I’m so excited because it’s fall, y’all! This is my favorite time of the year to go birding – not only is it cooler and much more pleasant to be outside, but it’s easier to spot birds with less foliage in the trees, and there’s a greater variety of species to see. Fall migration is in full swing, and every cold front brings with it more birds from the North to overwinter here, where resources are more plentiful. Here are a few tips on how you can use behavior to identify some of my favorite species of birds, all of which you can see only during fall and winter in the League City area. Check out this month’s video to see these behaviors in action!
One of the first species of raptors to arrive in fall is the Osprey, once known as the Fish Hawk because fish are its primary prey. It can be confused with the Bald Eagle due to its plumage coloration of dark brown and white, but it has a much different flight pattern. Watch for it flying over fresh- or saltwater and hovering briefly with a distinctive “M” shape to its wings, before plunging downward with talons extended to capture its prey. Once it has a fish in its grasp, it carries it facing headfirst as it flies, then lands somewhere nearby to feast.
Another species that loves fish and arrives at the same time as the Osprey is the Belted Kingfisher. With its shaggy crest, dagger-shaped beak, and loud rolling rattle calls, it’s hard to miss! Look for it perched near fresh- or saltwater, pumping its tail as it searches for prey, then flying up with a flash of wings to hover in the air before diving headfirst to catch fish in its bill.