Snakes and Birds

[caption id="attachment_10317" align="alignleft" width="365"] Mrs Ornithologist with Gopher Snake[/caption] My wife visited her two horses at the stable where they are kept and found two large gopher snakes in the rafters of the barn. One had a nestling House Sparrow in its jaws. The snakes were transported away and released…

Farm Birds Disappearing

[caption id="attachment_10302" align="alignleft" width="459"] House Sparrow[/caption] Since 1977, House Sparrow populations have declined by 67 percent in Great Britain. Once a very common bird, the mystery of their disappearance has apparently been solved: a lack of insects. Disappearance of habitats, pesticides, and the conversion of gardens into parkin spaces have…

Earth Day

[caption id="attachment_10296" align="alignleft" width="549"] Kirtland's Warbler[/caption] Last week was the 48th anniversary of Earth Day. I attended the first Environmental Teach-In in 1970 at the University of Michigan, a month before the first Earth Day on April 22nd. I saw Gaylord Nelson and Gordon Lightfoot there and attended lectures at even…

Do Birds Mate for Life?

I often hear that birds mate for life. It's much more complicated. Yes, some birds like waterfowl and seabirds and eagles tend to have long term pair bonds and they may actually stay together for life. This "marriage" certainly makes life easier as it minimizes annual courtship, nesting, and territorial…

Birds Lost at Sea

[caption id="attachment_10220" align="alignleft" width="676"] Fieldfare[/caption] As I write this, I am at sea about 600 miles east of the Caribbean. Very few birds are in the middle of the ocean here except for the occasional shearwater. But yesterday we had some unusual avian visitors. First I saw a white egret…

The Bone Breaker

Until 2016, Canada did not have a national birds. You would think it would be the loon as the dollar coin which pictures this bird is known as the "loonie." And the look was popular in a poll to pick the national bird. However, after some discussion. the Gray Jay…

Easter Chicks

Chickens are the domesticated descendents of the Red Junglefowl, native to Southeast Asia and have been around for perhaps 10,000 years. There are more chickens in the world (24 billion) than any other bird. And there are perhaps 500 different breeds of chickens in the world, such as Plymouth Rock,…