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Beaver Marsh Trail - #5 - Birds



 

Beaver Marsh is a bird watcher’s paradise. There have been over 121 species of birds spotted in the area.
Some of the most commonly found species in the area include:

 

Belted Kingfisher

The Belted Kingfisher is a very energetic bird that feeds on only aquatic organisms such as fish and crayfish. It is one of the few species in nature where the female which has a blue color with a chestnut band is more colorful than the male, which has a blue-gray color with one blue band across its breast. There are over 100 different species of kingfishers and all have a special stomach acid which allows them to digest bones, shells, and fish scales. They do not interact with other birds even among their own species except during the breeding season. Males often form territories around their habitats and find new partners to mate with every year. The Belted Kingfisher is a year-round resident of the Beaver Marsh.

Belted Kingfisher

Belted Kingfisher

 

Cedar Waxwing

This bird has a beautiful set of feather colors including brown, lemon-yellow, and gray. During the fall season, they gather together in large groups and fill the sky, looking for berries to eat and in the summer you will likely find them hunting insects near bodies of water. The waxwing part of their name comes for a unique wax some of them secrete whose purpose is yet to be known. The Cedar Waxwing can be seen occasionally throughout the year, but not likely in June or July.

Cedar Waxwing

Cedar Waxwing

 

Common Grackle

The Common Grackle has a similar appearance to a blackbird and is most well-known for its threat to corn crops. Because they tend to move in flocks, they can devastate corn crops as they eat not only the ripening corn itself but the sprout as well. The grackle is one of many birds that does what is known as anting. This involves eating ants to consume a type of formic acid which can be used to help clear parasites from the body. The Common Grackle is a year-round resident, but is most commonly seen between March and August.

Common Grackle

Common Grackle

 

Red-winged Blackbird

This bird is extremely common throughout North America and has amazing feather colors. Females have a unique brown color and look similar to dark sparrows and are a constant source of attention for males. While females spend most of their time laying low and building nests, males continue to show off in an attempt to gain attention and a possible mate. Usually during the winter, blackbirds of different species meet together and share grain. This blackbird can be seen any time of the year, but is most common between March and August.

Red-winged Blackbird

Red-winged Blackbird

 

Ring-billed Gull

This bird species is very nimble and highly acrobatic in the air. They are comfortable around humans and can be found almost anywhere, from parking lots to beaches. They can travel at up to 40 miles per hour and can quickly pick up food while in the air. They use many different methods to obtain food which is not limited to stealing from other birds. One playful habit they have is dropping their food down and then swooping to catch it in the air. This gull is a winter resident at the Beaver Marsh from November through April.

Ring-billed Gull

Ring-billed Gull

 

More Info

Headshot of Nicolette Cagle, Ph.D.
Nicolette Cagle, Ph.D.

Looking for even more information?

Check out Nicolette Cagle's September Wildlife Report

Check out Nicolette Cagle's September Wildlife Report

Nicolette Cagle, Ph.D. is a passionate ecologist and environmental educator on the faculty of the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University. She provides periodic Wildlife Reports on the flora and fauna in the Ellerbe Creek Watershed.

 



 

Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association
331 W. Main, Ste. 511
Durham, NC 27701
919-698-9729

These web pages are the Eagle Scout project of Mathew Jacob.
Thanks Mathew!