I know I wrote in my first post about the Red-tailed Hawk that it would be a two-parter. I couldn’t resist, however, throwing this one up on the site, too. It’s a hawk’s world.
This weekend I was looking at the regular visitors to my birdfeeders, which in my case include Tufted Titmice, Black-capped Chickadee, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker and White-throated Sparrow (at least this time of year). Then I noticed another bird on the ground under the feeder: a male Eastern Towhee. Towhees are not typical feeder birds and this bird wasn’t necessarily around the feeder looking for sunflower seeds. It scratched under leaves and sticks in the garden for other seeds and any insects that may still be around. Towhees also eat berries during the winter.
Most towhees have flown south by now, but a few are still around trying to stick out the New England winter. I remember seeing several last winter, too.
I’ve been seeing more and more towhees over the last few years. Hopefully that means they are doing well overall as a species.
An Eastern Towhee in the garden in January: Not a bad way to start 2015.
In my last post about getting out there to check out the ducks before they are gone for the summer, I listed a bunch of ducks that winter throughout New England, but breed farther north. I left off that list Ring-necked Duck. It just didn’t come to mind when I was compiling the list. Sure enough, the next day I went out for a quick bird walk and the only ducks I saw were Ring-necked Ducks. I immediately thought: Hey, I don’t think I mentioned Ring-necked Ducks in that last post.
So, finally getting its due, here you have the Ring-necked Duck, a very handsome duck that spends its winters here in New England (and well south, too) and breeds in northern New England and into Canada. As you can see from the photo, a more apt name might be Ring-billed Duck, but the scientists who named it likely had a dead specimen in hand and the ring around its neck — which is difficult to see in the field — was more visible. It took me years to stop calling it Ring-billed Duck, but I eventually got used to it.
Also, as you can see from the photo, the species is sexually dimorphic: the males and females look different. All ducks seen in New England are sexually dimorphic with the males often brilliantly colored and females usually more dull in color.