Birds of The Villages


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Hawk, Cooper's

Cooper's Hawk

The Cooper's hawk is about 17 inches from beak to tail. It is blue-gray above and white and orange underneath with narrow, horizontal orange stripes on its chest.

The Cooper's hawk and the sharp-shinned hawk look very similar, but the Cooper's hawk is larger by several inches, and its tail is more rounded both in flight and when folded.

Reference: Sibley (c2000) p104, 112; Peterson (c2010) p102.

Hawk, Red-shouldered

Red-shouldered Hawk

The red-shouldered hawk is a large bird, about 16-20 inches from beak to tail. The top front of their wings is orange-brown, which accounts for their name. Sometimes you can see this when their wings are folded. Their back is speckled black and white and their tail is striped. They are orange-brown underneath with a slight horizontal striping.

They sit near the tops of trees and swoop down on unsuspecting small animals.

The red-shouldered hawk is not very common around The Villages. You are most likely to see one near the boundary on the foothill side (eastern) of The Villages or on the trails above The Villages.

They make a two syllable "kee-uur" sound.

Reference: Sibley (c2000) p117; Peterson (c2010) p106.

Hawk, Red-tailed

Red-tailed Hawk

The red-tailed hawk is a large bird, about 20 inches from beak to tail, with broad shoulders, big head and a hooked bill. They are dark brown on top and lighter underneath with a light-red tail.

Red-tailed hawks may be seen perched near the top of tall trees where they glide down when they spot small prey, or they may soar in circles above open areas like the golf course or the nearby hills.

They make a screeching "keer" like sound.

Reference: Sibley (c2000) p122-3, 105, 114; Peterson (c2010) p108.

Heron, Black-crowned Night

Black-crowned Night-Heron

The black-crowned night-heron is 25 inches or so from beak to tail. It is a large, stocky bird that is white underneath, light gray wings, and black back and top of the head.

The night heron is an infrequent visitor to The Villages.

Reference: Sibley (c2000) p65; Peterson (c2010) p88.

Heron, Green

Green Heron

The green heron is 18 inches or so from beak to tail, but its size is deceptive. When standing normally, it appears to have a very short neck, but when alarmed or while reaching for food, its neck can stretch several more inches. Its body is dark gray with a blue-green tint, and its neck is a chestnut brown (although, the juvenile’s neck is lighter with brown and light tan streaks).

There is usually one or two green herons in The Villages. You are most likely to find them at the edge of one of the ponds. In particular, they frequent the pond between the 6th and 7th fairways. They are hard to see because their slow movement and their coloring allow them to bend into their surroundings. There is frequently one standing on the edge of the pond at the bottom of the waterfall between the 6th and 7th holes. Sometimes, he will be standing there side-by-side with a snowy egret.

Reference: Sibley (c2000) p64; Peterson (c2010) p88.

Hummingbird, Allen's

Allen's Hummingbird

The Allen's hummingbird is about 4 inches from the tip of its long narrow beak to its tail. The Allen's hummingbird has orange color around its eyes, belly, and tail feathers. The top of its head and back are green. It has a dark red throat with a white patch underneath. Note: the Allen's hummingbird and the female Rufous hummingbird and are very difficult to distinguish by appearance alone.

Reference: Sibley (c2000) p301; Peterson (c2010) p226.

Hummingbird, Anna's

Anna's Hummingbird

The Anna's hummingbird is about 4-5 inches from the tip of its long narrow beak to its tail. It is generally a pale green color and lighter underneath. The male's throat and head are a shimmering, rosy red. The female may also have a slight reddening on the throat, but not as much as the male.

Hummingbirds are attracted to bright flowers, especially red flowers. The hummingbird eats by hovering to sip nectar from flowers. In addition to finding hummingbirds around flowers, you can frequently see them flying in or out near the top of eucalyptus trees.

If you are close to a hummingbird, you may hear it making a rapid clicking noise.

Reference: Sibley (c2000) p298; Peterson (c2010) p224.

Jay, Steller's

Steller's Jay

The Steller's jay is large bird about 11 inches from beak to tail. It is a mostly blue bird, except around the head and shoulders, which is black. It has a tall crest giving it a pointy head.

The Steller's jay is not very common inside The Villages, but you will see them near the fence on the eastern side of The Villages nearest the foothills and also on the hiking trails above The Villages.

References: Sibley (c2000) p351; Peterson (c2010) p262.

Jay, Western Scrub

Western Scrub-jay

The western scrub-jay is large bird about 11 inches from beak to tail. It is a blue and white bird. The top of the head, wings, and tail are blue. There is a gray or brown patch on its back and it is white underneath. It has a long tail.

The western scrub-jay is slightly more common in The Villages than the Stellar's jay, but they also prefer the oak woods just outside the eastern side of The Villages. I usually see one or two hopping around on the ground near the fence by the third tee.

References: Sibley (c2000) p352; Peterson (c2010) p262.

Junco, Oregon

Oregon Junco

The dark-eyed, Oregon junco is a very small bird that is only 5-6 inches from beak to tail. It is a gray bird. The male has a rusty colored back and a black head. The female's colors are duller.

The Oregon junco is very common in The Villages all year long. It is one of several little brown birds with similar behavior that are found in The Villages, but it is easily distinguished because of its light colored body and contrasting black head. They feed mostly on the ground, so you will see them hopping around in the grass (usually in the shade of a tree) eating seeds and bugs. They frequently fly between a branch in a nearby tree and the ground. When on the ground, they are constantly moving from one place to another. When you see one Oregon junco, there are usually several others nearby.

Reference: Sibley (c2000) p500; Peterson (c2010) p340.

Killdeer

Killdeer

The killdeer is about 10 inches from beak to tail. It is dark tan on top with a bright white belly and two thick black stripes on its chest. There is an orange and black spot on the tail.

The killdeer is a shorebird, so it has fairly long legs that allow it to wade in shallow water when looking for food. They tend to walk very quickly in a run-stop-run pattern. Since they are so quick on their feet, they are more likely to run away when you get too close rather than fly away.

The killdeer is not found at The Villages very often.

The killdeer gets its name from the piercing "kill-dee" sound that is makes.

Reference: Sibley (c2000) p167; Peterson (c2010) p132.

Kingfisher, Belted

Belted Kingfisher

The western kingfisher is about 13 inches from beak to tail. Its body is stocky, its head is large, and it has a large shaggy crest on top of its head. The kingfisher is blue-gray on top and white underneath with a gray stripe across its chest and white ring around its neck. The female has an additional rusty-brown stripe lower on the belly.

When feeding, the kingfisher perches in trees near water, or it hovers over the water, where it looks for fish. When it spots one, it plunges head first into the water and catches the fish in its mouth. If you look closely, you can see fish about 1-2 inches long swimming in some of our ponds, which is what the kingfisher eats.

Reference: Sibley (c2000) p304; Peterson (c2010) p234.

Kite, White-tailed

White-tailed Kite

The white-tailed kite is a medium-sized hawk at about 15 inches from beak to tail. It is a white and blue-gray bird; mostly blue-gray on top and mostly white underneath. They have a white face with dark eyes and a hooked bill, and they have a long white tail. The juveniles can be identified by brown streaks on their chest, like a brown bib.

Reference: Sibley (c2000) p110; Peterson (c2010) p100.

Mallard

Mallard

The mallard is about 22 inches from beak to tail. The male is much more colorful than the female.  It has a shimmering green head (which can look blue in some light), gray body, brown breast, and a white neck ring.  The female and the younglings are speckled brown making it easier for them to blend into the nearby shrubbery. Both male and female have a yellow bill and orange feet, but the female has a dark patch on her bill. They both have a white tail, but the male's is whiter. They also both have a white-blue-white stripe on the edge of their wings (speculum), which may be slightly visible when their wings are folded.

Many mallards remain at The Villages year round. They can be found in or around most of the ponds at The Villages. The ponds between the 6th and 7th holes are usually a good place to find them. In the summer, during the heat of the day, they tend to sleep in the shade of a tree near the edge of a pond.

Mallards nest on the ground near water from the middle of March to early June. They usually have around 10 eggs, which hatch in about 28 days. The chicks are small, fluffy balls of yellow and brown. The adorable ducklings can be seen tagging along with their mother for 7-8 weeks until they can fly.

The female mallard makes the familiar loud quacking sound. The male makes a softer quacking sound.

Reference: Sibley (c2000) p82; Peterson (c2010) p26.

Merganser, Common

Common Merganser

The common merganser is about 24 inches from beak to tail. They are a large, sleek duck with a narrow, red bill. The male is white with a black back and head. The head can be a dark shimmering green in the sunlight. The female is gray with a cinnamon-brown head.

Common mergansers are generally silent except when the female is calling its ducklings or when threatened.

Reference: Sibley (c2000) p102; Peterson (c2010) p40.

Merganser, Hooded

Hooded Merganser

The hooded merganser is about 18 inches from beak to tail. They have a crest that fans out on the back of their head making their head look oblong. The adult males are black on their back and head with crisp, white patterns, especially the back of the head and chest, and they are chestnut colored below. Females and juveniles are gray and brown, with a cinnamon-brown colored head.

Reference: Sibley (c2000) p101; Peterson (c2010) p40.

Merlin

Merlin

The merlin is a small falcon (slightly smaller than a crow) about 11 inches from beak to tail. It is a dark colored bird with a dark gray-brown back. Its belly is lighter with white spots, and the tail is banded.

The merlin is very fast and catches birds and insects in flight. When in flight, its wingtips are pointed, which may help distinguish it from other birds with more rounded wingtips.

Reference: Sibley (c2000) p130; Peterson (c2010) p112.

Mockingbird, Northern

Northern Mockingbird

The northern mockingbird is about 10 inches from beak to tail. It is gray-blue or gray-brown on top and white underneath. It has two white wingbars, and you may see a white patch on the forward side of its wing when it is perched. It is a slim bird with a long tail.

Reference: Sibley (c2000) p411; Peterson (c2010) p294.

Nuthatch, White-breasted

White-breasted Nuthatch

The white-breasted nuthatch is a small bird about 6 inches from beak to tail. It is a gray-blue bird with dark gray wings turning to black on top of the head. The face, throat, and breast are white turning to light gray at the belly, and a slight rusty color under the tail. The beak is a half inch or so, thin, sharp, and slightly upturned.

When you see a nuthatch, it will likely be creeping headfirst down a tree trunk looking for food.

The nuthatch makes a repeated nasally "whi whi whi" sound.

Reference: Sibley (c2000) p381; Peterson (c2010) p278.

Oriole, Bullock's

Bullock's Oriole

The Bullock's oriole is about 8 inches from beak to tail. It has a thin, straight, pointed bill. The male and female have much different coloring. The male is a bright orange-yellow bird with black back and wings. The top of its head is black, it has a thin black stripe through its eye and a black mark under its chin. It also has a large white wingbar. The female is gray on top, light-gray or white underneath with yellow highlights around its face, chest, and tail. It has two thin, white wingbars.

Reference: Sibley (c2000) p519; Peterson (c2010) p358.

Phoebe, Black

Black Phoebe

The black phoebe is a small bird about 6 inches from beak to tail. It is mostly black, except for a white belly. Rusty brown highlights on the wings are characteristic of the juvenile.

The black phoebe is common year round at The Villages. They are usually by themselves, so even though you see them a lot, they are not as numerous as some of the other small birds. They feed on insects, especially around the ponds. They frequently sit on the lower branches of trees or on the hazard stakes near the ponds, which makes them easy to spot.

The black phoebe makes short, sharp peeps every second or two.

Reference: Sibley (c2000) p330; Peterson (c2010) p248.

Pigeon, Band-tailed

Band-tailed Pigeon

The band-tailed pigeon is the largest pigeon. It is about 15 inches from beak to tail. It is mostly light blue-gray with a white stripe on the back of its neck. Its beak is yellow with a black tip. In flight, the wing tips and tail are dark gray and the tail has a light gray band at the tip, which is what its name refers to.

The band-tailed pigeon is typically found in flocks in wooded areas.

It makes a soft owl-like wooing sound several times.

Reference: Sibley (c2000) p260; Peterson (c2010) p206.

Pigeon, Rock

Rock Pigeon

The rock pigeon or rock dove is about 12 inches from beak to tail. Its plumage varies widely, but it is typically a blue-gray, plump bird with a small round head. It frequently has two black stripes near its tail. The neck and head are usually darker with a shimmering green and purple tint. Domestication has resulted in a variety of colors and patterns in its plumage, but another common look is a dark splotchy pattern on it back.

The rock pigeon is the type of pigeon you typically see in large flocks in cities. They are usually in flocks of a dozen or more birds as they strut, bob, and peck their way around on the ground. You actually don't see them very much in The Villages, but just outside The Villages, you frequently see them perched on the horizontal bars of street lights.

Reference: Sibley (c2000) p260; Peterson (c2010) p206.

Quail, California

California Quail

The California quail is about 10 inches from beak to tail. It is a plump, gray-brown bird with a rich gray breast and white scales on it belly. The male has a black face with white lines. The quail has a black plume curving forward from the top of its head.

California quail are commonly seen running around on the ground in bushy countryside in large groups. In The Villages, you are most likely to see quail in the hills above the houses.

Reference: Sibley (c2000) p138; Peterson (c2010) p62.


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