Primary Reference Resources:
"Audubon Field Guide to the Mid-Atlantic States" by Peter Alden and Brian Cassie
Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter
Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) with chicks: Expert fishermen. Locaction: Jug Bay/Patuxent River Park. Photo by Ken Clark.
Barred Owl (Strix varia): 21inches long. Nocturnal. Roost in trees during the day. Photo by Anita Mueller.
Cooper's Hawk (Accipter cooperii): Top photo adult. Lower photo juvenile. Very similar in appearance to the Sharp-shinned hawk but markedly larger when comparing sex to sex (difficult). Two possible differences: The Cooper's has a light patch on the nap of the neck and rounded tail feathers. The Sharp-shinned has a dark neck and has flat tail feathers. Short, rounded, broad wings designed for chasing song birds through thick forests. Frequents backyard bird feeders. Photo by Anita Mueller.
Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura) w/chick living in a hollowed out tree. Location: Flag Ponds Nature Park, MD. Photo by Ken Clark.
Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus) : Several were living in this abandoned farm house in the Bull Run Mountain Conservancy, VA.
Broad-winged Hawk - juvenile (Buteo platypterus): L = 15 inches. WS = 34 inches. Photo by Anita Mueller.
Red-tailed Hawk - juvenile (Buteo jamaicensis): Length 22 inches with a 50 inch wing span. Young Buteo species are hard to tell apart. To further complicate things the Red-tailed has a dark and light morph. Both adult morphs have red tails (appear pink/orange from underneath). Rodents, small mammals main prey. Often mobbed by other birds. Photo by Anita Mueller.
Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus): Soon to come off of the endangered species list. A sighting of this majestic raptor is enough to get my heart pounding. Upper photo: This one was initially perched in a tree near the Conestoga Trail, Holtwood Recreation Area, PA until we spooked it. Second photo by Anita Mueller.
Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias): Another good fisherman. Photo by Sue Muller.
Ruddy Turnstones (Arenaria interpres) - Small, short legged shore bird. Reaches a length of 7 inches. Location: Cape Henlopen. Photo by Ken Clark.
Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus): A diving fisherman. Photo by Anita Mueller.
Mallard Ducks (Anas platyrhynchos): Males are much more colorful with green heads, grey wings, purplish chest and a white ring around its neck. Photo by Ken Clark.
Common Merganser (Mergus merganser): Large, diving duck. Up to 25 inches. Male - white body, black back, dark green head. Female- gray belly and back, rusty head with ragged crest, white chin and white neck. Photos by Anita Mueller.
American Black Duck (Anas rubripes): Dark brown body, wings and top of head. Light brown neck and face. Dark eye line. Flight reveals blue patch and white under-wing coverts. Found mostly in the eastern part of the Mid-Atlantic. Photo by Anita Mueller.
Laughing Gulls (Larus atricilla) - It's call will tell you from whence it gets its name. Location: Cape Henlopen, DE. Photo by Ken Clark.
Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis): Nineteen inches in length but with a wing span of four feet. Shown here in winter plumage. In the summer it's body and head is snow white. The obvious black ring on its bill is the source of its name. Lower photo is of a young bird in its first winter. Photo by Anita Mueller.
Herring Gull (Larus argentatus): Both young (shown here) and adult somewhat similar to the above Ring-billed Gull except these birds are much larger (25 inches VS 19 inches), Adult Herring Gulls have a long neck and gray belly. The Ring-billed has a markedly shorter neck and white belly.
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus): With a wingspan of 5 feet, 5 inches this is the largest of all gulls. Red spot on beak. It takes several years to obtain full mature color pattern. Lower photo is of a young bird in its first winter. Photos by Anita Mueller.
Snow Geese (Chen caerulescens): Entirely white except for outer flight feathers which are black. Migratory. Found locally in March - April and October -November. Location: Middle Creek, PA. Photo by Ken Clark.
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor): Introduced from Europe. Considered invasive in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. Attacks dogs and humans if they feel their nesting area is endangered. Photo by Anita Mueller.
Canada Geese (Branta canadensis): Migratory but resident in most of the region. Flies in V formations. Photo by Anita Mueller.
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius): 8 inches. Drills rows of holes and laps the sap and insects it attracts from them. Location: Quehanna Tr, PA. Photo by Pat Roberts.
Red Bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus): Grows to 9 inches. As seen here, the male has much more red on his head. Photo by Anita Mueller.
Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens): Similar in coloration to the Hairy Woodpecker but much smaller (6.5 inches VS.9 inches) and with a much smaller beak. Female shown in top photo. Male (bottom photo) has a red spot on the back of his head. Photo by Anita Mueller.
Ruffed Grouse (Bonasus umbellus): Found throughout the entire region. Most hens will feign injury and run through the brush away from her chicks. This one decided to stand her ground and flare her wings and tail. Photo by Tony Van Vugt. Location: AT on James River Face, Jefferson National Forest, VA.
Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo): In the partridge family. Probably the largest "ground" bird in North America but can fly great distances. Roosts in trees. Males much more colorful than females with more ornate "beards". Photo by Anita Mueller.
Forest and Fields
White Breasted Nuthatch - male (Sitta corolinensis): 5 inches. Feeds by hopping along tree trunks and branches often hanging upside down . This one is nesting in a cavity in a Beech Tree. Location: Jug Bay/Patuxent River Park, MD. Photo by Sue Muller.
Northern Mocking Bird (Mimus polyglottos): Up to 10 inches. Mimics the calls of other song birds. May include several impersonations in one call. Photo by Anita Mueller.
Dark-Eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis): In the American Sparrow family. Flight reveals outer white tail feathers. Easy to spot. Juveniles will have a brown patch on the back. Photo by Anita Mueller.
American Goldfinch - male -winter plumage (Carduelis tristis): Canary yellow summer plumage with black wings with white stripes and black cap. Black notched tail. Female dull olive green with hints of a yellow hue in the throat, chest and belly. Photo by Anta Mueller.
Forest and Fields
Fish Crow (Corvus ossifragus) - Found in coastal areas and along rivers From New York to VA. Location: Cape Henlopen SP, DE. Photo by Ken Clark.
America Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos): Substantially larger than the above Fish Crow. Photo by Anita Mueller.
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus): A swamp/pond bird. Nests among the cat tails and rushes. Female has a drab starling pattern. Male's flight reveals yellow and red epaulets on the shoulders. Photo by Anita Mueller.
Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater): In the Blackbird family. Female is uniformly dull gray/brown. A parasitic bird causing a decrease in songbird populations. Females lay a single egg in the nest of a songbird. The young cowbird will push the egg or hatchling songbirds out. Raised by the nesting songbirds.
Blue Jay (Cyancitta cristata): Very colorful. Lives in the region through out the seasons. Call is harsh but trumpets uniquely at times. Photo by Anita Mueller.
Purple House Finch - male (Carpodacus purpureus): Male has red/purple head, chest and back. The common House finch has red mostly around the head. Females are drab, lacking red with white stripes throughout the head, wings and body. Photo by Anita Mueller.
Common Grackle (Quiscalus quiscula): Originally a mid-west bird but has migrated eastward. Forms large flocks in the winter. Omnivorous. Occasionally eats eggs and hatchlings as well as small lizards and snakes. Photo by Anita Mueller.
Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis): Male red with black mask and top notch. Female olive drab with red hues. Winters over. Photo by Anita Mueller.
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris): Introduced from England by early settlers. Considered a nuisance. Displaces sparrows and Bluebirds from their nesting areas. Summer males are glossy black with a green sheen. Females duller. Winter coat dull black with white flecks as in this photo. Photo by Anita Mueller.
Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedorum): Grows up to 7 inches. The black eye mask is edged in white. Breeds sporadically in the mountains. Gets its name from the bright red wing feathers not visible here. Photo by Anita Mueller.
American Robin (Turdus migratorius): rufous orange breast, white rump, brownish/gray wings and back, black head and tail with white corners. Feeds mostly on earthworms and fruit in the spring and summer. Photo by Anita Mueller.
Forest and Fields
Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura): Fledglings in upper photo. Mom or Dad in lower photo. In the pigeon family. Very prolific but heavily hunted. Call is a mournful " WHO-o coo, coo, coo. Both parents feed young "pigeon milk" formed by partial digestion of grain in the croup. Photos by Anita Mueller.
Tufted Titmouse (Baeolphus bicolor): In the Chickadee family. Grows to 6 inches. Very active. Photo by Anita Mueller.
Black-Capped Chickadee - male (Poecile atricapilus): Its primary call is its name. Acrobatic when feeding, often in family groups. Photo by Anita Mueller.
American Tree Sparrow (Spizella arborea): May be confused with the Field Sparrow (S. pusilla). Key identifiers - Grey face, cheeks and throat with heavy red band through eyes and red cap, white wing bars. Upper beak gray, lower beak yellow. I don't know if this is a trademark of this species or not. Photo by Anita Muellar.
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia): Key identifiers - mottled brown and white chest and belly, alternating black and white cheek "bars", Dark brown cap with white line across the middle, red eye bars, white throat. Photo by Anita Mueller.
White-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis): Key markings - grey belly and chest, white throat outlined in black, white eye stripe, distinct yellow eye brow between beak and eye, dark brown or black cap with white line. Photos by Anita Mueller.
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus): Common Street Sparrow. An English transplant found mostly in urban settings and farms. Not typically found in large plats of woodlands. Majority of its food comes from livestock and animal feed, bird feeders, some weed seeds and bugs. Male has a lot more black on his face in the spring/summer. Known to take over Bluebird nesting boxes, killing the young in the process. Photo by Anita Mueller.
House Finch (Carpodacus mexicanis): Recent introduction from w U.S. and Mexico. Very common in urban and suburban area across the states. Male has less red than the similar Purple Finch. Photo by Anita Mueller.