Bird Talks

[caption id="attachment_8714" align="alignleft" width="269"] Roger Lederer, the Ornitihologist[/caption] I have given hundreds of talks about birds over the years in a great variety of venues. If I speak to the Boy Scouts or the local Master Gardener’s club, the talks are pretty straightforward as the attendees aren’t very experienced in…

Why So Many Birds?

[caption id="attachment_10856" align="alignleft" width="274"] Kakapo or Owl Parrot[/caption] There are about 10,000 species of birds extant in the world today, but over 200 million years or so there were many more. Scientists estimate that there might have been 123,000 species of birds over evolutionary time. They evolved and then went…

Fantasy Birding

Ok, now I have heard it all. Fantasy birdwatching or Fantasy Birding. It’s a thing. I’m certainly behind that curve as I know nothing about fantasy football. Oh, I have a vague notion that one picks various football players from different teams and puts them together in some sort of…

Spring Comes Earlier Every Year

[caption id="attachment_10816" align="alignleft" width="637"] European Blackbird[/caption] Researchers have been tracking bird migration for many years but the biggest changes have come in the last fifty or so. According to the Science Daily, birds in Canada and Europe are moving northward a bit earlier each year. Birds that breed on the…

Insectivory

[caption id="attachment_10793" align="alignleft" width="363"] Crickets (Acheta domesticus) inside a bell pepper with a side of lubber grasshoppers (Romalea microptera) and superworms (Zophobas morio) From the New York Times. Sept. 8, 2018[/caption] A few years ago I traveled to South Vietnam. One day, walking along a backcountry road looking for birds,…

How Do Birds Find A Home?

[caption id="attachment_10781" align="alignleft" width="400"] 27th May 1883: Clouds pouring from the volcano on Krakatoa (aka Krakatau or Rakata) in south western Indonesia during the early stages of the eruption which eventually destroyed most of the island. Royal Society Report on Krakatoa Eruption - pub. 1888 Lithograph - Parker & Coward…

The One-Third Difference

[caption id="attachment_10776" align="alignleft" width="477"] Lesser and Greater Yellowlegs.[/caption] Have you ever noticed that there are pairs of birds that look a lot alike but are different sizes? How about Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers? Or Lesser and Greater Yellowlegs. Long-billed and Short-billed Dowitchers. And Cooper's and Sharp-shinned Hawks. These pairs are…

Half Female Half Male Cardinal

[caption id="attachment_10768" align="alignleft" width="489"] cardinal gynandromorph[/caption] There is a Northern Cardinal visiting a backyard feeder in Erie, Pennsylvania that looks like a male on its left side (red plumage) but resembles a female cardinal on its right side (gray plumage).  The bird is called a gynandromorph- an organism that contains both male…