The Wood Duck is one of the most beautiful ducks. It is commonly known as the Carolina Duck although I have never actually found one in the Carolinas. They are one of the few ducks with claws that enable them to perch on branches and hang on to tree bark. Wood Ducks nest in cavities in trees but aren’t able to make their own cavities, they either use rotted areas in trees or cavities that other birds have built. They also readily nest in artificial nest boxes. A very interesting fact about Wood Ducks is that females will commonly visit other Wood Duck cavities and lay their eggs to be raised by another Female! It is apparently called “Egg Dumping”.
This large Hawk is unique in it’s ability to dive into shallow water for fish. The Osprey is also unique among hawks because their diet consists almost solely of live fish.
Ospreys have barbs on their feet to help them grip the slippery fish. Amazingly they are successful in catching fish about 70% of the time! This one has quite a large meal in it’s talons as it flies away to have dinner.
This bright red Ibis is is native to South America and Cuba but is occasionally seen in South Florida. Some people say it was introduced to Florida or is a result of escaped captive birds. Whatever the reason for occasionally being spotted in South Florida, it is unmistakable because of it’s bright scarlet feathers. They sometimes breed with the common White Ibis producing offspring that are varying shades of pink. Like the Flamingo, they get their beautiful red color from the pigment in the crustaceans which make up most of their diet.
The Common Murre is known as the Thin Billed Murre in North America but they are also known as the Common Guillemot Uria aalge. They spend most of their life at sea, only coming in off the water to breed. This particular Murre is a Bridled Morph. It has a white ring around it’s eye that extends back as a white line. So this one is a bridled morph, thin billed murre, common murre and common guillemot……. Whatever they are called they are fascinating birds. They can dive up to 500 feet and “swim” in the water much better than they maneuver in flight. They don’t build nests. Instead they lay their egg on rocks or the ground or on a ledge. The egg is shaped so that it rolls in a circle instead of rolling over the ledge if it is disturbed!This is one interesting bird!
The Atlantic Puffin is also known as the Common Puffin but there is nothing common about this little bird. They are also known as Sea Parrots because of their colorful breeding colors. Atlantic Puffin are incredible fliers despite their short wing span. Because of their short wingspan they have to flap their wings 3-400 times a minute but can fly up to 55 Miles per hour! They are also excellent swimmers and can dive to around 60 meters and use their wings to fly through the water. I will never tire of watching these beautiful, colorful creatures but it takes effort and lots of planning to photograph them on Machias Seal Island.