Common Tern

Feathered Focus

Hey guys welcome back. And Happy Valentine’s Day to those of you out there that care enough to celebrate. I’ll be doing so by heading to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History for a lecture about one of my favorite bird genera, the corvids (crow, jays, ravens, etc.)

Today is our second tern species, the aptly named common tern, as they are fairly common! Typically seen throughout the US (on both sides of the Rockies, but not in the Rockies), common terns breed up in Canada but can be seen in the US throughout the summer season. Common terns are smaller than the last tern species we talked about (the caspian tern) but superficially look very similar. The common tern has a deeper forked tail than the caspian, a black cap, and reddish orange bill (unlike the very similar Forster’s tern which has a more yellow-orange bill.) Like other seabirds…

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American Oystercatcher

Feathered Focus

Hey guys, welcome back. Today’s bird is probably the easiest shorebird to identify, the American oystercatcher. This crow-sized shorebird sports a brown back, white belly, black head, and a long, thick, red bill which they use for (you guessed it) catching oysters. Because they eat exclusively saltwater mollusks, their range is restricted to the ocean shoreline and they rarely wander inland at all. I lived and birded in NYC for years, and only ever saw these guys along the Brooklyn, Queens, and NJ Atlantic coast.

They are found along the Atlantic, and Gulf coast, as well as the Pacific coast, mostly south of the US, but occasionally they will venture up to extreme southern California. Their west coast counterpart is the black oystercatcher and looks pretty much the same except it’s entirely black. The oystercatcher is the only birds in their environment that can open mollusks, like oysters. Because of…

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Limpkin

Photos by Donna

I almost missed this tropical bird, a Limpkin, foraging a freshwater swamp.

Although it resembles herons and ibises in general form, the Limpkin is generally considered to be more closely related to rails and cranes.

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Limpkin

The Limpkin was hunting for apple snails (its favorite), frogs, lizards, and crustaceans.

Limpkin foraging

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“Fluffin’ the Feathers”

Although it resembles herons and ibises in general form, the Limpkin is generally considered to be more closely related to rails and cranes.

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Limpkin

— Photos taken in Big Cypress National Preserve.

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