Bird Bones

[caption id="attachment_8466" align="alignleft" width="300"] The shoulder, arm, and hand of a bird[/caption] When I was a kid I was always admonished not to feed chicken bones to the family dog. Why is that? Birds have hollow or semi-hollow bones with an internal structure of supporting struts. Physics tells us that…

The Cool Killdeer

The Killdeer gets its name because someone thought the screeching sound the bird makes when it takes off sounded like “kill-deer, kill-deer.” I don’t , but I’m too late to rename the bird. The Killdeer’s scientific name is Charadrius vociferous, the last part referring to its call. (I’ll get to…

Bird Muzak

 According to the Associated Press, R. Rex Parris, the mayor of Lancaster, CA, home of the California Poppy Festival, wants to brighten up this Mojave Desert city by broadcasting recorded bird songs from loudspeakers on Lancaster Boulevard. The mayor says there’s science to show that listening to birdsong makes people…

Bird DNA

For many years, ornithologists classified birds on the basis of their anatomy and behavior – feather color, plumage patterns, leg length, bill curvature, song, nest structure, and hundreds of other characteristics. In the last twenty or so years, however, DNA has been used to clarify relationships among birds, as we…

Ivory-billed Woodpecker and UFOs

[caption id="attachment_8423" align="alignleft" width="303"] Ivory-billed Woodpecker[/caption] On occasion someone e-mails me telling me that they have just spotted an Ivory-billed Woodpecker. It is almost certain that what they saw was the Pileated Woodpecker, found throughout the eastern U.S., the Pacific Northwest, and southern Canada, and a close relative of the…
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