February 6, 2017 – Squirrel Cuckoo (Piaya cayana)
These cuckoos are found in parts of Mexico, through much of Central America and in northern and central South America. They eat a variety of large arthropods and small vertebrates, along with some small fruits. Pairs build nests in trees or low vegetation with one partner bringing materials while the other constructs the nest. Both parents incubate the eggs and feed the chicks. Their coloration and the way they hop along branches led to their common name, as they vaguely resemble the colors and movements of a squirrel.
January 27, 2017 – Rusty Blackbird (Euphagus carolinus)
Found in the eastern United States and much of Canada, these blackbirds frequent swamps and wet forests. They eat mostly invertebrates during the summer and acorns, fruits, and seeds in the winter, often foraging in flocks on the ground. Females build bowl-shaped nests in trees or shrubs near water from twigs, grass, lichen, and decaying plant materials and incubate the eggs alone. Both parents care for the chicks, which leave the nest around two weeks after they hatch.
This bird is part of my yearly tradition of drawing closely related blackbird species on the anniversary of my first bird. Here are the others, if you’d like to see the whole group: Male Brewer’s Blackbird, Female Brewer’s Blackbird, Male Rusty Blackbird
July 25, 2016 – Orange-bellied Flowerpecker (Dicaeum trigonostigma)
Found in forests of Southeast Asia, there are 17 recognized subspecies of these flowerpeckers. They eat a variety of fruits. Their nests are oval shaped, with side entrances, built hanging from the underside of vegetation. They are known for their frequent calls, described as sounding like “swit” or “swit-szee.”
March 29, 2016 – Red Avadavat, Red Munia, or Strawberry Finch (Amandava amandava)
These small finches are found from South to Southeast Asia with introduced populations in parts of Europe, Egypt, Hawaii, and several other countries. They feed on a variety of seeds, insects, and small fruits and are usually seen in large flocks of up to 100 birds. Unlike other waxbill species, the males molt out of their bright plumage outside of the breeding season. Pairs build round nests from grasses and both parents incubate the eggs.
October 13, 2015 – Northern Bald Ibis (Geronticus eremita)
Requested by: @gepwin
Once found in much of central Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East, these rare ibises now live only in certain areas of Morocco, Syria, and Turkey. Foraging in flocks, they eat mostly insects and lizards. They build their nests from branches and grass on cliff ledges or caves and have a lifespan of around 24 years. Classified as Critically Endangered, they are threatened by hunting and persecution, human disturbance, habitat loss, and pesticide poisoning. Conservation efforts, such as monitoring and a semi-wild population in Turkey have shown some success.
September 18, 2015 – Roseate Spoonbill (Platalea ajaja)
Requested by: @thefireinthewire
Found in much of South America, the Caribbean, and along the coasts of Mexico and Central America, these water birds were almost eliminated from the southeastern US in the 1860s, but have been moving back into Texas and Florida since the early 20th century. They feed in small flocks, sweeping their wide bills from side to side to sift small fish and invertebrates from the muddy water. They also eat some roots and stems of plants such as sedges. Nesting in colonies, females do most of the nest construction, though males gather materials. Both parents feed the chicks.
September 14, 2015 – Northern Pintail (Anas acuta)
Requested by: derbytup
Found throughout much of the Northern Hemisphere and wintering as far south as the equator, these ducks have a very large range. They eat plant foods, such as seeds and grains, as well as animals, including aquatic insects, crustaceans, and snails. Nesting in open areas away from water, females lay around eight eggs in a shallow scrape lined with plant fibers and down. Incubating the eggs alone, they lead the chicks to water shortly after hatching to find food.