Did you know that the arboretum is a birdwatching hotspot all year round? And, this weekend is the inaugural Global Birding Weekend, a new event devoted to getting outside and recording as many birds as possible. It’s sponsored by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology whose mission is to interpret and conserve the earth’s biological diversity through research, education, and citizen science focused on birds.
As leaves change and the weather gets colder, many birds begin their migration south towards South America. On their way south, many birds stop at the Holden Arboretum and visitors flock to see rare birds during the trek south. While most of our migrating bird friends have already flown south for the winter, many species remain. Here are some birds that you can catch this fall at the arboretum, and some tropical birds that live in the Glasshouses at the Cleveland Botanical Garden.
Bird Profiles of the Arboretum
Size: 5-6 inches
Wingspan: 9 inches
Description: During breeding season both sexes are a gray with flashes of white in the wings and yellow on the face, sides, and rump. Males are brighter than females. Winter colors are paler brown, bright yellow rump, some yellow on the sides.
Range: During the breeding season occurs in the extreme northern United States, on the east coast and Canada. In the winter this species may be found northern extreme in Ohio, throughout the southeastern United States and as far south as Central America.
Voice: Song- high-pitched musical trill with a variable ending. Call-the common call is a dry check.
Best Location to View at Holden: Corning Lake, Blueberry Pond, and Rhododendron Garden
Yellow-rumped warblers, other wised known as butter butts, are one of the first migrant warblers to arrive in spring and the last to leave in fall. They occur in almost every habitat including woodlands, marshes, thickets, fields and ornamental landscapes. During the winter months yellow-rumped warblers are the most abundant warbler in North America. Their ability to eat fruit and digest waxes found in bay berries (Laurus nobilis) and wax myrtles (Myrica cerifera) allows it to winter farther north than other warbler. They are the only warbler that regularly over winters in Ohio.
Yellow-rumped warblers are opportunistic generalists when foraging. They will eat any plants or animals small enough to fit into their beak. Insects compose most of their diet. Their technique for capturing insects varies with individual birds. Some yellow-rumped warblers may swoop after prey in short spurts of flight or hover and glean insects and berries from the ground and vegetation including seaweed washed up at the beach. Other yellow-rumped warblers have also been observed skimming insect over the surface of rivers and oceans or picking them out of spider webs or manure piles. Male yellow-rumped warblers tend to forage higher in trees that females do.
Yellow-rumped warblers breed in dense, wet, coniferous forests in Northwest US, Alaska and Canada. Males arrive on the breeding grounds a few days before the females. Monogamous pairs form shortly after the females arrive. Females build nests, 4 to about 50 feet high up in conifer trees sometimes using material males carries to them. Yellow–rumped warblers prefer to make their nest in hemlock (Tsuga canadensis), spruce (Picea), white cedar (Thuja occidentalis), pine (Pinus), Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) or larch (Larix). Occasionally nests are built in a deciduous tree such as a maple (Acer), oak (Quercus), or birch (Betula). Nests are small, flat, cup shape made of twigs, grass, moss, and rootlets, lined with plant down and feathers that curve over the rim of the nest, partially covering the eggs. Nests take about 10 days to build, and is 3-4 inches across and about 2 inches tall when finished. Females incubate 4 to 5 eggs for 12 to 13 days. Males feed the female at the nest, and occasionally help incubate the eggs. Both male and females feed the young while they are in the nest. Young leave the nest 10 to 14 days after hatching. Males continue to feed the fledglings up to two weeks while the female may go off to starts a second set of young.
Yellow-rumped warblers are amongst the most common warblers in North America. Their generalized diet and habitat requirements have helped local populations increase or remain stable. However research has shown migrating yellow-rumped warblers, like other migrating birds, are frequently killed in collisions with lighted radio towers and buildings. Birds use a variety of different signals to navigate their route, including star pattern, topographic features, earth's magnetic fields, and sunset. If any of these signals are disrupted or unclear such as lighted buildings or towers, it will disorientate and kill birds on their migration path. Light pollution is extremely simple and extremely difficult to remediate. Turning off lights is simple, getting companies or cities to agree to it can be challenging. Supporting local efforts to reduce city / town light pollution and minimizing personal use can be effective in helping birds on their migration journey.
Size: 5 - 7 inches
Wingspan: 8 - 12 inches
Description: Cinnamon-brown crested head, black mask outlined in white. Wings tips red waxy but hard to see. Stomach is pale yellow. Gray tail with a bright yellow tip
Song: soft high-pitched trilled whistle
Best Location to View: On trees bearing small fruits
Cedar waxwings are found throughout much of North America in open habitats with abundant berry trees. They can inhabit open spaces in deciduous, coniferous and mixed woodlands. They are nomadic social birds, traveling in flocks during the fall and winter. They are common in towns and suburbs with ornamental berry trees.
Cedar waxwings diet mainly consists of 80 percent fruit. They are specialized in eating fruit; seeds from the fruit can pass through their intestines, unlike most bird who regurgitate fruit seeds. In summer they eat fruits from serviceberry, strawberry, mulberry, dogwood and raspberries. In winter their diet includes the fruits from cedar, mistletoe, juniper, mountain ash, honeysuckle, crabapple and hawthorn. In late winter and early spring cedar waxwing occasionally become intoxicated or even die when thawing of overwintered berries allows for the transform sugars present in the juice of the berry into ethanol. In addition to fruit, in the summer cedar waxwings supplement their diet with protein rich insects including mayflies, dragonflies, stoneflies and leaf beetles.
Most breeding pairs of cedar waxwings begin breeding in June. During courtship males and females hop back and forth to each other passing fruit, insect or flower petals from one to the other. They repeat this several times until the female finally eats the item.
Cedar waxwings look for nest sites together in partial to wet habitats, especially in areas with large trees bordering streams, ponds and lakes. Females make the final nest site decision. Typically nest are placed in forks of a horizontal branch from 3 to 50 feet high on pine, maple, eastern red cedar, arborvitae, apple, pears, burr oak or hawthorn. Females construct the cup nest in five to six days. Nests are constructed with grasses, twigs and cattail downs. Nest are lined with fine roots, pine needles and grasses.
Cedar waxwings typically lay three to five pale blue gray speckled eggs. Females incubate the eggs 12 to 14 days and the young are tended to by both parents, who open their eyes after seven to eight days. Young cedar waxwings leave the nest 16 to 18 days after hatching.
Cedar Waxwing populations are stable according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey. However, like most birds, they are susceptible to window collisions and can be struck by cars near roadsides with fruiting trees. Partners in Flight estimates a breeding population of 52 million.
GOLDEN CROWNED KINGLET
Size: 3.1-4.3 inches
Wingspan: 5.5-7.1 inches
Description: pale olive above and gray below; black-and-white striped face, bright yellow-orange crown; thin white wing bar with yellow edges to their black flight feathers; black and yellow feet
Range: Across the US and Canada; resident to medium-distance migrants; migrates late fall and early spring; Northern Pacific Coast permanent residents.
Song: high pitch tsee-tsee-tsee-tsee varies in number
Call: thin tsee note
Best Location to View:
Holden Arboretum: Woodland Trail, Old Valley Trail
Botanical Garden: Woodland Garden
Barely larger than a hummingbird, golden-crowned kinglets have a remarkable ability to endure cold climates. They can survive extreme temperature of -40 degrees. During nesting season, they can be seen high in the trees in boreal spruce-fir forests. In Ohio, they are more frequently seen later in the fall and early spring on lower level branches of trees and shrubs.
Golden-crowned kinglets feed on small invertebrates including insect, spider and their eggs. During the breeding season, they glean for pray from branches, under bark and in-between conifer needles. In addition to gleaning, golden- crown kinglets have an amazing ability to hover underneath a branch to capture insects off the undersides of the vegetation. In fall, winter and early spring, they search twigs, stems, and vines for dormant invertebrates and eggs. They will eat a small amount of seeds when insects are sparse.
Golden-crowned kinglets build their nest 6-60 feet high in evergreens such as balsam fir, white spruce, and black spruce. Both sexes spend 4-6 days building a deep hanging cup shaped nest usually close to the tree trunk. The nest is generally protected from the elements by overhanging needles. Nests are primarily made of strips of bark but can include mosses, spiderwebs, parts of insect cocoons, lichens and other downy plant material. Nests are lined with finer material including deer hair and feathers.
Females lay 8-9, sometimes 5-11 elliptical creamy white to pale buff, with brown and gray spots eggs. Eggs are often arranged in 2 layers in nest. Females incubate the eggs for about 14-15 days. Male may feed female during incubation. Both parents feed nestlings. Young leave nest about 14-19 days after hatching. Females feed their first brood only one day after leaving the nest. Despite primarily nesting in the Boreal forest, golden-crowned kinglets surprisingly raise two large sets of young per season. Females start laying the second set of eggs while the male takes care of the first set of fledglings.
Golden-crowned Kinglets are numerous. Partners in Flight estimates a global breeding population of 100 million. They have been expanding breeding southward towards Pennsylvania, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio. However according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey, populations overall have declined between 1966 and 2014 due to habitat loss.
Size: 5 1/2 inches
Male: slender body, brown back heavily streaked with white, white eyebrow and under parts; downward curving bill
Female: smaller than male, similar colors, shorter bill
Range: Brown creepers range through North America and Central America. Northern populations winter in southeastern United States and northern Mexico.
Voice: very high pitched see-see-titi-see or see see
Best Location to View at Holden: Woodland Trail and Rhododendron Garden
This small, well-camouflaged bird of woodlands has a unique foraging technique. Adapted for "creeping" on tree trunks and large branches the Brown Creeper use their stiff tails against the bark for both support and balance in search of food. Typically when searching for food Brown Creepers move upwards from the bottom of a tree trunk to the top. Once they reach the top they then fly down to the bottom of another tree moving up to start foraging again. While on the tree Brown Creepers creep slowly with their body flattened against the bark, probing with their downward curved beak for invertebrates such as insects, spiders, their eggs, and pupae that they find hidden in bark crevices.
Brown Creepers prefer large trees (dead or alive) in mature mixed or deciduous forest for foraging and nesting. They especially like wet areas near riparian corridors with dead trees. They escape predators by staying motionless for several minutes often with outspread wings. Their brown plumage camouflages into the tree where they can seem nearly invisible.
Brown Creepers generally begin breeding in April, with breeding season peaking in May, June and July. Nests are built by females. Occasionally nests are built in cavities, but for the most part they are tucked into crevices in tree trunks where the bark has separated from the trunk. Nests are constructed with twigs and bark strips lined with feathers, hair and cocoons. The female lays 3 to 7 eggs. They young birds fledge after 15 to 17 days, but continue to be fed by the parents for at least two weeks.
Brown Creepers can be seen in Ohio all year long. While generally solitary birds, during the winter Brown Creepers may tag along with other birds including Kinglets, Nuthatches, Chickadees and Woodpeckers. Like many birds during the winter Brown Creepers change their diet to eat seeds and other vegetable matter. They will on occasion come to suet feeders. Brown Creepers are widespread and generally abundant, but habitat loss and degradation is considered a threat to the species in some states, including Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, New Jersey, New York, Idaho, and Montana.
Want to help the Brown Creeper? Create a bird friendly habitat. Leave dead or decaying trees in your yard. Plant trees such as Honey Locust (Gleditsia triacanthos), Shagbark Hickory (Carya ovata), Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis), Silver Maple (Acer saccharinum), Yellow Birch (Betula alleghaniensis), Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis), Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus), and Northern White Cedars (arborvitae, Thuja occidentalis). Shrubs such as American (Corylus americana, High-bush Cranberry (Viburnum trilobum), Silky (Cornus amomum) or Red-Osier (Cornus sericea) Dogwood will help protect this bird while it is feeding.
Bird Profiles of the Glasshouse
Description: Males in breeding plumage- Black face and breast, bright orange elsewhere. Females and non-breeding males soft brown and white, similar to a sparrow.
Distribution: Northern and Eastern Africa
Diet: Eats a variety of grass seeds (especially millet) and the occasional insect.
Breeding: During the breeding season (July- November) males will make display flights while puffing up their feathers and calling to attract a female. Courtship ensues and the male will weave a globular nest made of grasses with an opening on the side near the top. The female will line the nest with soft feathers to prepare for 2-3 eggs. Incubation takes 14-16 days. Males will mate with multiple females and do not assist in raising the young. The most attractive males in the best territories with the most available food tend to have the most reproductive success, meaning there is strong sexual selection on the males to have the most vibrant plumage and build their nests in the best territories.
Status: According to the ICUN Red List of Threatened Species, the northern red bishop is vastly widespread across the globe, stable, and of least concern of endangerment.
We have a population of 1 male and 4 females in the Madagascar Spiny Desert biome.
RED BILLED FIRE FINCH
Description: The red-billed firefinch is under 4 inches in length. The adult male has entirely red plumage apart from brown wings. The bill is pink, and there is a yellow eye-ring. Females have uniformly brown upperparts and buff underparts. There is a small red patch in front of both eyes, with the bill also being pink.
Distribution: Sub-Saharan Africa
Diet: Mainly grass seeds, especially millet.
Song: soft queet-queet call
Breeding: The nest is a large domed grass structure with a side entrance, built low in a bush or wall into which three to six white eggs are laid.
Status: Listed as least concern by IUCN Red List
With a flock of more than a dozen, this bird is one of the most visible birds of our Madagascar biome. They build nests in any available spaces such as tangles of plant material, on exhibit light switches, and under ledges. The are constantly nesting and enlarging their numbers.
RUDDY QUAIL DOVE
Description: The ruddy quail-dove grows up to 10 inches in length. The bird is distinguished by having a rust-colored back, facial mask and similarly colored wings. The breast, rump and undereye stripe are lighter brown. Males have a reddish cast while females tend to look gray.
Distribution: It lives throughout the West Indies, Central America and tropical South America.
Diet: These birds forage on the ground for seeds and occasionally invertebrates.
Breeding: The male will parade around holding a leaf or twig in an attempt to attract a female. They will build a flimsy platform on vegetation near the ground on which they will lay two eggs.
Status: Listed as least concern by IUCN Red List.
This dove is the most visible bird in our Costa Rica biome, always walking along the paths and perching within a few feet of the ground. The males can often be seen strutting around holding their piece of plant trying to entice a female to his nest. Our birds are extremely tame and can be approached within a few feet before they move away. This is the most numerous in the biome with more than 25 individuals.
RED LEGGED HONEY CREEPER
Description: The red-legged honeycreeper is on average less than 5 inches long, weighs half an ounce and has a medium-long black, slightly decurved, bill. The male is violet-blue with black wings, tail and back, and bright red legs. The crown of its head is turquoise, and the underwing, visible only in flight, is lemon yellow. After the breeding season, the male moults and becomes mainly greenish with black wings. Females and juveniles are mainly green, with paler, faintly streaked underparts. The legs are red-brown in the female, and brown in young birds
Distribution: It is found in the tropical new world, from southern Mexico to Peru, Bolivia, and Brazil, Trinidad and Tobago, and Cuba.
Diet: It feeds on fruit and nectar as well as an occasional insect.
Breeding: The female red-legged honeycreeper builds a small cup nest in a tree, and incubates the clutch of two brown-blotched white eggs for 12–13 days, with a further 14 days to fledging.
Status: Very common, the Red-legged Honeycreeper is considered Least Concern by the IUCN Red List.
Song: The call of red-legged honeycreeper is a thin, high-pitched tsip.
This is a bird of open woodland, forest edge, and plantations. They often travel in small flocks. The small head and narrow beak of the Honeycreeper allow it to reach into the small spaces of newly opening fruit pods, letting them exploit new food sources before larger birds. Our honeycreepers receive a diet of mango, papaya, banana, and grapes, as well as nectar.
Check out our birding webpage for more inspiration and for a list of the birds you can see in our region. Then, track how may you can find!
You can also download the eBird app, which you can download free to any smartphone.
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