Tickle Me Tuesday – Bouncy Woodcock

American Woodcock through door 12-3-19 by Lee

American Woodcock through door 12-3-19 by Lee

Today I am going combine a “Tickle Me Tuesday” with a “Through My Window” avian wonder. In fact, the photos were taken last Tuesday “through my window/sliding door.”

Thanks to my zoom lens on my camera, which I now keep sitting in a chair at the breakfast table, I was able to get my first idea of what kind of bird this was.

American Woodcock through door 12-3-19 by Lee 2

American Woodcock through door 12-3-19 by Lee 2

Once he turned sideways, the identification became clear. It was an American Woodcock.

American Woodcock through door 12-3-19 by Lee 3

American Woodcock through door 12-3-19 by Lee 3

He was doing their “bouncy dance,” but, of course, as I started filming, he stopped. [ignore TV was in background]

Here is a American Woodcock doing an early morning “sky dance”

or how about this one?

“They wander up and down for food, And howl if they are not satisfied.” (Psalms 59:15 NKJV)

I used that verse out of text, but the next two verses are great challenges for us to sing praises to our Lord. Creation of the amazing Woodcocks are reasons to sing of His Creative Power.

“But I will sing of Your power; Yes, I will sing aloud of Your mercy in the morning; For You have been my defense And refuge in the day of my trouble. To You, O my Strength, I will sing praises; For God is my defense, My God of mercy.” (Psalms 59:16-17 NKJV)

“Superbly camouflaged against the leaf litter, the brown-mottled American Woodcock walks slowly along the forest floor, probing the soil with its long bill in search of earthworms. Unlike its coastal relatives, this plump little shorebird lives in young forests and shrubby old fields across eastern North America. Its cryptic plumage and low-profile behavior make it hard to find except in the springtime at dawn or dusk, when the males show off for females by giving loud, nasal peent calls and performing dazzling aerial displays.”

The American Woodcock belongs to the Scolopacidae – Sandpipers, Snipes Family

Cool Facts:

“Wouldn’t it be useful to have eyes in the back of your head? American Woodcocks come close—their large eyes are positioned high and near the back of their skull. This arrangement lets them keep watch for danger in the sky while they have their heads down probing in the soil for food.”

“The American Woodcock probes the soil with its bill to search for earthworms, using its flexible bill tip to capture prey. The bird walks slowly and sometimes rocks its body back and forth, stepping heavily with its front foot. This action may make worms move around in the soil, increasing their detectability.” [All About Birds]

American Woodcock – All About Birds

American Woodcock – A Wonderfully Bizarre Bird

Tickle Me Tuesday Revived – Laughing Kookaburras

Wages or a Gift

Ian’s Bird of the Week – Temminck’s Stint

Ian’s Bird of the Week – Temminck’s Stint ~by Ian Montgomery
Newsletter – 12/31/15
Surprise, surprise, Facebook can be useful! I was contemplating a suitable species to wish you a Happy New Year, when I discovered from a post by Rohan Clark that Temminck’s Stint is the newest addition to the Australian bird list, one having turned up in Broome, Western Australia about a month. And no, I didn’t rush off there to photograph it: here are a couple of old photos that I took in India twelve years ago. So that satisfies the Old Year/New Year metaphor. You’ll have noticed by now that I’ll use any excuse as a metaphor to nominate a species as Bird of the Week.
This is probably one for the serious birder as small waders in winter plumage not only pose serious problems of identification but also fail to excite people who are into more dramatic plumages. That said, it’s distinguishing features are the down-curved bill, short legs and, in flight, the white sides to the tail. The latter is probably the best field mark, as it’s shared with no other members of the genus and easy to see in flight, even if it doesn’t show when the birds are on the ground. There are four species of Stints (see Typical Waders on Birdway) the Eurasian name for very small waders; comparable species of the same genus in North America are usually named Sandpipers, e.g. the Least Sandpiper  and are collectively, colloquially and somewhat disparagingly called Peeps after their calls.
Temminck’s Stint nest right across northern Eurasia from Norway to eastern Siberia. The short Arctic breeding season is something of a frenzy, as Temminck’s Stints of both sexes are territorial and serially bigamous and sometimes fit in three clutches with different mates. They winter mainly in equatorial Africa and southern and southeastern Asia, with Borneo being the closest regular winter haunt to Australia. It is to be expected that they would sometimes overshoot their destination and there have been several reports of them in Australia in recent years but none has been accepted until now.
Coenraad Temminck was a Dutch ‘aristocrat and zoologist’ born in Amsterdam in 1778. He was director of the National Museum (then the Rijksmuseum) of Natural History in Leiden from 1830 until his death in 1851. He made a huge contribution towards the classification of birds and other vertebrates at a time when the species and type concepts were contentious. He inherited a large collection of bird skins from his father who was treasurer of the Dutch East India Company, so it would be easy to imagine that his specimen of the stint came from Indonesia.
Sixteen bird species still include his name as part of the scientific and/or common name, including the Australian Logrunner (Orthonyx temminckii), which as featured as bird of the week before. He also make a fundamental contribution to biogeography, though his views on the divine aspects of species design and their unchanging nature proved unpopular with other scientists after about 1840.
You nearly got the Eurasian/Winter/Pacific Wrens as bird of the week as today I’ve got as far as the wren family page in the website redesign. I’m switching from BirdLife International to the IOC for classification and the IOC splits the old Winter Wren of the almost the entire Northern Hemisphere into Old World (Eurasian Wren) and New World (Winter and Pacific Wrens , which also suited the Old Year/New Year transition nicely. However, the Eurasian Wren has featured as bird of the week before in the guise of Winter Wren so you ended up with an obscure wader instead.
I send you very best wishes for the New Year and a rewarding 2016 and don’t make your New Year Resolutions too ambitious!
Ian
**************************************************
Ian Montgomery, Birdway Pty Ltd,
454 Forestry Road, Bluewater, Qld 4818
Tel 0411 602 737 ian@birdway.com.au
Bird Photos http://www.birdway.com.au/
Recorder Society http://www.nqrs.org.au

Lee’s Addition:

“If a bird’s nest happens to be before you along the way, in any tree or on the ground, with young ones or eggs, with the mother sitting on the young or on the eggs, you shall not take the mother with the young; (Deuteronomy 22:6 NKJV)

Well, Happy New Years to you also, Ian. We look forward to your newsletters again this new year. Thanks for letting our blog share your very informative articles along with super photos of species. Many of those species we have never heard of, let alone have the opportunity to see. Thanks for sharing.

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Ian’s Bird of the Week articles

Ian’s Scolopacidae Family

Scolopacidae – Sandpipers, Snipes – Stint Family

Good News

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American Woodcock – A Wonderfully Bizarre Bird

American Woodcock (Scolopax minor) on nest ©USFWS

American Woodcock (Scolopax minor) on nest ©USFWS

A Wonderfully Bizarre Bird by Tom Hennigan © 2013 Answers in Genesis – www.AnswersInGenesis.org.

The drought had been rather severe that summer, and the normally moist woodland was dry and parched. Suddenly, out of the brush, a chunky bird was frantically searching the soil for earthworms. Following behind, and looking as famished as their mama, were four of her wood-brown chicks. And as their mama stopped and probed the arid ground before her, the chicks looked on with eager expectation. But all at once, and without warning, mama bird performed an amazing feat! She lay her body flat along the ground and began drumming the surface with her wings. Minutes later, their hunger satisfied, this American Woodcock family disappeared into the dry undergrowth.

All birds reveal incredible design, but the American Woodcock has an interesting design feature in its behaviour as well.

We have been led to believe by the scientific establishment that birds, like the American Woodcock, are products of time and chance. That through natural processes and eons of time, they are the descendants of a common ancestor that sprang from the reptilian line.

On the other hand, the Word of the Creator states that birds were designed and created by Him, according to their own kind, on the fifth day. As a result, He considered them very good (Genesis 1:31).

American Woodcock (Scolopax minor) ©WikiC

American Woodcock (Scolopax minor) ©WikiC

Chance vs design. Aimlessness vs plan and purpose. These are two fiercely competitive worldview’s. They are mutually exclusive. And, contrary to popular opinion, the essence of both can be described as the science of one person’s religion vs the science of another’s. Why? Because no one was there at the beginning! Scientifically speaking, the conditions of the early earth are unknown and hence cannot be duplicated. On the other hand, God was there! He is perfectly capable of communicating to His people.

When we look at His world, we find tremendous evidence of His fingerprints, so to speak—design and purpose.

For instance, how did drumming the ground bring the woodcock family from famine to feast? Amazingly enough, mama woodcock was aware of the habits of earthworms. She knew that in dry conditions, they squirm to the lower, moist depths of the soil. However, she was also aware of another quirk in their behaviour! When it rains, worms can sense the ground vibrations caused by raindrops. When this happens, they quickly propel themselves to the soil surface so they won’t drown. Therefore, when the mother beat the ground, she and her family were able to leave the area with their hunger pangs satisfied.

How did she know how to do that? What complicated series of events caused all of this information to come together in one little bird? Was it by chance and natural processes or was it creation with deliberate purpose?

Not only did it know the habits of the earthworms, this bird’s anatomy is highly complex as well. The eyes are located high on its head enabling it to see 360 degrees. Imagine being able to see, with overlapping vision allowing depth perception, both in front of and behind you. The ears are situated between the eyes and its eight-centimetre (three-inch) bill. This highly sophisticated hearing apparatus is better able to detect the sub-soil movement of its prey. Working together with its exquisitely attuned vision and hearing, are its sensitive feet. Designed to feel ground vibration, they help to pinpoint a worm’s location.

American Woodcock (Scolopax minor) chick ©WikiC

American Woodcock (Scolopax minor) chick ©WikiC

Being fairly certain that the worm is within reach, the bird pushes its bill into the ground. But this isn’t just any old bill! The flexible tip, which allows it to open and close in a tweezer fashion within tiny spaces, has highly sensitive nerve endings. It allows the woodcock to know that it has grasped its meal.
A nocturnal animal, the woodcock is probably best known for its bizarre courtship behaviour. At dusk, the male of the species will circle high in the sky on a spring night making a continual ‘twittering’ noise. At this highest point, he’ll suddenly dive in a zig-zag fashion toward the earth. It’s a most unusual display, completely captivating his mate-to-be. The three outer primary feathers not only make the strange sounds of this courting male, but also contribute greatly to his survival. When the woodcock is in danger of being discovered by a predator, it will explode from its concealment. In so doing, those feathers make such an unexpected and horrible noise, that often the predator is temporarily shocked. This brief moment is all the time the bird needs to make its escape!1

When it is realized how many of these complicated factors must come together, at the same time, just for the bird to survive, that all this could come from gradual, piecemeal evolution defies credibility.

The outdoors is chock full of unique and fascinating organisms, like the American Woodcock, just waiting to be discovered by both children and adults alike. All of creation, though now fallen from its original perfection, holds a wonder and fascination that finds its meaning in the Creator God who put it there! Evidence of His handiwork can be seen and understood. And evidence can be logically discussed in scientific circles, so be bold, be confident and be in awe of His creative abilities!

The world today needs more people who will proclaim the news in every land that Jesus Christ, the awesome Creator, came to us, lived amongst us, died and rose again for us!

‘Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest’ (Joshua 1:9).

by Tom Hennigan September 1, 1997

Tom Hennigan, B.S., M.S.,is an environmental educator with DeRuyter Central Schools, New York. He operates a creation ministry called, ‘Genesis Moment Ministries’.

Permission from © 2013 Answers in Genesis – www.AnswersInGenesis.org.


Lee’s Addition:

The American Woodcock belongs to the Scolopacidae – Sandpipers, Snipes Family which has 96 species, of which 8 are Woodcocks.

“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. Woodcocks 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. (Ugh!)

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 prehensile 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 (6.4 to 7.0 cm) long.

American Woodcock (Scolopax minor) 1891 ©WikiC

American Woodcock (Scolopax minor) 1891 ©WikiC

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.[8]

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 prehensile 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.

In Spring, males occupy individual singing grounds, openings near brushy cover from which they call and perform display flights at dawn and dusk, and if the light levels are high enough on moonlit nights. The male’s ground call is a short, buzzy peent. After sounding a series of ground calls, the male takes off and flies from 50 to 100 yards into the air. He descends, zigzagging and banking while singing a liquid, chirping song. This high spiralling flight produces a melodious twittering sound as air rushes through the male’s outer primary wing feathers.” (Wikipedia with editing)

Audios from xeno-canto

Links:

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Ian’s Bird of the Week – Common Redshank

Common Redshank (Tringa totanus) by Ian 1

Common Redshank (Tringa totanus) by Ian 1

Ian’s Bird of the Week – Common Redshank ~ by Ian Montgomery

Newsletter – 11-1-12

Here’s one for the wader enthusiasts: the Common Redshank, well ‘common’ in Eurasia and rather rare in Australia. It occurred to me when I was photographing these birds in Ireland in September, that, for birders, the appeal of a particular species is very dependent on location. Common Redshanks are noteworthy in Australia (I remember looking quite hard before finding one in Broome) but perhaps a nuisance in Ireland because they’re ubiquitous, nervous and noisy and often put more unusual waders to flight when you least want them to.

The one in the first photo is foraging at low tide in the harbour at Carlingford Lough, an attractive bay between the Republic and Northern Ireland on the east coast and overlooked on the northern side by the Mourne Mountains. The two in the second photo are feeding in the mudflats in the estuary of the River Boyne some distance downstream from where the famous Battle of the Boyne took place in 1690. The bird on the right has just taken a tiny crab.

Common Redshank (Tringa totanus) by Ian 2

Common Redshank (Tringa totanus) by Ian 2

The birds in the first two photos are in non-breeding plumage. Some wader species undergo spectacular colour changes when breeding, but in the Common Redshank the markings just become more pronounced, as in the third photo, taken in Portugal in the month of June some years ago.

Common Redshank (Tringa totanus) by Ian 3

Common Redshank (Tringa totanus) by Ian 3

The bright red legs, or shanks, make this a relatively easy wader to identify. It’s ringing call is also distinctive and it shows a characteristic wing pattern in flight with white panels on the rear edge of the wing, as in the fourth photo, quite different from the wing bar or plain wing of most waders.

Common Redshank (Tringa totanus) by Ian 4

Common Redshank (Tringa totanus) by Ian 4

The generic name Tringa is from the ancient Greek trungas ‘a thrush-sized bird mentioned by Aristotle, not further identified, but taken by later authors to be a sandpiper, a wagtail or a dipper‘. That’s equivalent to saying that this fruit is either an orange, a pineapple or a banana. And totanus comes from the Italian name totano for a Redshank. Sometimes the derivation of scientific names is informative, sometimes less so.

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:

The birds of the air, And the fish of the sea That pass through the paths of the seas. (Psalms 8:8 NKJV)

What a neat little bird. I especially like the 3rd photo showing the red, hence, Redshank. Thanks again, Ian.

Redshanks do belong to the Scolopacidae – Sandpipers, Snipes Family. See his Scolopacidae family photos also.

Common Redshanks in breeding plumage are a marbled brown color, slightly lighter below. In winter plumage they become somewhat lighter-toned and less patterned, being rather plain greyish-brown above and whitish below. They have red legs and a black-tipped red bill, and show white up the back and on the wings in flight.

(Sound from xeno-canto.org)

See Also:

Ian’s Bird of the Week Newsletters

Common RedshankTringa – ARKive

Common Redshank – Naturia

Common Redshank (Tringa totanus) – Ocean Wanderers Guide

Scolopacidae – Sandpipers, Snipes Family

Scolopacidae – Birdway (Ian’s)

Vol 2 #2 – Wilson’s Phalarope

Wilson's Phalarope for Birds Illustrated by Color Photography

Wilson’s Phalarope for Birds Illustrated by Color Photography

WILSON’S PHALAROPE.

imgpERHAPS the most interesting, as it is certainly the most uncommon, characteristic of this species of birds is that the male relieves his mate from all domestic duties except the laying of the eggs. He usually chooses a thin tuft of grass on a level spot, but often in an open place concealed by only a few straggling blades. He scratches a shallow depression in the soft earth, lines it with a thin layer of fragments of old grass blades, upon which the eggs, three or four, are laid about the last of May or first of June. Owing to the low situation in which the nest is placed, the first set of eggs are often destroyed by a heavy fall of rain causing the water to rise so as to submerge the nest. The instinct of self preservation in these birds, as in many others, seems lacking in this respect. A second set, numbering two or three, is often deposited in a depression scratched in the ground, as at first, but with no sign of any lining.

Wilson’s Phalarope is exclusively an American bird, more common in the interior than along the sea coast. The older ornithologists knew little of it. It is now known to breed in northern Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, the Dakotas, Utah, and Oregon. It is recorded as a summer resident in northern Indiana and in western Kansas. Mr. E. W. Nelson states that it is the most common species in northern Illinois, frequenting grassy marshes and low prairies, and is not exceeded in numbers even by the ever-present Spotted Sandpiper. While it was one of our most common birds in the Calumet region it is now becoming scarce.

The adult female of this beautiful species is by far the handsomest of the small waders. The breeding plumage is much brighter and richer than that of the male, another peculiar characteristic, and the male alone possesses the naked abdomen. The female always remains near the nest while he is sitting, and shows great solicitude upon the approach of an intruder. The adults assume the winter plumage during July.


Wilson's Phalarope (Phalaropus tricolor) by J Fenton

Wilson’s Phalarope (Phalaropus tricolor) by J Fenton

Lee’s Addition:

Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name. So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him. (Genesis 2:19-20 NKJV)

What another fantastically created bird. The Phalaropes belong to the Scolopacidae – Sandpipers, Snipes family. There are 96 species in the family, with 3 of those in the Phalaropus genus; the Wilson’s, Red-necked and Red Phalaropes. Phalarope are sometimes called “wadepipers.” They are especially notable for two things: their unusual nesting behavior (see above), and their unique feeding technique. When feeding, a phalarope will often swim in a small, rapid circle, forming a small whirlpool. This behavior is thought to aid feeding by raising food from the bottom of shallow water. The bird will reach into the center of the vortex with its bill, plucking small insects or crustaceans caught up therein.

The Wilson’s Phalarope, Phalaropus tricolor, is a small wader. This bird, the largest of the phalaropes, breeds in the prairies of North America in western Canada and the western United States. It is migratory, wintering around the central Andes in South America. They are passage migrants through Central America around March/April and again during September/October. The species is a rare vagrant to western Europe.

This species is often very tame and approachable. Its common name commemorates the American ornithologist Alexander Wilson. Sometimes, it is placed in a monotypic genus Steganopus.

Wilson's Phalarope (Phalaropus tricolor) by Daves BirdingPix

Wilson’s Phalarope (Phalaropus tricolor) by Daves BirdingPix

Wilson’s Phalarope is slightly larger than the Red Phalarope at about 9.1 in (23 cm) in length. As are all 3 phalaropes, it is a unique, dainty shorebird with lobed toes and a straight fine black bill. The breeding female is predominantly gray and brown above, with white underparts, a reddish neck and reddish flank patches. The breeding male is a duller version of the female, with a brown back, and the reddish patches reduced or absent. In a study of breeding phalaropes in Saskatchewan Providence in Canada, females were found to average around 10% larger in standard measurements and to weigh around 30% more than the males. Females weighed from 68 to 79 g (2.4 to 2.8 oz), whereas the males average 1.83 oz (51.8 g).

Young birds are grey and brown above, with whitish underparts and a dark patch through the eye. In winter, the plumage is essentially grey above and white below, but the dark eyepatch is always present.

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Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited – Introduction

The above article is the first article in the monthly serial that was started in January 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 Evening Grosbeak

The Previous Article – The Skylark

ABC’s Of The Gospel

Links:

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Scolopacidae – Sandpipers, Snipes Family

Wilson’s Phalarope Wikipedia

Phalarope – Wikipedia

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Vol 2 #2 – The Yellow Legs

Lesser Yellow Legs for Birds Illustrated by Color Photography - From col. F. M. Woodruff.

Lesser Yellow Legs for Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – From col. F. M. Woodruff.

THE YELLOW LEGS.

imgy

ELLOW LEGS, or Lesser Tell tale sometimes called Yellow-leg Snipe, and Little Cucu, inhabits the whole of North America, nesting in the cold temperate and subarctic districts of the northern continent, migrating south in winter to Argentine and Chili. It is much rarer in the western than eastern province of North America, and is only accidental in Europe. It is one of the wading birds, its food consisting of larvae of insects, small shell fish and the like.

The nest of the Lesser Yellow Shanks, which it is sometimes called, is a mere depression in the ground, without any lining. Sometimes, however, it is placed at the foot of a bush, with a scanty lining of withered leaves. Four eggs of light drab, buffy or cream color, sometimes of light brown, are laid, and the breast of the female is found to be bare of feathers when engaged in rearing the young. The Lesser Yellow legs breeds in central Ohio and Illinois, where it is a regular summer resident, arriving about the middle of April, the larger portion of flocks passing north early in May and returning about the first of September to remain until the last of October.

A nest of this species of Snipe was found situated in a slight depression at the base of a small hillock near the border of a prairie slough near Evanston, Illinois, and was made of grass stems and blades. The color of the eggs in this instance was a deep grayish white, three of which were marked with spots of dark brown, and the fourth egg with spots and well defined blotches of a considerably lighter shade of the same.


Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes) by Robert Scanlon

Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes) by Robert Scanlon

Lee’s Addition:

If you come across a bird’s nest in any tree or on the ground, with young ones or eggs and the mother sitting on the young or on the eggs, you shall not take the mother with the young. (Deuteronomy 22:6 ESV)

The Yellowlegs belong to the Scolopacidae – Sandpipers, Snipes Family. There are 96 species in the family. The Tringa genus that they are placed in also has Redshanks, Greenshanks, Sandpipers, Tattlers, and the Willet.

The Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes) is a medium-sized shorebird similar in appearance to the larger Greater Yellowlegs. It is not closely related to this bird, however, but instead to the much larger and quite dissimilar Willet: merely the fine, clear and dense pattern of the neck shown in breeding plumage indicates these species’ actual relationships.

Their breeding habitat is clearings near ponds in the boreal forest region from Alaska to Quebec. They nest on the ground, usually in open dry locations.

They migrate to the Gulf coast of the United States and south to South America.

This species is a regular vagrant to western Europe, and the odd bird has wintered in Great Britain.

These birds forage in shallow water, sometimes using their bill to stir up the water. They mainly eat insects, small fish and crustaceans.

The call of this bird is softer than that of the Greater Yellowlegs.

Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes) chicks ©WikiC

Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes) chicks ©WikiC

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Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited – Introduction

The above article is the first article in the monthly serial that was started in January 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 Skylark

The Previous Article – The Red Breasted Merganser

ABC’s Of The Gospel

Links:

Scolopacidae – Sandpipers, Snipes Family

Lesser Yellowlegs – All About Birds

Greater Yellowlegs – All About Birds

Lesser YellowlegsWikipedia

Greater Yellowlegs – Wikipedia

Tringa – Wikipedia

Birds Vol 2 #1 – American Woodcock

American Woodcock (Scolopax minor)

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

THE AMERICAN WOODCOCK.

imgi
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 – Introduction

The above article is the first article in the monthly serial that was started in January 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 Anhinga Or Snake Bird

ABC’s Of The Gospel

Links:

Scolopacidae – Sandpipers, Snipes

American Woodcock – All About Birds

American Woodcock – Wikipedia

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Ian’s Bird of the Week – Red-necked Phalarope

Red-necked Phalarope (Phalaropus lobatus) by Ian

Red-necked Phalarope (Phalaropus lobatus) by Ian

Ian’s Bird of the Week – Red-necked Phalarope ~ by Ian Montgomery

Newsletter – 01-13-11

I had an inquiry from my sister, Colette, in Ireland recently about Red-necked Phalarope (some appeared in breeding plumage at a potential breeding site there last northern summer), so it was floating around in my mind yesterday when I considered what to share with you this week. It’s a dainty and interesting wader, like its cousin the Red/Grey Phalarope which featured as bird of the week after my trip to Alaska in 2008.

Red-necked Phalarope (Phalaropus lobatus) by Ian

Red-necked Phalarope (Phalaropus lobatus) by Ian

The three species of Phalarope (Wilson’s is the third) breed in high latitudes in the northern hemisphere so Ireland is at the southern edge of its potential range (there was a colony of up to 50 pairs there in the early part of the 20th century). Despite their delicate appearance and toy-like behaviour when bobbing around picking up plankton from the surface of water, these are tough little birds and the Red-necked, 19cm/7.75in in length with a wing-span of 38cm/15in is the smallest of the three. Their favourite nesting sites are on small ponds in the northern tundra and outside the breeding season they are normally pelagic wandering far and wide over the oceans of the world in search of food.

Red-necked Phalarope (Phalaropus lobatus) by Ian

Red-necked Phalarope (Phalaropus lobatus) by Ian

Like the Red/Grey (summer/winter) Phalarope, the Red-necked shows a reversal in sex roles, with the brighter females courting the males, having multiple partners and leaving the males to incubate the eggs and look after the young. There is though to be a selective advantage in the females being able to lay as many eggs as possible in the brief breeding season of high latitudes. The first photo shows the brighter female, the second the smaller and more subdued – in more ways than one – male.

Red-necked Phalarope (Phalaropus lobatus) by Ian

Red-necked Phalarope (Phalaropus lobatus) by Ian

In non-breeding plumage all three species have mainly grey and white plumage. The Red-necked has a black, downturned eye-patch – see the third photos – and, visible in flight, wing bars (lacking in Wilson’s) and dark underwing marking. All three species turn up rarely in Australia in the non-breeding season, particular following storms when drive them into bays for shelter or inland. The Red-necked is the least rare of the three and the fourth photo shows one that turned up on the Bellarine Peninsula south-west of Geelong, Victoria in 2002.

On the website, I’ve started altering the sequence of the next and previous family pointers of the Australian family thumbnail pages so that they follow the sequence of Christidis and Boles (2008) – rather than that of Birdlife International – and only include families that occur in Australia. The intention is to create a ‘green’ Australian zone for visitors who are interested only in Australia birds. A green background already distinguishes the Australian thumbnails and I’m adding background colours to pointer arrows and alphbetical index pages to highlight the distinction. You might like to visit the news section of the home page http://www.birdway.com.au/#news and the Australian index http://www.birdway.com.au/australianbirds.htm to see the difference and to find links to examples.
So far I’ve changed the families from Cassowaries http://www.birdway.com.au/casuariidae/index_aus.htm (the first) as far as Plovers and Lapwings http://www.birdway.com.au/charadriidae/index_aus.htm and will progressively work through the rest. That will be delayed for a week as I’m now in northern NSW en route to Armidale, flooded roads permitting, for a recorder course. Fortunately, given the floods, I had already shelved plans to drive down and flew to the Gold Coast yesterday.
Other website additions include a few more snakes and a couple of photos of Greater Frigatebirds .
Best wishes,
Ian

Ian Montgomery, Birdway Pty Ltd,
454 Forestry Road, Bluewater, Qld 4818
Phone: +61-7 4751 3115
Preferred Email: ian@birdway.com.au
Website: http://birdway.com.au

Lee’s Addition:

Ian has introduced another neat bird. As Ian mentioned, there are three Phalaropes and all of them are here in the United States, though I have not had the privilege of seeing them.

“A phalarope is any of three living species of slender-necked shorebirds in the genus Phalaropus of the bird family Scolopacidae. They are close relatives of the shanks and tattlers, the Actitis and Terek Sandpipers, and also of the turnstones and calidrids. They are especially notable for two things: their unusual nesting behavior, and their unique feeding technique.” (These are in the Charadriiformes Order)

Two species, the Red Phalarope (Phalaropus fulicarius, called Grey Phalarope in Europe) and Red-necked Phalarope (P. lobatus) breed around the Arctic Circle and winter on tropical oceans. Wilson’s Phalarope (P. tricolor) breeds in western North America and migrates to South America. All are 6–10 in (15–25 cm) in length, with lobed toes and a straight, slender bill. Predominantly grey and white in winter, their plumage develops reddish markings in summer.”

“Red and Red-necked Phalaropes are unusual amongst shorebirds in that they are considered pelagic, that is, they spend a great deal of their lives outside the breeding season well out to sea. Phalaropes are unusually halophilic (salt-loving) and feed in great numbers in saline lakes such as Mono Lake in California and the Great Salt Lake of Utah. (from Wikipedia)

You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. (Matthew 5:13 NKJV)
Salt is good, but if the salt loses its flavor, how will you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace with one another. (Mark 9:50 NKJV)

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Ian’s Bird of the Week – Asian Dowitcher

Asian Dowitcher (Limnodromus semipalmatus) by Ian

Asian Dowitcher (Limnodromus semipalmatus) by Ian

Ian’s Bird of the Week – Asian Dowitcher ~ by Ian Montgomery

This is something of a postscript to a presentation on wader identification that I gave last Saturday to a workshop organized by the Townsville Region Bird Observers Club as part of the Shorebirds 2020 Project ( http://www.shorebirds.org.au/ ). Of the 45 species that we considered, I lacked photos of just one: the Asian Dowitcher. So you’ll understand why I and a friend jumped into the car after the practical session at Bushland Beach, near Townsville, on Sunday and drove to Cairns, where an Asian Dowitcher had recently been reported, for an overnight visit. They are regular visitors in small numbers to northwestern Australia (e.g. Broome in Western Australia) but occur only as irregular vagrants on the east coast.

Asian Dowitcher (Limnodromus semipalmatus) by Ian

Asian Dowitcher (Limnodromus semipalmatus) by Ian

The mudflats on the Esplanade are very flat, so the window of opportunity provided by an incoming tide is very short and it wasn’t until Monday afternoon that that happened. Even so, I would probably have missed it if Guy Dutson hadn’t alerted me to its location. It’s a bird that’s easy to overlook among the Great Knots and Bar-tailed Godwits when they’re all in non-breeding plumage, thank you, Guy! The first photo shows it among Great Knots. The body size is similar, so the key Asian Dowitcher features are the very long, straight, dark bill with a bulbous tip rather like that of a snipe, long dark legs and dark loral stripe (between the bill and the eye). Body length in waders is confounded by bill and leg length, so weight and wing-span are more useful. These are – Asian Dowitcher: 127-245g and 59cm/23.2in; Great Knot: 115-248g and 58cm/22.8in.

The second photo shows the Asian Dowitcher on the left with a smallish – probably male – Bar-tailed Godwit on the right (Bar-tailed Godwit male 190-400g female 262-630g, span 70-80cm/28-32in) and the third photo shows the Dowitcher with a larger Bar-tailed Godwit and lots of Great Knots and in this photo you can see the barred flanks of the Dowitcher compared with the plain flanks of the Godwit. The bill of the Dowitcher was always the most obvious distinguishing feature, but the bird would often have a snooze, tucking its bill under a wing, and magically disappear. What’s more, the mud on the Cairns Esplanade is very gluggy, so the pink bases of Godwit bills are often covered, but the different shape is usually still apparent.

Asian Dowitcher (Limnodromus semipalmatus) by Ian

Asian Dowitcher (Limnodromus semipalmatus) by Ian

When I was preparing the presentation and checking carefully on distinguishing features, I found that a wader that I’d photographed in India in 2003 and posted to the website as a Wood Sandpiper was actually a Green Sandpiper. This a bird, rare in Australia, that I had long wanted to photograph, so I was pleased to find and correct the error: http://www.birdway.com.au/scolopacidae/green_sandpiper/index.htm .

Best wishes,
Ian

Ian Montgomery, Birdway Pty Ltd,
454 Forestry Road, Bluewater, Qld 4818
Phone: +61-7 4751 3115
Preferred Email: ian@birdway.com.au
Website: http://birdway.com.au


Lee’s Addition:

The Asian Dowitcher is part of the Scolopacidae Family which is in the Charadriiformes Order that consists of Shorebirds and their allies. To see Ian’s Birdway website of the Scolopacidae – Click Here.

He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud and anointed my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ So I went and washed and received my sight.” (John 9:11 ESV)

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Ian’s Bird of the Week – Red-necked Stint

Red-necked Stint (Calidris ruficollis) by Ian

Red-necked Stint (Calidris ruficollis) by Ian

Ian’s Bird of the Week – Red-necked Stint ~ by Ian Montgomery

Newsletter – 04-01-09

This time of the year, almost anywhere in the world, is a good time to go looking for waders. Not only does the (northern) Spring migration mean that unusual species can turn up, but many of these migrants are acquiring their breeding plumages. So, if you’ve ever been faced with the daunting challenge of identifying waders in their drab winter plumage, you could be in for some pleasant surprises.

Red-necked Stint (Calidris ruficollis) by Ian in breeding and non-breeding plumage

Red-necked Stint (Calidris ruficollis) by Ian in breeding and non-breeding plumage

A case in point is the Red-necked Stint, a common non-breeding visitor to Australia, where the plumage is normally anything but red. The bird in the photo is in partial, or ‘pre-breeding’, plumage with the delicate
pinkish-chestnut face and breast and the black and chestnut wing coverts. A dapper little bird by any standards, I think.

‘Little’ is the operative word. Stints – there are 4 species – are the world’s smallest waders and the Red-necked Stint with a length of 13 – 16 cm/5 – 6.3″ is slightly smaller than a House Sparrow (14 – 16 cm). Size doesn’t stop it being one of the champions of migration, breeding in the Arctic tundra of Siberia and northern Alaska and spending the northern winter in Australasia and as far as south as sub-Antarctic islands.

At this time of the year, the birds are feeding madly, building up their fat reserves for the long trip. Apparently, they can lose half of their body weight during the migration.

The sharp-eyed among you will have noticed that the photo was taken at Boat Harbour during a brief visit to the Sydney region earlier this week. It’s tax time and I went to Boat Harbour after a meeting with my accountant in nearby Sutherland. To my friends in Sydney I extend an apology that I didn’t have time to catch up with them.

Best wishes,
Ian

Ian Montgomery, Birdway Pty Ltd,
454 Forestry Road, Bluewater, Qld 4818
Phone: +61-7 4751 3115
Preferred Email: ian@birdway.com.au
Website: http://birdway.com.au


Lee’s Addition:

Storks, doves, swallows, and thrushes all know when it’s time to fly away for the winter and when to come back… (Jer 8:7)

This is one of the catch-up newsletters I am finally finding time to do. Will be releasing several more of these in the next little bit. Finally have some time to work on them. See Ian’s Bird of the Week list to see  Ian’s articles. He will continue to do his current ones also.

The Stint mentioned was getting ready for spring migration, but of course this time of the year, they start preparing for their fall migration. I also went to Ian’s Birdway and found an extra photo. The Stint is in the Scolopacidae Family of Sandpipers and Snipes. The Scolopacidaes are in the Charadriiformes Order which has 19 families.

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Ian’s Bird of the Week – Red-necked Stint