Birds of West Virginia: A Falcon Field Guide by Todd Telander

By Todd Telander

Falcon box courses are full-color, visually attractive, on-the-go courses for picking out vegetation and animals and studying approximately nature.

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American Kestrel, Falco sparverius Family Falconidae (Falcons) Size: 10” Season: Year-round Habitat: Open country, urban areas North America’s most common falcon, the American Kestrel is a tiny, robin-size falcon with long, pointed wings and tail, and fast flight. It hovers above fields or dives from its perch in branches or on a wire to capture small animals and insects. The kestrel’s upperparts are rufous barred with black, the wings are blue-gray, and the breast is buff-colored or white and streaked with black spots.

The pointed tail is edged with a white band. The Mourning Dove pecks on the ground for seeds and grains and walks with quick, short steps while bobbing its head. Flight is strong and direct, and the wings create a whistle as the bird takes off. The voice is a mournful, owl-like cooing. Mourning Doves are usually solitary or found in small groups, but they may form large flocks where food is abundant. The illustration shows an adult. indd 33 7/31/12 2:01 PM Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Coccyzus americanus Family Cuculidae (Cuckoos) Size: 12” Season: Summer Habitat: Streamsides, swamps, a variety of woodlands cuckoos Like the other cuckoos, the Yellow-billed Cuckoo is secretive and shy, hiding in vegetation, where it picks insects, caterpillars, and fruit from trees.

It is very common and becomes relatively tame in urban areas and parks. To feed the coot dives for fish, but it will also dabble like a duck or pick food from the ground. The American Coot is dark gray overall, with a black head and a white bill that ends in a dark narrow ring. The white trailing edge of the wings can be seen in flight. The toes are flanked with lobes that enable the coot to walk on water plants and swim efficiently. Juveniles are similar in plumage but are paler. Coots are often seen in very large flocks.

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