Suet For Birds

[caption id="attachment_10642" align="alignleft" width="506"] Rose-breasted Grosbeak and American Goldfinch at suet feeder[/caption] The word “suet” comes from the Latin sebum, the oily substance that lubricates our skin, and less appealingly, clogs our pores and produces pimples and blackheads. Suet is actually the fat found around the loins and kidneys of…

Birds and Hurricanes

[caption id="attachment_10638" align="alignleft" width="553"] Whimbrel[/caption] I recently returned from a trip to Florida, during Hurricane Michael. Luckily I was in another part of the state when the storm blew through. These days of high technology and high-speed communication, humans get warned of an oncoming weather disaster so they can take…

Should We Befriend Birds?

I recently read an article in the New York Times about hand-feeding hummingbirds. It's fascinating, but also disturbing. It's cute, but why is it so important to get hummingbirds to feed from your hand or a perch sticking out of a helmet on your head? These are wild creatures, not…

Birding Apps

These days almost everyone has a smartphone, iPad, or some other electronic device to help them communicate, navigate, and educate. It was just a matter of time before the sport of birding joined the electronic world. You would think that a pair of binoculars and a field guide would be…

Cruising With Birds

[caption id="attachment_10547" align="alignleft" width="288"] Albatross[/caption] One of my retirement activities is giving  “enrichment” lectures on cruise ships around the world. I’ve lectured on over 20 cruises and ten different cruise lines. Not sophisticated university-level lectures, but “edu-tainment” as the cruise lines call them. They are part of the ship’s activities,…

The Hearing of Birds

[caption id="attachment_10540" align="alignleft" width="172"] Cooper's Hawk listening[/caption] Birds’ songs and calls are important for survival. The ear of a bird is very much like that of a mammal’s with two important exceptions. The external ear lacks a pinna (the flesh-covered outer ear) although owls have one, and nstead of three…