Birds of The Villages


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Robin, American

American Robin

The American robin is a medium size bird about 10 inches from beak to tail. It has a dark gray head and back, orange-red chest, and white under the tail. They have a white eye ring and a yellow bill. The female's chest is not as dark, and the juvenile's chest may be lighter and speckled. Up close, you may see thin black and white stripes on their throat.

Robins forage on the ground for worms and insects or in trees for berries. They can be found throughout The Villages, but a good place to look for them is on the golf course, where they have a plentiful supply of worms, especially after a rain storm when the worms come to the surface. When you see robins on the ground, you may notice they have a characteristic way of running for a short distance and then pausing.

The robin sings in a series of short, cheerful, warbled phrases.

Reference: Sibley (c2000) p403; Peterson (c2010) p292.

Sapsucker, Red-breasted

Red-breasted Sapsucker

The red-breasted sapsucker is about 8 inches from beak to tail. It is a black bird with lots of white spots and a red head and breast. Its belly is yellow to light gray. All sapsuckers have a white stripe on their wings.

Reference: Sibley (c2000) p310; Peterson (c2010) p238.

Scaup, Lesser

Lesser Scaup

The lesser scaup is a small duck about 16 inches from beak to tail. The male has a black head, neck, chest and tail, light gray body, and white belly. Its head may have a purple sheen. The female has a brown head, lighter brown body blending to a white belly. The female has a white patch near its bill. Both male and female have a bluish-gray bill.

Reference: Sibley (c2000) p92; Peterson (c2010) p36.

Siskin, Pine

Pine Siskin

The pine siskin is a small bird about 5 inches from beak to tail. They are bland little brown birds, but they are heavily streaked and have a hint of yellow on their wings. Their beaks are sharp and pointed, and more slender than that of finches.

They are likely to be found in the company of other similar little birds such as goldfinches or sparrows.

Reference: Sibley (c2000) p534; Peterson (c2010) p364.

Sparrow, Golden-crowned

Golden-crowned Sparrow

The golden-crowned sparrow is large for a sparrow at about 7 inches from beak to tail. They are a brownish bird, darker on top and pale gray/brown underneath. It has two pale white wingbars and a gray beak. It looks similar to the white-crowned sparrow, except for the top of its head. The golden-crowned sparrow has a dull yellow crown, which is usually bordered in black.

These birds can be found in loose, mixed flocks around dense brush, which they use for cover. They fly from bush to bush or hop on the ground and kick over leaves looking for seeds and insects. I frequently find them near the boundary fence by the 3rd tee.

Its song is easy to recognize. It typically makes 3-5 high pitched whistles moving down scale like "oh dear me".

Reference: Sibley (c2000) p494; Peterson (c2010) p338.

Sparrow, Song

Song Sparrow

The song sparrow is a small bird that seems smaller than its actual 5-6 inches from beak to tail because its tail is relatively long. It is brownish with thick, dark streaks and an orange tint. It has a thick, stout beak. When on the ground, it hops with both feet, often kicking over leaves to look for food. It will take refuge in trees but nests in low bushes or on the ground.

The song sparrow can be found anywhere in The Villages. It is one of the birds that you are likely to find in your own back yard.

Reference: Sibley (c2000) p498; Peterson (c2010) p336.

Sparrow, White-crowned

White-crowned Sparrow

The white-crowned sparrow is about 7 inches from beak to tail. They are a brownish bird, darker on top and pale gray/brown underneath. It has two white wingbars and a yellow-orange beak. The adult has a distinctive black and white striped head (crown). The crown of the young white-crowned sparrow is browner and can look similar to the golden-crowned sparrow. To distinguish the white-crowned sparrow, look for its yellow beak.

There are several types of sparrows at The Villages, but the white-crowned sparrow is the most common. You see them all the time in loose groups hoping around on the ground pecking at seeds and insects. When on the ground, they tend to stay in the shade and they are usually near bushes, which they scamper into if you get to close.

Reference: Sibley (c2000) p495; Peterson (c2010) p338.

Starling, European

European Starling

The European starling is about 8 inches from beak to tail. It is a shiny black bird with a green or purple sheen. In the winter, they are not as shiny and they have white spots all over. It has a sharp, tapered bill that is yellow in the breeding adult and dark otherwise.

European starlings are an aggressive bird that can be found almost anywhere. They often compete with the western bluebird for the same nest cavities. They feed on berries and insects. They often feed and roost in large flocks. When threatened, they may form a tight flock and fly very close together.

Reference: Sibley (c2000) p416; Peterson (c2010) p300.

Swallow, Tree

Tree Swallow

The tree swallow is about 6 inches from beak to tail. It looks black and shiny on top and pure white underneath, but it actually has dark blue shoulders and dark gray wings. They have long wings, which reach just past the tip of the tail when folded. Their tail is slightly V-shaped.

Compared to the violet-green swallow, the tree swallow is blue on its upper back instead of green, and the white does not come up as high on its face or wrap around as far on the top of its tail.

In the summer, they seem to fly endlessly over and around the ponds eating bugs. They fly back and forth close to the water in a non-repeating pattern.

Tree swallows nest in holes in trees and are one of the birds you may see using one of the birdhouses around the golf course.

Also, see the violet-green swallow, which looks, acts, and sounds very similar, and they are frequently found together.

Reference: Sibley (c2000) p367; Peterson (c2010) p268.

Swallow, Violet-green

Violet-green Swallow

The violet-green swallow is about 5 inches from beak to tail. It looks black and shiny on top and pure white underneath, but it actually has dark green shoulders, dark purple wings, and dark brown tail. They have long wings, which reach just past the tip of the tail when folded. Their tail is slightly V-shaped.

Compared to the tree swallow, the violet-green swallow is green on its upper back instead of blue. The white comes up higher on its face and wraps around its eye, and the white at the base of its tail wraps around and almost meets on the top of its tail.

Also see the tree swallow, which looks, acts, and sounds very similar, and they are frequently found together.

Reference: Sibley (c2000) p367; Peterson (c2010) p268.

Tanager, Western

Western Tanager

The western tanager is a medium size bird about 7 inches from beak to tail. The male is a colorful black and yellow bird with a reddish head. On the female, the back, wings, and tail are not as black and the yellow belly turns more olive around the head. Both the male and female have two wing bars (stripes)

References: Sibley (c2000) p463; Peterson (c2010) p324.

Thrush, Varied

Varied Thrush

The varied thrush is about 9 inches from beak to tail. It is an orange and black bird: black on top (although the back may be more of a blue-gray) and orange underneath with orange wing bars and an orange stripe over its eye.

It makes long whistled single note followed by a pause and a note at a different pitch.

References: Sibley (c2000) p402; Peterson (c2010) p292.

Titmouse, Oak

Oak Titmouse

The oak titmouse is a very small bird about 5 inches from beak to tail. It is a drab, light gray bird with a hint of brown. Its belly is lighter gray, almost white. It has a small tuft giving it a slightly pointy head.

It makes a rapid popping trill.

Reference: Sibley (c2000) p372; Peterson (c2010) p276.

Towhee, California

California Towhee

The California towhee is about 9 inches from beak to tail. This is a plain, gray-brown bird with a rusty patch under the tail and faint streaks under the chin. It has a long tail.

The California towhee is at home on the ground and in dense brush. It forages for seeds and insects on the ground near the brush.

It makes a series of quick, sharp chirps.

Reference: Sibley (c2000) p476; Peterson (c2010) p326.

Towhee, Spotted

Spotted Towhee

The spotted towhee is about 8 inches from beak to tail. It is bright black on its head, neck, back, and tail. Females may be slightly more dull black. The wings are black with white spots. Its sides are orange-brown and it has a white belly.

The spotted towhee is at home on the ground and in dense brush. It forages for seeds and insects on the ground near the brush.

Reference: Sibley (c2000) p474; Peterson (c2010) p326.

Turkey, Wild

Wild Turkey

The wild turkey is the largest bird in The Villages at about 36-46 inches from beak to tail. It has a large dark body with a long neck, small head, and long legs.

Turkeys forage in flocks of up to 60 birds, but at The Villages, the flocks seem to be closer to 6-12 turkeys. They are ground dwelling birds, except at night when they roost in trees. They mostly walk or run on the ground, but they can fly short distances of 100 yards or so. They can be found in the hills just outside the eastern boundary of The Villages. When they come into The Villages, they may be found around the 7th hole or near the bench overlooking The Villages. From the bench overlooking The Villages, you may also see them foraging in the clearing just outside the fence.

Turkeys make several different sounds from the descending gobble of the male, to purring, hissing, and clucking.

Reference: Sibley (c2000) p149; Peterson (c2010) p52.

Vulture, Turkey

Turkey Vulture

The turkey vulture is a large bird about 27 inches from beak to tail. It is mostly black, except for the underside of the wings and tail giving it a two-toned appearance in flight when seen from not too far away. Its head is small, red, and unfeathered with a hooked bill.

You can see vultures flying over The Villages on most sunny days all year long. They usually soar over the nearby foothills, but they often drift over The Villages. At night, they sleep standing on horizontal branches high up in large trees. They prefer trees with big branches and few leaves so they don't get their long wings tangled up in the smaller branches. They usually roost in the trees in the foothills, but in warmer months several vultures frequently spend the night in the trees between the 10th and 18th fairways. They are not early risers preferring to wait for the sun to warm them up. For a half hour or so before they leave for the day, you may see them spreading their wings to help dry off the dew.

Vultures are generally silent, but they may make hissing or grunting sounds while eating.

Reference: Sibley (c2000) p107; Peterson (c2010) p94.

Warbler, Townsend's

Townsend's Warbler

The Townsend's warbler is a small bird about 5 inches from beak to tail. The head and chest are yellow with black streaks. The belly and under the tail is white, and on top of the tail it is gray. It has two white wingbars. On the female, the black areas may be more spotty and olive in color.

These birds may visit The Villages in the winter, but they are rare.

References: Sibley (c2000) p438; Peterson (c2010) p310.

Warbler, Yellow-rumped

Yellow-rumped Warbler

The yellow-rumped warbler is a small bird about 5 inches from beak to tail. It is brown or gray on top, light stripes on its pale belly, and it has yellow splotches under each wing and one on its tail. It also has a very thin white ring around each eye.

These birds can be seen in groups hopping on the ground under trees eating small insects. If you get too close, they fly up into a nearby tree until you move away or they forget you are there.

References: Sibley (c2000) p436; Peterson (c2010) p308.

Waxwing, Cedar

Cedar Waxwing

The cedar waxwing is about 7 inches from beak to tail. It is a very pretty bird that is redish-brown on the head blending to a muddy yellow in the belly. On top the color blends to gray at the tail, which ends in a bright yellow tip. The waxwing has a black eyeline giving it a racoon-like look, and its head is topped with a crest for a slightly pointy look.

Cedar waxwings are frequently found together in large flocks. When they move from one place to another, you may see them flying in a ball of birds in synchronized flight. The only time I have seen them in The Villages, they were in large flocks in early spring eating something in the red-ironbark eucalyptus trees.

Reference: Sibley (c2000) p432; Peterson (c2010) p300.

Wigeon, American

American Wigeon

The American wigeon is about 19 inches from beak to tail. It is a light brown duck with a white belly, a gray speckled neck and head, and a light blue-gray bill. The male has a white forehead and shiny green eye stripe.

The wigeon is an occasional winter visitor at The Villages.

References: Sibley (c2000) p85; Peterson (c2010) p24.

Woodpecker, Acorn

Acorn Woodpecker

The acorn woodpecker is about 9 inches from beak to tail. It is a striking, high contrast, black and white bird with a bright red crown. Its back, head, and breast are shiny black, and its throat and belly are bright white.

The acorn woodpecker lives in communal groups of a dozen or more family members. They eat mostly acorns so they are more likely to be found at the edges of The Villages where oak trees are more plentiful. They are rarely seen on the ground. There is a colony of acorn woodpeckers that lives in the trees between the second green and third tee box, and they collect acorns from the oak trees just outside the fence by the third tee.

Acorn woodpeckers make a "wack-a wack-a wack-a" sound. They make the sound that inspired the creator of Woody Woodpecker.

Reference: Sibley (c2000) p307; Peterson (c2010) p236.

Woodpecker, Nuttall's

Nuttall's Woodpecker

The Nuttall's woodpecker is about 7-8 inches from beak to tail. It is a black and white bird with stripes on its back and spots on its belly. The male has a red area on top of its head.

Reference: Sibley (c2000) p316; Peterson (c2010) p240.

Wren, Bewick's

Bewick's Wren

The Bewick's wren is about 5 inches from beak to tail. It is a small bird, light brown on top and light gray underneath and it has a distinctive white stripe just above its eye. Its tail is long and lightly striped, and its tail is frequently pointed up while the bird is hopping around on the ground.

Reference: Sibley (c2000) p385; Peterson (c2010) p280.


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