Mallard

Anas platyrhynchos

What they Eat

Omnivorous with wide variety of food. They don’t dive, but dabble to feed, tipping forward in the water to eat seeds, aquatic vegetation, or insects. They also forage on land for seeds and insects and will stop at farms during migration to feed on grain.

Behavior/Fun Facts

Mallards are the most widespread and abundant duck in North America. The ancestor of most strains of domesticated ducks. In many places this species has managed to domesticate itself, relying on handouts in city parks.

What to Look For

Males have a distinct green head and females are a light brown color. 

What to Listen For

 The classic “quack” duck sound is that of a female mallard. Males do not quack, but give a quieter rasping, one or two-noted call.

Great Blue Heron

Ardea herodias

What they Eat

Great Blue Herons eat nearly anything within striking distance, including fish, amphibians, reptiles, small mammals, insects, and other birds.

Behavior/Fun Facts

In flight the Great Blue Heron folds it neck into an “S” shape and trails its long legs behind. Great Blue Herons defend feeding territories from other herons with dramatic displays in which the birds approach intruders with their head thrown back, wings outstretched, and bill pointing skyward.

What to Look For

Large bird with blue/gray plumage, long legs, and distinct spear-like beaks.

What to Listen For

Mostly quiet, but a rapid “frawnk” squawk if disturbed. May also greet their partners with a “roh-roh-rohs” at their nests during breeding season.

Belted Kingfisher

Megaceryle alcyon

What they Eat

Mostly small fish but also crayfish, frogs, and other small aquatic animals.

Behavior/Fun Facts

Forages by plunging headfirst into water, capturing fish near surface with bill. Bones, scales, and other indigestible parts of prey are coughed up later as pellets.

What to Look For

Males are grayish-blue above, white below, with a gray chest band. Females also have a chestnut band across their chest.t

What to Listen For

Both males and females give a distinctive machine gun-like rattle along with screams and harsh calls. 

Tree Swallow

Tachycineta bicolor

What they Eat

Flying insects.

Behavior/Fun Facts

They chase prey in the air, with acrobatic twists and turns, and sometimes converge in large numbers in an insect swarm, swirling around like a living tornado.

What to Look For

Males have blue iridescent backs and white chests, pointed wings, and a short, squared tail. Females have brownish backs with slight blue iridescence.

What to Listen For

Mating calls consist of high pitched chirps and gurgles. They use chatters, shrieks, and ticking sounds when disturbed.

Wood Duck

Aix sponsa

What they Eat

Seeds, fruits, insects and other arthropods. When aquatic foods are unavailable they may eat acorns and other nuts or grains.

Behavior/Fun Facts

They get their name because they nest in tree cavities or nest boxes. Egg-dumping is common in Wood Ducks—females visit other Wood Duck cavities, lay eggs in them, and leave them to be raised by the other female.

What to Look For

Males are very showy with patterns on most of their feathers. Females have a distinctive white pattern around their eyes with mostly brown feathers.

What to Listen For

Females make a loud “oo-eek, oo-eek” when disturbed and male calls have a rising and falling zeeting whistle. 

Red-Winged Blackbird

What they Eat

They eat mainly insects in the summer and seeds, including grass, corn and wheat, in the winter.

Behavior/Fun Facts

Adults are very aggressive in nesting territory, attacking larger birds and sometimes going after much larger animals, including horses and people.

What to Look For

Males are a glossy black with scarlet and yellow shoulder patches that they will display while singing. Females are a streaky dark brown.

What to Listen For

 Males make a well-known “conk-la-ree”. Females will respond with a series of three to five “chit” notes.

Song Sparrow

Melospiza melodia

What they Eat

Insects and other invertebrates that it finds mostly foraging on the ground, as well as seeds and fruits all year round, particularly in winter.

Behavior/Fun Facts

Watch for Song Sparrows moving along wetland edges, ducking into dense, low vegetation after short bursts of their distinctive, tail-pumping flight.

What to Look For

Russet and gray in color with dark streaks down their white chests, often forming a dark spot in the middle.

What to Listen For

The male song consists of two to six phrases that start with short-spaced notes and finish with a trill.  Both sexes make a short “chip” note when disturbed.

Common Yellowthroat

Geothlypis trichas

What they Eat

Insects found foraging on the ground or gleaned from low shrub/tree branches.

Behavior/Fun Facts

Males are very defensive of territories and will fight for females during the mating season. Each male normally has only one mate in his territory during a breeding season. However, females sometimes mate with other males behind her mate’s back.

What to Look For

Males and females have olive plumage with a yellow throat. Males have a distinctive black mask on the face.

What to Listen For

The male call is a very distinctive sound, “witchety-witchety-witch”.  Both give a strong “chuck” when alarmed.

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