2016-07-07 / Nature

Avian Wonders of the Island

By Jack Kelly


A Black-crowned night heron foraging at dawn along the shore of Green End Pond in Middletown. This shy and retiring species forages mostly between dusk and dawn, but will take prey during the day. It will roost communally or singly in dense vegetation during the day. Standing two feet tall with a wingspan of 44 inches, this wading bird feeds on a variety of aquatic prey. A Black-crowned night heron foraging at dawn along the shore of Green End Pond in Middletown. This shy and retiring species forages mostly between dusk and dawn, but will take prey during the day. It will roost communally or singly in dense vegetation during the day. Standing two feet tall with a wingspan of 44 inches, this wading bird feeds on a variety of aquatic prey. It is estimated that approximately 200 species of birds breed and nest across the islands of Narragansett Bay and other regions of our state. These avian wonders, including wading birds, shorebirds, songbirds, seabirds, raptors, and waterfowl, may be found in the uniquely diverse habitats offered by Aquidneck Island as well. An early morning walk may reveal their presence in any of our local sanctuaries, refuges, city parks, abundant wetlands, or along the rocky and sandy shorelines of our island. Their presence is a testament to the beauty and majesty of the natural world.


This juvenile common yellowthroat represents a ground-dwelling warbler species which is widespread and common in wet brushy fields and wetlands. Like most warblers, it is a small breed with a body length of 5 inches and a wingspan of 6.75 inches. Its nesting range includes vast portions of the United States and Canada. It winters in the southern United States, Mexico and parts of Central and South America. This juvenile common yellowthroat represents a ground-dwelling warbler species which is widespread and common in wet brushy fields and wetlands. Like most warblers, it is a small breed with a body length of 5 inches and a wingspan of 6.75 inches. Its nesting range includes vast portions of the United States and Canada. It winters in the southern United States, Mexico and parts of Central and South America. Best Birding Spots

n Miantonomi Park n Norman Bird Sanctuary n Brenton Point State Park (fields, woods, seashore) n Albro Woods, Middletown n Hazard Road, Newport (including Ballard Park and Gooseneck Cove saltmarshes) n Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge, Middletown

Jack Kelly, a native Newporter, is a wildlife photographer and nature enthusiast who enjoys sharing his experiences with others.



This colorful male house finch, a species common at feeders, eats a sunflower seed. Males display vivid red breeding colors and are distinctive in flight. This species was a common finch of western United States deserts and foothills until a small number was introduced into New York during the 1940s. By the end of the 20th century, it had become a common year-round resident, breeding in suburbs, cities, and agricultural areas throughout most of the United States and parts of southern Canada. This colorful male house finch, a species common at feeders, eats a sunflower seed. Males display vivid red breeding colors and are distinctive in flight. This species was a common finch of western United States deserts and foothills until a small number was introduced into New York during the 1940s. By the end of the 20th century, it had become a common year-round resident, breeding in suburbs, cities, and agricultural areas throughout most of the United States and parts of southern Canada.

The Eastern kingbird is one of the larger members of the flycatcher family and nests fairly close to water. It captures insects by “kiting” into the wind and then dropping swiftly on its prey. It is a migrant from South America and its wings are long and slender. Its dark back has a bluish sheen in strong light and its blackish head deeply contrasts with its white throat. The Eastern kingbird is one of the larger members of the flycatcher family and nests fairly close to water. It captures insects by “kiting” into the wind and then dropping swiftly on its prey. It is a migrant from South America and its wings are long and slender. Its dark back has a bluish sheen in strong light and its blackish head deeply contrasts with its white throat.

A year-round resident, the American goldfinch is often called the “wild canary” because of the breeding male’s shimmering lemon yellow plumage. This species may be found around feeders, where it dines on seeds, or in weedy fields, where it consumes buds and seeds. If food becomes scarce in the winter, this species is known to irrupt southward in search of sustenance. A year-round resident, the American goldfinch is often called the “wild canary” because of the breeding male’s shimmering lemon yellow plumage. This species may be found around feeders, where it dines on seeds, or in weedy fields, where it consumes buds and seeds. If food becomes scarce in the winter, this species is known to irrupt southward in search of sustenance.

A willow flycatcher feeds on an insect near its nest. Found in brushy areas near wetlands and ponds, this petite species hunts from a perch, where it often flicks its tail, and takes insect prey on the wing. It has a widespread nesting range in the United States and parts of southern Canada, while wintering in Central and South America. A willow flycatcher feeds on an insect near its nest. Found in brushy areas near wetlands and ponds, this petite species hunts from a perch, where it often flicks its tail, and takes insect prey on the wing. It has a widespread nesting range in the United States and parts of southern Canada, while wintering in Central and South America.

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