The Jacanas

Attractive birds of the tropics of Asia, Africa, South America, and Australia, Jacanas sprightly move over the tops of lily pads and other floating vegetation with ease. They are weak fliers and go aerial for only short distances, but they can swim underwater to avoid predators and remain in the…

Nightjars and Goatsuckers

The order Caprimulgiformes includes four families of birds with not only odd appearances but odd names. Commonly called nightjars, the order is comprised of about 120 species of soft-plumaged and cryptically colored birds including nighthawks, potoos, frogmouths, poorwills, owlet-frogmouths and oilbirds. Resembling strange owls, nightjars lack the talons and strong…

Dynamic Soaring

You may have marveled at the spectacular and elegant control albatrosses have over their above ocean flights. You may be familiar with dynamic soaring, the method albatrosses use to remain aloft over the ocean for days, covering as much as 3000 miles a week, as measured by bird-borne video flight…

A Website to Avoid: Birdwatching USA

There are numerous bird blogs and websites on the internet and I presume my readers read and subscribe to others as well. Most bird blogs are well- written, researched, and informative. But occasionally I run across a real loser, whether badly written, full of inaccurate information, or just trivially stupid.…

Hawks at the Feeder

Years ago, some well-meaning bird lover passed away and left a pretty decent bundle of money to our local Audubon Society, but she stipulated that the funds are only to be used to benefit songbirds, not hawks. Now I’m not quite sure how one does that. If you improve the…

The Color of Birds

There has always been the presumption or assumption that tropical birds are generally more colorful than those further from the tropics. The closer the birds live to the equator, the more colorful they are, we have always thought. Alexander von Humboldt, Charles Darwin, and Alfred Russell Wallace, well-known naturalists of…

Shape-shifting Birds

There is a “rule,” actually a rule of thumb, that says as distance from the equator increases (like going farther north in the northern hemisphere) the body sizes of warm-blooded animals tend to change, the surface area of the body becoming proportionately less than the volume – the surface area…

Again About the Ivory-billed Wodpecker

In the fall of 2021 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declared the Ivory-billed Woodpecker extinct as there have been no reliable sightings of the bird since 1944. But individuals and groups have occasionally asserted that they have seen an individual or two deep down in the forests of Louisiana.…

Sleeping Birds

I previously wrote a post explaining why birds don’t fall out of trees while they are sleeping. Not falling out of a tree has to do with the arrangement of muscles and tendons on the lower legs, but this explanation mainly applies to those birds in the Order Passeriformes, the…

New Additions to Life List?

Some estimates give 150,000 to 1.5 million as the number of bird species that have ever lived. Most went extinct as the environment changed and evolution created new forms that were better fit for the new circumstances. Evolution occurs via the accumulation of genetic changes. When the changes are sufficient,…
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