To celebrate the Holiday Season, we are re-featuring another "monthly" bird you might not have seen in person, but you probably heard of: the Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis).
The Northern Cardinal lives primarily east of the Rockies, with a small population in Arizona (hint-hint: The Arizona Cardinals football team’s namesake). From their easily recognizable colors, they have become a famous bird. They are the State bird of seven US states; more than any other American species. BirdNote devoted the episode below all about our favorite red bird:
A male Northern Cardinal against a snowy landscape(like the photo above) is commonly seen gracing many a holiday greeting card. But did you know Northern Cardinals were originally only found in the warmer Southern States, like Florida and Louisana? They settled in Northern States and Canadian Provinces in the past century. This BirdNote episode covers this full story of why the Northern Cardinal moved north.
Besides the cards you have sent or received this holiday, have you ever seen a Northern Cardinal back east? Let us know in the comments. From all of us at Lahontan Audubon Society: Happy Holidays!
Our December bird of the month is the Pinyon Jay. Pinyon Jays are known for foraging in Pinyon pines, hence their namesake. Pinyon Jays are a larger jay, and sometimes mistaken for small crows.
Pinyon Jays are found throughout the American West and even parts of Baja California. They are often seen in the Great Basin region due to the Pinyon trees that can be found here. Flocks of Pinyon Jays can be seen in Alum Canyon and have been recently observed on Peavine here in Reno. The Pinyon Jay is a Watch List species due to habitat loss.
Lahontan Audubon Society is partnering with the Great Basin Bird Observatory on an exciting community science project to advance our knowledge of this unique species. Join us for our upcoming free monthly meeting where you will learn all about the natural history of Pinyon Jays and how you can support conservation efforts. To register for the member meeting click below.
For more information about Pinyon Jays and to hear recordings of their call, please visit the Audubon Field Guide entry below:
Our November Bird of the Month is the Common Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula). This photo of a male (left) and female (right), was taken at Cottonwood Park. Common Goldeneyes are recognized by their namesake golden eyes and the white egg-shaped patch on the male's "cheek". Like most ducks, Common Goldeneyes enjoy rivers, lakes and wetlands. As the Fall and winter move on, they become more commonly (no pun intended) seen at Virginia Lake, Idlewild Park, or other parks with rivers and lakes.
To learn more about Common Goldeneyes and hear their calls, visit the Audubon Field Guide entry here: https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/common-goldeneye
This month’s bird is the Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura). The Mourning Dove is in the same family as the Eurasian Collared Dove and the Rock Pigeon. The Mourning Dove received its name from its distinct melancholy “Cooing” call, hence the term “mourning”. You may have incidentally heard the Mourning Dove, as its call is often used as a sound effect in cinema and television.
Mourning Doves eat seeds and frequently visit seed feeders. They are voracious eaters and eat up to 10-20% of their body weight per day. If you have a seed bird feeder, mourning doves may come visit you. If you do not have a feeder, the doves are often seen at Idlewild Park, Rancho San Rafael and Oxbow Nature Center.
To learn more about Mourning Doves and to hear their call, visit the Audubon's Field Guide:
Our Bird of the Month for September is the Common Yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas). Yellow-throats are wood warblers and easily recognized by their yellow feathers on their throats and males have a distinctive black and white mask. Unlike other warblers, yellowthroats nest in wetland areas. Yellowthroats are often identified by their "witch-eddy, witch-eddy, witch-eddy," call.
Ironically, this month Common Yellowthroats are a rare sighting, often seen at the wetlands in Oxbow nature study area and Rancho San Rafael Regional Park.
To learn more about Common Yellowthroats and to hear a recording of their "witch-eddy, witch-eddy" call, visit the Audubon Field Guide: https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/common-yellowthroat