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Friday, October 31, 2008

Emergency Bird Walk

After a tougher than usual morning of getting the family out of the house, my acute birding anemia flared up really bad, and I had to take an Emergency Bird Walk to at least get my Bird RDA and keep my bird neurons from completely collapsing. A slow hour stroll seems to have done the trick, at least temporarily. Many thanks to the following birds, in order of appearance:

Blue Jay
(lots migrating through and calling right now)
American Robin (ditto)
Carolina Wren (a couple singing still)
European Starling
House Sparrow
Mourning Dove (on the power line)
American Goldfinch
American Crow (proud to be an American, apparently)
House Finch
Carolina Chickadee
Common Grackle (less common than they used to be)
Red-tailed Hawk (sitting in a tree, being harassed by jays)
Northern Mockingbird (coughing away in a thicket by the creek)
Tufted Titmouse
Song Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow (singing)
Northern Cardinal
White-breasted Nuthatch
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Eastern Bluebird (checking out the birdhouses by the hike and bike trail)
Dark-eyed Junco
Yellow-rumped warbler (feeding in the lawn of a flooded field)
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker (a pair in a tree)
Mallard (calling down by the creek)
Canada Goose (calling off across the creek somewhere)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

75 year old flamingo attacked

Sad story here. But cool to know there is a 75 year old flamingo out there!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


I've been really busy working on my doctoral dissertation, and working, and haven't gotten out for any length of real birding. So most of what I've done lately has to fall under the rubric of quasibirding--snatching a look at something here or there, on the way to work, or out the window. My most intense quasibirding moments recently have come walking in and out of the office. A couple of Yellow-rumped Warblers, a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, several Carolina Chickadees, and some American Goldfinches greeted me at work this morning as I got out of the car. That was it. My biggest observation of the day.

Yesterday before the snow I stopped in at Peace Valley on the way to the office, thinking for sure I could see something good on the lake, but no dice. One lone Lesser Black-backed Gull was all I could muster. I'm severely undernourished in the bird department. I haven't gotten my Bird RDA for at least a week. Its my own fault. I've allowed myself to get distracted. But quasibirding is now leading to acute bird anemia. Maybe I can get out for an hour or more tomorrow. I sure need it. Somebody send help quick!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Identify that feather you found

Ever find a feather, and were just dying to know what bird it came from? You can get a little help in your feather identification quest from The Feather Almanac. It may take some browsing around, but you can find images of flight feathers from hundreds of birds (flight feathers are the long feathers from the wings and tail of birds--the big straight feathers). So, check it out!

New freaky feathered dinosaur from China

This is one strange dino--and since it is feathered, probably very closely related to birds. Without further ado, straight from China, here's Epidexipteryx!

Or, as one of the describers colorfully puts it, The Vampire Peacock of Daohugou!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Identifying flushed grassland birds in Texas

Back in the early 2000s, Project Prairie Bird was a citizen-science program to monitor wintering sparrows and other grassland birds in Texas. Participants had to learn to identify the little brown birds on the fly as they popped up out of the grass--no easy feat! But not impossible either. If you want to get a handle on how to identify these little birds, take a look at this chart, still available to all thanks to the WayBackMachine Internet Archive!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Its official. The birding police have demoted me to the position of Casual Birder. Its true, I've been busy writing my doctoral dissertation, and barely glance outside when I'm not either at work or writing at home. I did see a couple hundred Tree Swallows at Peace Valley this morning on the way into the office. I saw a Tufted Titmouse on my porch yesterday. I think I saw a duck yesterday. Maybe. Ok, so I've been negligent in my birding. Maybe even grossly so.

But is that enough to strip me from being a Real Birder anymore?!?

Friday, October 10, 2008

Are You Spoiling Your Birds?

This week Audubon Birdscapes features cartoons, old bird feeder ads, and other goodies addressing how we care for birds and the environment in our yards, including:

Spoiling Birds--are you doing too much for your feathered friends?

Helping Orioles--how can you get these colorful gems to grace your garden?

Lessons from Pink Floyd--what can a Chilean Flamingo on the lam in Utah tell us about how to help birds?

10 Commandments for a Healthy Yard--how healthy is your yard?

As always, your comments are welcome, as well as additional post ideas. If you have a question you'd like to see a post on, send it my way. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Bread and Butter Birds

Usually when you go out to eat, you don't think too much about the bread they serve, unless there is something wrong with it. You just expect to have some nice bread with your meal.

Likewise, when we go birding, we often don't think much about the common birds we see, even though most of the time, that may be about all we find. The common neighborhood birds, the ones you can see almost anytime you go out, might be termed bread and butter birds.

Today during my lunchtime walk, I saw 33 species--including some nice FOS birds (Blue-headed Vireo, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, etc.), but most of the birds were pretty common bread and butter birds.

Now, anytime something as beautiful as a male Eastern Bluebird can be considered something to merely glance at, there is something wrong. Perhaps we need to better appreciate these bread and butter birds. What if we didn't have the time or money to go off to the shore to see something more exotic? Could we learn to be satisfied with our bread and butter birds?

For most of us, there is more to be learned, enjoyed, and appreciated about most of these common birds. That said, we enjoy a little jam or some other topping on our bread. For me today it was probably a Nashville Warbler, a FOS and also a 2008 BIGBY bird.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Herons, and warblers, and owls...oh my!

This week Audubon Birdscapes features posts on:

Great Blue Heron Feeders--you can probably guess how to create one, but do you know how to NOT create one unintentionally?

Lights Out to Save Birds--how many cities are making efforts to keep migrating birds from smacking into buildings at night?

The Whirl-A-Bird Feeder--unless you were reading Audubon magazine in the 1960s, you probably haven't ever seen this wonder!

Artificial Burrows for Burrowing Owls--how can you help these little guys when there aren't any prairie dogs around?

Check it out and enjoy!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Mopan Maya Bird Stories

Here's an online source for a bunch of Mopan Maya stories, most involving birds. We collected additional versions of some of these stories, and additional stories, during our recent research trip to Belize.
Nature Blog Network Fatbirder's Top 1000 Birding Websites