Saturday, June 20, 2009

Name That Bird

Ok, gravestone fans. Is anyone good with birds?

I saw this one on June 17 (around 3p.m.) in Hatfield, MA. It was a fat bird, bigger than a dove, smaller than a duck, with long toes, a red triangle on the back of its head, and a mottled brown/buff back. As it flew away from me, I noticed that its underside was fat, round, and pure white. It wasn't a great flyer — it bumbled off this gravestone and onto the ground, then took off again, barely clearing a 5-foot hedge. When it took off, its wings made an audible thwap-thwap sound, like a goose or a pheasant.

Unfortunately, I didn't get a good picture of it. You can't see the beak in this photo, which makes it tough to identify. I'm kicking myself because I startled it.

I've looked at 12 websites and 3 books on birds of New England, but I've had no luck.

Suggestions?

4 comments:

RJO said...

'Tis a shy Flicker (Colaptes auratus) looking away from the camera.

Caitlin GD Hopkins said...

Thanks!

I'm a terrible bird watcher — I clomp around and don't know any of the species — but I'm always excited to see anything other than a robin or a chickadee.

Here are some more Flicker pictures:
http://www.irritatedvowel.com/Birds/Flickers.aspx

RJO said...

People don't think of woodpeckers feeding on lawns, but that what Flickers commonly do. Ants are their preferred food, so old cemeteries with their old ant-filled lawns are often favorite hunting grounds.

Non sequitur: I just came across this story on Connecticut gravestones from the New York Times, 1989. Worth a bookmark:

http://www.nytimes.com/1989/06/18/nyregion/someone-who-knows-tha-even-graveyards-need-friends.html

Dave said...

I'm disappointed that your flicker links aren't to pictures on Flickr.