Brown Pelican

The Brown Pelicans of Cabo San Lucas are frequent visitors at the piers, where they follow in coming fishing boats, beg for hand-outs and steal fish from the boaters if they can.

The Feather Files
Name: Pelecanus occidentalis
Alias: Brown Pelican
Color: Adult birds are gray-brown with yellow heads and white necks. In breeding plumage, the back and sides of the neck turn a rich, dark reddish-brown. Immatures are gray-brown above (including the head and neck) with a pale whitish belly and breast.
Migration: Most brown pelican populations in this part of Mexico are resident.
Date Seen: January 7, 2017
Location: Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Tree Swallow

Alberta blue grey white

The Feather Files
Name: Tachycineta bicolor
Alias: Tree Swallow
Migration: Birds from the Canadian prairies may follow the Mississippi River southward into Central America.
Date Seen: May 4, 2013;  May 21, 2017
Location: Alberta: Hidden Valley, Siksika Nation; Rocky View County

Tree Swallows are distinctive birds with their white undersides, iridescent blue-green backs, and moderately forked tails. The species modifier, bicolor, refers to the two solid, contrasting colors of its back and belly.

Their diet is primarily insects, which they catch on the wing. If they stay in an area after the insects are gone, they will eat berries or seeds.

Cabbage White Butterfly

In a past post, White Butterflies Hiding in a Hay Field, I wasn’t able to actually get a photo of the White Butterflies. They never came to rest long enough, or if they did stop, it was on the low growing flowers that I couldn’t see! Later, the butterflies were feeding on some flowers that were easily visible, so I finally got to capture their image. They are very skittish butterflies, however, and I had to stand well back and use a zoom lens.

They are Cabbage White Butterflies. They are described as being white butterflies with dark dots on their upper wings. Their underwings can be various shades of yellow.

This cabbage white is showing its age. Note how weathered and ragged the wings are getting!

Alberta Canada

The Cabbage butterfly was introduced to Quebec, Canada, from Europe in the 1860’s and has since spread throughout the continent.

Alberta Canada

While they are a delight to watch, especially if there are a lot of them fluttering through your yard, their caterpillars are the bane of gardeners – they eat members of the mustard family and this includes cabbages, broccoli, brussels sprout and cauliflower.

Alberta Canada

Bug Bits
Common Name: Small Cabbage White Butterfly
Scientific Name: Pieris rapae
Native to: It was originally only in Europe. It was accidentally introduced into China (in 1989), North America (in 1860), Australia (in 1937) and New Zealand (in 1930)
Date Seen:  September 2011, August and September, 2017
Location: North East of Calgary, Alberta
Notes: These butterflies have a dark body with white wings. The upper wings have a charcoal to black band at the tip and a dark spot in the center of each upper wing. Males have one spot on each wing and females have two. Adult butterflies feed on flower nectar from a very wide array of plants including mustards, dandelion, red clover, asters, and mints.

This week’s Photo Challenge is Weathered.

Cooper’s Hawk near Calgary, Alberta

Alberta bird head

It has been a busy summer in the mixed Aspen/Willow/Spruce forest of our acreage community north of Calgary, Alberta. In our section of the forest alone, the Great Horned Owl, Magpie, and Crow have all nested and produced young. The ‘new bird in town’, though was the Cooper’s Hawk. I encountered this one when I was walking along the edge of a grove of Aspen on July 23rd.

It flew from tree to tree in a large circle, scolding me as it flew. Another bird was chirping at the hawk (which is what had attracted me to that corner of our property in the first place.)

The female adult Cooper’s Hawk is about the size of a crow. Males can be much smaller – about the size of the birds that a Cooper’s Hawk preys on…

On July 31, I saw the Cooper’s Hawk fledgling.

What a mixture of disheveled youth and fierce raptor! Bits of fluffy down still poke out from under serious feathers – the beak and talons are the tools of a soon to be deadly predator.

On August 11th, a juvenile Cooper’s Hawk landed on the fence at the back of the property. A few hours later, I found a juvenile in the Aspen woods. I’m assuming this is the same bird as the fledgling in the previous photos.

Note the yellow eyes and the brown ‘drips’ or tear-drops on the white chest and abdomen.

The Feather Files
Name: Accipiter cooperii
Alias: Cooper’s Hawk
Migration: The Cooper’s hawk is a short to medium-distance migrant. They summer and breed in southern Canada, and throughout most of the United States. They winter in the southern US, with some birds migrating as far south as Mexico and Honduras.
Date Seen: July to August, 2017
Location: A half hour (in car riding time) north east of Calgary, Alberta.

Cooper’s Hawks capture prey from cover or while flying quickly through dense vegetation. Adult birds have short, broad wings and long tails for navigating through these woodlands and thickets. They eat mainly medium sized birds, but also hunt chipmunks, hares, mice, squirrels, and bats.

Their hunting style is dangerous – studies found that many of these hawks had healed fractures in the bones of the chest.

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