Welcome to Week #29 of the Bird Weekly Photo Challenge. Week #29 challenge is Birds with Long Wingspans.
The feature image is a Red-shouldered Hawk. This bird of prey is a large, broad-winged hawk that is approximately 17 inches (48-61 cm) with a wingspan of 37-43.7 inches (94-111 cm).
Happy 2021 everyone! Our first Bird Weekly Photo Challenge for the new year! We had some great birding in 2020 despite the challenges the world is facing with the pandemic, economy and job loss. If you get a chance to thank a front line worker, please do so because they keep our lives at a somewhat “normal” level. I always thank the people checking me out at the grocery store and the one who cleans the shopping cart after every human has touched it. They continue to keep us safe, take care of those who have fallen ill and do their jobs despite the dangers they face so that we can have the freedom to get outside in nature to do what we love.
This week, we explore birds with long wingspans. I missed everyone last week but I hope you had a wonderful holiday!
The Roseate Spoonbill is a 32 inches (81 cm) bird that can reach a height of up to 2.5 feet (80 cm) with a wingspan that can stretch 1.5 times as wide, reaching up to 4 feet (120 cm).
The Wood Stork is a large bird that is 33-44 inches (85-115 cm) bird with a wingspan reaching 59-60 inches (150-175 cm).
The Red-tailed hawk is distinguished by its red tail and is 18-26 inches (45-56 cm) with a wingspan of 3.4-4.8 feet (114-133 cm). It is the most common hawk in North America. They fly high above open fields, slowly turning their broad rounded wings to position themselves to go in after their prey. The Red-tailed Hawk is the bird that swooped down and knocked our Love Bird, Tweety off his perch, pinned him to the ground and flew off with him in his talons. Gruesome account, but accurate.
The Turkey Vulture is a 25-32 inch (64-81 cm) bird with a 6 foot (170-178 cm) wingspan. They are the clean up crew who are opportunist. They do not kill their prey, they rather wait for something to be killed or die. They prefer fresh meat that is 12-24 hours old.
A family of Turkey Vultures hanging out at the Sweetwater Preserve in Gainesville, Florida. The two small black ones on the left are juveniles.
The Osprey is a large bird of prey that is 21-23 inches (53-58 cm) and has a wingspan of 5 feet (1.5 meters) Both the male and female build the nest, but the male usually arrives first to find the site before the female arrives. It is believed they are mostly monogamous and often mate for life.
The Anhinga is 35 inches (89 cm) with a wingspan that reaches 3.7 feet (1.14 meters). They are fish eaters and dive like ducks with their webbed feet. Once finished in the water, they have to dry their wings by spreading them out as they don’t have a natural repellent on their feathers like many birds.
An adult Great Egret can reach a length of 2.6-3.4 feet (80-104 cm) with a wingspan of 52-67 inches (131-170 cm). This bird is the symbol of the National Audubon Society, one of the oldest environmental organizations in North America. Audubon was founded to protect birds from being killed for their feathers when they were almost extinct in the nineteenth century.
The Cattle Egret is a small white heron at 18.1-22.1 inches (46-55 cm) in length with a wingspan of about 3 feet (88-96 cm). This bird was originally from Africa but found its way to North America in 1953.
While the Laughing Gull is not the largest of the gulls, it is still 15-18 inches in length (39-46 cm) with a wingspan of 36-47 inches (92-120 cm).
The Brown Pelican is a 54 inch (100-137 cm) long bird with a 6.5-7 foot (200 cm) wingspan. Just before this pelican dive bombs from up above, it tucks its wings a bit for a more aerodynamic plunge to secure it’s fish as it hits the water.
The Great Blue Heron is a 38-54 inch (97-137 cm) bird with an impressive wingspan of 65-79 inches (167-201 cm). With it’s large wingspan, it can soar up to 20-30 miles per hour (32-48 kph). Once on the ground, they are slow movers and patient feeders. They slowly stalk their prey of fish and other aquatic prey. They have been known to stab at and eat snakes as well.
The Snail Kite is a medium-sized raptor measuring 14-19 inches (36-48 cm). It’s wingspan is 39-47 inches (99-120 cm). They forage, like this one, in marshy areas and open shallow waters in search of snails. They nest in wetlands of Southern Florida, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. We counted 4 of them on our birding trip to La Chua Trail in Gainesville, Florida on December 30, 2020.
Upcoming challenges can be found on my Bird Weekly Challenge Page.
Next time…Week #30 – Birds beginning with “C” such as Common Loon or Northern Cardinal. As long as one of the words begin with a “C”.