Pyracantha coccinea: Scarlet Firethorn

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Pyracantha coccinea is the European species of Firethorn that has been cultivated in gardens since the late 16th century. The tree has small white flowers. It produces small, bright red berries. The fruit is bitter and astringent, making it inedible when raw. The fruit can be cooked to make jellies, jams, sauces and marmalade. It ranges from southern Europe to western Asia. It has been introduced to North America and cultivated there as an ornamental plant since the 18th century.

Photo: Hendersonville, NC, USA, [20141009]

Source: Wikipedia

Cyanocitta cristata: Blue Jay

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The blue jay [Cyanocitta cristata] is a passerine bird in the family Corvidae, native to North America. It is resident through most of eastern and central United States and southern Canada, although western populations may be migratory. It breeds in both deciduous and coniferous forests, and is common near and in residential areas. It is predominantly blue with a white chest and underparts, and a blue crest. It has a black, U-shaped collar around its neck and a black border behind the crest.

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Sexes are similar in size and plumage, and plumage does not vary throughout the year.

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The blue jay mainly feeds on nuts and seeds such as acorns, soft fruits, arthropods, and occasionally small vertebrates. It typically gleans food from trees, shrubs, and the ground, though it sometimes hawks insects from the air. Like squirrels, blue jays are known to hide nuts for later consumption.

Photos: Chamblee, GA, USA, [20141009]

Source: Wikipedia

Cardinalis cardinalis: Northern cardinal

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^ Male Northern cardinal

The Northern cardinal [Cardinalis cardinalis] is a North American bird in the genus Cardinalis; it is also known colloquially as the redbird or common cardinal. It can be found in southern Canada, through the eastern United States from Maine to Texas and south through Mexico. It is found in woodlands, gardens, shrublands, and swamps.

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^ Female Northern cardinal

The northern cardinal is a mid-sized songbird with a body length of 21 cm [8.3 in]. It has a distinctive crest on the head and a mask on the face which is black in the male and gray in the female. The male is a vibrant red, while the female is a dull red-brown shade. The Northern cardinal is mainly granivorous, but also feeds on insects and fruit. The male behaves territorially, marking out his territory with song.

Photos: Chamblee, GA, USA, [20141009]

Source: Wikipedia

Colaptes auratus: Northern flicker

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The northern flicker [Colaptes auratus] is a medium-sized member of the woodpecker family. It is native to most of North America, parts of Central America, Cuba, the Cayman Islands, and is one of the few woodpecker species that migrate. There are over 100 common names for the northern flicker. Among them are: yellowhammer, clape, gaffer woodpecker, harry-wicket, heigh-ho, wake-up, walk-up, wick-up, yarrup, and gawker bird. Many of these names are attempts at imitating some of its calls.

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According to the Audubon guide, “flickers are the only woodpeckers that frequently feed on the ground”, probing with their beak, also sometimes catching insects in flight. Although they eat fruits, berries, seeds and nuts, their primary food is insects. Ants alone can make up 45% of their diet. Other invertebrates eaten include flies, butterflies, moths, beetles, and snails. Flickers also eat berries and seeds, especially in winter, including poison oak and ivy, dogwood, sumac, wild cherry and grape, bayberries, hackberries, and elderberries, and sunflower and thistle seeds.

Flickers often go after ants underground [where the nutritious larvae live], hammering at the soil the way other woodpeckers drill into wood. They have been observed breaking into cow patties to eat insects living within. Their tongues can dart out 50 mm [2 in] beyond the end of the bill to snare prey. As well as eating ants, flickers have a behavior called anting, during which they use the acid from the ants to assist in preening, as it is useful in keeping them free of parasites.

Photos: Chamblee, GA, USA, [20141009, 20151126]

Source: Wikipedia

Thryothorus ludovicianus: Carolina wren

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The Carolina wren [Thryothorus ludovicianus] is a common species of wren, resident in the eastern half of the USA, the extreme south of Ontario, Canada, and the extreme northeast of Mexico.

Typically 12.5 to 14 cm [4.9 to 5.5 in] with a 29 cm [11 in] wingspan and a weight of about 18 to 23 g [0.63 to 0.81 oz], it is a fairly large wren.

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These birds prefer sites with dense undergrowth, either in mixed forests or in wooded suburban settings, in a natural or artificial cavity. The nest is a bulky, often domed structure, with a small hole towards the top. Nests of the more domestically-inclined wrens have been reported in a great variety of nooks and crannies in, about, or under buildings of various kinds, under bridges, or in holes in any structure such as a porch, fence-post, flowerpot, tree, house or barn. Almost any kind of receptacle may offer an acceptable nesting site.

Photo: Chamblee, GA, USA, [20141009, 20151202]

Source: Wikipedia