Tag Archives: Bird ID

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s a buteo!

Red-Tailed Hawk, Credit Sophia Landis

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s a buteo! But what is a buteo? Buteos are a scientific grouping of hawks characterized by broad wings, short tails, and an overall robust build, which combine to form a bird perfectly suited for soaring. Buteos will sometimes soar for great lengths of time together in large groups called kettles, particularly during periods of migration. Have you seen a buteo before? If you’ve seen a Red-tailed Hawk, then the answer is yes! The

About that Steller’s Sea Eagle…

Where did the Steller’s Sea Eagle in Massachusetts come from? No legal zoo or individual in the United States reported a missing Steller’s Sea Eagle, but we can’t rule out an escape from an illegal menagerie. This blog assumes the eagle made a one-of-a-kind flight from the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia to the Western Hemisphere. We hope that is the case!  We’re getting a lot of questions about the Steller’s Sea Eagle last seen in Massachusetts. How did it get

North Nest Chases and Eagle Ice-Capades

December 20, 2021: And the answer to Mr. North's question? Not very often, especially with all of these hungry migrants coming through! Fortunately, the North Valley and the Mississippi River Flyway are rich in food resources!

Look at the North nest! The 2022 nest addition – which hadn’t been started when we did camera work in September – has got to be 10 to 12 inches high at least! We saw Mr. North and DNF begin bringing sticks to the nest on October 20. If the two added an average of four sticks every day since, they have added an incredible 288 sticks so far – and their pace should accelerate as the days begin to

Who Doesn’t Love Falcons?

A Peregrine Falcon

By Sophia Landis From millennia-old burial mounds of Native Americans to videogame protagonists like Captain Falcon, one thing is for sure: humans hold falcons in high regard. So what makes falcons so special? And how do you know if the bird you’re looking at is a falcon? This brief article will give you a few pointers on the falcon genus and help you specifically identify a few of the more widely spread species in North America. All photos in this

Raptor ID: Cooper’s Hawk or Sharp-shinned Hawk?

Image of an adult Cooper's Hawk

By Sophia Landis “Is this a Cooper’s Hawk or a Sharp-shinned Hawk?” This is one of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to raptor ID – and for good reason! Cooper’s Hawks, Sharp-shinned Hawks, and the rarer Northern Goshawk make up North America’s share of the accipiter genus.  Before we get into the nitty gritty of how to ID these species separately, let’s take a look at what they all have in common. Accipiter Build and Behavior Unlike

What is that bird? A Trumpeter Swan!

October 16, 2020: Trumpeter Swan

What is that bird? It is a Trumpeter Swan! Our eagle-eyed camera operators found it yesterday on our Mississippi Flyway cam and we went to ornithologist Tom Prestby for an expert opinion. So how we tell a Trumpeter Swan from the far more common Tundra Swan? Behavior. Our first clue that we were seeing something a little different? There were only two swans. Tundra swans tend to travel in flocks – like snow, a blizzard of white from the north!

What are those birds?

Black-Bellied Whistling Duck on the Flyway Cam in Lake Onalaska/Pool Seven of the Mississippi River

What are those birds? The first one is a black-bellied whistling duck, which was spotted on our Flyway Cam on Monday, August 10th! They are cavity nesters who usually form gregarious flocks of up to 1000 birds, although this one was alone. It was also far, far out of its usual range. E-Bird shows just a handful of sightings in Wisconsin! The Flyway cam is getting busy now and we are seeing a lot of great species. You can watch

What bird is this?

August 17, 2019: American Avocet

What bird is this? https://youtu.be/VtOI3-WkTQQ. It’s an American Avocet! This surprise visitor showed up on the Flyway Cam this morning and back in July. When we first started looking into it, I thought it was an eastern bird moving west. But I was wrong! According to Birds of North America: “American Avocets specialize in using ephemeral wetlands of the arid western United States, and are iconic symbols and effective indicators of environmental stressors within western wetlands. Wide-ranging among seasons, Avocet

Identifying birds of prey in flight

Silhouettes of birds of prey in flight

Bald Eagle or Turkey Vulture? Is that a Peregrine Falcon or something else? Understanding body plans can be helpful in identifying soaring, stooping, and flying birds. Coming to our After the Fledge party in Decorah? Get ready for Turkey Vulture or Not with this article!  Bald eagles are soaring generalist hunters that eat almost anything they can catch. Peregrine falcons are energetic, acrobatic flyers that specialize in catching birds in the air. Both are birds of prey, but their body