Birds by Name – C
The Canada Goose, Branta canadensis, is a wild goose belonging to the genus Branta, which is native to arctic and temperate regions of North America. It was introduced into Europe and is now considered a pest in many areas.
It has a black head and neck, white patches on the face and a brownish-grey body.
The Canada Goose ranges from 75 to 110 cm in length, has a wingspan of 127–185 cm and males usually weigh between 3.2 and 6.5 kilos. The sexes are almost identical except the female is slightly lighter in weight. Good luck weighing one!
The Canada Goose eats mainly vegetation, such as roots, grass, leaves and seeds.
Species: B. canadensis
The Common Chaffinch, Fringilla coelebs, is a small passerine bird in the finch family Fringillidae and is found throughout Europe, particularly western Europe and is the second most common bird in the UK.
Although it prefers woodland areas, Chaffinches are a common sight in gardens and on farmland. It has distinctive, large double white wing bars, white edges to the tail and a greenish rump. The breeding male has an even more distinctive reddish underbelly and grey cap. Females are less colourful and a bit greener.
Chaffinches mainly eat seeds, although they will eat insects during the breeding season and young birds are fed almost exclusively on insects.
Species: F. coelebs
The Chiffchaff, Phylloscopus collybita, is a common and widespread leaf warbler which breeds in open woodlands throughout northern and temperate Europe and Asia. It is migratory and spends the winter months in southern and western Europe, southern Asia and north Africa.
The Chiffchaff is small and quite ‘rotund’ and is a greenish-brown above, fading with age, and off-white below. It gets its name from its song, which sounds like ‘chiffchaff’.
Chiffchaffs like insects and are said to require about one-third of their weight in insects on a daily basis. Cats like Chiffchaffs.
Species: P. collybita
The Red-billed Chough or just Chough, Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax, is a bird in the crow family and breeds on mountains and coastal cliffs from the western coasts of Ireland and Britain through southern Europe and North Africa to Central Asia, India and China. The Chough is glossy black, a long curved red bill and red legs.
The Chough grows to about 40 centimetres in length and has a wingspan up to 90 centimetres.
Species: P. pyrrhocorax
The Coal Tit, Periparus ater, is a small, 10 to 12 cm long, passerine bird and common resident breeder throughout Eurasia and parts of North Africa.
It has a glossy black-blue head, throat and neck and white or off-white cheeks and nape of the neck. Juveniles are less glossy and the white bits are often tinged with yellow.
Nests tend to be quite low, often deep inside rotting tree stumps or even in the ground. Seven to eleven eggs are the norm.
Seeds are the main diet of the Coal Tit and they are quite happy feeding in gardens if food is put out for them.
Species: P. ater
The Common Wattle-eye, Platysteira cyanea, is also sometimes referred to as the Brown-throated Wattle-eye or Scarlet-spectacled Wattle-eye.
The Common Wattle-eye grows up to 14 centimetres in length. The breeding male has glossy black upperparts, white underparts with a neat black breast band. It has red wattles above the eye.
Females are grey-black above and they also have the red wattles above the eye. There is a small patch of white below the bill and the throat and breast are maroon and a black breast band separates the breast from the white belly.
The main diet of the Common Wattle-eye is insects.
Species: P. cyanea
The Coot, Fulica atra, is a medium-sized water bird and a member of the rail family Rallidae and is a close relative of the Moorhen.
Coots have predominantly black plumage and a distinctive white beak and ‘shield’ above the beak which earns it the title ‘bald’ – hence ‘bald as a coot’.
Its feet have lobed flaps of skin on the toes rather than webbed feet.
Coots eat vegetation, snails and insect larvae.
Cormorants are medium-to-large sea birds and there are numerous different species. Many species have areas of coloured skin on the face which can be bright blue, orange, red or yellow, often becoming more brightly coloured in the breeding season. The bill is long, thin, and sharply hooked. Their feet have webbing between all four toes.
Cormorants are coastal rather than oceanic birds, although some have colonised inland waters such as lakes, reservoirs and gravel pits.
All are fish-eaters, small eels, fish, and even water snakes being on the menu. To catch their dinner they dive from the surface and after fishing, they go ashore and are frequently seen holding their wings out in the sun.
The shy little Crested Lark, Galerida cristata, is fairly easily distinguished from other Larks by its distinctive crest, hence its name. It is found throughout mainland Europe, in Africa and parts of Asia and even China. Although non-migratory it is an occasional visitor to the UK.
The Crested Lark is mainly vegetarian, eating grains and seeds, but it will also feed on insects, such as small beetles.
It nests in depressions on the ground and lays three to five speckled brown eggs.
The Crested Lark is quite small, mainly brown and has a short tail with light brown outer feathers. The male and female are pretty much the same colouring. Young Crested Larks, however, do have more spots on their back than adults.
Species: G. cristata
The Pied Crow, Corvus albus, is a widely distributed African bird species in the crow genus, about the same size as the Carrion Crow, with a distinctive white neck band stretching down to the breast.
The Pied Crow gets all of its food the ground and its diet includes insects and other small invertebrates, small reptiles, small mammals, young birds and eggs, grain, peanuts, carrion and happily takes any scraps of human food and fruit. So not really fussy when it comes to food.
Species: C. albus
The curlew, Numenius arquata, is the largest European wading bird and is a member of a group of eight species characterised by long, slender, downcurved bills and mottled brown plumage.
Curlews feed in muddy areas or very soft ground, probing for worms and other invertebrates with their very long bills.
Curlews eat worms, shellfish and shrimps.