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This web page contains pictures and information about the birds that you see in The Villages Golf and Country Club. I update this page to add new birds when I can photograph them, and I replace the current pictures with better ones whenever I can. The pictures on this web site were all taken at The Villages, but the audio recordings are linked to recordings from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. You can click on any of the pictures of birds on this page to see additional pictures of that bird. You can then click on any of those pictures to enlarge them.
Some additional information that may be useful:
The Brewer's blackbird is about 9 inches from beak to tail. The male is an all-black bird with a yellow eye. In sunlight, it may have a slight purple or greenish sheen. The female is brownish-gray with a dark eye.
These birds are common in the valley, but I rarely see them in The Villages. These are the birds that you see picking through the leftovers in many outdoor restaurants.
Reference: Sibley (c2000) p514; Peterson (c2010) p354.
The red-winged blackbird is about 9 inches from beak to tail. The male is an all-black bird with a red patch on the upper wing (shoulder). The female is brownish-gray with light striping, especially on the belly. Both the male and female red-winged blackbird have a black eyes (unlike the male Brewer's blackbird).
Like the Brewer's blackbird, these birds are common in the area, but I rarely see these birds in The Villages.
Reference: Sibley (c2000) p513; Peterson (c2010) p352.
The western bluebird is about 5-7 inches from beak to tail. The head, tail, and wings of the male are deep blue. They have a rusty colored breast and back, and their belly is light gray. The colors of the female are much more muted. They are easily recognized; if you see a small bird and catch a glimpse of blue, it is probably a bluebird.
When you see a bluebird, there are usually several others nearby. You will frequently see them in the grass eating insects or flying back to a nearby tree. You can find these birds all over the golf course, but a good place to find them is around the 9-hole golf course or holes #4 and #5 on the 18-hole golf course.
Western bluebirds are very common in The Villages during the summer. It is one of the birds that nests in the birdhouses around the golf course. Their nesting period is from May to June.
Reference: Sibley (c2000) p401; Peterson (c2010) p288.
The bufflehead is a very small duck about 13 inches from beak to tail. The female is a little smaller than the male. The male is mostly bright white with a black back. Its forehead and neck are black, but the back of its head is white. The black on its head turns to a dark, shimmering green and purple in the sunlight. The female is mostly black or dark gray with a white spot on its cheek. The bufflehead has a large, puffy head with a steep forehead and a dark gray-blue beak.
The bufflehead eats mostly by diving under water and eating plants. They are usually in the water where they are constantly moving and splashing themselves. When they dive under water, it is a very quick movement.
Bufflehead ducks only stay at The Villages during the winter from around October to May.
Reference: Sibley (c2000) p101; Peterson (c2010) p38.
The chestnut-backed chickadee is about 5 inches from beak to tail. All chickadees have a black head and neck with white cheeks. The chestnut-backed chickadee is distinctive because of it chestnut-brown back. It also has a gray belly and a dark gray lower back and tail.
A good place to look for these birds is in the sweetgum trees (the trees with the prickly balls) after they have lost their leaves. The birds eat the seeds from the seed balls and without the leaves it is easy to see the birds jumping around in the tree.
Reference: Sibley (c2000) p377; Peterson (c2010) p274.
The American coot is about 12-15 inches from beak to tail. They are a dark gray bird with a black, velvety head, white beak, and a white patch under the tail.
They are a social bird that collects in large groups. They may be seen foraging in the grass or floating in the ponds. When in the water, they may dive underwater to find food. They are rather clumsy when they try to run with feet that seem too large for their bodies.
You can see coots in many of the ponds from October to March. A good place to look for them is by the lower pond on the 7th hole or the pond on the 16th hole. Although they are still common in the Bay Area, the coots leave The Villages during the summer.
Reference: Sibley (c2000) p151; Peterson (c2010) p124.
The double-crested cormorant is a large bird, measuring about 32 inches from beak to tail. They are all black or dark gray except for an orange area around their chin.
You may see an occasional cormorant throughout the year near the ponds between the 6th and 7th holes (I rarely see them anywhere else in The Villages). They swim in the ponds to eat, they stand along the edge to dry off, and they roost in the eucalyptus trees next to the ponds.
They are very good swimmers and dive underwater to find their food. When swimming underwater, they are surprisingly fast. If you see one dive under water, it may come back up further away than you expect and much quicker than you expect for the distance it traveled. It is common to see a cormorant standing on the shore with its wings stretched out to dry off after being in the water.
Reference: Sibley (c2000) p51; Peterson (c2010) p80.
The brown-headed cowbird is about 7 inches from beak to tail. The male is shiny black all over except a chocolate brown head, but the female is a bland gray-brown all over.
Cowbirds make a gurgling, squeaking sound.
Reference: Sibley (c2000) p510; Peterson (c2010) p356.
The American crow is about 16-18 inches from beak to tail, and it is completely black.
Although this is not the most numerous bird in The Villages, it is probably one of the birds you will see most frequently. This is because they live in The Villages year round, they are fairly large so they stand out, and they are found everywhere in The Villages. You will frequently see them walking in the street, walking in the grass, or roosting in large trees. Usually there will be two or three crows together. Occasionally, in the fall or winter, a large group of them will flock together in one of the big eucalyptus trees. This is hard to miss because all the crows will be "cawing", which makes quite a racket.
Reference: Sibley (c2000) p360; Peterson (c2010) p266.
The mourning dove is about 12 inches from beak to tail. It is a light gray-tan bird with black spots on its back. They have a small, smooth, round head and a very long, pointed tail.
I mostly see mourning doves in my back yard because I have a bird feeder that they are attracted to, but you might also see one if you look at the top of the trees on the short golf course..
The mourning dove makes a soft cooing sound, and when they fly, their wings make a sound like a squeak toy.
Reference: Sibley (c2000) p255; Peterson (c2010) p208.
The great egret is a tall, skinny bird with long neck and long legs. It is about 38 inches from beak to tail. It is all white with a yellow beak, black legs, and black feet (also, see the snowy egret, which looks very similar, but the snowy egret is slightly smaller, has a black beak, and yellow feet).
Great egrets are common in the wetlands around the Bay, but they only occasionally visit The Villages. When one does come, it may stay for a few days and then move on.
Reference: Sibley (c2000) p61; Peterson (c2010) p86.
The snowy egret is a tall, skinny bird with long neck and long legs. It is about 24 inches from beak to tail. It is all white with a black beak, black legs, and yellow feet (it looks very similar to the great egret, but the great egret is slightly larger, has a yellow beak, and black feet).
Snowy egrets are a frequent visitor to The Villages' ponds. They walk along the edge of the pond and use their long neck to reach into the water when they spot something to eat. There is frequently a snowy egret at the lower pond on the 7th hole. Oftentimes, you can see it standing at the bottom of the water fall waiting for food to float by.
Great egrets and snowy egrets famously nest near Google along Shorebird Way in Mountain View. There, the egrets fill the eucalyptus trees and the street has to be blocked off during nesting season because so many of the chicks fall out of their nest.
Reference: Sibley (c2000) p61; Peterson (c2010) p86.
The house finch is a small brown bird about 5-6 inches from beak to tail with blurry brown steaks on its chest. The male is red or red-orange and brown. The red color is mostly in the front on the chest and head. The female looks like the male, but without the red coloring. The house finch has two white wingbars. The head is plain with no markings. The bill is stout and the upper bill is curved downward.
Compared to the purple finch, the house finch has more brown and white contrast on its back, the upper bill is curved, and the female's head is plain.
The house finch eats seeds and insects, and is one of the birds that you are likely to see if someone has a bird feeder hanging outside their house.
References: Sibley (c2000) p529; Peterson (c2010) p362.
The purple finch is a small brown bird about 6 inches from beak to tail with blurry brown steaks on its chest. The male is red or rosy and brown. The red color is on the chest, head, and the wings. The female looks like the male, but without the red coloring. On the female there is a slight white eye line. The bill is stout and conical (less curved than the house finch).
Compared to the house finch, the purple finch has a rosy back and its wingbars are less distinct and rosy in color. Its upper bill is straighter. The female has a slight white eye line
References: Sibley (c2000) p528; Peterson (c2010) p362.
The northern flicker is a rather large woodpecker about 12 inches from beak to tail. From a distance, it looks like a gray bird with black spots all over its back and belly and a black patch on its chest. As you get closer, the back is tan with black bars (horizontal stripes), the belly is lighter with black spots, and the head is smooth and gray with a bit of rusty color. It has a stout beak about an inch long that tapers to a point. The female has a bright red stripe under its eye.
The northern flicker often hops on the ground and pecks at the grass to find insects. On hot summer days, you may see one or two of them clinging to the shady side of a bare vertical tree trunk.
It makes a sharp "keee" sound, or you may hear it rapidly knocking its bill against a tree.
Reference: Sibley (c2000) p318; Peterson (c2010) p238.
The gadwall is about 20 inches from beak to tail. In size and shape, it looks very similar to a mallard. The male is gray-brown with brown highlights on its back and it has black tail feathers. The female is speckled brown, and looks very similar to a female mallard. It has a white spot on each side where the mallard has blue stripe. Both the male and female have a dark gray bill, but the female's bill is orange on the sides.
Reference: Sibley (c2000) p84; Peterson (c2010) p26.
The common goldeneye is a medium sized duck at about 18 inches from beak to tail. It is black and white with a bright yellow or golden eye. The male is lighter with a green tinted head and a large white patch on its cheek. The female is darker with a brownish head. Both are lighter underneath and have a black bill.
References: Sibley (c2000) p100; Peterson (c2010) p38.
The American goldfinch is a small yellow bird about 5 inches from beak to tail. They are yellow with black wings with white markings. The male is brighter and has a black forehead.
The American goldfinch eats seeds almost entirely, which makes them a frequent visitor to backyard bird feeders. They travel in flocks, so in the spring, you will see large flocks of American goldfinches landing on plants when they go to seed.
References: Sibley (c2000) p535; Peterson (c2010) p364.
The lesser goldfinch is a small yellow bird about 4-5 inches from beak to tail. It is olive color on top and yellow underneath. The belly of the male is a brighter yellow than the female. The lesser goldfinch has a short, stout beak.
Goldfinches travel in groups, so when you see one, it will likely be with several other lesser goldfinches and maybe some other similar small birds.
The lesser goldfinch eats seeds and insects, and it is one of the birds that you are likely to see at backyard bird feeders.
References: Sibley (c2000) p535; Peterson (c2010) p364.
The Canada goose is one of the largest birds you will see in The Villages measuring about 30 inches from beak to tail. The goose has a long neck, large body, and short legs. Their body is gray-brown and lighter underneath with a white rear and black tail. They have a long, black neck and head with a white stripe under their chin.
The Canada goose can be seen in or around many of the ponds in The Villages. They seem to move around from one area to another as a family, but they can frequently be found near the pond between the 16th and 17th holes. They are vegetarians so they forage in the grass, and when in the water, they sometimes tip up like the ducks to eat the moss from the bottom of the ponds.
Since the golfers do not like the mess the geese make on the golf course, the golf course superintendent occasionally tries to encourage the geese to leave The Villages using specially trained dogs or scary orange balloons, but he only has temporary success at best.
Geese nest on the ground near water. They usually have 5-6 eggs, which hatch in 25-30 days. Chicks are able to fly in about 9 weeks. The parents and chicks stay together until the following spring.
When alarmed or calling to each other, they make a loud honking noise.
Reference: Sibley (c2000) p74-5; Peterson (c2010) p18.
The pied-billed grebe is about 13 inches from beak to tail. It is a tawny-brown bird with a distinctive short, thick, pointed bill. Their bill turns white with a black ring in the summer. They also have a black patch under their chin during the summer.
Pied-billed grebes are good swimmers, but they have difficulty walking and their small wings makes for labored flying. They have the ability to sink so only their head is above water to avoid danger. They feed by diving and eating small crustaceans, fish, and vegetation.
The pied-billed grebe is an infrequent summer visitor at The Villages. They prefer ponds with more vegetation where they can hide to stay out of danger.
Reference: Sibley (c2000) p28; Peterson (c2010) p66.
The ring-billed gull is a fairly large bird, although not for a gull, at about 17 inches from beak to tail. It is mostly white, but the top of its wings are light gray with black wingtips. The top of its head is lightly speckled with tan spots. It has a yellow bill with a black ring around the tip, which helps distinguish it from other gulls. It has yellow or pale legs.
The ring-billed gull is common in the bay area at parking lots, garbage dumps, beaches, and so forth, but they do not come to The Villages very often. You are more likely to see one flying over The Villages than on the ground.
Reference: Sibley (c2000) p214; Peterson (c2010) p174.
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