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id this bird
Old 11-15-2008, 02:24 PM   #1
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id this bird

this guy made a home in the garden while i did my little roadtrip last week. s/he's a low or ground dwelling owl. we startled each other when i came home and went out back to refresh the birdbath. apparently the owl had been asleep on the ground and then flew to perch on the turned-over wheelbarrow.

again today he flew out of nowhere, apparently he was sleeping on a low frond of a hedge of areca palms. a stealthy little thing, he doesn't move on his perch and his flight is absolutely silent. it is amazing to see him maneuver that wingspread of about a foot to 18 inches on either side of that brown body of his as he escapes my reach through the rather thick growth of my garden here. but he rarely flies more than twenty feet out of the way, pretty sure of himself, i imagine.

i've looked him up in florida bird books but am unsure of the identification. at first i thought he was the endangered burrowing owl as he likes to hang out on the ground but his tail is too big. he's very dark in color, i think eliminating the likes of screech, short-eared, etc. maybe he is a great horned owl? dunno.

i tried to get a better pic but he seems to have about a 20-ft flight or fight range. here's the best pics i got so far:








i've also got some kind of hawk or falcon who comes around between summer and winter, stays for a week or two, eats a morning dove or two, scares most of the rest of the birds but the jays away and then moves on until again the following year. don't know what he is but he's big and fast fast fast. you turn your head and he's gone. my cardinals and finches have already returned. lots of variety this year in the garden (some older shots but all representative of this years crop of migrants:





















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Old 11-15-2008, 02:30 PM   #2
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That last one is Tamiasciurus and is noted for being flightless beakless and featherless.

One wonders that it is classified as a bird at all.
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Old 11-15-2008, 02:33 PM   #3
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You should sell tickets, Lazy--the feathered menagerie is awesome.
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Old 11-15-2008, 02:42 PM   #4
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I'm no expert but I'm pretty sure the one on the trunk of the pine tree is a red-headed peckerwood.
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Old 11-15-2008, 02:48 PM   #5
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very funny frugal. good eyes. i thought i could pass it off as a flying squirrel.

ya, best. i also have gotten suggestions for selling tickets for garden tours. but i've set this up as a bird sanctuary. this is why i get so upset when the neighbors let their cats run free (especially since my town is an official bird sanctuary and has a cat leash law).

i don't feed them at all. i just provide shelter in the form of the garden itself and a little drinking/bathing water. don't know what i will do if i eventually sell. maybe set up a bird bath connected to the irrigation system so the new owners will be encouraged to continue the tradition.

the cardinals alone have been coming back for more than a decade. don't know how many generations that is but i'd hate to disrupt their migration.

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I'm no expert but I'm pretty sure the one on the trunk of the pine tree is a red-headed peckerwood.
um red-headed woodpecker. yup. they keep the pine trees healthy. love'm. and they actually do sound like woody laughing when they sing. also they are at the highest, um, pecking order at the birdbath. woodpeckers rule.
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Old 11-15-2008, 03:23 PM   #6
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I used to have a Woody Woodpecker hand puppet....I loved it....
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Old 11-15-2008, 05:52 PM   #7
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I am having a hard time making out the first pictures, but it looks like a small falcon to me. Maybe a kestrel?

The dove looks like a Eurasian dove.
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Old 11-15-2008, 06:01 PM   #8
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Is the third picture the same bird as the first two? If so, I would have expected to see a much flatter profile on any species of owl. I'm not a birder, though, and the birds here on the west coast are largely different than what would be living east of the Rockies, let alone east of the Mississippi. In the photo he looks as if he has a somewhat hooked beak. With that, the size/wingspan and the long-ish tail I would have to guess some type of bird of prey, but beyond that I haven't a clue.

Have you tried asking your local Audubon society? They might even have someone who'd recognize the bird from a verbal description— those facial stripes are pretty distinctive.
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Old 11-15-2008, 06:12 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by REWahoo View Post
I'm no expert but I'm pretty sure the one on the trunk of the pine tree is a red-headed peckerwood.
I don't think so. I suspect it might be a yellow bellied sapsucker. Much more common, same niche. The woodpeckers have a completely red head, whereas the sapsuckers have a red cap on a black and white stripe.



vs.



As far as the unknown one, I don't think it's a bird of prey at all. I can't see it very well, but the beak just doesn't look like a raptor to me. I know it's not a kestrel, not enough color. Unless it's a juvenile, hard to tell. Maybe some other small falcon, but I don't think so.

Where are you located, Lazy? Maybe knowing the range would help.
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Old 11-15-2008, 06:17 PM   #10
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Harley, so you're saying that red-headed peckerwood is a yellow-bellied sapsucker? I suspect you're right.

Since this is apparently "Talk Like the Wild West Day", next time I see you at the Long Branch Saloon I'll buy you a sarsaparilla...
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Old 11-15-2008, 06:24 PM   #11
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Looking at the two orangie birds, they look like orioles. I am kind of wondering if the one right above the blue jay is a spot breasted oriole, but I can't tell for sure. Species Template

The woodpecker might be a red bellied woodpecker (they don't have red bellies).
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Old 11-15-2008, 06:29 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by harley View Post
As far as the unknown one, I don't think it's a bird of prey at all. I can't see it very well, but the beak just doesn't look like a raptor to me. I know it's not a kestrel, not enough color. Unless it's a juvenile, hard to tell. Maybe some other small falcon, but I don't think so.

Where are you located, Lazy? Maybe knowing the range would help.
The reason I was thinking it was some kind of falcon was the look of the face head on--it did look like a raptor face but the pictures are muddy.
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Old 11-15-2008, 06:30 PM   #13
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just looked it up. agreed that the woodpecker is a yellow-bellied sapsucker which is a woodpecker just not a red-headed woodpecker. live and learn. this might explain why i keep getting pine sap all over me (i've about 7 tall ones around me) almost whenever i do my gardening. baby oil takes it off.

not sure he just eats just sap because i've also seen them on street posts hammering away at the lamps to shake the dead insects loose.

the unknown guy is still a mystery. he's so dark that he's hard to focus on from 20 feet away, by eyesight or by the camera's zoom lense. if you look at the first pics you'll see it looks like an owl. i don't think that's a beak in the last pic, i think that's his ear. either that or he is a shape shifter. i will name him odo.



martha, i think you are right on the oriole, at least that's what i've been telling people it is (though i didn't know what kind of oriole). the little orange one though is not an oriole but a finch. i get them in all sorts of colors. they are like big butterflies and just as varied. i get them in blue, green, yellow, black, orange, etc. very fun little birds. when they come to town i lower the water level in the bird bath to kiddie pool level.
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Old 11-15-2008, 06:50 PM   #14
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Lazy, I am doubting the yellow bellied sap sucker unless there are clearly black lines on the face. I see a lot of these and they don't look like yours. I would also look up the red bellied woodpecker.

Yeah, the raptor is tough. I wasn't thinking owl because of the tail.
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Old 11-15-2008, 06:52 PM   #15
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I'm not sure what the first one was (looks similar to a whip-poor-will) but the woodpecker looks like the red-bellied woodpecker....I see these at my feeders a lot.
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Old 11-15-2008, 07:00 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by harley View Post
(snip)
As far as the unknown one, I don't think it's a bird of prey at all. I can't see it very well, but the beak just doesn't look like a raptor to me. I know it's not a kestrel, not enough color. Unless it's a juvenile, hard to tell. Maybe some other small falcon, but I don't think so.(snip)
Maybe I have used the term incorrectly then. I thought "bird of prey" was a generic term for birds such as hawks, eagles, falcons, ospreys, etc, etc. Day-flying carnivorous birds as distinct from nocturnal types (owls) or carrion eaters (e.g. vultures).
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Old 11-15-2008, 07:12 PM   #17
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Quote:
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I don't think so. I suspect it might be a yellow bellied sapsucker. Much more common, same niche. The woodpeckers have a completely red head, whereas the sapsuckers have a red cap on a black and white stripe.



vs.



(snip)
If I saw that one out here in Washington, I would guess it was a flicker. It doesn't seem to match the photo of the sapsuckers (the red on your bird comes down farther on the back of the neck) or the woodpecker either (the red doesn't go around the eyes and down onto the chin). Are there flickers in Florida? They are related to woodpeckers, about the size of a pigeon, and have a long beak like the bird you photographed. The ones out here have red or yellow patches on the underside of their wings which are visible when they fly, but even if there are flickers in Florida they might be a different species and lack the patches.
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Old 11-15-2008, 07:17 PM   #18
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Lazy, tell us more about the bird in the first three pictures. Roughly, how big is it? Is the barring black?
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Old 11-16-2008, 11:45 AM   #19
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just tried to get another picture. this stealthy guy is so elusive. i entered the garden with camera turned on. i would just take one step and then survey the entire area within my sight. then i took another step. and so on. before i know it i'm crushing leaves so i know odo already knows i'm in the garden. a squirrel rattles a nearby aralia then scampers up a queen palm to lunch on berries. i gave squirrel the internationally recognized librarian shush sign on his way up the tree. i continued on to check the entire garden out back. no owl in sight, at least not in my sight.

heading back to the house, i suddenly hear a wing hit a branch. i turn to look in the direction of the sound but it is already gone. i catch odo in silent flight already 60 feet or more away across the other side of the garden. he must be a little photo shy. from the foliage still moving, seems he was just a few feet above my head and i had previously walked right underneathe him without knowing it. i hope this isn't foreshadowing my future abilities to catch a date.

i looked up barring online, martha. i think you are talking about the striping or markings on the wing. it's hard to tell as odo keeps his distance and flies away so quickly. from my quick glances and what pictures i've managed to capture, odo seems to be mostly browns with maybe some black stripings. that would make evolutionary sense to camouflage him as he tends to stay low toward the ground.

his wings seem to be solid brown, but i've only seen them in motion of flight, not stretched still. they seem somehow slimmer than i personally would have designed such wings on such a large bird. fully extended each wing is about 12 to 16 inches or maybe up to a cubit long. from tip of tail to tip of ears i'm gonna guess about the size of my computer screen diagonal, say another cubit.

i don't want to disturb odo much even though i've work to do back there. think i'll work on gardens in front of house for a while so he can enjoy the back. i'll try again in another day or two to get a better picture.
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Old 11-16-2008, 12:36 PM   #20
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Sounds like a job for The National Geographic Online Store - Wildlife 35-mm Motion Detection Camera

When I used to work for National Geographic (an epoch or two ago) I was talking to one of the photographers who was building the predecessors of the above. It was an immensely complicated process back then (1980ish). It's hard to believe you can buy one now for $50.
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