Our Birds

Barred Owl Strix varia

FUN FACT

Many people learned the Barred Owl’s memorable call at summer camp or a local nature center—it sounds like, “Who cooks for you? Who cooks for y’all?”

A relatively common Nearctic owl, the Barred Owl inhabits mature mixed deciduous-coniferous forests, often near streams or wooded swamps. This owl nests primarily in cavities, with both parents helping to care for the young until the autumn. Barred Owls have a varied diet of small mammals and birds. Barred Owls are, unfortunately, susceptible to collisions with automobiles as the owls may attack prey on roads passing through their forested territories. But, this species has been expanding its range from eastern North America all the way to the West Coast.

Barred Owl

Strix varia
Nearctic

Habitat

Mature mixed deciduous-coniferous forest, often near streams or wooded swamps

Diet

Small-to-medium sized mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, and invertebrates

Status

Least concern

Breeding

Barred Owls nest in large tree cavities and more rarely in the open stick nests of other birds or squirrels. Females incubate a clutch of 2-5 eggs for about 30 days. Young are fed by both parents and can leave the nest at about 5 weeks old.

Bearded Barbet Lybius dubius

FUN FACT

Barbets are related to toucans and woodpeckers.

The Bearded Barbet derives its name from the distinctive bristles that sit at the base of its bill, which both males and females possess. This handsome bird, with bright red underbelly and glossy black feathers on its back, is native to the tropical habitats of western Africa. Bearded Barbets are often found in groups, moving from one fruiting tree to another and clipping fruits with their powerful bills. The Bearded Barbet is not globally threatened.

Bearded Barbet

Lybius dubius
Afrotropical

Habitat

Occurs near acacia, baobab, fig, and other fruiting trees in gardens; also in open woods and thickets and secondary growth associated with abandoned farmlands

Diet

Little known, but includes fruit, and perhaps chiefly figs

Status

Least concern

Breeding

Bearded Barbets excavate a nest in a dead stub or dead branch of a tree, such as acacia or palm. Their nesting habits are little studied. They are reported to lay 2 eggs. In human care, Bearded Barbets incubate their eggs for at least 16 days and nestlings remain with parents for about 40 days.

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Beautiful Fruit-Dove Ptilinopus pulchellus

FUN FACT

This dove is beautiful because it is extremely colorful. It has been described as having a “red crown, whitish throat, a greenish-yellow bill and purplish-red feet…blue-grey breast and yellowish orange belly, with a reddish purple patch in between,” which is pretty much every color of the rainbow!

The Beautiful Fruit-Dove is appropriately named! This dove has gorgeous coloring, from its purplish-red crown to its green wings and orange underbelly. The Beautiful Fruit-Dove is found in New Guinea, where it lives in all levels of primary and secondary forests, from understory to canopy. They are frugivorous (fruit-eating), and forage either alone or in pairs. The Beautiful Fruit-Dove is not globally threatened, and appears to be adaptable to human-altered habitats.

Beautiful Fruit-Dove

Ptilinopus pulchellus
Australasian

Habitat

Primary and secondary forest; prefers high rainfall areas. Uses all levels of the forest from the understory to the canopy, and can also be found occasionally at the forest edge and in native gardens

Diet

Frugivorous, taking fruit from a variety of trees, shrubs, palms and vines. Can swallow fruits as big as 2 cm in diameter. Generally is very active and acrobatic when feeding.

Status

Least concern

Breeding

The Beautiful Fruit-Dove's nest is a loose, slight platform of twigs and a few leaves, placed on lateral branches near the top of a slender understory tree, or on a palm frond or other low platform. They lay a single white egg.

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Black Crake Zapornia flavirostra

FUN FACT

Black Crakes sometimes will perch on the backs of large mammals like hippopotamuses and warthogs, probably to catch parasites.

The Black Crake is a water bird found throughout sub-Saharan Africa. With its bright yellow bill, red legs, and sleek black body, this bird is among the most common and least secretive of Africa’s rail species. They are well-suited for life in a wetland habitat: their long toes help them move easily along floating vegetation, and their specially adapted bills help them hunt aquatic animals like fish, crabs, and shrimp. They build their nests in vegetation over water, and sometimes build nests that float. They have a distinctive call performed as a “duet.” The Black Crake is not globally threatened.

Black Crake

Zapornia flavirostra
Afrotropical

Habitat

Occupies many types of freshwater wetlands having moderate vegetation such as rank grass, sedges, reedbeds, papyrus; occurs in swampy thickets, bushes, and other vegetation beside flowing and still waters; also often found on ponds covered with Nymphaea (water lilies) and other floating vegetation

Diet

Worms, mollusks, crustaceans, insects, small fish, tadpoles, and small frogs; also seeds and other parts of water plants. Opportunistically takes eggs and nestlings of other birds and scavenges carcasses of crabs, crayfish, and small birds

Status

Least concern

Breeding

The nest of the Black Crake is a deep, bulky bowl made of reeds, rushes, sedges, and other water plants, placed in vegetation over the water, and sometimes floating. Both sexes build the nest, sometimes with help from young of the previous broods. Both parents incubate a clutch of 3 eggs for 13-19 days; chicks leave the nest 1-3 days after hatching and are fed and cared for by parents and other young from previous broods for at least 3-6 weeks. Young can fly at 5-6 weeks.

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Black Kite Milvus migrans

FUN FACT

Black Kites eat “on the wing,” catching smaller prey out of the air with their talons and bringing the food directly to their mouths without slowing down.

The Black Kite is a medium-sized, primarily brown raptor. Kites are characterized by their long wings and tails, buoyant and acrobatic flight, and ability to catch food in mid-air. Black Kites are widespread and adaptable and can be found throughout portions of Africa, Europe, and Australasia. They eat small mammals, other birds, carrion, and insects. Their most notable trait is the ability to catch and eat prey while still in flight and they have been observed catching large insects fleeing from wildfires. Unlike most raptors, Black Kites are a fairly social and gregarious species and often gather in large flocks to roost and feed.

Black Kite

Milvus migrans
Afrotropical Australasian Indo-Malayan Palearctic

Habitat

Nearly ubiquitous, occurring from semi-desert, grassland, and savanna to woodland, but avoids dense forest. Commonly found in aquatic habitats, e.g. rivers, lakes, wetlands, seashores, and nearby in meadows and along margins of wetlands. Often linked with humans and has successfully colonized large urban areas of Africa and Asia

Diet

Small animals, insects, carrion, and human refuse

Status

Least concern

Breeding

Black Kites often nest in loose colonies and in areas where nesting sites are at a premium, and have been observed nesting only a few feet from one another. Nests are generally built in trees, cliffs, or building ledges, and consist primarily of sticks and twigs. Black Kites typically lay 2-3 eggs which are incubated by the female for approximately 30 days. After hatching, the young birds remain in the nest for an additional 6-8 weeks, and become independent roughly 3 weeks after fledging.

Black Vulture Coragyps atratus

FUN FACT

The nostrils of a Black Vulture do not have a septum to divide them, but instead are perforated; you can see through their beak from the side!

The American Black Vulture is one of several vultures of the Americas which feed almost entirely on large animal carrion. Appropriate habitat for the Black Vulture must combine open areas where carrion can be found, suitable isolated nest sites such as abandoned buildings, rock outcrops, or hollow trees for breeding, and large, undisturbed stands of trees for roosting. At night, Black Vultures often roost in the same tree, and their communal roosts may contain hundreds of birds. Black Vultures conserve energy during the night by reducing their body temperature. When morning comes, they warm up by spreading their wings in the sun. Although not currently threatened, vultures, like other species at the top of the food chain, are always susceptible to being fatally contaminated by residues of heavy metals, chemicals, and other contaminants that bioaccumulate in the tissues of the carrion that they consume.

Black Vulture

Coragyps atratus
Neotropical

Habitat

Habitat combines open areas where carrion can be found, suitable isolated nest sites (abandoned buildings, rock outcrops, palmetto thickets, hollow/fallen trees) for breeding; large, undisturbed stands of trees for roosting

Diet

Feeds almost entirely on large animal carrion which it detects by sight, not smell; know to sometimes feed opportunistically on small living prey, such as sea turtle eggs and hatchlings

Status

Least concern

Breeding

Black Vultures nest in dark recesses and under cover in caves, hollow logs, rock crevices, and even abandoned buildings. Their usual clutch size is 2 eggs, which hatch after 38-39 days of incubation. Young attain full size and feathering at 70 days but remain at the nest site for another 10 days or so before flying off with the parents. Parents continue to feed their young for several months after fledging.

Black-faced Ibis Theristicus melanopis

FUN FACT

The Black-faced Ibis is a very noisy bird, especially during the breeding season.

The Black-faced Ibis is found throughout open fields and meadows in southern South America. Black-faced Ibises are sociable birds, often nesting in colonies of up to 50 pairs, and sometimes among other species like Black-crowned Night-Herons or cormorants. They may feed alone or in small flocks, and their diet consists of insects and occasionally frogs, salamanders, and small rodents. This species is not globally threatened.

Black-faced Ibis

Theristicus melanopis
Neotropical

Habitat

Open country in meadows, pastures, plowed and cultivated fields; also marshy areas and borders of lakes and rivers

Diet

Diet includes insects, worms, insect larvae and pupae; opportunistically, vertebrates such as frogs, salamanders, and small rodents. Feeds alone, in pairs or in small flocks of 3–12 birds; in larger groups in winter. Forages by walking slowly, while probing bill into soil and vegetation

Status

Least concern

Breeding

Black-faced Ibises are colonial nesters, and sometimes nest with Black-crowned Night-Herons or with cormorants. Colonies can have as many as 50 pairs. Their nest is a large platform of dry branches and stick lined with grass or rush stems, situated on rocky outcrops, on the ground near water, or in reedbeds. In urban areas they occasionally nest in large ornamental trees. The clutch size is 2-3 eggs. Young leave the nest after 35-40 days.

Black-naped Fruit-Dove Ptilinopus melanospilus

FUN FACT

This species is also called the “black headed fruit dove,” although only the male has black on the nape of his neck. The female and young are about as solid bright green as any bird could be!

Black-naped Fruit-Doves are colorful birds, common on the islands of Java, Bali, and Sulawesi. Males are a rainbow of colors, with a yellow throat patch, purplish wing tips, red undertail feathers, and a silvery head topped with a black cap. Females are almost entirely green. They forage for berries and fruits in pairs or small flocks, plucking fruits directly from the trees. Black-naped Fruit-Doves may eat as many as 36 different fruits, making this species ecologically important as a seed disperser. This species is not globally threatened.

Black-naped Fruit-Dove

Ptilinopus melanospilus
Indo-Malayan

Habitat

Inhabits forest, forest edge, and patches of scrub and forest; will visit fruiting trees in open country, agricultural areas, and suburban parks and gardens; mangroves are important habitat for the species on small islands

Diet

An obligate frugivore, known to take fruits and berries directly from branches

Status

Least concern

Breeding

Black-naped Fruit-Doves build a simple platform of twigs, usually placed low, and lay one egg.

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Black-necked Stilt Himantopus mexicanus

FUN FACT

Aside from flamingos, Black-necked Stilts have the longest legs of any bird species relative to their body size.

The long-legged and elegant Black-necked Stilt is commonly found in wetlands, where they can be spotted wading in shallow water as they search for aquatic invertebrates. Black-necked Stilts’ legs are so long that they’re the second-longest in proportion to body size of all bird species with the exception of flamingos! Like some other shorebird species, Black-Necked Stilts are known for their “distraction displays,” which they use to defend territory. In one such display, stilts will pretend to have a broken wing in order to lure predators away from their nests. Black-necked Stilt populations are stable in the continental U.S., but the Hawai’ian subspecies, the Ae’o, is considered Endangered.

Black-necked Stilt

Himantopus mexicanus
Nearctic Neotropical

Habitat

A wide variety of shallow inland wetlands; flooded lowlands and pastures. In the non-breeding season, they will use also use salt marshes, mangrove swamps, shallow lagoons, and other impoundments.

Diet

A wide variety of aquatic invertebrates and rarely also small fish, tadpoles, and frogs

Status

Least concern

Breeding

Black-necked Stilts nest directly on short emergent vegetation stubble on dikes and human-made impoundments or on small islands near water. Their nest is a “scrape” (shallow indentation) on the ground, but often with some lining with materials close by to the nest, such as grasses, other vegetation, pebbles, shells, feathers, mud chips and bones (frequently these are added after the eggs are laid, during incubation). A typical clutch is four eggs, which both sexes incubate for about 26 days. The chicks leave the nest together after the last chick has hatched, sometimes moving as far as 950 m away to a brood territory containing more food and cover.

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Blue-bellied Roller Coracias cyanogaster

FUN FACT

Rollers are named for their acrobatic flight while snatching flying insects out of the air.

Blue-bellied Rollers are a colorful species native to central Africa. Males and females look identical, and have a brilliant royal blue abdomen, dark and light blue feathers on their wings, and a tan head. They are powerful flyers and have a loud, croaking call. During the breeding season, pairs of Blue-bellied Rollers engage in elaborate courtship flights, which include nosedives and the rolling action for which they were named.

Blue-bellied Roller

Coracias cyanogaster
Afrotropical

Habitat

Almost restricted to mature Isoberlinia (a leguminous tree) woodland; also woodland in derived savanna and cultivation, burnt-over clearings in rainforest, edges of gallery forest in savanna woodland, and groves of palms near marshes and streams

Diet

Grasshoppers and other large flying insects

Status

Least concern

Breeding

The female lays 2-4 bluish white eggs per clutch in a twig nest. The incubation period is about 20 days and both parents assist with incubation and chick rearing.

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Blue-billed Curassow Crax alberti

FUN FACT

Blue-billed Curassows are unique among the world’s 15 species of curassows in having a bright blue, rather than yellow, orange, or red cere or knob on their bill.

Blue-billed Curassows are large, turkey-like birds found in small, fragmented lowland habitats in Colombia. Males and females both have a fleshy blue wattle that hangs below the bill, but only the male grows a cere, or a knob, on the bill. They are primarily found on the forest floor, where they find worms, insects, fruits, and seeds, but they do roost in trees. Males have a loud, distinctive booming call that they use to attract a mate. Blue-billed Curassow young are precocial, meaning they hatch fully feathered and ready to leave the nest shortly after hatching. They stay close to home, though, for several months.

Blue-billed Curassows are Critically Endangered, with an estimated 150 to 700 individuals remaining in the wild. These birds rely on large, undisturbed tracts of humid forest in lowlands and foothills, and habitat fragmentation has led to a sharp decline for the species.

Blue-billed Curassow

Crax alberti
Neotropical

Habitat

Large undisturbed and unfragmented tracts of humid forest in lowlands and foothills

Diet

Insects, fruits, hard-coated seeds, and grit and stones to aid digestion

Status

Critically endangered

Breeding

Male makes distinctive “booming” vocalizations in the breeding season to attract a mate. Monogamous pairs nest in January-April. The male primarily builds the nest, which is a coarse platform of large sticks lined with leaves built among dense lianas (vines) in the forest understory. A normal clutch is one or two white eggs, incubated by the female for a period approximately 30 to 32 days. Both parents care for the young after they leave the nest.

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Blue-crowned Motmot Momotus coeruliceps

FUN FACT

The motmot’s tail is often called “racket”-like. In fact, the feathers don’t grow in that way; the bird preens away the feather barbs from this section of their tail to create this distinctive shape. Motmots are often called “clock birds” due to their interesting habit of swinging their tail from side to side like a pendulum.

Both the male and female Blue-crowned Motmot have green and blue plumage with a chestnut chest. They have a large head with a blue crown, black eye mask around red eyes, and a short serrated beak. Their most distinguishing features are their long central tail feathers that feature bare sections near the tips. These oddly shaped feathers are often twitched back and forth like the pendulum of a clock — a peculiar behavior that is typical of motmots. Their call is a repeated “mot-mot” sound, which is the source of their common name. Motmots build elaborate underground nests that they dig during the rainy season and use several months later. One of the hypothesized reasons for this time gap is to hide the evidence of their nest when they actually lay their eggs.

Blue-crowned Motmot

Momotus coeruliceps
Neotropical

Habitat

Found in many different wooded habitats, including tropical rainforest, drier woodland, pine forest, taller second growth forest, agricultural hedgerows, well-forested gardens, and shade-coffee plantations

Diet

Insects and lizards; occasionally fruit

Status

Least concern

Breeding

Blue-crowned Motmots dig tunnel nests that may reach 5-14 feet in depth with a nesting chamber at the end. The female lays 3-4 white eggs, which are incubated for 21 days. Both parents share the responsibility of caring for the young.

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