The Purple Finch is a small bird–5.5 to 6.5 inches long. They summer in Canada and winter in the Eastern United States. Some are resident in the Northeastern United States. I don’t see as many as I used to here in Kansas—sad because they are such beautiful birds. Because of warmer winters the southern line of their winter migration has moved north as much as 400 miles in the last 40 years. Their population has also declined in the East due to House Finches. A more aggressive species, House Finches generally out-compete the Purple Finches whenever the two species come together.
Double-crested Cormorants may look clumsy, even comical out of the water, but in the water they are swift and agile swimmers. They are a big bird with a solid build and a 4 foot wingspan. Unlike most birds, they have solid, dense, heavy bones and feathers that are not water proof. This makes them set very low in the water, with nearly their entire body underwater. These are the characteristics however, that make them such good swimmers. They can dive up to 30 feet deep, swim 38 miles per hour, and stay under for 30 seconds. They will typically fish for an hour, then they must sit on a perch to dry out their feathers.
Why is it that the Vulture gets such a bad rap? Really nice coloration: brown to black feathers with a red head. Well…a really ugly head. But, they do an enormous part in keeping our environment clean. And, they go to great lengths keeping themselves clean. They are constantly preening themselves, and often bathing in water. It is vital that they keep themselves clean after eating to prevent serious infections.
They are often seen spreading their wings, especially in the early morning. They lower their body temperature significantly at night and spreading the wings to the sun helps get their body temperature back up for the days activity. It also helps dry the feathers and exposes more of them to the UV radiation of the sun, helping to kill off unwanted bacteria.
Pardon the W.C. Fields and the Jungle Book references below–just couldn’t help myself.
The first time I saw a Coot was very early in the AM at Perry Lake, and I immediately thought, “What in the world kind of duck is that?” Well, there was just enough light to take a pic good enough for ID, and as any Coot will tell you, “I am not a duck.” A beak not a bill, and HUGE lobed feet instead of webbed feet. I’ve taken many pictures of them since, one series in particular made for quite a story.
An Osprey’s wingspan can be nearly 6 feet. Wings so long and yet so slender. Their diet is 99% fish and a family raising young–they lay 2-4 eggs–must have 5 or more fish a day to keep all the bellies full. This responsibility falls to the male.
These pictures were taken August 20, 2013 at Perry Reservoir in Kansas.
This Osprey is sitting atop a dead tree scanning the water for fish.
These images were taken August 14, 2013 at the Leavenworth State Fishing Lake, Tonganoxie, Kansas.