During a recent visit to Scotland, I had the chance to snap photos of a few easily recognized birds and now, back home, there’s time to compare to familiar birds in Maryland.
The sweet European Robin (Erithacus rubecula), the national bird of the UK, is cheery and friendly like the American Robin (Turdus migratorius), but smaller. Long thought like its North American counterpart to be a member of the Thrush family, it was recently reclassified as an Old World Flycatcher.
European Robin, Pitlochry, Scotland
American Robin, Maryland Piedmont
I wish we had heard more of the song of this Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos); its song has been compared to poetry. The American Wood Thrush (Hylocichla mustelina) has a melodic song too. Hear a Wood Thrush singing in the Maryland Piedmont here.
Song Thrush, Pitlochry, Scotland
Wood Thrush, Maryland Piedmont
In the UK, it’s simply called a Swallow (Hirundo rustica). In North America, we call this species a Barn Swallow, distinguishing it from several other native Swallows (Bank, Cave, Cliff and Tree Swallows) by its nesting choice. This one appeared to have a nest in an ancient castle ruin.
Swallow along Loch Ness
Barn Swallows, Assateague Island National Seashore
Herons gonna fish, wherever they are. One or more Grey Herons (Ardea cinerea) ignored the many passersby and intently fished along the popular Ness Walk greenway in Inverness. The Grey Heron is similar to, but somewhat smaller, than the Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) found throughout most of North America.
Grey Heron along River Ness, Inverness
Great Blue Heron, Key West, FL
It was especially fun to spot Magpies (Pica hudsonia) in hedgerows and around town. This is the same species as the Black-billed Magpie found in the US and Canadian Rockies and points west. A corvoid, like the Blue Jays, American and Fish Crows, and the occasional Common Ravens found in Maryland, the Magpie is flashy and intelligent.
Magpie, Edinburgh, Scotland
American Crow, Maryland Piedmont
A modern version of a traditional UK nursery rhyme about the magpie goes like this:
One for sorrow,
Two for joy,
Three for a girl,
Four for a boy,
Five for silver,
Six for gold,
Seven for a secret,
Never to be told.
Eight for a wish,
Nine for a kiss,
Ten for a bird,
You must not miss.