SCIENTIFIC NAME:Agelaius phoeniceus POPULATION: 150 million TREND: Decreasing HABITAT: Breeds and winters in fresh and saltwater marshes; also meadows, prairies, and fields, especially near ditches or ponds.
The liquid, burbling “conk-a-ree!” of a male Red-winged Blackbird on territory is a sure sign of spring, or at least its pending arrival. This bird’s common name derives from the sleek black males’ distinctive shoulder patches, or epaulets, which flash red in flight and while the bird is singing on territory.
SCIENTIFIC NAME:Steatornis caripensis POPULATION: >10,000 TREND: Decreasing HABITAT: Breeds and roosts in caves sometimes roosts in trees.
The Oilbird is an oddity. It’s a nocturnal, fruit-eating bird that uses echolocation, much like a bat, to navigate. It nests inside caves in noisy colonies, where its raspy wails give it the Spanish nickname guácharo, “one who whines or laments.” Oilbirds are in their own family but are part of a larger group of night birds includingEastern Whip-poor-will,Chuck-will’s-widow, andCommon Potoo.
Oilbirds spend their days in darkness, resting deep inside caves and sometimes within thick tree canopies. They awake just before dusk and leave their roosts to feed, using keen nocturnal vision and sense of smell to locate fruit, which they pluck from trees while hovering.