Nature PEI is providing a new opportunity for families to learn more about the birds around them. Island Wings, a colouring book originally published by the organization is now available for printing in .pdf format as colouring sheets.
The illustrator, Connie Gaudet an Island artist and biologist has generously made these illustrations available at no cost.
The text of the book, was written by the late Geoff Hogan, a biologist and avid Island birder.
A preview of the book is available in .jpg format as a slide show below and the individual pages and descriptions of each bird are below that. The colouring sheets are each printable as .pdf pages. Click on the bird names to download and use the print icon on your screen (or use CTRL + P on a Windows based computer).
The Snow Bunting is a common winter bird on Prince Edward Island. Like drifting snow flakes they arrive each year in November, coming from their Arctic nesting grounds, and stay with us all winter long. No other songbird looks so white. From the tops of their heads to the tips of their tails they are a yellowish brown. Streaks of black mark their backs, tails and wing tips. Their white bellies, long white wing patches and outer tail feathers flash brightly when they take flight. They travel in flocks, in search of weed seeds on the snowy ground amid the brown stalks of evening primrose and other flowers from the past summer. By April the little Snow Buntings will again be on their way back to their summer home far to the north.
The Common Merganser is a duck that eats fish. Its thin red bill has numerous serrations that act like tiny teeth to help hold its slippery prey. These beautiful ducks are plentiful on P.E.I. in winter when they congregate on open water, often around causeways. The male is especially colourful, with a shiny, greenish-black back. The lower neck and sides are creamy white with just the slightest hint of pink to be seen. In flight, the large white wing patches are obvious, as are its trailing red legs and feet. Common Mergansers usually look for a cavity in a tree to place their nest but will sometimes nest among bushes on the ground.
The Canada Goose is the largest member of the waterfowl family that visits Prince Edward Island. Twice a year they arrive during their annual migration to and from their northern breeding grounds. In March we often see the big geese with their black neck stockings and white cheek patches feeding on leftover grains and potatoes in the bare fields. The pale, greyish-brown breast contrasts with the dark brown back and tail. A white band separates the tail and the rump. The bill and legs are black. Canada Geese fly in V-formation and their appearance every March is a true sign of spring.
The American Robin is one of our most familiar birds. His friendly song greets us on a spring morning, letting us know that spring is really here! Robins belong to the thrush family. Most thrushes have spotted breasts but spots are seen on the robin’s breast only when the bird is young. The make robin has a black head and a grey back, wings and tail. His “robin red breast” is the colour of red bricks. Just below the yellow bill he is streaked with black and white. Robins feed on worms, insects and sometimes fruit.
The Common Flicker is a woodpecker. They are plentiful on P.E.I. from spring through fall when they can be seen drilling holes in trees or hopping along the ground. Flickers are unusual among the woodpeckers because they spend a lot of time on the ground, feeding mostly on ants. The colourful Flicker has a bright red crescent on the back of its head. The top of the head is grey and the face and throat are soft brown. The male has a black “moustache” but both the male and female have a black bib. The breast is a soft yellowish brown covered with black spots while the back is dark brown with black spots. The tail is black. When the Flicker opens his wings to fly away every feather appears to be lined with gold. Seeing a Flicker perched beside the red flowers of the red maple is a beautiful sight indeed.
The tiny Yellow Warbler is a bird that many people like to call the wild canary. It is not really a canary but because of it is mostly yellow it looks like one. Yellow Warblers are friendly birds that often nest in gardens, especially if there are plenty of shrubs. The female we see here has a clear yellow breast. The top of her head, back, tail and wings are yellowish-green. She makes a pretty picture perched amid the soft, pink apple blossoms. The Yellow Warbler leaves P.E.I. in the fall and flies all the way to South America to spend the winter. Next spring she will have found her way back to your garden on P.E. I.
The Great Blue Heron is a tall, majestic bird that we often see standing in shallow water looking for fish. Do not mistake the heron for a crane. Although both have long necks and long legs, cranes are not normally found on P.E.I. The Great Blue Heron gets its name because of the colour of the body is mostly greyish-blue. The crest on the head and the shoulder patches are black. It is white about the face and the neck feathers are a very soft greyish-brown. The long, dagger-like, yellow bill is very sharp and the heron uses it to catch fish. The long legs are greenish-yellow. Great Blue Herons have become almost symbolic of P.E.I., as more can be seen here in summer than almost anywhere in Canada.
The American Kestrel is a small falcon that feeds mostly on insects and small rodents. It is a true friend of the farmer. Kestrels are most often seen perched on overhead wires alongside the road where they watch for a mouse or a grasshopper to stir in the grass below. The male is especially colourful. The wings are blue-grey, as is the region just in front of the eyes. There are two black lines below the eye with white between and a black spot behind. The breast and tail are a soft yellow with grey spots. The legs are yellow. Kestrels prefer to nest in holes in trees but will sometimes occupy a nest box if it is placed in an open area and the entrance hole is three inches in diameter.
The Herring Gull is the familiar “sea gull” on Prince Edward Island all year round. While they are most numerous scavenging fish along the shore, they will often travel inland in search of food, sometimes following a farmer’s tractor as he plows the field turning up worms and grubs in the process. The head, neck, breast, belly and tail of the adult Herring Gull are white. The wings and back are grey but the long primary feathers are black with white spots. The legs are pink. The bill is yellow and there is a red spot on the lower mandible. This red spot acts as target which the newly hatched gull chick instinctively pecks in order to be fed. Young Herring Gulls are brown until they are about three years old.
The Blue Jay was voted the Provincial Bird of Prince Edward Island in 1976 and practically everyone is familiar with this common bird. They stay on the Island all year round and are well known because of their noisy calls and bright colours. The brilliant blue extends from the top of the head to the tip of the tail. It is especially bright on the wings and tail. The throat and belly are soft grey and the legs and beak are black. Blue Jays are very clever birds, like their cousins the crows, and will often store food in nooks and crevices for leaner times ahead. Watch them at your feeder as they fill up their bills with sunflower seeds and fly off to hide them, than quickly come back for more. A Blue Jay perched among the autumn maple leaves is a breath-taking sight.
The lowly Starling is a bird with a poor reputation. Many people judge them to be bossy and aggressive, bullying smaller birds — particularly in disputes over nesting holes and food. But they are not all back. They have learned to adapt to difficult conditions and are one of the most common birds in town and villages. They also eat large numbers of harmful insects. The Starling is black all over and in winter is heavily speckled with whitish spots. During the winter the bill is black but as the days begin to grow longer the bill turns yellow and the speckles disappear. Starlings have a wide variety of calls and will sometimes mimic those of other birds. Starlings have a wide variety of calls and will sometimes mimic those of other birds. Starlings are not native to North America bur were introduced from Europe in the late 1800s.
The Evening Grosbeak is seen on Prince Edward Island mostly during the winter months. They travel in flocks and may come to your bird feeder if you offer them one of their favourite foods, sunflower seeds. The male and female are easy to tell apart. Females are silvery grey with black and white wings and tail. The males, seen here, are bright yellow on their back, belly and over their eyes. The head and upper body are a dull brownish-yellow. The tail and wings are black with a large white patch along each wing as well. Both male and female have a large, greenish bill for cracking open seeds. In the spring most grosbeaks fly north to breed in the spruce woods but a few pairs linger behind and build their nests on P.E.I.