Posts Tagged: sandra calderbank

American Avocet

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The American Avocet is described in most bird references as elegant.  They are so unique with their upturned long bill.  The tip of their bill is very sensitive to touch and enables them to find food in mud flats as they swing their bill from side to side.  The American Avocet during non breeding season is black and white with a grayish colored head.  During breeding season the head turns a beautiful rusty color with a black and white body.  This pair of breeding adults seems to be flying in perfect rhythm as they make their way across a shallow pond in Delaware.

Northern Pintail

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The Northern Pintail is an elegant long tailed dabbling duck. They are very unique in North America with their long slender body and long pointed tail. The Pintail has a long neck and is very fast and agile in flight, nicknamed the “Greyhound of the air”.  The Northern Pintail male and female are very different with the female a very plain brown. The male has a bright white breast, chocolate brown  head and gray body with a very long tail.  They are Dabbling ducks, which means that they feed mostly on the surface of the water instead of diving underwater for food.  They  “up end” to  use their long necks to reach aquatic plants underwater with their tails in the air.  They  maintain this dabbling position with their head down by paddling their feet in the water. I sure am glad I don’t have to eat in that position with my head under water and tail in the air!

Mute Swan with four Cygnets

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The Mute Swan is apparently an introduced species from Europe to North America. They are one of the heaviest flying birds and can weigh 30-32 pounds! I found this adult with four cygnets swimming behind him or her at Bombay Hook Wildlife Refuge.  These babies can’t fly for five months so the adults better plan ahead so the family can get out before the water freezes!

Female Hooded Merganser taking off in flight

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The Male Hooded Merganser seems to get all the attention because of his coloring and fan-shaped white crest however the Female Hooded Merganser is very attractive with her tawny crest.   I was visiting the Viera Wetlands and this beautiful Female Hooded Merganser took off from the water with no sighting of the male.  They are only winter residents in that area of Florida so maybe he was nearby.  They are capable of taking off very quickly from water so I feel fortunate to have captured this image.