Birds, the Modern Dinosaurs

[caption id="attachment_8835" align="alignleft" width="351"] Archeopteryx bavarica[/caption] Birds are modern dinosaurs. In the news recently was a study by China’s Institute for Vertebrate Paleontology which found the first clear evidence of dinosaur coloration from a 125-million-year-old fossil called Sinosauropteryx, an orange bird-like dinosaur with white tail stripes. More and more fossils…

The Overly Successful Starling

[caption id="attachment_9301" align="alignleft" width="350"] European Starling in Breeding Plumage[/caption] The European Starling’s scientific name is Sturnus vulgaris, which some think is very appropriate. It was first brought into the United States in the late 1800’s, but most introductions failed. But on March 16 1891, a wealthy New Yorker, Eugene Schieffelin,…

Bird Baths

[caption id="attachment_9254" align="alignright" width="484"] Eurasian Starlings[/caption] Bird baths are as important as bird feeders as birds can almost always find sources of food but sometimes, especially in the winter when water sources are frozen, water is hard to come by. Aside from the obvious reason that birds use water for…

Birds in Winter

[caption id="attachment_9247" align="alignleft" width="275"] Blue Jay[/caption] Winter is a tough time for birds. Most insect eating birds have made their way to the tropics of Central or South America, others have migrated down from higher latitudes or altitudes to winter in the valley, and some birds just stay put. The…

Why Birds?

[caption id="attachment_6637" align="alignleft" width="390"] Red-winged Balckbird[/caption] Hopefully you have paid a bit more attention to birds since I suggested that you try to spy them during your daily activities. Humans have paid attention to them for hundreds of thousands of years and incorporated their images into various symbols and art forms.…

Do Birds Taste Good?

The following is extracted and modified from my book, Beaks, Bones, and Birdsongs: Rice farmers lose millions of dollars each year in lost crops and expenses incurred trying to control pest birds and are looking at any solution that’s not too expensive or difficult. Chemical deterrents to make the rice taste…

South Padre Island Birds

Some time back we visited some friends on South Padre Island, Texas., known for many things, including good birding spots. Like so many other places with a beach the natural environment has been bulldozed, paved, and covered with condos, T-shirt and surf shops, water parks, and seafood restaurants. But of course the…

Carrier Pigeons

Although we don’t use carrier pigeons to send messages anymore, they were once used extensively. With a short rolled up message inserted into a little tube attached to their leg a pigeon could deliver a message by simply returning “home”, wherever that might be. The system wasn’t perfect as birds…