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American Coots Visit The Inner Harbor

American Coots Visit The Inner Harbor

If you’ve walked around the Inner Harbor lately, you may have noticed a different waterbird than those usually found there -an American Coot.  The American Coot (Fulica americana) exists year round in western parts of the U.S., where water is consistently habitable, but in the East, they are generally observed only in fall and winter during migration.

This dark gray to black shorebird is commonly mistaken for a duck, however, it’s slightly curved, chicken-like bill reveals that it belongs to the rail family of birds. The American Coot is often regarded as “noisy” due to its short repetitive squawks and noted as ungraceful, from their awkward landings and take offs.

Researchers at Stanford report “Coots are among the least graceful of marsh birds. Commonly called ‘splatterers,’ they scramble across the surface of the water with wings flapping not only to confront intruders but also to become airborne” and “Appearing somewhat like aquatic pigeons, coots also bob their heads while swimming.”

The American Coot is also “renowned for the aggressiveness with which it repels intruders, the male American coot marks its territory by patrolling, charging and water splashing, but on occasions fighting ensues, and it will viciously attack trespassers by striking with the bill and slashing with the claws” (ARKive.org).




Lady Goldfinch In A Baltimore City Garden

Lady Goldfinch On A Binge In A Baltimore City Garden



Night Heron Mania Comes To An End

Night Heron Mania Comes To An End

Just before Earth Day 2010, Baltidome noticed of a brood of Yellow Crowned Night Herons nesting on the Jones Falls in downtown Baltimore.  Known to nest in communes, three couples of night herons selected a conspicuous location above a downtown waterfall where city residents would have a deck and sitting area to catch all of the action.  -And take it in they did!

Hardly a moment passed where the night herons did not have at least a one person watching either from the deck below or a Druid Hill Park bridge balcony.  Before you start getting all concerned about a heron’s right to privacy, it should be mentioned that this is at least the second year the night herons have chosen this location, so they must have known what they were getting themselves in to.

Yellow Crowned Night Herons are unique in that they are night feeders.  They also differ from many other birds in that males and females are virtually indistinguishable from one another and share equal responsibility in all duties required for raising their young, including nest building, incubating the eggs, hunting for food and feeding the young.  Herons are coastal birds and it is furthermore uncommon that this particular group has apparently chosen inner city living.

The birds laid their eggs on the Jones Falls Trail in the second week of April.  Last week the first group of five night heron hatchlings left the nest.  Since April, Baltidome has been keeping an eye on the birds and recording their progress.  Below is a photo journal from the last several weeks.

Yellow Crowned Night Herons, we wish you great future success and hope to see you again next year!



Happy Earth Day Baltimore

Happy Earth Day Baltimore

In celebration of Earth Day, Baltidome would like to share with you some images of Yellow-crowned Night Herons, a group of which are currently nesting along the Jones Falls Trail in downtown Baltimore.

The Yellow-crowned Night Heron (Nyctanassa violacea) is a night-feeding heron, generally found in swamps along the coastline.  They tend to nest in groups and both male and female build their nests, incubate the eggs and feed their young.

According to the Atlas of the breeding birds of Maryland and the District of Columbia, the Yellow-crowned Night Heron is “the rarest colonial nesting heron in Maryland. It is locally common in the lower part of the Chesapeake Bay and rare in the rest of the state”.  The surge in coastal development in the last century has forced the Yellow-crowned Night Herons into urban and residential areas and in close proximity to humans.  The existence of these birds in our city should be a reminder of how finite our natural resources truly are.