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Connecticut, a small yet ecologically diverse state, is home to a fascinating array of water birds. With its extensive coastline along Long Island Sound, numerous inland lakes, and a network of rivers, the state boasts a myriad of environments ideal for these bird species. There are hundreds of water birds within Connecticut, but we are just focusing on the top 25!
The American White Pelican is a large water bird known for its impressive size, distinct white plumage, and extraordinary cooperative feeding behavior. They are commonly found in the inland freshwater lakes of North America during the summer and along the coastlines in the winter.
Appearance: American White Pelicans have a pure white body with black wingtips that are visible in flight. Their large yellow-orange bill is equipped with a stretchy pouch used for catching prey, and during the breeding season, they develop a unique, horn-like plate on the upper part of their bill.
Diet: Unlike their Brown Pelican cousins, American White Pelicans do not dive for their food. Instead, they catch their prey while swimming. They primarily xatch fish, but occasionally supplement their diet with crustaceans and amphibians. Interestingly, they often feed in groups, moving together to herd fish into shallow waters where they can easily scoop them up.
Reproduction: American White Pelicans typically nest in colonies on isolated islands. The female lays 2 to 3 eggs in a nest on the ground, which is made from dirt and vegetation.
Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis)
Scientific Name: Pelecanus occidentalis
Length: 3 ft 3 in to 5 ft 0 in
Wingspan: 6 ft 8 in to 7 ft 6 in
Weight: 4.4 to 11.0 lb
The Brown Pelican is a large water bird famous for its distinct body shape and dramatic feeding habits. Known for their habit of diving headfirst into the water to catch fish, they are a staple along the coasts of the southern United States.
Appearance: Brown Pelicans are easily identifiable due to their long, curved necks, stout bodies, and large bills with a stretchy pouch. As their name suggests, they have brown and gray body feathers, with a paler head and neck that can become yellowish in breeding season.
Diet: Their diet mainly consists of fish, which they catch by making spectacular plunging dives from the air, scooping up the fish in their expandable bill pouches. They then drain the water from their pouches before swallowing their catch.
Reproduction: Brown Pelicans nest in colonies on islands, laying 2 to 3 eggs in nests made from sticks and vegetation. Both parents share incubation and feeding duties. After hatching, the chicks remain in the nest for around 12 weeks before they are ready to leave.
Listen to Double-crested Cormorant
Scientific Name: Nannopterum auritum
Length: 28 to 35 in
Wingspan: 45 – 48 in
Weight: 2.6 – 5.5 lb
The Double-crested Cormorant is a large waterbird recognized for its long neck, hooked bill, and notable diving abilities.
Appearance: Double-crested Cormorants have a dark body with a somewhat iridescent sheen. The bird’s name derives from the presence of two tufts or crests of feathers that appear on the sides of the head during the breeding season. They have striking greenish-yellow to bright orange skin around the throat and cheeks, and their eyes are an interesting, bright turquoise color.
Diet: Double-crested Cormorants are excellent divers and their diet primarily consists of fish. They dive beneath the water’s surface from the air or while swimming to catch their prey. After a successful dive, they can often be seen standing with their wings outstretched to dry.
Reproduction: These birds typically nest in trees, on cliffs, or on ground colonies on islands. The female lays a clutch of 3 to 4 eggs, which both parents incubate for about a month.
Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)
The Great Cormorant, or simply Cormorant, is a large water bird in the family Phalacrocoracidae. It is one of the few species of cormorants to be found worldwide, and it can be found in both fresh and saltwater habitats.
Scientific Name: Phalacrocorax carbo
Length: 84 – 90 cm
Wingspan: 60–100 centimetres (24–39 in)
Weight: 1.5 kg (3 lb 5 oz) to 5.3 kg (11 lb 11 oz)
Great Cormorant Description
This bird is known for having a long neck and a long bill. The bird’s body is blackish-green with white spots on its back and wings. Its throat is grayish-white and its belly is white with black spots. It has webbed feet that allow it to swim underwater easily.
Great Cormorant Sound
Great Cormorant Habitat & Range
It lives near the water’s edge so that it can easily dive under water when it needs to catch its prey (fish or small aquatic animals). Great cormorants are found on both sides of the North Pacific Ocean, as well as in Europe and Asia.
Great Cormorant Diet
The bird’s diet consists mainly of fish, but it will also eat any other aquatic animal that it can find in its habitat. The diet includes fish such as carp, pikeperch, perch, roach; as well as crustaceans such as crabs and crayfish, and frogs.
Great Cormorant Nesting
The Great Cormorant nests in trees or on rocky cliffs during late spring or early summer; however, some birds decide not to nest at all if their eggs were taken by predators during previous years’ nesting seasons.
Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)
Listen to Great Blue Heron
Scientific Name: Ardea herodias
Wingspan: 66–79 in
Weight: 4.0–7.9 lb
The Great Blue Heron is a large species of wading bird recognized for its majestic stature, stately flight, and impressive hunting prowess.
Appearance: Great Blue Herons are strikingly tall and slender, with a gray-blue body, a wide wingspan, and a long, pointed bill. They have a white head with a black stripe above the eye extending into feathery plumes, and long, reddish-brown legs.
Diet: Great Blue Herons are skilled hunters, primarily feeding on a variety of aquatic animals such as fish, frogs, and crustaceans. They can often be seen standing motionless in shallow water, waiting patiently for prey to come within striking distance.
Reproduction: Great Blue Herons nest in large colonies, often high in trees near bodies of water. The female lays a clutch of about 3 to 5 eggs, which both parents incubate for around a month. After hatching, the young herons are fed by both parents and start to explore outside the nest within a few weeks.
Scientific Name: Ardea alba
Length: 80 – 100 cm
Wingspan: 1.3 – 1.7 m
Weight: 0.7 – 1.5 kg
The Great Egret is a large, stunningly white bird commonly found in both freshwater and saltwater habitats across the United States. Known for its elegant flight and poised hunting stance, it is a symbol of conservation success.
Appearance: Great Egrets are recognized by their bright white plumage, long, black legs, and a yellow, dagger-like bill. Their slender, long necks and large wings are highlighted when they take flight, creating an elegant and captivating sight.
Diet: Primarily, the Great Egret feeds on fish, making use of its sharp bill to spear its prey in shallow water. However, its diet is diverse and can include other aquatic creatures like amphibians, reptiles, birds, small mammals, and invertebrates.
Reproduction: The Great Egret typically nests in trees or shrubs near water bodies, often in colonies with other water birds. A female lays 3 to 4 eggs, with both parents participating in the incubation process.
Snowy Egret (Egretta thula)
Scientific Name: Egretta thula
Length: 22.1–26.0 in
Wingspan: 39.4 inches
Weight: 13.1 oz
The Snowy Egret is a small, graceful bird celebrated for its striking white plumage and contrasting black and yellow details. Found across the United States in a variety of water habitats, this bird is known for its animated hunting style.
Appearance: Snowy Egrets are particularly noticeable due to their pure white feathers, slender black legs, and bright yellow feet, which are often described as looking like they’ve been dipped in golden paint. They also sport a thin, black bill and expressive, yellow eyes.
Diet: Their diet mainly consists of fish, but they are known to consume a variety of aquatic animals such as crustaceans, insects, and small amphibians. Notably, their unique yellow feet are used to stir up prey from the bottom of shallow water.
Reproduction: Snowy Egrets typically nest in trees or shrubs in colonies with other water birds. The female lays 3 to 5 eggs, and both parents take turns incubating them.
Scientific Name: Butorides virescen
Length: 25 to 31 in
Wingspan: 53 to 65 in
Weight: 4.5 to 6.0
The Green Heron is a small yet captivating bird, famous for its tool-using abilities and its striking appearance. This species can often be found around the edges of freshwater and saltwater habitats across much of North America.
Appearance: Green Herons possess a dark greenish-blue back, a rich chestnut body, and a dark cap on their head. Their bill is long and sharp, allowing them to be proficient hunters, while their relatively short legs give them a stocky appearance compared to other heron species.
Diet: As opportunistic feeders, Green Herons feed mainly on small fish, but their diet also includes a variety of invertebrates, insects, amphibians, and occasionally even small mammals and birds. They’re known for a unique hunting technique – using baits such as insects, feathers, or twigs to attract fish.
Reproduction: Green Herons build their nests in trees or shrubs, usually over or near water. The female typically lays 3 to 5 eggs, with both parents sharing the responsibilities of incubation.
Black-crowned Night-Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax)
Scientific Name: Nycticorax nycticorax
Length: 22.8-26.0 in
Wingspan: 45.3-46.5 in
Weight: 25.6-35.8 oz
The Black-crowned Night-Heron is a medium-sized heron species that is known for its nocturnal habits, standing out among other, mostly diurnal herons.
Appearance: Black-crowned Night-Herons have a stocky appearance, with adults characterized by a black crown and back, contrasting sharply with a white or gray body. Their eyes are notably red. The legs are yellow to greenish yellow, but become pinkish or even red during the breeding season. Young birds are brown, speckled with white and gray.
Diet: As opportunistic feeders, Black-crowned Night-Herons eat a wide variety of aquatic and terrestrial animals. They primarily consume fish, but their diet can also include crustaceans, insects, small mammals, reptiles, and even other birds. They usually feed at night, which gives them a unique niche among heron species.
Reproduction: Black-crowned Night-Herons are colonial nesters, often forming nesting colonies with other heron species. They build platform nests in trees or shrubs, usually over water. The female lays 3 to 5 eggs, and both parents share the responsibility of incubation.
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron (Nyctanassa violacea)
Scientific Name: Nyctanassa violacea
Length: 1 ft 10 in – 2 ft 4 in
Weight: 1.43–1.87 lb
The Yellow-crowned Night Heron is a medium-sized heron commonly found in wetlands and coastal habitats across the southeastern United States.
Appearance: Yellow-crowned Night Herons have a sturdy body with a comparatively short neck and legs. Their distinctive feature is their namesake yellow crown, which contrasts sharply with their gray body and back. They have red eyes and a heavy, dark bill. During the breeding season, they develop long, wispy plumes on their head, giving them a stylish appearance.
Diet: Yellow-crowned Night Herons are known for their preference for crustaceans, especially crabs and crayfish. They hunt mostly at night, stalking their prey in shallow water, often remaining still for long periods before striking quickly with their bill.
Reproduction: Yellow-crowned Night Herons nest in small colonies, typically in trees or shrubs near water. The female lays 3 to 5 pale blue-green eggs which are incubated by both parents for about 25 days. After hatching, the chicks are cared for by both parents and fledge in about 30-40 days. They often return to the same nesting sites year after year.
American Bittern (Botaurus lentiginosus)
Scientific Name: Botaurus lentiginosus
Length: 23–33 in
Wingspan: 36–45 in
Weight: 0.816–2.363 lb
The American Bittern is a wading bird, often seen in North American wetlands, known for its exceptional camouflage and unique booming call.
Appearance: American Bitterns are medium-sized birds, with a stocky body, a thick neck, and relatively long legs. Their plumage is brown and heavily streaked with a variety of shades, making it an excellent camouflage against marshy vegetation. Their eyes are yellow, and they have a pointed yellow bill.
Diet: These secretive birds are carnivorous, feeding mostly on fish, but also on insects, amphibians, and small mammals. They hunt by standing still and waiting for prey to come within striking distance, then rapidly lunging forward with their long necks to seize the prey.
Reproduction: American Bitterns nest in dense wetland vegetation, often quite close to the water. The female lays a clutch of 2 to 7 eggs, and she is solely responsible for incubation and caring for the young.
The Least Bittern (Ixobrychus exilis)
Scientific Name: Ixobrychus exilis
Length: 11 to 14 in
Wingspan: 16 to 18 in
Weight: 1.8 to 3.6 oz
The Least Bittern is a small and secretive water bird species that often goes unnoticed in its marshy habitat due to its cryptic behaviors and coloring.
Appearance: The Least Bittern is a compact bird with a hunched posture and short neck. It features a mix of buffy and brown coloration on its upper parts, while its chest and neck are more of a pale, buffy color. The males have darker backs and caps than the females. A distinctive feature of this bird is its yellow eyes.
Diet: The Least Bittern’s diet consists mainly of small fish and invertebrates. They forage by stalking slowly through their marshy habitat and striking out with a swift jab of their bill to snatch their prey.
Reproduction: Least Bitterns are solitary nesters, often hiding their nests in dense wetland vegetation. The female lays between 4 to 7 eggs and both parents participate in incubation and feeding.
Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus)
Scientific Name: Plegadis falcinellus
Length: 19–26 in
Wingspan: 31–41 in
Weight: 1.069 to 2.138 lb
The Glossy Ibis is a wading bird that has an extensive global range, including parts of the United States, and is the most widespread of all ibis species.
Appearance: The Glossy Ibis is characterized by its slender, curved bill and dark, iridescent body. Its feathers are a rich chestnut and dark green, which appear metallic and shiny, thus giving it the name ‘Glossy’. In breeding season, the area around the bird’s eyes becomes a bright, striking blue.
Diet: Glossy Ibises feed primarily on invertebrates such as insects, worms, and small crustaceans. They use their long, curved bills to probe for food in soft mud, often following the tide in coastal marshes, but also in shallow freshwater wetlands.
Reproduction: Glossy Ibises typically nest in colonies, often with other wading birds. The nests are made from twigs and reeds and are usually placed in trees, shrubs, or reed beds over water. The female lays 3 to 4 blue-green eggs, which are incubated by both parents for about 21 days. Once hatched, the chicks are cared for by both parents and fledge at about 6 weeks.
Scientific Name: Fulica americana
Length: 13–17 in
Wingspan: 23 to 28 in
Weight: 1.270 to 1.870 lb
The American Coot is a ubiquitous water bird commonly seen in the wetlands, lakes, and ponds of North America, recognized for its adaptability and striking features.
Appearance: American Coots are easily identifiable by their slate-gray bodies, offset by a white, chicken-like bill and a red eye. Their legs are also distinctive, equipped with lobed toes, as opposed to the webbed feet seen in ducks, which assist them in navigating both land and water adeptly.
Diet: While aquatic plants form the bulk of an American Coot’s diet, they aren’t strictly herbivores. These versatile birds also consume small invertebrates and fish, demonstrating their ability to adapt and survive in a variety of habitats.
Reproduction: Nesting for the American Coot usually happens in shallow water bodies, where they construct a floating nest hidden among the vegetation. A clutch can contain between 8 to 12 eggs, all of which are incubated by both parents.
Listen to Mallard
Scientific Name: Anas platyrhynchos
Length: 20–26 in
Wingspan: 32–39 in
Weight: 1.5–3.5 lb
The Mallard is a well-known species of duck they are particularly recognized for their adaptability and can thrive in both urban and wild environments.
Male Mallards are renowned for their striking plumage, with a glossy green head, a white collar, and a chestnut-colored chest, while females sport mottled brown feathers. They both have blue speculum feathers on their wings, which can be seen during flight. Both sexes also exhibit a distinct curl on the tail feathers, more noticeable in males.
Mallards are omnivorous in nature. Their diet is diverse and includes seeds, aquatic vegetation, insects, and small fish. They are frequently seen ‘dabbling’ in the water, where they dip their head and neck below the surface while upending their body to forage for food.
In terms of reproduction, Mallards usually nest on the ground near water bodies, camouflaged by vegetation. The female lays a clutch of 7 to 10 eggs, and she incubates them for about a month. After hatching, the ducklings are precocial – they are active and able to feed themselves, but they continue to stay with their mother for protection until they can fly, which usually takes about two months.
Mallards are an iconic species that have significantly contributed to the genetic makeup of many domestic duck breeds. They are beloved for their rich colors, distinctive quacks, and playful demeanor.
Scientific Name: Aix sponsa
Length: 19 to 21 in
Wingspan: 26 to 29 in
Weight: 16.0-30.4 oz
The Wood Duck is an exquisitely colorful waterfowl known for its unique nesting habits and is commonly seen in wooded swamps, marshes, and streams across North America.
Appearance: With their dazzling plumage, Wood Ducks are among the most stunning birds. Males display a multitude of colors, including a green and purple crested head, red eyes, and a white-striped chest, all contrasted with a bronze-colored body. Females, though more subdued with a gray-brown body and white eye-ring, also possess their own charm.
Diet: Wood Ducks have a diverse diet that includes seeds, fruits, and insects, as well as other invertebrates. Their broad diet helps them to adapt to a variety of habitats, whether in the wild or in urban areas with suitable nesting sites.
Reproduction: Unlike most other ducks, Wood Ducks prefer to nest in tree cavities near water, leading to their common name. They will also readily use nest boxes if they’re available. A typical clutch consists of 9 to 14 eggs, which the female incubates alone.
Scientific Name: Mergus merganser
Length: 23–28 in
Wingspan: 30 – 38 in
Weight: 2 lb 0 oz – 4 lb 10 oz
The Common Merganser is a large and elegant diving duck, famous for its unique fishing abilities and seen often in the lakes, rivers, and coastal areas across North America.
Appearance: The male Common Merganser is quite striking with its dark green, almost black, crested head, bright red bill, and white body tinged with salmon-pink. The females have a reddish-brown crested head, a white neck, and a grayish body, but share the same red bill as the males.
Diet: True to their diving duck status, Common Mergansers are exceptional hunters, primarily feeding on fish. They’re also known to consume aquatic invertebrates and, on occasion, small mammals and birds. Their serrated bills are specialized to hold slippery fish tightly.
Reproduction: Like the Wood Duck, Common Mergansers also nest in tree cavities or nest boxes close to water bodies, but can also use rock crevices or holes in the ground. A clutch usually contains 9 to 12 eggs, incubated solely by the female.
Listen to Hooded Merganser
Scientific Name: Lophodytes cucullatus
Length: 15.8-19.3 in
Wingspan: 23.6-26.0 in
Weight: 16.0-31.0 oz
The Hooded Merganser is a distinctive species of diving duck known for its showy crest and its excellent diving skills.
Appearance: Male Hooded Mergansers are especially striking with a large, fan-shaped, black and white crest, which can be expanded or contracted. They have bright yellow eyes, a dark back, and a white chest. The females have a more understated appearance with a brownish body, a smaller, reddish-brown crest, and dark eyes.
Diet: Consists of small fish, aquatic insects, and crustaceans. Their eyes are specially adapted for underwater vision, allowing them to spot and catch prey while diving.
Reproduction: Similar to Buffleheads, Hooded Mergansers often nest in tree cavities near water bodies. The female lays a clutch of about 10 to 12 eggs and incubates them alone for about a month.
Scientific Name: Mergus serrator
Length: 20–24 in
Wingspan: 28–34 in
Weight: 28.2 to 47.6 oz
The Red-breasted Merganser is a fascinating diving duck species, recognized for its swift flight and exceptional diving capabilities. They inhabit freshwater and saltwater environments and are quite common in North America and Eurasia.
Appearance: The Red-breasted Merganser boasts an interesting appearance. Males display a dark green head, bright red eyes, and a distinctive, long reddish-brown breast. Their bodies are mainly grey, and they also have a white collar and a thin, serrated bill. Females are more subdued, featuring a rusty cinnamon head with a shaggy crest and grey body.
Diet: Predominantly includes small fish, which they catch by diving underwater. They can also feed on aquatic insects, crustaceans, and occasionally amphibians. Their serrated bill helps them grip slippery prey effectively.
Reproduction: The breeding ground for Red-breasted Mergansers is typically near freshwater lakes or rivers. Females build nests in tree cavities, on the ground hidden in vegetation, or use abandoned nests of other birds. The female lays a clutch of 6 to 12 eggs.
Scientific Name: Anas rubripes
Length: 21–23 in
Wingspan: 35–37 in
Weight: 1.59–3.62 lb
The Black Duck is a relatively large species of waterfowl known for its dark plumage and distinctive, richly flavored meat.
Appearance: Both male and female Black Ducks sport a similar look. They are predominantly dark brown in color with a lighter, beige-colored underbelly. They feature a yellowish-green bill, and their wings, when spread, reveal a purple-blue speculum bordered by two black bands.
Diet: Black Ducks primarily subsist on plant matter. They feed on seeds, leaves, and roots of aquatic plants, as well as grasses and crops. In addition, they sometimes eat small fish, insects, and aquatic invertebrates. These ducks can often be spotted foraging in shallow water bodies and marshlands.
Reproduction: Black Ducks typically create their nests on the ground, preferably in secluded, well-hidden spots near water bodies. The female usually lays a clutch of about 6 to 12 eggs, which she incubates for about four weeks.
Listen to Blue-winged Teal
Scientific Name: Spatula discors
Length: 16 in
Wingspan: 23 in
Weight: 13 oz
The Blue-winged Teal is a small species of dabbling duck known for its striking plumage and its extensive migratory habits.
Appearance: Male Blue-winged Teals are quite colorful, with a slate gray head and neck, a white crescent in front of the eyes, and a predominantly brown body with specks of black. The name “Blue-winged” comes from the patch of blue feathers visible on their wings during flight. Females, in contrast, are primarily brown and subtly mottled to provide camouflage.
Diet: The Blue-winged Teal feeds mainly on plant matter, such as seeds and aquatic vegetation. However, they also supplement their diet with small invertebrates, especially during the breeding season. They are known for their “dabbling” behavior, where they feed at the surface of the water rather than diving.
Reproduction: Blue-winged Teals prefer to nest on the ground in grassy areas near water. The female typically lays a clutch of 9 to 13 eggs, which she incubates alone for about three weeks. After hatching, the ducklings can feed themselves but remain under the mother’s protection until they are capable of flying.
Listen to Northern Pintail
Scientific Name: Anas acuta
Length: 23–30 in
Wingspan: 31–37 in
Weight: 1 –3 lb
The Northern Pintail is a graceful species of duck recognized for their elegance in flight and their sleek bodies and long tails which is pin-shaped.
Male Northern Pintails are celebrated for their distinctive appearance, featuring a chocolate brown head, a white neck, and a grayish body. The most notable characteristic is the long, pointed tail feathers, which give this species its name. Females are more understated in color, sporting a mottled brown plumage.
Diet: Consists primarily of plant matter, including seeds and aquatic vegetation. They are also known to eat insects, especially during the breeding season. The Northern Pintail is often seen dabbling and upending in water bodies to forage for food.
Reproduction: Northern Pintails usually nest on the ground, near water bodies. The female lays a clutch of 7 to 9 eggs and is solely responsible for their incubation, which lasts for about three weeks.
Listen to Green-winged Teal
Scientific Name: Anas crecca
Length: 12.2-15.3 in
Wingspan: 20.5-23.2 in
Weight: 14.9-17.6 oz
The Green-winged Teal is a small species of dabbling duck known for its vibrant coloration and quick, agile flight.
Appearance: Male Green-winged Teals are particularly striking with a chestnut head, a broad green streak running from the eye down the neck, and a speckled chest. The name “Green-winged” originates from the patch of iridescent green feathers visible on their wings. Females are more subtly colored, primarily in mottled brown tones that provide excellent camouflage.
Diet: The Green-winged Teal’s diet consists largely of plant matter such as seeds and aquatic vegetation. They also eat small invertebrates, particularly during the breeding season. These birds are ‘dabblers.’
Reproduction: Green-winged Teals typically nest on the ground, often concealed in dense vegetation near water bodies. The female lays a clutch of about 6 to 9 eggs, which she incubates alone for roughly three weeks.
Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris)
Scientific Name: Aythya collaris
Length: 15.3-18.1 in
Wingspan: 24.4-24.8 in
Weight: 17.3-32.1 oz
The Ring-Necked Duck is a small to medium-sized diving duck known for its distinctive markings and agile diving abilities.
Appearance: Male Ring-Necked Ducks are characterized by their bold black-and-white coloration, with a glossy black back, a striking white ring around the base of the bill, and two white “rings” on their flanks. Despite their name, the chestnut-colored ring around their neck is often hard to see. Females are more subtly colored with a gray-brown body and a white eye-ring.
Diet: These ducks have a varied diet that includes aquatic plants, seeds, and invertebrates, which they obtain by diving underwater in both shallow and deep water bodies.
Reproduction: The Ring-Necked Duck nests near water, often in densely vegetated areas. The female typically lays between 8 to 10 eggs, which she incubates alone, but both parents will care for the ducklings once they hatch.
Scientific Name: Gavia immer
Length: 24-39 in
Wingspan: 50-56 in
Weight: 6.4-13.6 lbs
The Common Loon is a large, iconic water bird that can be found in many parts of North America. It is known for its haunting calls, often heard in the early morning or late evening across the region’s lakes and ponds.
Appearance: The Common Loon is celebrated for its striking black-and-white breeding plumage, a red eye, and a robust, black bill. In winter, its plumage turns to a more subdued gray, but its large, sturdy body and pointed bill remain distinctive.
Diet: Common Loons primarily feed on fish, but also consume crustaceans, frogs, and aquatic insects. They are expert divers, capable of plunging deep underwater to catch their prey, and are often observed popping their heads above water before diving for their next meal.
Reproduction: The Common Loon nests near water, typically on lakes and larger ponds in the northern parts of North America. The female generally lays 1-2 eggs per year in a nest made from vegetation on the ground. Both parents share the responsibility of incubating the eggs and feeding the young.
Where to Spot Connecticut’s Water Birds
Hammonasset Beach State Park: This park on the Long Island Sound shoreline is a birder’s delight, with salt marsh, beach, and woodland habitats attracting a wide variety of water birds. Species to look out for include ospreys, herons, and a multitude of shorebirds.
Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge: Stretching along 70 miles of Connecticut’s coastline, this refuge provides important resting, feeding, and nesting habitat for many species of waterfowl, wading birds, and shorebirds.
White Memorial Conservation Center: Located in Litchfield, this conservation area offers a diverse range of habitats including swamps and ponds. It’s a great place to observe water birds like the American Bittern, herons, and a variety of ducks.
Great Island Wildlife Area: Situated in Old Lyme, this coastal marsh provides an excellent habitat for a variety of water birds, including egrets, herons, and numerous shorebirds. It’s a significant area for bird migration and wintering waterfowl.
Sandy Point Beach & Bird Sanctuary: Located in West Haven, this is one of the premier birding locations in Connecticut. It offers a prime view of migratory shorebirds, herons, and waterfowl, especially during the migration seasons.
There are hundreds of waterbirds in Connecticut, from large birds such as Canada geese found all over the state (many leave in early spring) to the smaller nesting birds found in the freshwater marshes. Birds such as the American oystercatcher or the pied billed grebe and even plenty of other species such as bald eagles and osprey. There are a wide range of ducks from buffleheads (easily spotted with their large heads) to the Pied billed grebe found in New England.