Hermit Thrush eating Sumac seeds at Lake Park in Milwaukee Wisconsin on April 13, 2017

While birding Lake Park in Milwaukee I came across a couple of Hermit Thrushes eating Sumac seeds off a tree. I photographed the same species eating seeds at the exact location a couple of years ago, interesting. It was a gloomy day with a cold breeze off the lake. Images were taken on April 13, 2017.

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Hermit Thrush

Binomial name: Catharus guttatus

Category: Hawks, Kites, Eagles, and Allies

Size: 6.75” long, 11.5” wing span

Weight: 1.1 oz

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Leucistic American Robin in Waukesha Wisconsin on March 25, 2017

Doing some birding on a rainy day I found a Leucistic American Robin in Waukesha. This is not the same bird that was found the other day in Waukesha on March 22. This bird has a lot more white. I found the bird just south of the baseball field at Frame Park in the city of Waukesha. The exact location was a empty city lot just south of the baseball field on Whiterock Ave. It feed for a couple of minutes as I observed it from the street.  Amazing to see two Leucistic American Robins in Waukesha over a 4 day period. Another species seen today, FOY was a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker at Frame Park during the rain. Images were taken on March 25, 2017.

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What is Leucism?  Leucism is an uncommon condition in birds.  This condition is caused by a genetic mutation which prevents pigments, particularly melanin, from being deposited evenly in the bird’s feathers.  Leucistic birds have melanin elsewhere in their bodies which is why they may have dark eyes, legs, and bills.  However, their true color will be missing or greatly reduced due to the lack of proper pigmentation.

What is Albinism? Leucism is similar to albinism as in both cases the birds may be completely white.  However, albinism is defined as a complete absence of melanin in an animal.  Truly albino species will have pink eyes as the only color seen will be caused by blood vessels behind their eyes.  They will also have pink bills, legs, and feet.  Albinism is extremely rare in birds.

Notes: Leucistic birds are extremely uncommon for a number of reasons.  They are not thought to live very long because their white feathers make it difficult for them to hide from predators.  If they do stay alive, it is difficult for them to find a mate and successfully pass on their genetic mutation.  Additionally, the melanin found in regular birds adds strength to the feathers.  Leucistic birds lacking melanin have weaker feathers and thus have a more difficult time flying in severe weather.  Last, the reflective properties of white feathers may be problematic for birds who rely on solar energy for heat.

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That is not a worm!

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That is not a worm!

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Leucistic American Robin in Waukesha Wisconsin on March 22, 2017

It was nice to see this spring bird, a Leucistic American Robin in Waukesha today. It was on the south side of Waukesha near soccer fields. There were about 20 American Robins present in the area and all were actively feeding. Interestingly they would hold their head still near the ground and listen for worms, etc moving. Once they heard the sound of food they would poke the ground and usually come up with something. I was out birding and around noon in Waukesha area and I got a text from Dan W that he had the bird currently within views with Janet S. Just as I arrived the bird flew out of the area and we could not relocate the bird. After about 20 minutes I relocated the bird near a building lawn. The bird was first found by Jason S yesterday at the same location. A big thank you to both of them for getting the word out and the text today. I saw the report late yesterday afternoon and thought, I doubt an American Robin would spend the night here and be seen the next day, I was wrong.  Images were taken on March 22, 2017.

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What is Leucism?  Leucism is an uncommon condition in birds.  This condition is caused by a genetic mutation which prevents pigments, particularly melanin, from being deposited evenly in the bird’s feathers.  Leucistic birds have melanin elsewhere in their bodies which is why they may have dark eyes, legs, and bills.  However, their true color will be missing or greatly reduced due to the lack of proper pigmentation.

What is Albinism? Leucism is similar to albinism as in both cases the birds may be completely white.  However, albinism is defined as a complete absence of melanin in an animal.  Truly albino species will have pink eyes as the only color seen will be caused by blood vessels behind their eyes.  They will also have pink bills, legs, and feet.  Albinism is extremely rare in birds.

Notes: Leucistic birds are extremely uncommon for a number of reasons.  They are not thought to live very long because their white feathers make it difficult for them to hide from predators.  If they do stay alive, it is difficult for them to find a mate and successfully pass on their genetic mutation.  Additionally, the melanin found in regular birds adds strength to the feathers.  Leucistic birds lacking melanin have weaker feathers and thus have a more difficult time flying in severe weather.  Last, the reflective properties of white feathers may be problematic for birds who rely on solar energy for heat.

Listening for movement a possible worm

Listening for movement, a possible worm

The catch, a worm!

The catch, a worm!

Listening for movement a possible worm

Listening for movement, a possible worm

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Another catch or maybe a miss?

Looks like maybe a miss?

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Back view...

Another view…

Backview...

Backview…

Listening for movement a possible worm

Listening for movement, a possible worm

Listening for movement a possible worm

Listening for movement, a possible worm…

Hermit Thrush

I did some birding late morning at the Scuppernong Springs Nature Trails in South Kettle Moraine in Waukesha Co. Wisconsin. I did get some nice views of the Hermit Thrush, Yellow-rumped Warbler and Ruby-crowned Kinglets. Some of the other bird species present were the Brown Creeper, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, Sandhill Cranes and Turkey Vultures. There was some sun today but the steady winds made it feel like a cold day. Images taken on April 16, 2014.

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Hermit Thrush

Binomial name: Catharus guttatus

Category: Thrushes

Size: 6.75” long, 11.5” wing span

Weight: 1.1 oz.

Habitat:  Breeds across parts of the western US, upper Great Lakes region, Northeastern US, Canada and Alaska. They use a variety of habitats such as coniferous or mixed hardwoods. They can sometimes be found in open areas such as edges of ponds, along trails, mountain glades or open areas of fallen trees. They winter in southern US, east and west coasts down to most parts of Mexico.

Diet: Main diet is insects in spring-summer changing to more fruit sometimes berries in winter. On occasion they will eat small reptiles and amphibians. Hermit Thrushes forage on the forest floors scraping through leaves or sometimes in trees hopping around for their food.

Nesting:  The nest is cup shaped 4-6 inches across on the ground or in low vegetation, sometimes under a small conifer or shrub. The female constructs the nest of materials such as wood parts, mud and lichen, pine needles, grass and leaves. The nest is lined with willow catkins and fine plant parts. Construction of the nest takes 7-10 days, typically 4 eggs are laid. The male finds and brings the food to the female who then feeds the young.

Cool Facts: The Hermit Thrush stands and acts similar to an American Robin, but is smaller in size.

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Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Ruby-crowned Kinglet catching its food!

Ruby-crowned Kinglet catching its food!

Ruby-crowned Kinglet in flight!

Ruby-crowned Kinglet in flight!

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Ruby-crowned Kinglet at take off!

Ruby-crowned Kinglet at take off!

Ruby-crowned Kinglet at take off!

Ruby-crowned Kinglet at take off!

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler back view

Yellow-rumped Warbler back view

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler going for the bug!

Yellow-rumped Warbler going for the bug!

Yellow-rumped Warbler going for the bug!

Yellow-rumped Warbler going for the bug!

Birdwatching in Marquette County

While birdwatching in Marquette County, I was able to photograph Eastern Bluebirds, a Red-headed Woodpecker, and others on October 26, 2013. Images were taken near a small water source where birds were coming and going, bathing, preening and drinking.

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Eastern Bluebird

 

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Eastern Bluebird

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Red-headed Woodpecker, Juvenile transitioning to the red head

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Blue Jay

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Blue Jay

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Dark-eyed Junco

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Blue Jay

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Black-capped Chickadee

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Eastern Bluebird

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Eastern Bluebird

To see the gallery of images, please click here.

Eastern Bluebird

While out doing some normal birding in the South Kettle Moraine I came across an Eastern Bluebird nest in a natural cavity. They were feeding the young on a regular basis. I set for some shooting under a honeysuckle bush to capture some of the action. On one set of images a female comes out of the bluebird house with some new bugs that the male had just brought her, only to do a 360° turn right back into the house to feed the young.

Photographs were taken on May 30, 2013.

Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebird

Binomial name: Sialia sialis

Category: Thrushes

Description: Both male and female birds have blue plumage on top with rusty-colored throat and breast.  However, the male enjoys a much brighter blue color compared to the female’s pale blue feathers.  The female also has a gray head.

Size: 6.3″-8.3″ long, 9.8” – 13” wingspan

Weight: 1.0 oz. – 1.2 oz.

Habitat: Forests adjacent to meadows or with clearings and near lakes or rivers

Diet: Insects (grasshoppers, beetles, crickets), spiders, snails, and wild fruit and seeds

Nesting: Eastern Bluebirds seek out nesting areas abandoned by other birds such as woodpecker holes.  The female will build the nest over the course of 1-2 weeks using feathers and plant materials.  She will lay 3-7 eggs at a time, raising 2 broods over the course of a summer.  Both parents will feed the young  for 2-3 weeks before the fledglings leave the nest.

Notes: If you can offer a suitable habitat with trees and a water source, invite Eastern Bluebirds into your backyard with a nestbox.  Click here for a blueprint and more information on this easy DIY project.

Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebird

To see the full gallery of images, please click here.