Who said dinosaurs were extinct? When examining the fossil record, we see that birds evolved from the theropod dinosaurs during the Jurassic period, approximately 150 million years ago. Modern birds have been extremely successful at colonizing a variety of habitats worldwide. Wether it's their massive migrations many birds take every year or their magnificent mating displays, people have gone to great lengths to view these unique animals. 

Red-footed Booby Sula sula

On the island of Half Moon Caye in Belize, there is a nesting ground for red-footed boobies. These birds nest in large colonies where females will lay a single egg every 15 months that will be cared for by both the mother and father. Mating pairs will reproduce together over multiple breeding seasons. Although red-footed boobies exhibit many different color morphs, all morphs will interbreed within the same colony.

Half Moon Caye, Belize

Western Sandpipper Calidris mauri

A Western Sandpipper forages for food within the algae growing in a small freshwater pool boarding the San Diego Bay. Western Sandpippers are a common shorebird throughout North America and can be easily confused with the Least Sandpipper, which have yellow legs.

Sweetwater Marsh National Wildlife Refuge South San Diego Bay

Hairy Woodpecker (Picoides villosus)

Nearly identical to the Downy Woodpecker in appearance, each species has a few minor differences. The easiest can be by hearing their call. Hairy Woodpeckers are also generally a little larger and have a longer beak. The two species can still be difficult to distinguish and are commonly misidentified.

Columbia River Gorge, Oregon

Black Skimmers - Rynchops niger

Black skimmers are the largest amongst the 3 species of skimmers. they truly fill a unique niche with their adaptations. Mostly noted, their unique bill with a lower mandible that extends farther than the upper mandible is used for skimming the surface of the water to feed on small fish, crustaceans, insects, or mollusks. While not considered an endangered species, their nesting habitats are threatened by human development on beaches and shorelines.

Anna Maria Island, Florida

Royal Tern - Thalasseus maximus

Common shorebirds, royal terns can be easily mistaken for other species of terns with similar markings. They feed primarily on small fish by diving straight down into the water from about 30 feet.

Anna Maria Island, Florida

Little Blue Heron - Egretta cerulea

For their first year, little blue herons exhibit white feathers until they grow their adult (blue) plumage. On their middle toe, they have small "teeth-like" structures that they use for scratching their neck, head, and throat.

Ambergris Caye, Belize

Song Sparrow - Melospiza melodia

Common birds throughout much of North America, they have been a very successful animal at inhabiting areas developed by humans. They primarily feed on insects and seeds and sometimes small crustaceans if near a salt marsh or other wetland. Birds have evolved very specific beaks to fill different niches. The song sparrow has partly been so successful by being able to feed on a variety of items.

Graveyard Fields/Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina