Posts Tagged: bird in flight

Pair of Northern Gannets in flight

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Pair of Northern Gannets in flight (sandra calderbank/

A pair of Northern Gannets caught my attention as they were flying over the ocean near Machias Seal Island, which is 12 miles away from Grand Manan, New Brunswick. Colonies of these large and graceful seabirds breed on steep slopes or rocky cliffs of oceanic islands. They spend their remaining time on the sea. Northern Gannets are lifelong monogamous mates. I captured this image in mid June during breeding season, so I assume this pair is a couple.   




Non Breeding Adult Royal Terns

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Royal Tern, non breeding adult in flight against blue sky with wings in down stroke (sandra calderbank)

In winter, non-breeding adult Royal Terns show different types of plumage. Both these Royal Terns were captured on camera in March on the same day, but at different times. They were spotted in flight over the water’s edge at Florida’s Stick Marsh. I believed there were two distinct types of waterbirds, but upon closer examination, I realized they were non-breeding Royal Terns with different feather color patterns. The deciding factor was the solid orange bill. The Royal Tern, a large graceful seabird with a forked tail, develops a dark black shaggy crest when breeding.



Non Breeding Adult royal Tern inflight against blue sky (sandra calderbank)

Roseate Spoonbill in flight with wings in downstroke

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Roseate Spoonbill in flight with wings in downstroke and trees in background (sandra calderbank)

I captured this Roseate Spoonbill in flight with its wings in downstroke at the Stick Marsh as it returned to its nesting area in the Mangroves. There is a small island at the entrance to the Stick Marsh where many Roseate Spoonbills nest at the waters edge in colonies along with other water birds. The Roseate Spoonbill is a distinctive water bird with bright pink shoulders. Adults have a bald greenish-colored head, a beak that is large and spoon-shaped, and red eyes. Juvenile birds are recognizable by their pale pink shoulders and feathered head. Like the American Flamingo, their pink color comes from their crustacean diet.





Atlantic Coast Adult Brown Pelican in Breeding Colors

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Brown Pelican in full breeding colors, in flight low over water (sandra calderbank)

The Atlantic Coast Adult Brown Pelican is a stunning and massive seabird in its breeding colors. They differ from the California Brown Pelican in breeding colors by the color of the skin on their pouch. During breeding season, the throat pouch of the Atlantic Pelican turns brown while the Pacific Pelican’s turns red. The pouch stretches and is meant for catching fish. Aside from the throat pouch color, these Pelicans are the same in behavior and size. These massive water birds frequently glide just above the water. Their feeding method involves diving headfirst into a school of fish. To soften the effect of high headfirst dives, they have air sacs beneath their skin. It’s quite a dramatic sight to watch the headfirst dive from a height of 60 to 100 feet. The pouch they possess can hold fish and up to 3 gallons of water. Before swallowing the fish, the pelican makes sure to empty the water from its pouch. Pelicans are suprisingly graceful and are very social, congretating in flocks. Brown Pelicans have a lifespan of up to 30 years.


American White Pelican

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The beautiful  American White Pelican is one of our largest birds in North American. They have a NINE and a half foot wingspan and can weigh 15 or more pounds!  This breeding adult is soaring in flight.  The adult breeding colors include the yellow chest feathers and the yellow plate on it’s upper bill which it loses after breeding. Despite their strong flight abilities, they are very awkward on land. I was surprised to learn that they migrate, only spending winters in Florida.  In the summer this beauty travels to the interior of Western Canada and the North Western US, where they breed and form colonies on fresh water lakes.  It was a treat getting to view this breeding adult as the group prepared to travel north from Florida.