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,…

English Ornitholoogy

[caption id="attachment_10341" align="alignleft" width="294"] Blue Tit[/caption] I just returned from a two week trip walking the countryside of Cumbria and Yorkshire in northwest England. My wife and I went because we enjoy the English countryside with its stone and brick houses and lovely flower gardens. Dry stone walls, works of…

What Are Bird Species?

[caption id="attachment_10333" align="alignleft" width="523"] A Swoose[/caption] The most basic definition of a species is a group of biological individuals who can interbreed. Using DNA, and morphological and behavioral studies, birds are placed into categories based upon the closeness of their relationships. Carl Linnaeus was a Swedish botanist, physician, and zoologist,…

Snakes and Birds

[caption id="attachment_10317" align="alignleft" width="365"] Mrs Ornithologist with Gopher Snake[/caption] My wife visited her two horses at the stable where they are kept and found two large gopher snakes in the rafters of the barn. One had a nestling House Sparrow in its jaws. The snakes were transported away and released…

Farm Birds Disappearing

[caption id="attachment_10302" align="alignleft" width="459"] House Sparrow[/caption] Since 1977, House Sparrow populations have declined by 67 percent in Great Britain. Once a very common bird, the mystery of their disappearance has apparently been solved: a lack of insects. Disappearance of habitats, pesticides, and the conversion of gardens into parkin spaces have…

Earth Day

[caption id="attachment_10296" align="alignleft" width="549"] Kirtland's Warbler[/caption] Last week was the 48th anniversary of Earth Day. I attended the first Environmental Teach-In in 1970 at the University of Michigan, a month before the first Earth Day on April 22nd. I saw Gaylord Nelson and Gordon Lightfoot there and attended lectures at even…

Do Birds Mate for Life?

I often hear that birds mate for life. It's much more complicated. Yes, some birds like waterfowl and seabirds and eagles tend to have long term pair bonds and they may actually stay together for life. This "marriage" certainly makes life easier as it minimizes annual courtship, nesting, and territorial…