Death Stalks the Singing Bird

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Are Souls drown'd and destroy'd so? Is only matter triumphant? Materials for Teachers Materials for Teachers Home. Poems for Kids. Poems for Teens. Lesson Plans. Teach this Poem. Poetry Near You. Academy of American Poets. National Poetry Month. American Poets Magazine. Poems Find and share the perfect poems. I Hear America Singing. This poem is in the public domain. To Think of Time 1 To think of time—of all that retrospection! To think of to-day, and the ages continued henceforward! Have you guess'd you yourself would not continue? Have you dreaded these earth-beetles?

Have you fear'd the future would be nothing to you? Is to-day nothing? Is the beginningless past nothing? If the future is nothing, they are just as surely nothing. To think that the sun rose in the east! To think that we are now here, and bear our part! Not a day passes—not a minute or second, without a corpse! To think how eager we are in building our houses! To think others shall be just as eager, and we quite indifferent! To think how much pleasure there is! Have you pleasure from looking at the sky? Do you enjoy yourself in the city?

Or with your mother and sisters? Your farm, profits, crops,—to think how engross'd you are! Yourself, forever and ever! If otherwise, all came but to ashes of dung, If maggots and rats ended us, then Alarum! They typically catch insects by darting out and grabbing them in mid-air, picking them off of foliage, or scooping them up from the ground.

They can also hover low over fields trying to spot prey. Males defend a nesting territory by singing. Nests are cup-shaped and made of grass, weeds, and other materials but no mud like other phoebes. Placement of a nest can vary from on a rocky cliff to a man-made structure. Young leave the nest in about 2 weeks after hatching. There are typically 1 to 2 broods per year. They can be seen in the area on their way to and from breeding grounds further north.

They primarily forage in trees, purposefully searching for insects along branches and among leaves. Nests are suspended in a fork of a branch and made of grass and strips of bark decorated with moss and lichens.

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Both parents will vigorously scold a predator and dive at it. Stuart Plumbeous Vireo PLVI Vireo plumbeus Family: Vireonidae Vireos Size: 5 - 6 in 13 - 15 cm Flies: Apr 07 - Oct 15 Morphology: adults have gray heads, backs, and flanks along with white spectacles, wingbars, and bellies; immatures are similar to adults Status: native; common Food source: eats insects during summer almost exclusively; in winter, includes some berries and small fruits Habitat: coniferous forests, mixed forests The Plumbeous Vireo is one of the three separate species created from the split of the Solitary Vireo, and is a common summer bird in the Rocky Mountain region.

These birds forage in a deliberate manner in the upper reaches of trees, searching for insects among the leaves. Males sing throughout the day in order to defend a territory. During courtship, they fluff themselves up and sway from side to side while singing. Nests are located near the fork in a branch of a tree, often in an oak. Both parents incubate the eggs and tend the young which leave the nest at about 2 weeks of age. Woodhouse who wrote about his Southwest expeditions between and They are often found in urban areas where they will come to platform and suet feeders.

Typically these birds forage on the ground or in trees and will bury seeds and nuts for later retrieval. Scrub-jays are very intelligent, remembering the location and rate of decay of over food caches. They will also steal food from other birds. Eggs are laid in a thick-walled cup-nest and hatch in a little less than 3 weeks. The young leave the nest about 3 weeks later. Stacey Photo: nest by Mike Leveille American Crow AMCR Corvus brachyrhynchos, Corvus americanus Family: Corvidae Jays, Magpies, and Crows Size: 17 - 21 in 43 - 53 cm Flies: Jan 01 - Dec 31 Morphology: adults are entirely black including eyes, feathers are iridescent, tails are square-shaped, and wings are rounded; males are larger than females; immatures have blue eyes; note: crows are smaller size in size and have thinner bills, sleeker feathers and a higher pitched voice than ravens Status: native; common Food source: omnivorous; insects, spiders, snails, earthworms, frogs, small snakes, shellfish, carrion, garbage, eggs, seeds, grain, berries, and fruit Habitat: deciduous growth along waterways, orchards, mixed evergreen woods, suburban and urban areas American Crows are common and widespread through the US having moved beyond farmlands into towns and cities.

They are very intelligent and have survived several past extermination attempts. They are social, forming large community roosts in winter. A breeding pair may be helped by their offspring from previous seasons. Nests, a large basket of sticks and mud lined with soft materials, are built by both parents, usually in a crook of a large shrub or tree. Eggs are incubated, mostly by the female, for about 18 days. Crows are susceptible to and may die from West Nile disease.

Stelts Photo: adult by Bob Walker Photo: nest by Hari Viswanathan Common Raven, Northern Raven CORA Corvus corax Family: Corvidae Jays, Magpies, and Crows Size: 21 - 27 in 53 - 69 cm Flies: Jan 01 - Dec 31 Morphology: adults entirely black including eyes, feathers are iridescent feathers, tails are wedge-shaped, and wings are pointed; immatures have blue eyes; note: ravens are larger size in size and have thicker bills, shaggier feathers and a deeper voice than crows Status: native; common Food source: omnivorous; insects, rodents, lizards, frogs, eggs and young birds, carrion, and garbage Habitat: coniferous forests, deserts and mountain areas Common Ravens can be seen soaring in the skies everywhere in the local area.

These birds are the largest of the passerines and are very intelligent with problem-solving and tool-using skills. In addition, they can mimic sound from their surroundings, including human speech. Immature ravens are very playful and can be observed doing things like sliding down snowbanks, apparently for fun. Ravens usually hunt in pairs in order to cooperate in flushing out prey.

Nests which can be reused year after year are usually on a ledge or in a tall tree. Both parents help build the nest and feed the young which fledge about 5 to 6 weeks after hatching. Ravens are featured in the mythology of many Native American peoples. They can also be found in oak forests during the fall.

Their staple food consists of conifer seeds and acorns which they often cache for later consumption. However, they are scavengers, often seen eating scraps in picnic areas and campgrounds. When not breeding, they typically live in flocks, often flying over an area in single-file.

These birds are able to mimic the calls of other species, such as raptors, and can even imitate squirrels and household animals. Both sexes are very protective of their nest which consists of a ragged cup of weeds, etc. Incubation time is a little less than 3 weeks; age at first flight is not well known.

Pinyon Jays primarily forage on the ground but can clean out a bird feeder in no time. Flocks tend to follow the pinyon crop. They store the nuts in late summer and early fall by burying them in the ground for later retrieval. Social organization among these jays is complex with overall permanent flocks that can reach several hundred in size. The birds nest in colonies in cup-shaped nests found high up in juniper, oak, and pinyon trees. Incubation time is a little less than 3 weeks with the young leaving the nest about 3 weeks after that.

However, they will fearlessly walk about in picnic grounds and parking lots looking for handouts. However, these birds are most talented at prying open pine cones to extract the seeds. They may temporarily store the seeds in a throat pouch until they can be added to a hidden cache for later consumption. These caches help support the birds during the breeding which can occur in late winter. Nests, located in a conifer on a horizontal branch, consist of a platform of twigs supporting a cup of grasses and bark strips.

Both parents incubate the eggs and care for the young once they have hatched. The nestling usually leave the nest about 18 to 21 days after hatching. They can now be seen in suburban areas walking along the ground, scavenging for crumbs. They will also forage in farming areas, sometimes following behind machinery to catch insects that have been disturbed.

In winter, they usually forage in large flocks. Nests are of a bulky open cup design often with mud or dried manure added to the base. A colony may change the nesting site preference from year to year, using small bushes one year and tall trees the next. Western Meadowlarks forage on the ground, sometimes using their bills to probe in the soil. In winter, they usually forage in flocks. Males, who are more often heard rather than seen, sing to defend a nesting territory.

One male usually has two mates at the same time. The females do most of the work related to the incubation and care of the young. Nests are on the ground and consist of a domed structure with a side entrance and trail leading up to it. Young leave the nest at about 12 days old but are tended by their parents for at least another two week. It will often run on the ground rather than fly if disturbed. These birds also forage by running around on open ground near areas with low shrubs.

They will also perch in low trees and bushes to eat berries and will come to gardens for food. During breeding season, males will sing incessantly to defend a territory. Nests are typically located in sagebrush or other low bushes such as chamisa. Although cowbirds will lay eggs in a thrasher nest, the thrashers parents will toss them out. There may be 2 broods per year. Status: native; common Food source: mostly insects and their larvae, as well as spiders, snails, sowbugs, and prickly-pear and saguaro berries Habitat: desert brush, cactus, sagebrush, town Typical location: La Senda, Pajarito Acres The Curve-billed Thrasher is fairly conspicuous due to its habit of dashing about in the open and loudly calling from the tops of small trees.

The local area is at the northern edge of its range. These birds forage on the ground, tossing aside litter to find insects. They will also dig in the soil to find food.

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Curve-billed Thrashers will come to feeders in areas with cholla and sage. If the nest is exposed to bright sun, the female will spend time shading the young. There are typically 2 broods and sometimes 3 per year. They even favor hopping around inside a garage when the door has been left open. They will feed on the insects caught in a car grill and then will hide under the car when disturbed. They prefer to forage under things like logs and scratch in the dirt much less than towhee species do.

Canyon Towhees may mate for life and a pair will stay together all year round in a permanent territory. Nests are of a bulky cup design and usually located in a small tree or dense shrub. The young may leave the nest before they can fly, climbing about in the bushes waiting to be fed.

It is typical for there to be 2 to 3 broods in a year. Their upright posture makes them appear long and slender. They are usually seen in winter when both sexes will defend patches of juniper. These birds typically forage by flying out to catch insects mid-air or by fluttering down to the ground to snatch up food. During breeding season, males will guard the area around the nest by singing either from a high perch on while in flight.

Nests are located in a protected spot such as in a shallow depression in a slope or in a crevice. They are of an open-cup design but rather bulky and loosely made. Young probably leave the nest at about 2 weeks of age. This species is the largest North American thrush. Robins forage on the ground, running along or hopping and then pausing when they spot prey. Males will defend nesting grounds before the arrival of females. Females build a nest made of grasses and twigs worked into a foundation of mud.

Nests are usually located on a horizontal branch of a tree or shrub. The young fledge about 14 to 16 days later. American Robins usually have two broods per season but may have a third. They will feed at flowers while hovering but will both hover and perch at feeders. They will fly out to catch small insects, pluck them from foliage, or even pick them out of spider webs. In colder weather, these hummingbirds may ingest as much as three times their body weight in nectar in a single day. Males perform a courtship display that consists of flying back and forth in a U-shaped arc.

The nest is a compact cup of plant fibers held together with spider webs and camouflaged on the outside. The incorporation of the spider silk allows the nest to stretch, expanding as the nestlings grow. Despite its small size, it can survive cold summer nights at high elevations and can be seen as altitudes as high as 11, feet 3, m. Typically these birds will feed while hovering at flowers that are close to the ground. They may also perch and fly out to capture insects midair or to pluck them from foliage. They are attracted to feeders with sugar-water mixtures.

Nests are camouflaged, compact cups lined with things like plant down and spider webs. First flight is at about 3 weeks of age. These birds can be seen in large numbers during the summer wherever hummingbird feeders and flowers are present. While they may perch at a feeder, they will usually feed while hovering, extending their long tongues to reach deep into the feeder or flower. They will also catch insects either by flying out to grab them or by plucking them off of foliage. Broad-tailed Hummingbirds will slow their metabolism and go into a state of torpor on cold nights.

Nests are located in trees sheltered by an overhanging branch and are made of spider and plant materials covered with moss and bits of bark. They travel from Mexico to as far north as Alaska. While they may perch at a hummingbird feeder, they will usually feed while hovering, extending their long tongues to reach deep into the feeder or flower.

The first hummingbird to discover a food source, including feeders, defends it. It will perch on a nearby branch and intercept intruders in air with its angry buzzing. They have excellent memories and have been observed looking for a absent feeder that was there the previous year. These hummingbirds are fairly hardy as they can survive temperatures well below freezing given sufficient food and shelter. Males may mate with several females. Females are responsible for making the nest, incubating the eggs, and feeding the young. Nests are well concealed in coniferous trees or deciduous shrubs.

Habitat: arid mountains or other rocky areas, near cliffs and canyons White-throated Swifts are most often observed near cliffs and canyons where they may fly in small groups, chattering constantly. As a species they are one of the fastest flying birds. They forage in flight and often range widely, potentially foraging many miles from their nesting sites. Mating occurs in the air with the pair sometimes joining and then tumbling down for hundreds of feet. Nests are usually in a narrow crevice in a cliff or in a man-made structure such as a bridge, overpass, or building.

The young are usually about 6 weeks old before they can fly. The species is also common in Europe and Asia where they tend to have a white breast. They can most often be seen flying low over fields or water. Barn Swallows can execute quick turns and dives and most often catch and eat their prey in the air. Females prefer to mate with males that have a dark breast color and a very long, symmetrical tail. Both parents make numerous trips to collect collect mud to build a cup-shaped nest, typically near humans in manmade sites such as in barns or garages or under bridges or eaves.

The parents may be assisted in caring for the new young by offspring from a previous brood. There can be up to two broods per year. Flocks can be seen flying high above mountain pine forests and canyons. They are often observed flying with other swallows or swifts. These birds forage in flight, catching insects mid-air. They will nest in isolated pairs or in small colonies. Nests are located in tree cavities, birdhouses, rock crevices, or even large cacti. When they reach the top, they will flutter down to the ground and begin all over.

These birds will also come to feeders for suet and peanut butter. When threatened, they will freeze using their coloration as effective camouflage. Nests, consisting of a half-cup design, may often be partially hidden in a tree. They commonly forage by hopping on the ground but also climb trees searching for wood-boring, using their bills to dig the them out. Flickers have sticky, barbed tongues that extends 2 inches beyond their bill for reaching into holes and lapping up food. They will come to feeders for suet and peanut butter. These bird create their nests by chiseling into in dead or dying trees.

The cavity nests are used year after year. Eggs are laid in the wood chips at the bottom of the nest. Both parents incubate the eggs and feed the young. The young will stay with their parents for a while after they leave the nest. Their flight pattern is distinctive in that they will flap their wings a few times and then drop a foot.

As their name implies, acorns make up the majority of their diet. The birds drill numerous holes in dead trees, telephone poles, and wooden buildings to store acorns. Such caches can be used across generations and can be riddled with thousands of holes. In contrast to other woodpeckers, while these woodpeckers eat insects, they rarely dig into wood to find them. Acorn Woodpeckers have a complicated social structure. They live in communal groups consisting of several breeding males and females.

The nest consists of a cavity in a tree. Both parents as well as helpers will take turns incubating the eggs. The eggs hatch in a little less than two weeks and fledge at about a month. Parents and helpers take care of the babies. They are rather scarce but can be seen in the area during the fall migration. While these birds climb trees like other woodpeckers, they mostly feed by catching insects mid-air. In addition, they store acorns and other nuts in crevices and guard them as a winter food supply. Pairs can mate for life and use the same cavity nest regularly.

Both parents incubate the eggs which hatch in 12 to 16 days. While the young will leave the nest about 4 to 5 weeks after hatching, they will remain in the area with their parents for awhile longer. It often perches motionlessly against a tree trunk for an extended period of time. These woodpeckers forage on conifers, in particular dead or dying trees. They will remove pieces of bark to find insects and may gradually remove all the bark from a dead tree.

Nests consist of a cavity in a tree or something like a utility pole. Both sexes excavate a new cavity each year. Eggs are incubated for 12 to 14 days. The young leave the nest 3 to 4 weeks after hatching but may remain with the parents for another 4 to 8 weeks.

Bird Guide

However, the two species are not closely related and do not compete for food. These woodpeckers can be found throughout most of the United States with the exception of desert areas. Downy Woodpeckers are the smallest woodpeckers in North America. Their small size allows them to forage on thin branches, picking at the bark surface.

They can often be seen in trees climbing about and even hanging upside down. In addition, these birds will come to feeders for suet and sunflowers. Compared to other woodpeckers, their drumming is rather slow. In fall and winter, males and females feed in separate areas. Nests consist of a cavity in a dead tree or branch surrounded by fungus or lichen for camouflage. Stuart Photo: immature by Mitch Chapman Ladder-backed Woodpecker LBWO Picoides scalaris, Dendrocopos scalaris Family: Picidae Woodpeckers Size: 7 in 18 cm Flies: Jan 01 - Dec 31 Morphology: primarily black and white with barred pattern on back and wings along with cream underparts; males have a red cap that extends from nape to mid-crown; females are black from nape to forehead; immatures of both sexes have red crown Status: native; uncommon Food source: variety of insects including beetles and their larvae, caterpillars, true bugs, and ants; eats some fruit and berries including cactus fruit Habitat: arid areas with thickets and trees Typical location: White Rock Canyon The Ladder-backed Woodpecker was once called the Cactus Woodpecker.

It most often seen in Texas and Mexico but its overall range includes the local area at its northern edge. These woodpeckers primarily forage in trees, shrubby growth, and tall weeds. Pairs will often forage together focusing on slightly different areas, e. The Ladder-backed Woodpecker has a distinctive flight pattern: three rapid wing flaps followed by a quick glide with the wings tucked against the body.

The nesting site is in a hole in a tree or other plant such as a yucca or even a man-made structure like a fence post. Both parents probably excavate the cavity. Incubation of the eggs is done by both parents and they also both feed the young once hatched. Like other woodpeckers, they have a spongy pad between their bill and skull to protect their brains from the shock of tapping on trees and special feathers around their nostrils to keep out wood chips. A Hairy Woodpecker will tap at a tree truck or major branch, listening for sound differences indicating an insect tunnel.

It will then dig away the wood and remove the insect with its long, barbed tongue. These birds are very beneficial, consuming large numbers of wood-boring insects including those in wooden house siding. Hairy Woodpeckers are rather shy but will come to suet feeders. Males and females tend to maintain separate territories but pair up in mid-winter, often with the mate from the previous year.

Nests consist of an cavity in an aspen or dead conifer. Stuart Red-naped Sapsucker RNSA Sphyrapicus nuchalis Family: Picidae Woodpeckers Size: 8 in 20 cm Flies: Jan 01 - Dec 31 Morphology: birds are mottled black and white overall with a red cap, nape, and throat, a slight peak at the back of the head, a sharp pointed bill, and an elongated appearance due to how they cling vertically to trees; males have a solid red chin but females have a white patch on the chin; immatures have a brown cap and overall brown wash Status: native; uncommon Food source: includes insects, tree sap, berries, and fruit Habitat: edges of coniferous forests, woodlands, gardens, groves of aspen Typical location: Pajarito Ski Hill Parking Lot Red-naped Sapsuckers are often seen during the spring and fall.

They drill holes in trees in very neatly spaced rows, leaving the holes to fill up with sap and then returning periodically to drink what has oozed out. In addition, they will take insects from trees like other woodpeckers, including those insects that have become trapped in the sap. Nests are typically found in a tree cavity with the same tree being used several years in a row. These birds prefer trees with heartwood decay which makes it easier to excavate a nesting site.

Parents teach the young how to suck sap and take care of them for up to 10 days after they leave the nest. They will return periodically to feed on the sap. In addition, they will eat a bit of the tree tissue and insects attracted to the sap.

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The nest site is a cavity in a tree, with one with a dead heartwood but live outer layer preferred. Males may dig new nesting cavities in the same tree year after year. Young leave the nest and the general area at about 3 to 4 weeks after hatching. However, they can be attracted to feeders with sunflower seeds, peanut butter and suet. They can be seen in mixed-species flocks outside the breeding season.

Like other nuthatches, these birds are gymnasts. They move rapidly up and down tree trunks and along the undersides of branches looking for food which they may then hoard in a larder. Nests consist of hollowed out cavities which the birds excavate themselves. They smear the entrance with pitch. It has been postulated that this is to deter other creatures. They avoid getting stuck themselves by flying straight into the hole. Incubation time for the eggs is about 12 days with the young leaving the nest 2 to 3 weeks later.

They are often seen at suet feeders or creeping along tree trunks with their heads down looking for insects in bark crevices. These nuthatches are typically seen singly or in pairs. However, in fall and winter, they will join small mixed-species flocks. Pairs may mate for life and remain in the same area all year round.

Death Takes Wing: Birds and the Folklore of Death

It is formed as a result of oxidation spontaneous combustion of coal in cold temperatures. They crowd restaurants on Tughi Road, the focal point for miners from Swat, watching Bollyood films on a satellite television. It helps them live — disregarding disease and death around them. Mohammad Atif is a mine inspector in Quetta. I take the view, expressed by Polanyi , that I came into a world for whose condition I am not responsible, yet which determines my calling. In his house in Mian Kalay, he can only move inside a large open room on the first floor. It is a view of human enquiry as rooted in an ongoing process of infinite new beginnings.

Nests are built in a cavity from bark fibers, grasses and other materials. Eggs hatch in about two weeks and fledge anywhere from three to four weeks later. They are also acrobatic, using their sharp claws to help them hop upside down while foraging on the outermost and highest tree branches. These birds are easily attracted to feeders by sunflower seeds, nuts and suet. They often use bark crevices as a place to hold food while breaking it up with their bills. Pygmy Nuthatches nest in cavities in conifers lined with soft materials. A nesting pair may have helpers, usually offspring from a previous year, that aid in defending the territory and raising the young.

Eggs are incubated for a little over 2 weeks and the young fledge about 3 weeks later. It is originally native to Europe, North Africa, and India but now lives all over the world. It has been domesticated for a variety of purposes: raised for food, trained for racing and carrying messages, and used in research.

In many places, though, wild birds frequent both residential and agricultural lands. These pigeons may mate for life. Nests can be found on sheltered cliff ledges or potential substitutes of window ledges or gutters. A pair of Rock Pigeons may raise up to 5 broods per year. These pigeons usually forage in flocks, even during breeding season. They will forage on the ground but unlike other pigeons, they will also feed up in trees.

They are very agile being able to walk out on small branches and even hang upside down to reach berries. During early and late summer, these pigeons will gather at mineral springs to ingest salts. Unlike most birds, they are able to drink without lifting their heads. Band-tailed Pigeons may nest in a loose colony. Nests are usually high up in a tree and consists of a platform of sticks. There are usually 2 or even 3 broods per year. Since there they have expanded across most of the US and Mexico. It has been suggested that these birds have been able to exploit a niche made available by the extinction of the Passenger Pigeon.

When not breeding, Eurasian Collared-Doves usually forage in flocks on the ground but will come to feeders. These doves can most often be seen in prominent perches. Nests consist of a fragile platform of sticks and twigs. There are usually only one or two eggs.

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However, in some areas there are reports of up to six broods per year. Stuart Photo: adult by CK Kelly White-winged Dove WWDO Zenaida asiatica Family: Columbidae Pigeons and Doves Size: 12 in 30 cm Flies: Jan 01 - Dec 31 Morphology: plump, square-tailed birds with long bills; adults are brown overall with white stripes at the edge of the wings, white-tipped tails with black stripes, a black streak across each cheek, and blue skin around red eyes Status: native; common Food source: mostly seed from wild plants and cultivated grains; will also eat fruits and berries as well as nectar from large flowers Habitat: open country with dense thickets of shrubs and low trees The White-winged Dove, related to the Mourning Dove, is most common in the southwest, but its range is currently expanding across the US and into Canada.

These birds are often seen at platform feeder, but mostly forage on the ground. They will also feed in trees, shrubs, and large cacti. In areas with giant saguaro cacti, these doves are important pollinators. Both members of a pair go through a courting ritual consisting of nodding and preening motions. The nest is a flimsy platform made of sticks placed in a tree, shrub, or cactus. Stuart Mourning Dove MODO Zenaida macroura, Zenaida carolinensis Family: Columbidae Pigeons and Doves Size: 12 in 30 cm Flies: Jan 01 - Dec 31 Morphology: plump-bodied bird with small head and long, pointed tail; adults are brown to buffy-tan overall with black spots on the wings and white tipped, black-bordered tail feathers Status: native; common Food source: feeds almost exclusively on seeds Habitat: open fields, parks, lawns with many trees and shrubs Ubiquitous.

One of the most common birds in the county. When they take flight, the wings make a whistling noise. They typically use quick, consecutive wing beats and a short glide. They use stealth to capture prey either by swooping down from cover or by flying quickly through dense vegetation. Studies have shown that the later technique, while successful, can be dangerous resulting in broken chest bones. Females build nests high up in trees usually on a foundation of a preexisting nest. The eggs are incubated for a little over a month.

The young will climb around the nest tree at about four weeks of age. They will be able to fly soon thereafter, but will stay with their parents for another month. Stelts Northern Goshawk NOGO Accipiter gentilis Family: Accipitridae Hawks and Eagles Size: 20 - 26 in 51 - 66 cm Flies: Jan 01 - Dec 31 Morphology: adults are dark slate gray above and paler underneath with a dark head and white stripe over the eye; females are larger than males; immatures are brown and streaky with dark tail bands and yellow eyes Status: native; locally common Food source: mostly birds and small mammals such as grouse and squirrels; also eats snakes and some insects Habitat: forests deciduous and coniferous with intermediate to heavy canopy coverage, scrub, farmlands, woodland edges The Northern Goshawk has a relatively short, broad wings, a long tail and a relatively large bill.

It is an expert at the surprise attack and prefers to hunt by watching for prey perched quietly about half-way up a tree, often moving from one perch to another. When prey is spotted, the bird will put on an extra burst of speed, plunging through tangled branches in pursuit. Goshawks only vocalize during breeding and nesting season. When calling while perched, the birds often move their heads from side-to-side to throw the sound. Males provide food for the nesting females starting before the eggs are laid.

Nests are built in a major fork up in a tree. They are often reused so that more material is added each year making the them quite large. Both parents will boldly defend the nest, diving and nipping at intruders including humans. Eggs hatch approximately 35 days after laying and the young fledge at 5 to 6 weeks. Stelts Sharp-shinned Hawk SSHA Accipiter striatus Family: Accipitridae Hawks and Eagles Size: 10 - 14 in 25 - 36 cm Flies: Jan 01 - Dec 31 Morphology: adults are dark blue-gray to brown above with horizontal red-orange bars on the breast; females are larger than males; immatures are similar to the adults but with brown vertical streaks on the breast and yellow eyes Status: native; common Food source: mostly small birds such as sparrows; rarely will eat rodents, bats, squirrels, lizards, frogs, snakes, and large insects Habitat: coniferous and deciduous woodlands with dense cover Typical location: Barranca Canyon, Deer Trap Mesa One of the smallest and most numerous of hawks, the Sharp-shinned Hawk lives in the local area year round but is most often seen when migrating populations pass overhead.

It mostly hunts by perching inside foliage and waiting for smaller birds to come close. Then with a burst of speed, it will fly out and capture its prey. Sharp-shinned will target groups of smaller birds by lying in wait at backyard bird feeders. The nest is a platform of sticks lined with softer material and located in dense cover. Egg incubation time is 30 to 35 days. Females staying near the young for the first few weeks while the males bring food. The chicks will start to move around the nest tree at about 3 to 4 weeks of age and will be able to fly at 5 to 6 weeks.

The hawk uses this to its advantage by blending into groups of vultures as a way to potentially fool prey. In such a group, the hawks are the birds with the light tails bands, fully feathered head, and yellow feet. Like the vulture, the Zone-tailed Hawk circles while soaring. Once it spots it quarry, it will continue to circle, moving lower and off to one side until it is screened by some sort of cover. Then it will surprise the prey by making a direct attack. The Zone-tailed breeds in the local area which is at the northern edge of its migration range.

Nests are typically in a somewhat isolated tall tree. It is made primarily of sticks and twigs and may be reused for many years. Eggs hatch in a little over a month and are able to fly in 6 to 7 weeks. Stuart Red-tailed Hawk, Chickenhawk RTHA Buteo jamaicensis Family: Accipitridae Hawks and Eagles Size: 18 - 25 in 46 - 64 cm Flies: Jan 01 - Dec 31 Morphology: females larger than males; large amount of variability in overall color depending on subspecies and region light, intermediate and dark ; young birds have mottled white patches on back and brown tail Status: native; common Food source: small mammals voles, rats, rabbits, and ground squirrels , birds, and reptiles especially snakes Habitat: forests, open country, agricultural field and urban areas Typical location: Los Alamos Airport The Red-tailed Hawk is the common hawk in the area.

It can be seen flying overhead with slow, measured wing beats or soaring upward doing slow turns. It often perches next to highways looking for prey. The birds mate in spring and build a nest made of sticks lined with soft materials. Nests are usually located high up in a tree or on a cliff ledge. However, they can also be found on high buildings or towers.

The females lay from 1 to 5 eggs which hatch in about a month. The babies fledge at around 6 to 7 weeks old but will stay with their parents for a few weeks longer. Rather they make a low, guttural hiss when irritated. They also make a whining sound when in flight. They can soar overhead for hours, searching for carcasses. They have a particularly keen sense of smell so they are able to locate carrion by odor. Like other carrion-eating birds, Turkey Vultures are protected from disease by a very active immune system.

Nests are located in sheltered areas such hollow trees or in crevices in cliffs.

Death Takes Wing: Birds and the Folklore of Death

There is little or no nesting building with eggs laid on the bottom of the nest site. When disturbed young will defend themselves in the nest by hissing and regurgitating. Their first flight is in about 9 to 10 weeks after hatching. Peregrines are often seen flying in the wild in canyons. Larger birds are knocked out of the sky and then eaten on the ground where they fall.

Peregrines have several special adaptations that allow them to survive the pressure of these spectacular dives. They have long been a favorite of falconers due both to this athleticism and the ease with which they can be trained. Peregrines were once on the decline due to the effect of pesticides but are currently making a comeback.

Nests are usually found on a cliff lee. However, sometimes they are seen in a tree, on the ground on a hilltop, or on man-made structures. Females incubate the eggs for about a month while the male feds the female. The young are able to fly at 6 to 7 weeks. Stuart Photo: female by J. Stuart Photo: Jerry Oldenettel American Kestrel AMKE Falco sparverius Family: Falconidae Caracaras and Falcons Size: 9 - 12 in 23 - 30 cm Flies: Jan 01 - Dec 31 Morphology: males have blue-grey wings, white undersides, and rufous back; females have rufous backs and wings with brown bars and cream undersides; young are similar in plumage to adults Status: native; common Food source: mostly large insects, in particular grasshoppers, but also some small mammals, bird and lizards Habitat: towns, parks, farmlands, any kind of open or semi-open situation The American Kestrel is the smallest falcon in North America and the most common.

It is leaner and more muscular than larger falcons with long, narrow wings that taper to a point. Given their small size, kestrels are often used in falconry, particularly by beginners. Kestrels primarily hunt from a perching position where they scan the ground for prey. They are commonly seen perched on wires and other high places along the roadside. However, they may hover over a field when a good perch is not available. The birds builds nests fairly high above the ground in cavities in trees, cliffs, buildings, and other structures.

Both sexes help to incubate the eggs which hatch in about one month. The young fledge about a month later. Stuart Photo: nest with young by Jerry Oldenettel Great Horned Owl, Hoot Owl GHOW Bubo virginianus Family: Strigidae Owls Size: 25 in 64 cm Flies: Jan 01 - Dec 31 Morphology: both sexes are mottled gray-brown with a reddish face, white patch on the throat, and two prominent feathered tufts on the head; birds in the Southwest are paler and grayer than elsewhere Status: native; common Food source: mostly eats mammals rats, mice, rabbits, squirrels, skunks, etc.

These birds have extremely good hearing and vision. They hunt mostly at dusk and after dark. They will watch from a high perch and then swoop down capturing prey in their talons. During northern winters, they may let uneaten prey freeze, only to come back later and thaw it out using their own body heat. Nesting may begin as early as late winter in some areas. This potentially allows the young to have enough time to learn hunting skills before the next winter.

Nests are often those of other large birds with the addition of a few new feathers. The young will leave the nest at about 5 weeks old but cannot fly until 9 to 10 weeks of age. The parents may continue to fed the young for several months more. They will wait quietly to spot their prey and then fly fast and low to grab their target. They can carry more than twice their own weight. These birds are aggressive and catch more birds than most small owls.

During courtship, pairs will rapidly chase each other near potential nesting sites. They nest in tree cavities, often using old woodpecker holes and defend large territories during breeding season. Its call is not actually a screech, but more a series of short hoots at increasing tempo. Like other owls, it forages at night, hunting mostly from a perch from which it swoops down to take prey. It locates prey by both sight and sound. Western Screech Owls nest in a cavity in a tree or pole, often in an old woodpecker hole.

The top photo was taken of an owl that was rescued after finding its way down a chimney. The female incubates the eggs for a little less than a month and the young fledge at about 4 weeks of age. However, both parents will take care of the young for awhile longer. Their large mouths allow them to capture insects up to 1. They mostly forage at dawn or dusk. These birds have been observed hibernating in a torpid condition during long, cold periods.

This behavior is unique among birds. Males call on spring nights to attract a mate and to defend a territory. Poorwills do not build nests but rather lay eggs on the ground, often sheltered by an overhanging shrub or rock. The young can move on their own fairly quickly by hopping around on the ground by the nest. Stelts Greater Roadrunner, Chapparal Cock GRRO Geococcyx californianus Family: Cuculidae Cuckoos and Roadrunners Size: 24 in 61 cm Flies: Jan 01 - Dec 31 Morphology: both sexes are tan with black streaks and long legs, tails, and necks; they have down-curved bills, a short crest on the head, and a patch of bare, blue skin behind each eye Status: native; uncommon Food source: insects, reptiles, rodents, and birds Habitat: open arid country with scattered thickets Typical location: White Rock Canyon Fairly common in around the canyon rim.

They are often present near feeders not to eat the seed but to ambush other birds. They usually roost at night in groups of two or more arranged in a circle tail-to-tail on the ground in dense low growth. They prefer to run from danger rather than fly. Males defend a breeding territory by sitting on a perch and making a hoarse single-noted call. Nests are build on the ground in a shallow depression and lined with grass and leaves. Young leave the nest soon after hatching. Males will guard the young from a perch while the young feed on the ground with their mother.

It is the smallest dabbling duck in North America and winters in the local area in large flocks. These teals prefer to forage on mud flats.

At the slightest sign of danger they will take off, rising almost vertically from the water. They migrate north early in spring for breeding.