Weird Bird Fact Archives

Blackburnian Warbler Correctly identified by Steve Sisko.  9/09  

(Mattie caught this when she was banding in Sharon, Connecticut last summer).

The Osprey is a fish-eating specialist, with live fish accounting for about 99% of its diet. Barbed pads on the soles of its feet help it grip slippery fish. When an Osprey takes a large fish to its nest, it carries the fish headfirst to make it as aerodynamic as possible.

The Whip-poor-will lays its eggs in phase with the lunar cycle, so that the eggs hatch on average 10 days before a full moon. When the moon is near full the adults can forage the entire night, and so best provide the nestlings with insects.

All three of these birds are males the middle one is SY and others are ASY.    

 Bird Facts:  The Male American Redstart sings and nests his first spring, before acquiring his adult plumage. 


Did you know that the Brown Thrasher female will give the male Thrasher a stick as a sign that she has selected him as her mate?  How cute is that?!!

Did you know that White-throated Sparrows often sing at night, especially when the moon is full?

Picture by Mattie VandenBoom

Did you know that a Rose-breasted Grosbeak male sings day and night, even while he is incubating eggs on the nest?  What a happy guy! (until you try to put a band on his leg!)


To divert approaching intruders from its nest, the Ovenbird will dart away at the last moment feigning an injury.



Did you know that some male Canada Warblers are so eager and excited to be fathers that they have been seen trying to feed their chicks even before they have hatched!


Immature Snowy Egrets have yellow feet and a yellow stripe up the backs of their legs.



During the winter White-breasted Nuthatches hang out at feeders with Tufted Titmice to feel more secure.

(They pretend to not even know the Titmice in the spring and summer.)

The Belted Kingfisher (pictured above, click to enlarge) and the Green Kingfisher are the only 2 Kingfishers found outside of tropical habitats.  In general, the Belted Kingfisher resembles a Blue Jay on steroids having a bad hair day.  The Belted Kingfisher is one of only a few species in which the female is more brightly colored than the male.  The female has a thick rufous band running around it's chest while the male's chest is plain white.  Both have blue bands around their chests.  Mattie took this picture of this little girl at Misquamicut.

The Pine Warbler is one of the first warblers to return to the North in spring, arriving as early as February in areas just north of the wintering range. It is one of the earliest breeding warblers too, starting in late April or May in the northern part of the range.

Click to enlarge, press back to return.

Wood Ducks are not really made out of wood!!!  They are made out of feathers, bones, and tissues (the gross kind, not the Kleenex kind), just like other ducks.

Carolina Wren: A pair bond may form between a male and a female at any time of the year, and the pair will stay together for life. Members of a pair stay together on their territory year-round, and forage and move around the territory together. 

Palm Warbler: A group of palm warblers are collectively known as a "reading" of warblers.


Birds, proportionate to their size and weight, are 75% stronger than people.

The turkey is the only native poultry breed of the Western Hemisphere.  It is believed that the turkey was domesticated in Mexico some time between 600 b.c. and 900 a.d.

Turkeys can see in colors, have excellent visual acuity and their field of vision spans across about 270 degrees.

Turkeys have poor sense of smell but great sense of taste (and taste great!).

The largest wild turkey recorded weighed 38 pounds, but wild males generally only reach about 25 lbs.

Wild turkeys can fly at a speed of as much as 50 miles per hour over short distances and are good runners with a speed of about 25 miles per hour.

Always defrost a turkey before placing it into a deep fryer and make sure to remove the package containing the giblets and the neck before cooking.

The Ferocious Piping Plover

Click to enlarge, use the back button to return

Piping Plover Fun Fact :  Intruders near a Piping Plover nest are chased and may be pecked or bitten. In Manitoba, one Killdeer was observed entering a Piping Plover territory where it was bitten so hard on the leg that it limped for the rest of the summer.  (  (Photo taken at Misquamicut Beach by Mattie right before she was bitten so hard on her leg by the Plover that she spent the rest of the summer limping)

Click to Enlarge, use the Back button to return

The Louisiana Waterthrush occasionally takes naps during the middle of the day. We believe this may be a habit he picked up while wintering in Mexico.  Unlike when it sleeps at night, a napping Waterthrush does not tuck its bill behind a wing. Instead, it pulls its neck into its body, squats down and covers its legs with its body feathers, and shuts its eyes.  Oh yes, and you can differentiate a Louisiana from a Northern Waterthrush by the beads.   (


The newly hatched Canada Geese goslings emerge wet from their shells and weighing about  3 to 4 ounces. They are able to eat, see, and  walk.  The mother goose keeps a close watch on the goslings until they are dry. This is the most important period in the goslings' lives.  This is when bonding takes place. Goslings don’t recognize their own kind. If mother isn’t there for them to see, they will bond to whomever will take care of them.   This is called imprinting.

Actually this weird fact was submitted by Mary Sharkey (and Mattie didn't have a picture either).

Picture of a baby Northern Mockingbird by Joan Sharkey's friend Tony.

The Northern Mockingbird is the best known in North America for doing imitations. Perched high in a tree or on top of a building the very conspicuous Mockingbird will entertain anyone who will listen with his repertoire of up to 200 songs.  (Females sing as well, but more quietly and less often than males).  It imitates not only birds but also other animals and mechanical sounds such as car alarms, cats, and squeak door hinges.  As convincing as these imitations may be to humans, they often fail to fool other birds, such as the Florida Scrub Jay.

  Did you know that the Yellow Warbler has the widest range of any of the North American Warblers?  It can be found from the Atlantic to the Pacific Oceans and from Canada to Mexico.  The female has also adapted a strange way to deal with Cowbird eggs that suddenly appear in her nest.  The YWAR will cover up all the eggs (including her own) and then lay new eggs.  Several layers have been found in YWAR nests.

Photo by Joan Sharkey's friend Tony.  This bird is vacationing in the Bahamas!

   Male and female Black-throated Blue Warblers look so different that they were originally thought to be two different species.  The male is blue, black and white and the female is a dull olive brown and olive yellow and both have white on the wings.

Many pelicans like to feed on the surface of the water but the brow pelican — the smallest of the eight pelican species — prefers to plunge in the water from as high up as 30 feet to capture its prey.  This one is just chilling at the beach.

Northern Bobwhites, hanging out in the Bahamas with Joan Sharkey's friend Tony.  When I was a kid there were Bobwhites behind my grandmother's house at Misquamicut.   They were noisy and always sounded like they were lost.  It seemed like they were yelling to each other.

Picture by Joan Sharkey's friend Tony.

Yellow-Rumped Warbler,  AKA Myrtle Warbler, AKA Butter Butt

To find a Yellow-rumped Warbler visit the woods during summer. They're often perched on the outer limbs of trees and are very conspicuous as they fly out after insects, often making long, aerobatic pursuits and flashing their yellow rumps and white patches in the tail. But the easiest time to see Yellow-rumped Warblers is probably on migration, when hordes of Yellow-rumped Warblers sweep down the continent, particularly along the Eastern Seaboard, where wax myrtles are abundant.


Painted Buntings are said by some to be the most beautiful bird in North America.  Amazingly, the male bunting is very hard to see when sitting in a tree.  One would think that he would stick out like a sore thumb, but he blends into his surroundings well.




These photos were taken by Joan Sharkey's friend Tony.  They were visiting him in the Bahamas.


Is this hawk wearing lipstick?  Nope he's not!  click here for the story


Photo by Chris DeVico


Saw a flock of these on Southbridge Street in Worcester on April Fool's Day.


Some say that Cedar Waxwings fly at 25 miles per hour and fly at an altitude of 2000 ft. and that during courtship, the pair may pass a flower petal or insect back and forth repeatedly.  All we know is they are called Cedar Waxwings.


 Female Belted Kingfisher.

Never caught one of these before.  Did you know that to avoid being eaten by a hawk the Kingfisher

will dive into the water.  Also, a group of Belted Kingfishers are collectively called a "crown" or  a "rattle."


Some say that this bird can poop on Doc Weagle's truck and Doc really doesn't mind, and that the reason it

constantly wags its tail is because it wishes it were a dog, all we know is it's called the Northern Waterthrush.


Photo by my Uncle Ed Morin

This Black Swan was swimming in a huge puddle in front of the Andrea Hotel, Atlantic Ave., Misquamicut Beach, Westerly, Rhode Island.  He was blown across the ocean from Block Island by hurricane Irene.  Read the story about him (the swan, not Uncle Eddie) in the Westerly Sun.   CLICK HERE.




Baby Kestrels we banded at Audubon Sharon.  When these Kestrels are in their adult plumage, they will have distinctive markings on their heads.



From the Warner Nature Center:

What are the black spots on the kestrel's head for?
Scientists speculate that the dark patches under the kestrel's eyes serve the same purpose as the black smudges athletes often put on their face before playing outdoors—the black pigment absorbs bright sunlight so it does not reflect back up in to the athlete's or the kestrel's eyes. The dark spots on the back of the kestrels head are thought to serve an entirely different purpose than the ones below the eyes. When a predator sees the kestrel's head, the black spots might serve as "false eyes," thus fooling the predator into thinking the back of the head is the face.



Photo by Jeffrey Thompson

Did you know that loons can dive to depths over 200 feet without the benefit of SCUBA gear?

Photo by Jeff Thompson

The average lifespan of a wild turkey is 3-5 years, and the oldest known wild turkey lived to be at least 15 years old.  Domestic birds bred for food only live a few months (and do not die of natural causes).  In the wild, turkeys range from 5-20 pounds.  Domestic turkeys are specially bred to be heavier and could weight twice as much as wild turkeys.


Photo by Jeff Thompson

Do not let a Pileated Woodpecker lick you.  It has a long, barbed tongue and sticky

saliva which it uses to capture prey like ants and beetle larvae.  Gross.  These two are

making a mess out of a tree in Jeff's yard in Charlton.


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