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There is no mistaking Loons when they fly. THEY FLY
FAST, with their head below body, and usually at about
70-100mph.
Lynn Miller
Lone Jack, MO
Jackson CO

--- Robert Fisher <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> A few more thoughts on overhead birds:
>
> Cormorants fly in both V's and lines. The tend to
> stop flapping and to sail every now and then,
> something geese are unlikely to do except when
> preparing to land. Cormorants' rear ends look
> pointed, especially when viewed somewhat from the
> side. Double-crested Cororants have crooks in their
> necks. Their tails are proportionately longer than
> the tails of geese. All of the foregoing to the
> contrary nothwithstanding, cormorants often look a
> lot like geese in silhouette.
>
> Loons are fast flyers, with pointed, falcon-like
> wings. They usually migrate singly. They have a
> hunched-necked look while flying and often call
> while migrating.
>
> Ducks have much more rapid wingbeats than geese.
> They migrate in small, tight formations, often in a
> V. Diving ducks have shorter necks and more rapid
> wing beats than dabblers. Teal have very rapid wing
> beats. Pintail are easy to spot at a great distance
> by their long, thin necks. Wood Ducks, which are
> usually seen only singly, in pairs or in very small
> groups, have proportionatly long tails. Gadwall and
> wigeon have light bellies (but shorter tails than
> female woodies, which also have light bellies).
> Drake Mallards have dark heads and breasts and light
> bodies. Am. Black Ducks stand out in flocks of
> Mallards because they have white underwings, which
> contrast dramatically  with their dark bodies.
> Common Mergansers look like projectiles in flight.
> Hooded Megansers have a distinctive buzzy-looking
> flight. Other ducks have distinctive proportions and
> markings, which are recognizable if they are close
> enough. (E.g. wigeon have big white shoulder
> patches; Shovellers and Blue-winged Teal have blue
> shoulder patches). But I find it difficult to tell
> many ducks apart ducks by gestalt alone when they
> are silhouetted at a great distance. I suspect that
> most gunners have the same problem.
>
> White-fronted Geese have proportionately shorter
> necks and chunkier bodies than Canadas and Snow
> Geese. They have a ker-plack or ker-plack-a-plack
> call with the last sylabile higher. Snows and blues
> (Blue Goose being a dark phase of Snow Goose) lack
> this rising sylable. The true honking sound comes
> from the Canada Goose. All three species of geese
> often call while migrating. If you don't hear them
> at first, you will usually hear them when they get
> closer.
>
> Accipiters have a flap flap sail kind of flight.
> They have relatively rapid wing beats and noticeably
> long tails. They are fast hawks. Even when they
> soar, there is usually some fast flapping every now
> and then. Cooper's Hawks have a stiff, cross-like
> look when they sail.  Their heads protrude beyond
> the bend of the wing. Sharp-sinned Hawks have
> smaller heads, which do not protrude noticeably past
> the bend of the wing when they sail. N. Goshawks are
> very large, heavy chested and proportionately
> shorter-tailed compared to Cooper's Hawks, but they
> still have an accipter-like flight. Their tails,
> though proportionately shorter than Coopers', are
> still proportionately longer than those of buteos.
>
> If you see a large gray hawk with long wings and a
> long tail cruising along high up, it's probably a
> male Northern Harrier. Goshawks look like heavy
> bombers. Harriers look like PBY's.
>
> Buteos do a lot of soaring and circling, even in
> migration. Red-shouldered Hawks have crescent-shaped
> windows in their primaries, which stand out at a
> great distance. Swainson's Hawks have two-toned
> underwings, white on the inner portions, dark on the
> primaries, which make it possible to tell them at a
> great distance. (It's too late for Broadwings and
> Swainson's now).
>
> Eagles have very long wings, which they hold out
> flat while soaring. It is possible to spot an eagle
> at a great distance this way. Turkey Vultures fly
> with their wings in an upward V. They have two-toned
> wings and long tails. You rarely see them high up
> when they are migrating.
>
> Ospreys have long, crooked wings, which are easy to
> spot.
>
> Blackbirds fly in fairly tight flocks when migrating
> and when moving around during the day. They bounce
> up and down, changing position in relation to one
> another in the flock. A dense, tightly-packed flock
> of dark birds that maneuvers closely together like a
> school of fish is usually a flock of blackbirds
> (although I understand that Dicksissels behave the
> same way farther south). Blackbirds fly to roost in
> the late afternoon, a few birds at a time, in long,
> seemingly never-ending processions.
>
> Shorebirds migrate very directly in relatively tight
> flocks. They have rapid wing beats and pointed,
> falcon-like wings. Compared to geese, ducks, hawks,
> pelicans, blackbirds and cormorants, flocks of
> migrating shorbirds are seen infrequently. I don't
> know many people around here who can identify them
> by gestalt (jizz) alone without seeing some field
> marks. (I have identified Hudsonian Godwits in
> spiring by their long bills and dark axillaries.)
>
>
> Bob Fisher
> Independence, Missouri
> [log in to unmask]
>
>
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* Audubon Society of Missouri's     *
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