Thursday, November 19, 2015

Vagrant and Out-of-Season Birds

Unexpected Birds

Every fall we are privileged to have vagrant birds arrive here.  A vagrant is a bird that is beyond its normal range.  In other words, its presence here is accidental.  The Franklin's Gull shown below is one such species.  It appeared in a ploughed field in Ste-Marie-de-Kent last week and has remained for several days, associating with a large group of Ring-billed Gulls.

Franklin's Gull [Brian Stone Photo]
 The Franklin's Gull inhabits mainly the mid-continent of North America where it breeds.  It winters in fresh water marshes off the Pacific coast of South America.  It lives inland in North America because it likes ploughed fields and prairie land.  This trait earned it its common name,  'prairie dove'.

It is a medium-sized gull being 36-38 cm long (14"-15").  It is a black-hooded gull and has prominent white eye crescents and a slaty-gray back.  In winter the black hood is washed out with white and the bill changes from its prominent orange of the breeding plumage to black with an orange tip.

Franklin's Gull [L Nichols Photo]
The bird which arrived here is a 1st winter bird.  Note the dark gray-brown on its back.  Older gulls would be all gray on the back.

Ring-billed Gull and Franklin's Gull
Shown above is a Franklin's Gull with a Ring-billed Gull showing the difference in size.  This Franklin's Gull was seen at Scotch Lake several years ago in the fall.  Note it, too, is a 1st winter bird.

Overbird [Nelson Poirier Photo]
The bird shown above is an Ovenbird which has been coming to a feeder in Moncton.  This species is a common warbler species seen here in summer.  It is unusual because it is still here, appearing healthy and coming to a feeder.  It normally feeds on the ground usually in the forest.  It is not a feeder bird at all.  It is called an 'oven' bird because of the domed-shaped nest it builds on the ground with a side entrance.

The season for rare fall vagrants and out-of-season birds is still upon us.  Keep a close eye for anything unusual.

No comments:

Post a Comment