2013-08-29 / Nature

Birds of Brenton Point

By Jack Kelly
Photos By Jack Kelly

Local wildlife A Cooper’s Hawk perches on a guardrail while watching for prey. The Cooper’s Hawk is a year-round resident of Aquidneck Island. This species preys on small birds and is often sighted around bird feeding stations. The average adult is 17 inches long with a wingspan of 33 inches. enthusiasts are reporting an increase in the number of southern bound avian species that are passing through our region of the Atlantic Flyway. The fields, meadows, woodlands, wetlands, beaches, and rocky shorelines of Newport County are hosting migratory shorebirds, songbirds, sea birds, wading birds, and raptors.

Brenton Point State Park has a varied selection of habitats and foraging opportunities for a wide range of migratory birds. Hundreds of shorebirds have been sighted along the rocky shoreline of the park from

Other notes:

Jay Manning will lead a free guided bird walk at the Norman Bird Sanctuary on Sunday, Sept. 1, at 8 a.m. Meet in the parking lot and bring binoculars. While walking along coastal areas of southern Aquidneck Island, keep your eyes open for pods of common dolphins, which have been sighted in lower Narragansett Bay and near southern-facing beaches. Whale migration is also underway and sightings of these large marine mammals off the southern coast of the island are not uncommon.



This group of colorful Ruddy Turnstones forages in and flies over beach wrack along the shoreline at Brenton Point. The Ruddy Turnstone nests and breeds on the coastal tundra of far northern Alaska and Canada’s Nunavut region in the Arctic Circle. Breeding adults have brilliant ruddy tones above, white below, red feet and legs, and a “harlequin” head pattern. The average adult is 9.5 inches long with a wingspan of about 21 inches. This adaptable species forages in many habitats from beaches and rocky shores to plowed fields and garbage dumps. This species winters on the southern Pacific and Atlantic coasts of the United States, the Gulf Coast, and farther south into Mexico and Central America.
Black-bellied Plover flies over rocky shoreline at Brenton Point State Park. The Black-bellied Plover nests and breeds on the tundra ridges of far northern Alaska and Canada’s Nunavut region in the Arctic Circle. This striking shorebird winters on the southern Atlantic and Pacific coasts of the United States, the Gulf Coast, and down into Mexico and Central America. The average adult has a body length of 11.5 inches and a wingspan of about 29 inches. There are various plumage differences between the adults and juveniles, but the breeding plumage of the adults is spectacular.
Female Red-tailed Hawk watches for prey from a high perch. This species is a permanent resident of Aquidneck Island, nesting and breeding in woodlands across the region. The average adult has a body length of 22 inches and a wingspan of about 50 inches. The female is usually one-third larger than the male. The species’ reddish tail and its husky, full winged profile as it soars on thermal air currents make it easily recognizable in flight. The pair bonding between mature adults is very strong and the mating flights of breeding pairs are nothing short of spectacular. Pairs can remain together in the nonbreeding season.
Short-billed Dowitchers nest and breed in muskeg and mossy tundra along the southern Alaska coast and across northern Canada. The average Dowitcher is 11 inches long with a wingspan of about 19 inches. This species has rich plumage colors of orange and gold, with a white belly, pale yellow legs and a long bill. It will use its long bill in rapid “sewing machine” motions as it forages in many habitats, including salt marshes, mudflats and along beaches for invertebrates. This species winters on the southern Pacific and Atlantic coasts of the United States, the Gulf Coast, and farther south into Mexico and Central America.

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