Monday, May 28, 2012

Tropical Mockingbird Habits in Mexico

This is the Mexican companion to my Northern Mockingbird Habits post from 2008. We had a lot of fun watching the Tropical Mockingbirds at our resort in Cancun, Mexico. They were very noisy, and actually had a very similar repertoire of songs to our Northern Mockingbird. I was able to pick them out by their sound first before I spotted them. This one was flying all around the back edge of our all-inclusive resort, and enjoyed landing on the fancy stonework of the Excellence Club room balconies. Note the long tail feathers and prominent  eyebrow markings. Mockingbirds are one of my favorite species and these ones in Mexico did not disappoint!

Brown Pelican Pouch Stretching

According to the research I've done so far, Brown Pelicans periodically stretch their gular pouch by putting their heads back and stretching it over their breast. In some cases, they turn their pouch inside out, which is what can be seen in these pictures here. You can see the pink, fleshy inside of the pelican's pouch as he completely inverts it. I thought I'd leave you with at least one presentable picture of the Brown Pelican, looking dapper and smiling. It's the least I can do after intruding on his pouch stretching ritutal! These pelicans we saw relaxing on the abandoned pier at our resort in Cancun, Mexico. The birds enjoyed relaxing and sunning themselves on it. And it made for some easy birdwatching for me!

Great-tailed Grackle in Mexico

Male Great-tailed Grackle

Great-tailed Grackle at our resort in Cancun, Mexico

Female Great-tailed Grackle in a Palm Tree

Female Great-tailed Grackle

Female Great-tailed Grackle gathering nest materials on the beach

There were lots of Great-tailed Grackles at our resort in Cancun, Mexico. Although they're common and kind of a noisy, nuisance bird I enjoyed watching them. Like the female, shown here on the beach, gathering nest materials. I almost thought it was a male at first since it looked so dark in the direct sunlight here on the beach, but it didn't make sense for the male to be working on the nest. All I had to do was compare the pictures side-by-side and then the differences between the male and the female were very apparent.

These grackles seem almost prehistoric the way they maneuver and use their legs to grab at stuff. I especially like the male's long tapered tail that fans out. They're more interesting than our common grackles here in the Northeast. For more information on common grackles, and the difference between grackles and starlings you can check my blog post from June 2008.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Sandwich Tern in Mexico

These Sandwich Terns were part of the dilapidated pier gang (which included brown pelicans, laughing gulls and double-crested cormorants). They chose to hang out at the very end of this old, out of commission pier at the Excellence Resort Cancun Riviera. At first I thought they were gulls, but the more I researched the more I had trouble finding one with the distinct long, black narrow beak with the white tip at the end. That's when I found pictures of the Sandwich Tern in non-breeding plumage that were a close match!

Hooded Oriole in Cancun Mexico

This was one bird I had a tricky time identifying. At first I thought it as an Altamira Oriole because it seemed to match the pictures, but then the closer I looked at the I looked at the ID notes provided on All About Birds, and the concentration of these two species in the part of Mexico I was in on ebird range map, the more confident I felt that it was a Hooded Oriole.

As you can see in these pictures, the Coconut Palm is a favorite tree for these birds- they like to forage on the clusters of green flowers and generally just sit here as a good lookout spot. I saw these orioles from time to time around the resort grounds, and also heard them. Their call is very similar to our Baltimore Oriole and sure enough, every time I heard it and looked up sure enough there was the Hooded Oriole.

Tropical Kingbird in Cancun Mexico

Earlier this month we went to Cancun, Mexico for my good friend Lori's wedding. We had a fantastic time relaxing at the all-inclusive resort she and Mark got married at. As an added bonus, I got to do some birdwatching in a tropical location! This is going to be the first of several bird posts from Mexico.

I noticed this tropical kingbird while we were laying out at the beach. I saw it flying around and landing on the roofs of various structures. This is probably my favorite bird from the entire trip. I love the bright yellow breast, contrasted against the subtle grey. Grey and yellow are a great color combination!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Great Blue Heron Roosting in Japan

My friend Phil shared these pictures of a Great Blue Heron roosting in Japan. According to him- there are lots of them roosting in the trees near where he lives and they make a lot of noise and are pretty annoying. I decided to see if I could get more information about Great Blue Herons in Japan, and found this great blog from Jeffrey Friedl with pictures of an urban Great Blue Heron, who is essentially domesticated by the people who live on that block since they feed him platefuls of fish. Definitely check it out because his pictures are fantastic and the story is interesting: