Ask the Expert

There used to be a website called Ask the Experts on which you could submit a question, for free, on a large variety of subjects and get an answer from experts, or at least knowledgeable people, in the field. I have been answering questions on wild birds on this site for…

Those Amazing Crows

Seen any crows lately? There are about 40 species of crows, found across the world except, curiously, South America. The four species in North America are the American, Northwestern, Fish, and Tamaulipas Crow, and some small populations of the Eurasian Jackdaw. For many hundreds of years crows and ravens have…

Poisoned Birds

POISONED BIRDS In 1959 Tom Lehrer recorded his notorious “Poisoning Pigeons in the Park”  song. I hope no one does that intentionally but many birds die each year from ingesting toxins. A recent study indicates that two-thirds of California Condor fatalities result from ingesting led shot from the ground or…

Harbinger of Spring?

Bing Crosby, Al Jolson and many others sang the well-known song “When the red, red robin comes bob, bob, bobbing along”…… . And then there was “Rockin Robin” in the 50’s. You can go here  to listen to the birds’ actual song. American mythology holds that American Robins are the…

The First Bird?

For many years a fossil discovered in a Bavarian limestone quarry was considered to be the first bird. Archeopteryx lithographica (ancient wing of limestone) lived about 150 million years ago and had many reptilian and avian characteristics; of the latter, feathers were the most notable. Its discovery was a very…

Oddities

  [caption id="attachment_9667" align="alignleft" width="350"] Princess Margaret and Lord Snowden with President Lyndon Johnson and LADYBIRD Johnson[/caption] I was in Warsaw, Poland about ten years ago, just being a tourist. As my wife and I walked through the main square we noticed a lot of commotion and people gathering. We…

Bird Scarers

Ever since the advent of agriculture there have been problems with birds partaking of the harvest. There are all kinds of methods today to try to deter crop predators, the most well known being, of course, the scarecrow, which has existed for at least 3000 years. Approximately 2,500 years ago,…

Birds and Newt

  I am speaking of the salamander, not the politician once seeking the Republican nomination. In the valley and on the coasts of California the California Newt is pretty common in the moist springtime. Growing up to eight inches long and colored orange-yellow-brown, it is easy to find. Like a…

The Scarecrow

[caption id="attachment_9651" align="alignleft" width="499"] DCF 1.0[/caption] One blog I talked about bird scarers- the human ones. Obviously a boring and tedious job that probably paid minimum wage. So farmers devised a human substitute, the scarecrow. Why it’s not a “scarebird” or “scarestaring”, I don’t know, but the Egyptians were apparently the…

Plastic Owls

I was contacted by a Real Simple Magazine writer a few years ago asking if putting a plastic owl in a window would prevent songbirds from hitting the glass. My slightly smart-alecky answer was that an Elvis doll would be as effective as a plastic owl. Shortly after the article…
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