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…

Feeding Birds

According to the U.S. Fish and Wild­life Service, more than 50 million North Americans feed birds. That amounts to more than one million tons of seed directly provided to birds every year. As fall approaches, the avifauna (set of bird species in an area) changes with migration patterns and some…

Hot Birds

Birds and mammals like us, are homeothermic. We often say "" is a misnomer as tuna and lizards and worms and tuna can be warm blooded at times. Better to say homeothermic which means which means that mammals and birds maintain a fairly constant body temperature at all times. To…

Egg Dumping

[caption id="attachment_10414" align="alignleft" width="489"] Common Merganser[/caption] You may have seen the photo of a Common Merganser mom leading a brood of 76, yes, 76 ducklings. They are not all hers, of course, because there is no way she could sit on and incubate that many eggs. A pair of mergansers…

The Stork

You know the story of the stork bringing babies. We most probably heard this story when we were young and our mothers were not yet ready to tell us where babies really came from. Some version of this tale has been around for a very long time. A Greek myth…

Rictal Bristles

  [caption id="attachment_10395" align="alignright" width="306"] Small Green Barbet[/caption] I learned the other day that synchronized swimmers don't shave their legs, at least not to the point of smoothness. Apparently the hair on their legs gives them a sense of where their legs are in the water. Try lightly running your…

Owl Attacks

I’ve heard stories about attacks on people by owls, but they are few and far between. They happen usually because someone got too close to an owl nest or a domesticated owl got angry with its owner. And “attack” is often too strong a word to describe the bird’s actions.…

Carolina Parakeet

The Carolina parakeet (Conuropsis carolinensis) or Carolina conure was one of only two parrots native to the United States (the other being the thick-billed parrot found in parts of Arizona and New Mexico). It was found from southern New York and Wisconsin to Kentucky, Tennessee and the Gulf of Mexico,…