; now very rare in eastern North America; winters from Gulf States and southern California southward.

194. Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias). L. 45; W. 18.5; B. 5.5; Tar. 7. Ads. Center of crown white, head crested; legs blackish. Yng. Similar, but no crest, crown wholly black, plumage more bird imagesstreaked.Range—Northern South America north to Arctic regions; breeds locally throughout most of North America range; winters from about latitude 42° southward.

194a. Northwest Coast Heron (A. h. fannini). Similar to No. 194 but much darker; upperparts bluish slate black; tarsus shorter, 5.3.Range.—Pacific coast from Vancouver to Sitka.

194b. Ward Heron (A. h. wardi). Similar to No. 194 but whiter below, neck darker; legs olive; larger, L. 52; W. 20; B. 6.5; Tar. 8.Range.—Florida; coast of Texas.

202. Black-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax nævius). L. 24. Ads. Crown and back greenish black lower back, wings and tail ashy; head with two or three rounded white plumes, except just after breeding season. Yng. Grayish brown streaked with white; below white streaked with blackish; outer webs of primaries, pale rufousNotes. An explosiveqûawk.Range.—Western hemisphere; breeds in North America north to New Brunswick, Quebec, Manitoba, and Oregon; winters from California and Gulf States southward.

203. Yellow-crowned Night Heron (Nyctanassa violaceus). L. 23. Ads. Blue-gray; crown and ear-coverts whitish, rest of head black; scapulars streaked with black; head with two or three rounded, white plumes, except just after nesting season.Yng. Crown black, streaked with whitish; primaries bluish slate, no rufous; back brownish streaked with white; below whitish streaked with blackish.

Range.—Tropical and subtropical America; breeds north to South Carolina, southern Illinois, and Lower California; strays to Massachusetts and Colorado; winters from Gulf States southward.

bird images198. Reddish Egret (Dichromanassa rufescens). L. 29. Two color phases independent of age. Ads. Dark phase, Head and neck rufous; back slate; about 30 “aigrette” plumes. White phase. White, including plumes; tips of primaries sometimes speckled with gray. Yng. Rufous and gray, or white, without plumes.Range.—West Indies and Central America north to coasts of Gulf States, Illinois (rarely), and Lower California.

199. Louisiana Heron (Hydranassa tricolor ruficollis). L. 26. Ads. “Aigrette” plumes, short, dirty gray; rump and belly white; legs blackish. Yng. Head and neck brownish; throat and line down foreneck white; above slaty washed with brownish, rump, and belly white.Range.—West Indies and Central America north to Gulf States, casually to Long Island and Indiana.

200. Little Blue Heron (Florida cœrulea). L. 22. Ads. Head and neck maroon; rest of plumage slaty blue. Yng. White, tips of primaries bluish, legs greenish yellow.Range.—Tropical America and eastern United States; breeds north to Virginia and Illinois, later may stray north as far as Nova Scotia; winters from South Atlantic and Gulf States southward.

201. Little Green Heron (Butorides virescens). L. 17. Smallest of our Herons. Ads. Crown, glossy green-black; throat and line down foreneck buffy; rest of head and neck purplish chestnut; back green washed with bluish gray. Yng. Neck and below streaked with blackish; back-feathers not lengthened; duller. Notes. A rattling oc-oc-oc-oc-oc, a startling scow, and, more rarely, a deep, hollow groan. (Brewster.)Range.—Tropical and temperate North America; breeds from Gulf States north to Nova Scotia and Manitoba; winters from Gulf States southward to northern South America.

201a. Frazar Green Heron (B. v. frazari). Similar to No. 201, but rather larger and darker, neck more purplish, light stripings on throat and foreneck more restricted. (Brewster.)

Range.—Lower Califorinia.

201b. Anthony Green Heron (B. v. anthonyi). Similar to No. 201, but slightly larger, and paler, light markings of wings, neck, and throat less restricted and whiter. (Mearns.)

Range.—Arid portions of southwestern United States, south into Mexico.


Green Heron – From Color Key

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