Blue Jay

One of the biggest birds that you’ll see on our campus is the Blue Jay:

File:Blue Jay-27527.jpg

(Original image is a part of the public domain)

What they look like: Blue Jays are fairly big. They are light colored on their underside and have patterns of blue, gray, white, and black above.They have a crest on their heads and wide square tails. Their wingspan averages 13-16 inches. Many blue jays have bands of black around their neck and the back of their heads.

Where you’ll see him:  Blue Jays live year round in the eastern and central U.S. and part of Canada. In the winter, they also live in part of Texas and Northern Mexico. Blue Jays like cities, the edges of forests, and towns. They nest in trees, but get food on the ground, similar to the Rufus-Sided Towhee. Blue Jays like oak trees and bird feeders.

What they eat: Blue Jays mostly eat nuts, fruits, seeds, and insects, as well as grains. They can be cannibals, eating dead adult birds and some baby birds or eggs. They don’t eat many eggs- egg fragments were only found in a few Blue Jay stomachs. They hold food items between their feet as they eat it.

What they sound like: These birds have many vocals- some being clicks, clucks, whines, liquid notes, and whirrs. They often sing more than two minutes. The most common call is a loud jeer. They like to mimic hawks, especially red-shouldered hawks.

Other interesting facts: Tools are never made by wild blue jays, but some captive blue jays use paper to get food pellets from outside their cage. The pigment in blue jay feathers is brown, but scattering light causes them to look blue.

Where you can learn more:

http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Blue_jay/videos/ac

http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Blue_jay/id/ac

Written by Lara K, Shea D, and Abby W

Red Bellied Woodpecker

One of the noisiest birds that you’ll find on the Salem campus is the Red Bellied Woodpecker:

File:Red-bellied Woodpecker-27527.jpg

(Image is a part of the public domain)

What they look like:  Red-Bellied Woodpeckers have red heads and barred backs. Their wings are a mix of black and white. They are 9-10.5 inches long, and have many different calls. The birds have a small spot of red on their belly, that is hard to see when in field identification.

Where you’ll see him: They are found in the forest behind the school. They are usually found on branches and trunks of trees. They can be found in open and swampy woodlands. They are found around the middle heights of trees.

What they eat: Red-Bellied Woodpecker eat bugs inside of trees. Insects include beetles, grasshoppers, and ants. They occasionally drink nectar out of pine trees. In the winter it eat mostly seeds.

What they sound like:  He makes several noises, the most common being a “thrraa, thrraa, thrraa”. He also drums on wood when trying to find bugs and nectar. He also does this action when trying to show off when mating.

Other interesting facts:  Red-Bellied Woodpeckers can stick out their tongues almost 2 inches past it’s beak.  Also, the oldest a Red-Bellied Woodpecker has been known to live has been 12 years and 1 month old.

Where you can learn more about him:

http://www.nhptv.org/natureworks/redbelliedwoodpecker.htm#6
http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Red-Bellied_Woodpecker/lifehistory/ac

 

Written by Pascal L, Ryan M, Akshay I, and Daniel L

 

Canadian Goose

One of the messiest birds that you’ll find on our campus is the Canadian Goose:

File:Canada goose.jpg

(Original image licensed Creative Commons Attribution)

What they look like: The Canada goose is a wild goose, native to northern regions of the world. It has a black head and neck, white patches on the face, and a brownish-gray body which distinguish them from other goose species.

They have black legs and webbed toes which are used to help them swim. The males and females look virtually identical.

Where you’ll see them: Canada geese live mostly in northern parts of North America and Europe. Canada geese migrate and come to the United States in the winter.

In the summer they breed and live in the arctic regions of Europe, Canada, and Alaska. Many geese permanently live in Canada which is where they get the name Canada geese.

What they sound like: Canada geese have a high-pitched honk. They use it to communicate. Canada geese have 13 different calls for different things like greeting, warnings and contentment.

Geese are probably the most talkative animals after humans. Goslings begin communicating with their parents when they’re still in their eggs!

When do they migrate: Canada geese usually migrate twice a year; once in the fall and once in the spring. In the fall, the geese migrate when the ground starts feeling cold. They go fast, travelling up to 1,000 kilometers a day.

In the spring they go much slower, making many stops for rest and feeding along the way before reaching their breeding grounds in Canada and northern Europe.

The v-shaped flock of geese migrating is probably used for two reasons. One is to create an air current so it will be easier for the geese to fly and the other is to allow better communication for when they fly.

 Where you can learn more:

http://www.ducks.ca/resource/general/wetland/geese.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canada_geese

 

Written by Bennie G.

American Woodcock

One of the smallest birds you can find on the Salem campus is the American Woodcock:

File:American Woodcock Scolopax minor.jpg

(Original image licensed Creative Commons Attribution)

What They Look Like: These little birds are kind of fat with no neck showing. They have a very long bill, like a sandpiper, that can dig up earthworms easily. They are usually brown and black all over, but they have been seen with a white belly.

Most of the time, these birds are hard to spot because of their camouflage skills. You will most likely see them either in the morning time or dusk, but rarely the afternoon.

Where You’ll See Them: This tiny bird is very hard to find, but if you do it’ll probably be on or near the ground. They also lay their eggs on the ground or in the soil. They live all through forests, mostly near water. This is why the forest behind our school is the perfect environment for these birds.

What They Eat: Woodcocks are supposedly omnivores, but they are seldom seen eating plants. They enjoy earthworms, centipedes, spiders, beetles and many others.

What They Sound Like: These birds are only heard at dusk or during the night in the forest. Only males call, usually sounding like chirping. We did not hear their call, but we did spot one on the forest floor near the “scum pond”.

Written by Bennie G.