Article and Photos by Charly Mann
One of my favorite birds to observe in my backyard or along the trails in Bartlesville is the Carolina Wren, but they are usually far too quick and nervous to get a picture of. They are exceptionally curious, rapidly searching a large area of a tree, fence, wall, or foliage for insects and seeds.
Carolina Wren visiting my backyard in Bartlesville
When one sees a Carolina Wren its tail is usually in an upright position, which means it is fully alert and active.
Carolina Wrens are small birds measuring only 5.5 inches in length and weighing just half an ounce. They have a slightly downward curved thin beak with a white streak extending from it over their eyes to the back of their head. They are brown on top with darker barred wings and tail. They are white underneath.
At least once a month I see a Carolina Wren sitting relaxed on this branch. Notice his tail is down.
They more resemble miniature helicopters than birds as they move about by rapid flapping of their short wings from branch to branch of a tree which is almost always accompanied by their constant "chirr-up" song.
When a Carolina Wren is relaxed it sings a long loud song that sounds like "come-to-me, come-to-me or chirr-up, chirr-up, chirr-up" which is repeated for several minutes.
Same branch as previous picture, but another day. This time I got a ten minute serenade by this Carolina Wren.
Carolina Wrens love to sing more than any other bird, and do so from dawn to well past sunset, and some have sung their song 3,000 times in a single day.
Carolina Wrens can live as long as six years.
Photos and article by Charly Mann
The colorful head of a Northern Flicker
From time to time I am lucky enough to encounter a Northern Flicker walking along on the ground near me in a secluded open area of the woods off the Pathfinder trail in Bartlesville. These beautifully colored birds are woodpeckers, but spend much of their time in open areas along the edges of woods using their long tongue to snatch ants, termites, caterpillars, crickets, and grasshoppers.
Northern Flicker in a forest clearing in Bartlesville, Oklahoma
The Northern Flicker is about 12 inches in length and weighs 5 ounces. Their head is silver gray and brown with a red patch on the back. Males have a moustache streak of red or black, while females have a brown one or none at all. They have a black tail, white rump, and most of their torso is mottled brown and black, with many black spots on sides, lower breast and belly, and a black-barred brown back. Their feet and legs are gray.
Close-up of a male Northern Flicker
Though Northern Flickers do not feed in trees like most other woodpeckers, they do dig out cavities in trees for their nests.
Northern Flicker searching for an insect meal
Northern Flickers can live as long as 10 years.
Article and photos by Kathryn Mann
The Canada Goose can be found year round in many parts of Oklahoma. They are distinguished by their black head and neck which are separated by a thick white chinstrap that stretches from cheek to cheek. They have a white breast and sides. While male and females look alike, males are usually a little larger.
Canada Goose beside a small lake in Bartlesville
An adult Canada Goose is a large bird weighing about 22 pounds. They are almost two feet long and have a wing span of six feet. They can fly as fast as forty miles an hour.
Canada Geese can see 180 degrees horizontally and vertically.
Canada Goose about to take a dip
The Canada Goose often lives 20 years, and some have lived as long as 30.
The Canada Goose is a very smart bird. They have at least ten distinctive honking sounds that communicate different messages to one another.
Canada Geese do not mate until they are three, but then choose a companion for life that they become very devoted to. When one is unable to fly the mate will stay behind when their flock leaves for another location.
A curious Canada Goose looking at me photograph her
Canada Geese often fly in large V formation flocks.
The Canada Goose often lives beside lakes that are frequented by humans. They will hiss at people if they feel threatened, but can also be docile and ask for handouts of bread and other scraps.
A juvenile Canadian Goose
Canada Geese feed in water by dabbling their heads for water plants and algae, or graze in fields and large lawns where they eat grass, berries, and seeds.
Article and photos by Kathryn Mann
Once or twice a year I am usually lucky enough to see a Red-Bellied Woodpecker on a hardwood tree along a trail I walk along in Bartlesville.
Though someone got the bright idea of calling these beautiful birds Red-Bellied Woodpeckers their belly is almost entirely white except for a small patch of faded red on its abdomen, which is usually very difficult to see. Its red head and the black-and-white zebra pattern on its back are much more distinguishing features on this bird, and could have inspired a more accurately descriptive name for it. The red hood of the male extends from his forehead to the back of his neck, while on the female only the back of the neck is red.
Male Red-Bellied Woodpeckers have a wider tongue tip and longer bill than the female which allow them to find insects in the crevices of the trunk of trees. Females do most of their foraging on tree limbs.
Male Red-Bellied Woodpecker in Bartlesville, Oklahoma
European Starlings take over up to half the nest holes in trees of The Red-bellied Woodpeckers.
Red-Bellied Woodpeckers eat lots of insects including ants and flies.
They are solitary birds and except during mating season when they can be found in pairs, are usually seen alone.
Red-Bellied Woodpeckers can live as long as 20 years in the wild.
Article and photos by Charly Mann
I have only seen the Yellow-Crowned Night Heron in one place in Oklahoma, in a small shallow pond in the middle of a dense forest outside of Bartlesville. For the past several years I have seen this lone Yellow-crowned Night Heron searching for food around thirty minutes after sunrise at least once or twice a month in August and September.
Yellow-crowned Night Heron in a small wetland area in the middle of a Bartlesville forest
The Yellow-crowned Night Heron, like other herons, wades into shallow water and stands motionless until it spots its prey, usually a fish or crustacean, and then in the blink of an eye stabs its victim with its long sharp bill. While most herons only hunt during the day, the Yellow-crowned Night Heron also does so at night.
Yellow-crowned Night Heron early morning hunting (photo taken August 2010)
As far as I can determine there is not any yellow on the Yellow-crowned Night Heron's crown nor anywhere else on its body. They have a primarily bluish-gray body, and a black head with white cheeks, crown, and forehead. Their feathers are black on top and grey underneath.
Both sexes look the same, though females are somewhat smaller.
Yellow-crowned Night Heron standing motionless as it watches for its next meal
The Yellow-crowned Night Heron's population has declined over the last century and the species is considered endangered by several conservation groups.
While the Yellow-crowned Night Heron can be found in Oklahoma only during the summer, some live along the Gulf Coast and part of the Atlantic Coast all year. Most however spend their Fall, Winter, and Spring in South America.
Yellow-crowned Night Heron in flight
The Yellow-crowned Night Heron is a solitary bird, and rarely seen around other birds. They are monogamous and often live as long as six years.
Yellow-crowned Night Herons usually build their nests in trees.
Article and pictures by Kathryn Mann
Until 1940 the beautiful male House Finch was found only in popular pet stores in most of the United States, and was called the Hollywood Finch because of its striking good looks. The only place they could be found in the wild then was the American southwest. Like the Common Sparrow and European Starling they were released in New York City starting in the 1940s, and have since spread to every region of the country.
Male House Finch enjoying some grass
House Finches are slender and about 5 1/2 inches in length. Males have a red crown, upper breast, and rear. Their wings, back, and tail are brown. Females are primarily grayish-brown which is streaked on their sides and breast.
Female House Finch in my Mulberry Tree (May 2010)
House Finches eat seeds, grains, and fruit. I often see them feasting on sunflowers and thistle throughout eastern Oklahoma. They are also regular visitors to my mulberry tree when its berries are ripe.
The female House Finch is the primary builder of their nest, though the male often brings much of the grass, weeds, and twigs used for its construction.
House Finch surveying his surroundings for seeds and other foods
Even though House Finches are small birds it is not uncommon for them to live ten years.