I and the Bird # 62. Just Plain Birds.

This is the Sixty-Second I and the Bird Web Carnival. This issue is chock full of excellent posts, with an emphasis on seasonal change, outstanding photographs, and the usual highly successful bird watching forays. I’m forgoing the complex contextualization and letting the posts speak for themselves, with only the occasional remark from your’s truly.

The last I and the bird, # 61, was at The Drinking Bird. The next I and the Bird, # 63, will be at The Greenbelt.

Deep Philosophical Musings

Birds ‘n’ Apples

…we all remember that the slogan “Sex ‘n’ legal Drugs ‘n’ Rock & Roll” has shaped the lives of a whole generation and that “Sex in addition to legal drugs when combined with Rock & Roll” would not quite have had the same effect.
Or – to stay in the same basic area – the best band in the world surely owes part of their success to the fact that they combined two things that go together well with an ‘n’: Iro’n’Maiden!!
Very smart!

This is about birds? Actually it is.

In The Field

Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival: Saturday

The 35+ birders on the bus benefitted from the expertise of authors and tour leaders Brad McKinney, Jon Dunn and Kim Eckert. Wow.

The bus left Harlingen’s municipal auditorium at the leisurely hour of 8 a.m. After a productive stop with views of Wood Stork, Black Vulture, White-tailed Hawk and Northern Harrier followed by a great stop with Belted Kingfisher…

OK, OK, Amy, you saw a lot of birds. But did you take any pictures? (Yes, she did!)

The Golden Eagle

Here are some photos from yesterday’s big golden eagle adventure

You have to see this. These guys are actually holding the golden eagle, weiging them, playing wiith their talons, etc. I’ve never seen such a thing. All in the name of science, of course.

Golden Eagle Days (Part 1)

“I think that the Bald Eagle Ridge is the single best place in Pennsylvania to observe golden eagles,” Mike Lanzone told us. He was talking about our mountain, which is the westernmost ridge in Pennsylvania’s ridge and valley province.

Un believable. More crazy bird people carrying around golden eagles.

[See also the Track an Eagle Project Site]

Get Real

No Bird Watchers on Madison Avenue?

It may seem a bit pretentious or just plainly persnickety but as an avid bird watcher I get particularly bent out of shape when I see a bird in an advertisement or a movie that is simply the wrong species for the location.

Oh, man, no kidding! That drives me nuts too. It makes me want to go and EDUCATE people. (Reminds me of a joke I heard recently, from writers on the picket line in Hollywood. “How many producers does it take to screw in a light bulb?” ….. “Does it have to be a light bulb?”)

A Book Review:

Birder’s Conservation Handbook

No birder can deny the simple truth that our birds are declining. Countless reports and our own observations can attest to the alarming decline of numerous avian species. The facts can be discouraging, disheartening, and leave us in a state of despair. We think this book can help bring a change to these feelings.

This is a review of Birder’s Conservation Handbook: 100 North American Birds at Risk.

Grrl Scientist also has a review of this book.

Excellent Luck

Indian Pond Heron

Photograph of a non-breeding Indian Pond Heron, during breeding season there is a change in its plumage and the bird looks much prettier. Although this bird is generally found near marshes and pond foraging for amphibians or fish

Excellent photos, man. How did you get that close without this bird pecking your eyes out? Have you considered going into Golden Eagles?

Waxing Poetic

Birding Gulper See (In Verse!)

It was late in the morning when the Mercedes got going
With a German beside me that the German language was knowing
An obvious advantage when birding in Deutschland
Like having a drummer when starting a rock band.

This is an epoch poem fill of subtle literary allusions and, most importantly, birds. The trouble is, what rhymes with Hefeweizen? Click the link to find out!

Science In Action

Going Home Again: How Migrating Birds Detect The Earth’s Magnetic Field

Every year, millions of birds migrate to their breeding grounds and then back to their wintering grounds again. These birds’ journies cover anywhere between several hundred to many thousands of miles, even when the skies are cloudy or dark. How do birds unerringly find their way to their destinations? Thanks to recent research on this topic, part of the answer might be the presence of a special protein, cryptochrome, in avian eyes that is sensitive to blue light.

This is also an example of Blogging on Peer Reviewed Research.

Bird Claws and Evolution

One of the interesting questions in bird evolution is whether early bird ancestors were primarily ground-based or tree-based. That is, did birds start on the ground and move up, or start in trees and move down?

This is a question that is more easily answered than the other famous and vexing bird-related question: “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?”

Happy Hunting
Birding In Weslaco

We started our birding in the fog this morning. We were in a newer park in the Weslaco area called Estero Llano Grande State Park. This where the northern jacana was located this time last year.

Man, I can’t believe how many birds they saw! And Jacana! The photos are very intersting, because of the fog. When I shoot in the fog all I get is a wet lens. Very impressive, fellow Twin Cities resident!

Bleak November

Ah, distinctly I remember, it was in the bleak November… Well, no embers here. No ravens, either. Not even crows – all the crows I’ve seen recently have been too far away, or moving too swiftly through the sky for a decent picture

Hey, man, you’ve gotta get yourself some birds, man. (But do go read the post … there is a happy ending.)

Making Birds

Gulls, Gulls, Gulls

The title’s supposed to be a reference to the Motley Crue song. I hope that’s how you read it, it’s much funnier that way.

Here’s an update on my museum Larid aging project. I’m done with terns, thank ye gods, and now onto the real fun. Gulls man, gulls. For that I’m using the phenomenal Howell/Dunn Gulls of the Americas from the Peterson Reference Series. It’s enormously useful for situations like this as both the photos and text are extremely comprehensive. If you are at all interested in getting serious about Gull ID, then it should be the number one reference for you. I may do a complete review of it at some point I like it so much, and it’s also on my Channukah/X-mas list (we do both around these parts) so it may not be long before I get my own copy in my hot little hands rather than the museum’s copy.

This person appear to be Creating Birds from inanimate Objects.

I’ve gotta try this…

Slowed Down Bird Songs

Don’t tell me, don’t tell me. You get Whale Songs, right? Like in that Star Trek!!!!

Showing Off

Winter Finch Invasion.

“I had 4 Pine Siskins.”

“I had 12 Pine Siskins and a male Purple Finch.”

“I got both House and Purple finch, great for comparison AND a Red-breasted Nuthatch.”

“Millie, had Evening Grosbeak.”

All eyes turned to me expectantly.

“The bears haven’t gone down yet. I haven’t put out my feeders.”

Bears? Bears? Is that why my feeders are always bitten in half?

Bird-Plant Interaction

Sunbird and flowerpecker: Pollinating mistletoe flowers

Dendrophthoe pentandra is a common mistletoe plant that is semi-parasitic on wayside trees (above left). The mistletoe is spread by flowerpeckers and sunbirds that eat the fruits and excrete the sticky seeds when perching on the branches of shrubs and trees. These seeds are excreted stuck together, as the gummy covering that originally covered the seeds remain intact when passing through the digestive tract.

Now what do these birds do?

Ah, indeed, what do they do?

More Happy Hunting and some Amazing Photographs

Birding bonus.

For me, a bonus arising from two big floods since July has been the influx of White-necked or Pacific Herons. Unlike the common White-faced Heron, the White-necked had always been a very occasional sighting in the district. I can remember enjoying seeing several of these majestic birds in the Mallee after a big rain event some years ago, but sightings in my own patch remained few and far between. That is until now.

Up to their necks in herons, it appears…

Bird of the Day: Cave Swallow

I woke up before dawn this morning to chase two rarities on Cayuga Lake: Pacific Loon (Gavia pacifica) and Cave Swallow (Petrochelidon fulva). We were tipped off by Dave Nutter and Gary Kohlenburg, who found these respective rarities at Sheldrake on the west side of Cayuga Lake. Amazingly enough, the bitter cold, dark morning was highly productive: we found both birds!

I’ve heard about those cave swallows. Nasty, brutish and short.

Endangered Species Thursday: Albatrosses

Albatrosses don’t just have plastic problems, they have hook problems. Fishing hooks. You see, albatrosses eat sea life, and so the baited hooks used to catch seafood are a big draw for them. They see a tasty morsel on the water, swoop in, bite down, get hooked, and then get dragged through the water, drowning or choking to death. Often, there is a chick like this waiting on land for food whose parent never arrives:

I cannot believe the photographs in this post! Last time I tried to get a shot like that I nearly got my eyes pecked out! Unbelievable!

Costa Rica Birdwatching

Up very early to meet up with Jorge and Luis. Just outside the hotel we stop to see two Blue-Crowned Mot Mots. Wow, Jorge seems very knowledgeable indeed. We would drive 3 hours and then take a hour and a half boat ride. A short time into the drive we stop to see some parrots, which we missed, but just then a cool Roadside Hawk arrived to pose for the camera. Later on we stopped for 5 Keel-billed Toucans! Jorge was amazing being able to quickly identify every bird we saw.

Oh, yea, rub it in why don’t you. I’ve got to go shovel the snow now, have a nice time in Costa Rica…



  1. #1 The Ridger
    November 15, 2007

    Nice job!

  2. #2 The Ridger
    November 15, 2007

    ps you need to fix the “gulls gulls gulls” link.

  3. #3 Dave
    November 15, 2007

    I appreciate the inclusion of a quote from my golden eagle post at the Plummer’s Hollow blog. The link is http://plummershollow.wordpress.com/2007/11/05/golden-eagle/

  4. #4 greg laden
    November 15, 2007

    What, you don’t like the Giant Link Effect?

    … ok, working on it….

  5. #5 Duncan
    November 15, 2007

    Good one Greg, enjoyed the comments!