Turkey Talk

The pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock at the end of 1620; by the fall of 1621, almost half of the 102 people who came over on the Mayflower had died, starvation being a major cause. In 1621 the harvest was good, so the surviving pilgrims celebrated by feasting with Wampanoag…

16 LB OR 7.248 KG TURKEY?

I’m sure those of us who are buying our Thanksgiving turkey at the local supermarket are weighing it by the pound rather than kilogram. The U.S. is one of only three countries in the world that continues to use the awkward and difficult to remember English system of measure. Liberia…

Media Ornithology

A while back I wrote a blog about ornithophobia and then I saw a TV episode of Big Bang Theory with Sheldon being afflicted by this fear. A “blue jay” was hanging out on Sheldon’s apartment windowsill, making Sheldon anxious. The bird, however, which eventually flew into their Pasadena apartment, was a Black-throated…

Mistletoe Birds

[caption id="attachment_9841" align="alignleft" width="508"] Mistletoe Bird[/caption] We kiss under it but mistletoe is important in nature; it provides food, cover, and nesting sites for many animals. The Christmas mistletoe we hang from our doorways is only one of more than 1,300 species of mistletoe worldwide. In the U.S., we have…

Birds and Animals

[caption id="attachment_9805" align="alignleft" width="538"] Birds and Animals of the United States[/caption] I am a zoologist, ecologist, ornithologist, and professor; I am, bottom line, a scientist. One of the things that makes science and engineering such successful as well as rigorous fields, is terminology. Without precise terminology, one cannot define or…

Sapsuckers

[caption id="attachment_9787" align="alignleft" width="521"] Red-breasted Sapsucker[/caption] I once thought that the name “sapsucker” was a pejorative appellation laid upon someone or just another version of “seersucker.” The latter is a type of cotton fabric and the former is actually a type of bird. There are four species of sapsuckers in…

Blogging About Birds

Almost every week someone tells me they read my blog on Ornithology.com  There are many other bird blogs across the U.S. and world, most focused on local birds. Some are: 10,000 Birds , Bill of the Birds, Birdchick , and the Top 80 Websites for Ornithologists and Bird Lovers. You might…

What Bird is That?

[caption id="attachment_7652" align="alignleft" width="509"] What bird is this? You figure it out.[/caption] It has been written that there are 81 million birdwatchers in the United States. Well, if you include every person who looks out his or her window and observes it for a few seconds, then that figure might…

Birds and the Solar Eclipse

There have been a number of anecdotes told about animal behavior during a total eclipse of the sun, but not much scientific evidence. In the 1500's there were reports of birds falling from the sky. Since then there have been numerous other reports about birds becoming silent or perching and…

Birds Out of Boundaries

  [caption id="attachment_9755" align="alignleft" width="824"] Falcated Duck or Teal[/caption] A couple of years ago there was a Falcated Duck visiting the Colusa Wildlife Refuge in Northern California, way out of its normal range of Russia, China, Mongolia, Japan, and Korea. Of course this got birdwatchers all excited and some came to…
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