Phalacrocoracidae: Cormorants




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Phalacrocoracidae: Cormorants

Often flying in “V” shapes or lines, such as geese, Cormorants can nevertheless be distinguished from geese by their silence. They are part of the order Pelecaniformes – fish-eating waterfowl with four, webbed toes. The sexes are alike.

Ardeidae: Herons, Egrets, Bitterns.

These medium to large wading birds have long necks and pointed bills which they use to spear fish. During flight, the neck curves into an S-shape and the legs trail. The sexes are alike.


Cathartidae: New World Vultures

Most likely seen flying high in wide circles, these black, eagle-shaped carrion-feeders have naked heads which are somewhat smaller than those of hawks or eagles. The sexes are alike.


Anatidae: Swans, Ducks, Geese:

Swans, in the subfamily Anserinae, are large, all-white birds, with longer necks than geese. Geese, also in the subfamily Anserinae, are heavy-bodied, with longer necks than ducks, and very thickly billed. They are gregarious, prefer to graze on land, and are often noisy in flight. Swans and geese both have alike sexes. Dabbling Ducks, in the subfamily Anatinae are surface-feeders found on ponds and marshes. They feed by dabbling – using, splashing, rapid bill movements, to pick at vegetation. Their flight take-off is direct, with no running. The sexes are usually dimorphic.


Pandionidae: Osprey

A family composed of a single species, the Osprey. Click on the link for info on the Osprey species page.


Accipitridae: Hawks, Eagles, Kites

These are diurnal birds of prey, most with large hooked beaks, and hooked talons. Often misunderstood, and killed as a result, they are nevertheless critical members of their ecosystems. The sexes are similar.


Rallidae: Rails, Gallinules, Coots

All species within Rallidae are marshy wetland birds with similar sexes. Rails are chicken-like in shape and rather secretive. Gallinules and Coots are more duck-like, but have smaller heads and forehead shields.


Charadriidae: Plovers, Lapwings

These are small wading birds that can be distinguished from other shorebirds by their more compact size, thicker necks, shorter bills, and smaller eyes. They run in short bursts. The sexes are alike.


Haematopodidae: Oystercatchers

These large, coastal waders are easily spotted by their heavy, flattened red bills. The sexes are similar.


Scolopacidae: Sandpipers

These are small to medium-sized wading birds with slenderer bills than those of plovers. The sexes are similar.


Laridae: Skuas, Gulls, Terns, Skimmers

Gulls, in the subfamily Larinae, are quite conspicuous and gregarious, preferring open areas such as beaches and lakes, and often are seen at dumps, restaurant parking lots, and other human-food sites. They have long legs, and the bills are usually hooked at the end. The sexes are similar. Terns and Skimmers are smaller and more streamlined than gulls, and have straight, pointed bills. Terns in the subfamily Sterninae often have forked tails. The sexes are similar. Skimmers, in the subfamily Rynchopinae are short-legged and have long, pointed red bills with the lower mandible being longer than the upper.


Columbidae: Pigeons, Doves

Plump, small-headed, and fast-flying, these birds pick food from the ground (seeds and fruit mostly) and walk with small, dainty steps and bobbing heads. The soft cooing is easily recognized when heard. The sexes are similar.


Picidae: Woodpeckers

These are wood-boring birds, with sharp, chisel-bills, and stiff tails that serves as props when clinging to tree bark. They inhabit almost exclusively wooded areas. Males usually have some read on the head.


Tyrannidae: Tyrant Flycatchers

These birds feed mostly by catching insects in flight. Most species within the family have dull plumage. They have short, flattened bills, with bristles at the base.


Corvidae: Crows, Ravens, Jays, Magpies

These, noisy, aggressive, and rather large perching birds, all have strong bills with bristles that cover the nostrils. Crows and Ravens are large and all black. Jays have long tails and are often colorful. Magpies have long tails and are black and white. All species within the family will attack predators. The sexes are similar.


Hirundinidae: Swallows

Slim and streamlined, all swallows have tiny feet, long pointed wings and forked tails. They are graceful in flight and feed almost entirely on flying insects.


Paridae: Chickadees, Tits

These small, drab birds have short, strong bills, and will often be seen in small groups. They tend to be acrobatic in the feeding, often hanging upside down and swinging around small branches and twigs. The sexes are usually similar.


Sittidae: Nuthatches

Easily recognized by their method of climbing down trees head first, these birds are small and stout, short-tailed, and long-billed. The sexes are similar.


Turdidae: Thrushes

This is a very diverse family with birds that are, for the most part, big-eyed, slender-billed, and give melodic, intricate calls.


Mimidae: Mockingbirds, Thrashers

This family is composed of excellent singers and mimics. All species have long legs, longer tails than thrushes, and bills which are usually downward curving. They are usually solitary. When they run, the tail often points upwards. The sexes are alike.


Sturnidae: Starlings, Mynas.

This is a diverse family, which, in America, is composed entirely of introduced species. Some are blackbird-like. Often aggressive and very gregarious.


Bombycillidae: Waxwings

These sleek, crested birds have pointed wings and yellow-tipped tails. They are gregarious and feed mostly on berries.


Parulidae: Wood-Warblers

Small, busy birds, with thin, short, pointed bills, wood-warblers are mostly smaller than sparrows, and usually brightly colored – most with yellow.


Emberizidae: New World Sparrows

This is a large and diverse family, made up ground-dwelling, secretive birds that are mostly drab or brown and streaked. They have short, conical bills for seed cracking.


Cardinalidae: Cardinals, Grosbeaks, Buntings

These seed-cracking birds have very large, thick bills. They are often colorful, and show sexual dimorphism.


Icteridae. Blackbirds, Orioles

This family consists of birds with slender pointed bills. Some are iridescent. Orioles are brightly colored. The sexes are unlike.


Fringillidae: Finches

These birds are small to medium in size, with pointed wings and conical bills much like those of sparrows. Their calls are distinctive in that their constant and during flight. Sexes are unlike.


Passeridae: Old World Sparrows

This family is composed of two introduced species that are usually seen in small flocks in nearly all human habitats. Though appearing to be sparrows, the are unrelated to the native, Emberizidae family.


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