Natural History Glossary
An explanation on the meaning of various words and phrases that are used in the natural history notes.

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Male and female have the same plumage - This indicates that it is very difficult to tell the difference between the male and the female in the field. Examples include: the Black Phoebe ,

Male and female have similar plumage - this indicates that the male and female plumage are very similar but not the same. Examples include: the Acorn Woodpecker,

Male and female have different plumages - This indicates that the male and the female are quite different in their plumage. Examples include the Rose-breasted Grosbeak., the American Kestrel, the Williamson's Sapsucker,



Many of the distribution notes talk about where a species spends the majority of its time when it is in the US. So the distribution notes usually does not mention migration patterns which would include where a lot of people see particular species. Warblers come up and breed in the US and spend their winters in Mexico, Central, and South America. I would see many species of warblers in the desert in the early spring because they were migrating through that area to get to their breeding grounds. I could only see this Baird's Sandpiper during migration time (usually in September) because it winters and breeds in different areas than where I lived.


Habitat refers to the main habitat that the species may be found. Most birds are found in a variety of habitats. Some specialists like the Clapper Rail will only be found in certain kinds of marshes. Other birds like the Crow are found in many different habitats. Other birds like the Great Blue Heron are found throughout the country while the Yellow-billed Magpie is found only in the Central Valley of California. Many other species are seen during migration so they are not in their normal habitat, like this Wilson's Warbler that was photographed in the Joshua Tree National Monument desert in California.


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