Bird Weekly – Photo Challenge – Brown Feathered Birds

Welcome to Week #32 of the Bird Weekly Photo Challenge. Week #32 challenge is Birds with brown feathers. This can be a splash of brown or brown all over! Many “girl” birds have brown feathers whereas their more colorful boyfriend flashes his “Liberace” colors!

What do you think of when you hear the color brown? It has been etched in American brains via brand advertising and is the most reliable shipping company in the U.S. – United Parcel Service (UPS). How cool would it be to start attaching our parcels to the owls like they did in Harry Potter? It would certainly be more reliable than the United State Postal Service right now.

I will keep this info up for a few weeks.

Before we plan our birding trips, we scour the many lists on to see what has been seen and logged in recent days. If you don’t use Ebird and want to get out there and find them, I suggest using this site or download the app to your phone. The data you submit goes directly to CornellLab of Ornithology. Birds are logged by birders and scientist all over the world.

Steps to a Great Day of Birding

  • Log on to site. Free to create an account.
  • Click on the Explore tab at the top and then click on Explore Hotspots.
  • Find our favorite hotspots within a few hours drive and look over the lists.
  • Create an agenda on where we are going. Usually verbally, nothing fancy or written down. We do this a day or two before we want to go.
  • Pack a lunch, snacks and several thermoses of water as there are almost no places to eat where we go. Some are driving trails and some are hiking trails. Many of the them are a little of both.
  • Take a notepad & pen to write down the birds as we see them. Old school, however the new Ebird app has a feature that you can start a list, add your birds as you see them in a specific area and it will record the whole time you are in that area. When you are finished birding in an area, you can then complete the number of each species, complete the data and finish recording until you get to the next spot. It records the time you start and finish so you don’t have to do that manually. I’ve used it once and loved it, but when I’m out there, it is pretty easy for me to write them down. For me, it’s a mental exercise.

Northern Pintail

Northern Pintail with its reflection swimming along at Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge.

Male Northern Pintails like this one stand out in a crowd. That long tail is a dead giveaway, but note the long white neck and the chocolate brown head.

Hooded Mergansers

Hooded Mergansers shining in the bright sunlight at Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge.

Hooded Mergansers are primarily found in North America but have some ties to Antarctic, Iceland & Europe. The male is quite flashing with his bold black and white markings and his brown chestnut flanks. His yellow eye stands out against his black face feathers. The female is a modeled brown all over but has a cinnamon crest when raised.

Tricolored Herons

Tricolored Herons perched up in a tree at the Alligator Farm in St. Augustine, Florida.

The Tricolored Herons colors consist of blue-gray, lavender and white with a white stripe down the middle of of their neck. The white belly sets it apart from other herons. When these colors come together, a brown color is formed on the outer sides of these wading birds.

Wood Ducks

Wood Ducks that were banded at Jacksonville Zoo.

What can you say about the most color duck of all? The Wood Duck has iridescent colors of chestnut and green with beautiful ornate markings that shine on almost every feather. The female has a white pattern around the eye.

Belted Kingfisher

Female Belted Kingfisher perched on a mangrove.

In the case of the Belted Kingfisher, the female gets the win for the most colorful. The males are blue-gray, white breasted with a blue-gray band on the chest. The female like the one above has a chestnut band on her belly and flanks.

Northern Shovelers

Northern Shovelers foraging for their next meal in one of many ponds at Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge.

The male Northern Shoveler is definitely the flashier of the pair. His distinctive green head, white breast and chestnut brown flanks have him standing out in a crowd. The female is a modeled brown all over and can look like many other female ducks. The distinction from other species is the large spoon-shaped bill on both the male and female.

Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk saying hello from the overlook at the entrance to Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge.

The Red-shouldered Hawk has reddish brown feathers under his wings and along the chest area. The feathers are brown modeled with white around their upper flanks and body. Juveniles are more flat brown than the adults and the have dark streaks on the underparts.


Osprey perched up on a Driftwood Tree on Little Talbot Island State Park in Jacksonville, Florida.

The Osprey has a combination of black and brown wings with white underparts. A broad brown band goes through their yellow eye and has a distinctive black hooked bill.


The elusive Sora came out of the mangroves for us to see at Merritt Island Wildlife Rescue.

The Sora is an elusive brown and gray marsh bird that rarely shows itself. This is a bird that is on our “watch” list every year because we don’t always add it to our yearly list. They walk slowly through shallow wetlands. Even though they are hard to find, they are the most widespread and abundant of all the rails in North America. The photo above was 1 of 4 that we saw on January 4, 2021 at Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge.

Turkey Vulture

Turkey Vulture scouring for the next meal along the road on Black Point Drive at Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge.

The Turkey Vulture is distinguished with a bald red head, however juvenile Turkey Vultures can be mistaken for Black Vultures who have an ash-gray head.

Great Horned Owl

Great Horned Owl with chicks in a nest at Matanza Inlet in St. Augustine, Florida in 2010.

In 2010, photographers from all over the world travelled to Matanza Inlet in St. Augustine, Florida to witness and photograph a pair of Great Horned Owls with their two chicks. This was the female sleeping with her chicks in a large live oak tree with the male perched higher in a tree nearby. This old oak tree no longer exists due to Hurricane Matthew in 2016. If you look closely, you will see one of the baby heads on the right tucked in front of mama.

The Great Horned Owl’s facial disc can vary from gray to cinnamon depending on the region. Their feathers can vary also from gray to brown. They have the large ear tufts that distinguish them from other owls. The chicks are white and gray.

Brown Pelican

Brown Pelican trying to catch a fish in Tampa Bay at the end of the pier at Fort Desoto Park.

What would a brown challenge be without the Brown Pelican, my favorite bird? The photo above was taken at Fort Desoto Park in Pinellas County last January. This juvenile was clumsy and trying to figure out how to catch a fish in Tampa Bay. I, however did not see him succeed, but it is fun to watch them learn by trying and trying and trying. I’m sure he is an experienced fisherman by now!

Upcoming challenges can be found on my Bird Weekly Challenge Page.

Next time…Week #33 – Birds on a wire or fence.

93 Comments on “Bird Weekly – Photo Challenge – Brown Feathered Birds

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  3. A great collection of brown birds, Lisa. I have quite a few but only one image fits your challenge and my fog/clouds challenge. I will link this Sunday to this post! Your images are wonderful and so clear. Thanks for the bonus birding “how-tos,” I signed up with Ebird last week πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Terri! I’m so excited that you signed up with Ebird! You will probably become another Crazy Bird Lady like me and our friends here. Well, Crazy Bird Dudes for our fellow birding gentlemen here! LOL!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m so happy to hear that! I’m learning a lot from other bloggers with birds I didn’t even know existed. I’m not finished conquering the US birds, but yet I so want to travel abroad to see what others post. LOL! Guess what I would have done with that 1 Billion dollar Mega Millions? Dreaming!!!

        Liked by 1 person

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    • The link is broke! I got nothing. Can you see if there is a problem so that we have the correct link in the pingback? πŸ™‚


  5. I just recently discovered the Northern Shovelers. I have seen them several times both at our lake and our wetland. They are such cool looking birds! But that Wood Duck… WOW! ❣❣

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, the Wood Duck! Unfortunately that photo was taken in the zoo. We see them in the wild, but not too often and don’t have any really great photos. Up in the northern states, they are easier to spot. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

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  11. Great images again, Lisa. Ospreys are incredibly rare in UK and make the tv national news when they nest. Our Shovelers look the same as yours. Everything else is new to me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ospreys make the news…novel concept here. You will likely see them anywhere there is water in Florida. We have plenty of that! The Northern Shovelers are all over the Europe and in parts of Asia and Africa too. They are world travelers. LOL! πŸ™‚


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    • Thanks Lisa! That whole series of photos were incredible. I wished I had the camera and lens I have now back then. That was my old Nikon D50. I’ve had two more cameras since then. πŸ™‚


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    It’s cold. I went out and fed the bids, realized we’re getting low on black sunflower seeds. I hope the food outlasts the month because I’m also out of money. It costs three times as much to feed the birds as it does to feed the dog. Who knew bird food could cost so much?

    A lot of our best brown birds aren’t seed eaters, so we don’t see them often. We get some sparrows, but not as many as we should. We do have hundreds of American Crows but they aren’t brown β€” and I only know this because once, a whole murderous mob showed up, probably chasing a hawk but stopping for a quick snack (they don’t seem to like our seeds … and I can’t afford peanuts too). I think those thinks way up in the oaks that look like birds actually ARE birds. They are our vigilante crows, watching out for hawks and ravens who eat smaller birds and raid their nests. The HAWKS are mostly brown, but I rarely see them. I know they are near because the birds start to screech when they come near.

    Now that we have big groups of blue jays coming to eat, the little birds are not as afraid of them. Maybe having an alternate food source has made them less predatory?

    This isn’t the best time of year for brown birds. Those seem to be mostly summertime birds. The joyfully singing Carolina Wens and the friendly little Chipper Sparrows and all the European Sparrows β€” and of course the baby birds who all seem to be some shade of fuzzy brown.

    I’m going to wait another hour or two until the sun moves to the other side of the house and take some pictures, if the birds are agreeable. Since I just put out fresh food and water, there should be some. Last I looked, half a dozen blue jays were perched on the one rather small flat feeder. I think I need a bigger flat feeder. Maybe one that doesn’t need to hang, but sits on the deck itself.

    Tomorrow, all my research on crows, will post. Tish Farrell was writing about her Rooks and I wondered if we had rooks and by the time I had researched which crows lived where, I discovered we not only have crows, but we also have ravens (no rooks, but we do have Magpies), Crows hate Ravens and attack them whenever they can gather enough of them together to go after one. Moreover, the mobbing mentality of American Crows makes them our own woodland vigilantes, patrolling for predatory birds β€” and any raven they spy. They roust the Cooper and Sharp-Shinned Hawks (they love to eat small birds) — even eagles and red-shouldered hawks. They can’t really HURT those bigger stronger birds, but apparently annoy them so much, they give up and leave.

    Hope I haven’t bored you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • A lot of great information here, Marilyn! You know you can post archive photos here too, right? Your summer birds would be welcome anytime the theme fits! I’m pretty lenient because I can’t get out every single day or week to take photos. Plus, everyone has different seasons all over the world. We have the American Crow and Fish Crows here. I had to travel out west to see my first Raven. The Mockingbirds like to bully up on the Crows because they will raid the nest of the other small birds too. πŸ™‚


  19. Just a note on places to go birding. I get daily reminders from our local Audubon club about where the best sites are for birding, but this hasn’t been a good year for going anywhere. If lockdown and quarantine ever ends and we are still alive, I’m ready to go. It would be nice if I get a chance to do this before I’m so decrepit that I simply can’t!

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s a great tip! I hope you get to go soon. Florida may have a high positivity rate, but the Wildlife Refuges have stayed open. We have had little interaction with people and when we did, we kept our social distance but was still able to chat with other birders with our mask on. When no one was around, we could hike and be outside without the mask. A real advantage to living in the Sunshine state. πŸ™‚


      • It’s just a lot of driving right now. We really do live in the middle of nowhere which means getting somewhere is a long way away. Garry isn’t good at long drives anymore, not if he has to come back the same day and I haven’t driven more than very briefly in five years — not since the heart surgery.
        Fortunately, there’s a lot of open country locally — including about 100 acres right behind our house. So it might not be an official sanctuary, but there are plenty of birds. There will be a lot more of them in a few months as the migrants come back. I’m hoping by then I’ll be able to walk around and not have a cloud of mist on my glasses from the mask all the time. Makes it hard to see anything!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes you have your own sanctuary. We have migratory birds in our yard right now. There will be migratory birds from now until April but the Goldfinches will be leaving soon to head northward.
        Hope your hubby is doing okay. I can see where he would have slowed down a bit. We can’t go more than 4 hours in the car because of our backs but we haven’t had much of a choice. We have to rest the day after a long β€œday” trip. 😊


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