Campus Life, Environment, News

A field guide to the birds of UM

The fall semester is quickly coming to a close and winter is creeping up on South Florida, bringing with it flocks of northern birds seeking warmer weather. As a result, the University of Miami’s campus will welcome an influx of new bird species.

As the weather changes, students might start to spot new colors up in the trees or hear different chirps outside their windows.

While walking to class, students can spot dozens of winged creatures perched in a tree, waddling along the sidewalk or soaring through the sky.

Donald Olson, a professor for the Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy and the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, leads the UMiami Amateur Ornithological Society on bird walks Tuesday mornings. He provided The Hurricane with a list of some of the various species he and the group have been able to identify during their strolls.

Consider this list, created with the assistance of the “Peterson Field Guide to Birds of North America,” a comprehensive field guide to identifying UM’s feathered friends.

1. American cardinal- male: all-red with pointed crest, black patch under bill, triangular reddish bill; female: brown with some red, dark face, reddish/orange bill, voice: slurred whistles what-cheer cheer cheer

2. American crow- large, chunky, ebony, completely black, glossed with purple in light, bill and feet are black, strong bill, voice: loud caw caw

3. Black-crowned night heron- stocky, thick-billed, short-legged, black back and cap, pale white underparts, red eyes, yellow legs, long white head plumes

4. Black-throated blue warbler- small, upperparts are deep blue, throat and sides are black, white belly, wing has white spot

5. Blue jay- showy, noisy, crested jay, blue, bold black spots on wings and tail, whitish or dull gray underparts, black necklace, voice: harsh jeeah or musical queedle queedle

6. Boat-tailed grackle- large black bird, purple tint, ample tail, round head, dull yellowish eyes

7. Common moorhen- chicken-like shape, black body, red bill with yellow tip, yellow legs, voice: croaking sound kr-r-ruk and kek kek kek


A common moorhen

8. Double-crested cormorant- all black body, orange throat pouch under neck, perches with wings stretched out

9. Eurasian collared dove- pale beige, white square-cut tail, narrow black ring on hindneck, grayish undertail, voice: three noted coo-COOO-cup

10. Fishing crow- more delicate looking than American crow, long tail, voice: nasal car or ca

11. Gray catbird- gray, slim, black-capped head, flicks tail, voice: distinctive catlike mewing

12. Great blue heron- tall (may stand 4 feet tall), lean, blue-gray color, long neck, dagger-like bill, voice: deep harsh croaks

13. Green heron- small dark heron, appears to have no neck but can stretch to surprising height when alarmed, green back feathers, short yellow/orange legs, brown neck, voice: series of kuck notes

14. Mallard duck- males: glossy green head and white neck ring, grayish body, brown chest, white tail, yellow bill, orange feet; females: molted brown with whitish tail body, dark bill, orange feet

15. Merlin- male- falcon the size of large jay, blue-gray above, broad black bands on gray tail; female- brown, banded tail, streaked below, voice: high rapid kee-kee-kee

16. Muscovy duck- largely black, goose-like, knobby, red face, heavy, occasionally hisses

17. Northern mockingbird- Florida’s state bird, gray body, slim and long, white patches on wings and tail, voice: varied, prolonged notes that mimic other species, tchack

18. Northern parula- small, short-tailed, pale bluish above, yellow throat and breast, white wing bars, green patch on back, white eye-ring

19. Osprey- large bird, 6 ft wingspan, hover over water and plunges in for fish, blackish above, white below, largely white head, voice: sharp whistles cheep, cheep


An osprey

20. Palm warbler- small, constant bobbing of tail, brownish or orange above, yellow/off-white below, narrowly streaked, bright yellow undertail, white spots in tail

21. Red-bellied woodpecker- zebra-stripped back, red-capped head, white belly, voice: kwirr, churr, chiv chiv, or chaw


A red-bellied woodpecker Photo credit: Courtesy Donald Olsen

22. Red-shouldered hawk- heavy black-and-white bands on wings and tail, reddish-brown shoulders, reddish-brown underparts, voice: scream kee-yer repeated

23. Ruby-throated hummingbird- fiery red throat, green back, forked tail, voice: high, squeaky chew

24. Sharp-shin hawk- small, slim hawk, square-tipped tail, rounded wings, dark brown above, rusty brown underparts, yellow eye, voice: shrill kik, kik, kik

25. Snowy egret- medium-sized, white, black slender bill, black legs, and yellow feet

26. Spotted sandpiper- small, teeters rear up and down, long tail, brown back, white belly, white line over eye, brown head, voice: peet or peet-weet!

27. Tri-colored heron- slender, dark, white belly, long slender bill, mostly bluish above and on neck, voice: nasal quacks

28. Turkey vulture- large bird (6 ft wingspan), brown body, red head, two-toned wings can be noted when observed overhead, usually seen soaring in sky in large groups

29. White ibis- UM’s mascot, white body, red face, red and long curved red bill, red legs, voice: low and nasal quaahh!

30. Yellow-crowned night heron- chunky, gray body, black head with buffy-white cheek patch, red eyes, yellow crown, yellow legs, voice: quark

November 13, 2018


Natalia Rovira

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The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.