Varied Thrush

The Varied Thrush is a migratory bird that breeds in Western Canada and Alaska. It stays year-round in Washington State and migrates to Oregon and California.

Varied Thrushes are songbirds with large heads, straight bills, and long legs. Usually seen standing horizontally on the ground or in a tree, they have a short tail. Their length is 7.5-10.2 in (19-26 cm), their weight is 2.3-3.5 oz (65-100 g),and their wingspan is 13.4-15.0 in (34-38 cm).

Male Varied Thrushes are dark blue-gray on the back and orange below with a black breastband and orange line over the eye. The wings are black with two orange bars and orange edges to the flight feathers. Females have the same patterns, but are paler than males.

Varied Thrushes hop on the ground or low in shrubs and trees. They eat mainly insects in the summer and switch to nuts and fruit in fall and winter. On breeding grounds, male Varied Thrushes sit on exposed perches to sing their songs.

Varied Thrushes breed in humid evergreen and mixed forests along the Pacific Coast. In the winter, many move into dense parks, gardens, and backyards.

During breeding season, Varied Thrushes eat insects; in winter they eat mostly berries and nuts. They forage by getting dead leaves in their bill and hopping backward to clear a spot of ground before looking at it for prey. In fall and winter, they switch to fruits and acorns, forming flocks around their food. Some of their typical fruits are snowberry, apple, honeysuckle, madrone, mistletoe, manzanita, toyon, ash, salal, cascara, dogwood, blueberry, huckleberry, salmonberry, and thimbleberry.

Varied Thrushes forage on the ground, sometimes moving to higher perches to sing or move between foraging sites. Males reach the breeding grounds before females and start singing to get territories. They have several threat displays, beginning by cocking the tail, turning it toward an intruder, and lowering the wings. If the adversary remains, the displaying bird will face off, lowering its head, raising and fanning the tail, and spreading its wings out to its side. Occasionally, males peck at bills with each other. 

Females probably choose where to build the nest – usually in a mature forest, often in a spot surrounded by old nests (or even directly on top of one). They are usually around 10 feet off the ground and poorly concealed, close to the trunk of a small conifer.

The female gathers nest material and weaves an outer layer of fir, hemlock, or spruce twigs. She adds a middle layer with wood, moss, or mud, which hardens into a dense cup about 4 inches across and 2 inches deep. Finally, she lines the cup with fine grasses, soft dead leaves, and fine moss, and drapes pieces of green moss over the rim and outside of the nest.

Varied Thrushes are often aggressive to each other and other bird species. At feeders, males sometimes defend small feeding territories, where they dominate sparrows, blackbirds, cowbirds, towhees and juncos.

Varied Thrush Male and Female

I did all my research on https://www.allaboutbirds.org/.

And that’s all for today! Thanks for reading and see you next time!

American Redstart

The American Redstart is a migratory warbler that breeds in Southern Canada, the northern East Coast of the United States, A bit of the northern interior states, and the southern east coast (not including Florida). It then migrates to western and south-eastern Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, and South America in the winter.

The American Redstart is a medium-sized warbler that is about the size of a Black-capped Chickadee. It has a length that is about 4.3-5.1 in (11-13 cm), weight that is about 0.2-0.3 oz (6-9 g), and a wingspan that is about 6.3-7.5 in (16-19 cm).

The Male American Redstarts are mostly black with orange patches on the sides, wings, and tail. They have a white belly. Females and immature males replace the orange with yellow. They have a gray head and underparts, with an olive back and wings and gray tail.

American Redstarts are incredibly active insect-eaters that seem never to stand still. They quickly spread their cocked tails, exposing the orange or yellow in a quick flash, which often startles insect prey into flushing, where the American Redstart darts after it, trying to catch it in the air.

American Redstarts breed in moist, deciduous woodlands with abundant shrubs, across much of the eastern and northern United States and southern Canada. Its habitat is often situated near water, and includes thickets in treefall gaps within orchards and mixed woodlands. In these woodlands (especially where there is water), there is an abundance of insects.

American Redstarts feed mostly on insects, including flies, moths and their larvae, wasps, and beetles. In summer they also eat some small berries and fruits, such as barberry, serviceberry, and magnolia. They search for food between the ground and near the top of the canopy, taking most of their prey from twigs, branches, and leaves. They fan their tails and droop their wings, showing the orange and black or yellow and gray “flash patterns” of their plumage to startle prey and move it from vegetation. They flycatch more than other warbler species.

Males defend their territory boundaries with songs and aerial displays, including one display in which they fly in circles near each other. Females sometimes defend the territory against other females. Two birds may strike at each other or even grapple with their bills and feet, though they rarely hurt each other.

The female builds the nest by herself in about 3-7 days. The nest is a cup of small fibers, such as grasses, milkweed seed hairs, animal hairs, feathers, leaves, twigs, mosses, and pine needles. The nest measures 2–3 inches across and 2–3 inches high on the outside, with an inner cup about 2 inches across and 1.5 inches deep. They make their nests in trees.

The male American Redstart sometimes has two mates at the same time. While many other bird species involve two females nesting in the same territory, the redstart holds two separate territories that can be separated by a quarter of a mile. The male begins attracting a second female after the first has completed her clutch of eggs and is incubating the eggs.

American Redstart Male
Picture Source: © Evan Lipton 
American Redstart Female
Picture Source: © Jeremiah Trimble

Bye and see you next time!

Magpies at Coyote Valley OSP (Open Space Preserve)

During the Spring birdathon, I missed to go to Coyote Valley. That night, I got to see some photos of the birdathon from another great photographer friend Tony Woo. I really wanted to go and see them by myself. So, I asked my mom if we could go to Coyote Valley. My mom searched to see if there were any trips to Coyote Valley. She found one with Lisa Myers from the Los Gatos Birdwatcher and I was the happy birder dreaming about my trip for days.

When we went, we got to see many birds that I haven’t seen before. There were the Western Kingbirds which I saw a day before at Martial Cottle Park, the Yellow-billed Magpie, a California native, and the Rock Wren. Today we will talk about the Yellow-billed Magpie.

The Yellow-billed Magpie is a member of the crow family. It has a long, black tail, long, slender body, yellow bill, Black head, chest, tail and wings, a little white on the wings, and a white breast. They are only found in Central California and South California.

Magpies looks so beautiful in flight. They have a long slender body in flight, and it is a beautiful sight to see it in flight. it flies so gracefully. Their calls are a series of a shek-shek-shek call..

Yellow-billed Magpie
Yellow-billed Magpie

Mother’s Day Special

Again a late post, but better late than never is what I learnt from my mom. We had so many things going on with our move to Puerto Rico. It is a big change for us and I’ll talk about my experiences in the future posts. With all the packing and moving, me and esp my mom did not had time to review and approve my posts. Finally she has sometime, so I’m starting right from the Mother’s Day 2019.

Mother’s Day is a day to thank your moms. I love my mom and so all kids do. This mother’s day, we decided to go for bird walk searching for mommy and baby birds. Well in case of birds, it is a mommy or daddy and baby birds.

We started at Charleston Slough – my most favorite place for the birding with my mentor Allen Royer. This was my last but very precious walk as I was soon moving away from California. I wanted to keep this mother’s day memorable by being with people I like and enjoy baby birds.

As its spring and breeding season, there were more songbirds than waterfowl and some very naughty baby birds.

Our first baby sighting was a big Canada Goose family wading at Shoreline lake. They seemed like a big happy family enjoying their morning swim after breakfast.

Over there, at the lake, there was a gosling that was going across the water making this high pitch call. Then two Canada Geese were chasing it behind. The gosling was ignoring their parents before the parents caught up with it. This rebellion was quite a sight.

We enjoyed some more Mallards before heading to actual Charleston Slough. There were not many birds except few Avocets. There were two Avocets and they were becoming very territorial. We looked closer as why this was happening and Allen spotted the baby Avocet in the far near marsh and pickle weed. It was so great to see this little one playing in and out around the marsh and pickle weed area with the confidence that his parents was there to protect him/her. Another great spotting and experience on Mother’s Day.

American Avocet

After our morning bird walk we went to see an art exhibition. I met my mom’s office colleagues there. Usha aunty did join us at home and we did spend afternoon watching birds at my backyard feeders. We saw, lesser goldfinches, chestnut backed chickadees and house finches enjoying the feast in my backyard. I quickly got Usha aunty into birdwatching. So, we decided to visit our nearby Martial Cottle Park that had some blue bird nests. I hoped to see some baby bluebirds there.

So, we went for a walk to Martial Cottle park and to our surprise, there was a bluebird box with baby bluebirds in it. We spent sometime observing blue bird feeding its baby. has and saw some Western Bluebird babies and its father feeding it. They caught insects, flew to the other nest box or nearby place, and if the coast is clear, it will quickly feed his babies and once it’s done, it will search for another insect.

Western Bluebird

A few Bluebirds later, there were two territorial adult Killdeer those were making a fuss. We didn’t know why, but after looking carefully in the grasses around we found few baby killdeers running around. These were adorable baby killdeer and that is why parent Killdeer were being very territorial. I heard that to lure predators away, Killdeer parents do a “broken wing” dance as well. We did not witness one though.

Killdeer

In the evening another of my mom’s office colleague Kriti aunty did join us at home. I had been to Coyote Valley earlier and was super excited to know that there was Bullock’s Oriole nest there. As I was sharing my excitement and was explaining about orioles in Coyote Valley, we all got super interested and decided to go see Oriole in Coyote Valley. Luckily it was mot far from my home and my mom agreed to drive us there. As Coyote valley, we saw a Yellow-billed Magpie, Rock Wren, House Wren, Western Kingbird, Brewer’s Blackbird, American Kestrel, Hooded Oriole, and Bullock’s Oriole.

We were very interested in the Bullock’s Oriole’s nest and finding baby orioles in there. Lisa from Los Gatos Bird Watchers told us that the nest was on the oak tree near the parking lot. We needed patience to wait and watch. As my mom enjoyed her evening tea with friends at the parking lot, I kept a close eye on the bird next. In sometime, we saw a male and female Bullok’s Oriole taking turns to go inside the nest. we could hear the baby’s voices but they were well hidden behind the leaves. I tried to capture the pictures, but was not aware of the baby oriole in the picture below until I reached home and was looking at my clicks of the day. I got my best surprise of Mother’s Day with the below picture of Bullock’s Oriole with baby oriole peeking out from behind.

Bullock’s Oriole

All in all, a very happy Mother’s Day spent in the company of some good friends, Birds and Baby Birds. They all are super cute and always will remain special to me.

And that’s all! Stay tuned for more updates! See you next time!

Hooded Oriole

I loved orioles since I was 5 years old. I had a big craze about Baltimore Orioles that lasted for quite some time. At age 5, I knew Baltimore Orioles were Maryland’s state bird and I used to think that a flight to Baltimore, MA will take me to an Oriole Wonderland. I even made my mom to paint a Baltimore Oriole painting. I still have not got a chance to see the Baltimore Oriole. But at least I got to see my first Oriole – The Hooded Oriole. It was boldly vivid and amazingly beautiful. I saw it at the April 20th Birdathon at McClellan Ranch. Today, I will be overviewing the Hooded Oriole.

Hooded Oriole

The Hooded Oriole is a migratory Oriole. They are found in Mexico and the Western United States. They breed in California and parts of Texas and Mexico. They winter in Southwestern Mexico. The male Hooded Oriole has a slender body, bright yellow orange hood and breast, and a black throat that extends around the eyes. It has black wings and tail. The female are olive yellow throughout the whole body except the grayish wings. They are found in open
woodlands. Hooded Orioles eat insects, but they also come to backyard feeders where there is fruit. They also nest in trees.

As always, Happy Birding! Stay tuned so you don’t miss on any new posts. See you next time!

Woodpeckers at McClellan Ranch

Sorry that I haven’t uploaded in awhile. I got busy with my school work and also working on a book. There is a surprise to be revealed soon.

The beauty of living in California is that you get to see many biomes in one place. McClellan Ranch in Cupertino is one great example. It has two biomes – wood lands and grasslands. It is also the home of Santa Clara Audubon Society. Along with woodland and grassland, Santa Clara Audubon also hangs bird feeders. It is a treat for a bird enthusiast to visit McClellan Ranch and see many variety of birds there.

I participated in my first Birdathon on April 20th, 2019 at McClellan Ranch. We saw many species but one of the key highlight was seeing 4 species of woodpecker on the feeders. These woodpeckers were – the Downy Woodpecker, the Hairy Woodpecker, the Acorn Woodpecker, and the Nuttal’s Woodpecker. Today I will be overviewing the woodpeckers.

Acorn Woodpecker

The Acorn Woodpecker is the most common woodpecker around the Bay Area. It is typically found in tall temperate forests. If you see a tree with the pecked holes, try to see if there are acorns in those holes. You may be surprised by Acorn Woodpecker sighting. They also
frequent feeders at McClellan Ranch. The Acorn woodpecker is different than Nuttall’s Woodpecker as it has a much bigger red head and no spot marking on the body.

Downy Woodpecker

The Downy Woodpecker is a non migratory woodpecker found across the United States,
Canada and Alaska. This is the smallest woodpecker in North America. The Downy and Hairy Woodpecker looks very similar. The key difference to remember is that the beak of Downy
Woodpecker is half the size of it’s head. The Hairy Woodpecker has its bill as long as its head. The male Downy Woodpecker has a white belly, black wings with white spots, a striped head and a smaller red nape on the head.The female lacks the red nape.

Hairy Woodpecker

The Hairy Woodpecker is a non migratory woodpecker. They are found in Alaska, Canada, the United States, Mexico and Central America. The Hairy Woodpecker (male and female) looks exactly like the Downy Woodpecker (male and female) but have a longer bill to the size of their head. Like Downy Woodpecker female, Hairy Woodpecker female doesn’t have a red nape on the head.

Nuttall’s Woodpecker

The Nuttall’s Woodpecker is a non migratory woodpecker native to California and Baja
California. The male Nuttall’s Woodpecker has black and white spots on back and breasts. It has black and white stripes on the head along with red nape. The female Nuttall’s Woodpecker lacks the red nape. They are confused with Ladder-backed
Woodpecker that has a full red crown. The Nuttall’s Woodpecker are found in open
woodlands and nest in the tree cavities. They forage on the trees.

Hope you enjoyed! Please provide your feedback as it will help me improve my writing and information I present.

As always, stay tuned to TheKidBirder. Happy Birding !!

Puerto Rico Trip Part 3 – Old San Juan

4/07/19, we decided to go to Old San Juan. My dad told me a few days ago that in his last visit he saw lots of Parakeets on the mango trees at Old San Juan. I was very excited to see Parakeets for the first time in Puerto Rico. My dad did not remember the exact place, so we have to wander around and search for the Mango trees with Parakeets. While walking on the San Juan fort walkway near the coast, we saw some juvenile Brown Pelicans. They were flying over the sea that we could see.

Brown Pelicans

Finally we found the mango trees. Not too long after, there were some parakeets over there. There was also a tree that had less leafs and more fruits. They looked like mango but a mango tree without leaves did not made any sense. When my mom found a fruit dropped on the ground and opened it, it was defiantly not Mango. But soon we saw number of parakeets enjoying that. I got to click lot of photos, and my dad made a video of them. My ID confirmed these as White-winged Parakeets. I was really happy to see them. Enjoy their pictures and video.

White-winged Parakeet

As I was enjoying the parakeets, my mom pointed out a big bird that was about to land. Seeing this bird before, I was sure that it was a juvenile Brown Pelican.

Brown Pelican

As it was getting dark, we walked more towards the center of Old San Juan. We saw this bird that my ID told us that is a juvenile Greater Antillean Grackle.

Greater Antillean Grackle

Just a little bit after, we saw some tiny birds. I recognized it as a House Sparrow. But it was something I’ve never seen before. There was a House Sparrow feeding its kid! It was such a treat to see this mother kid love. I love my mommy like the baby bird loved her mommy.

House Sparrows

We decided to walk further on the San Juan Fort coast walkway to enjoy beautiful and serene ocean views from the fort. As we were walking towards the spot to get a taxi, we saw a Northern Mockingbird. This little fella gave me some really good shots.

Northern Mockingbird

And that’s all for the Puerto Rico Trip Series! Happy Birding!