Hanging Vultures

HANGING VULTURES Residents of one Bridgewater, New Jersey neighborhood counted at least 100 Black Vultures roosting in a group of pine trees, leaving behind foul-smelling and acidic droppings on lawns and roofs. So the neighbors chipped in and tried to hire a wildlife specialist from the United States Department of…

Beaks, Bones and Bird Songs

THIS IS THE INTRODUCTION TO MY NEWEST BOOK Look outside your window, take a walk, go fishing, watch a video or do anything else that allows you to see birds in the wild. You may get the impression that birds are blithely going about their business, happily chirping, singing, scratching…

The Big Sit – for Birds

[caption id="attachment_9358" align="alignleft" width="658"] The Big Sit[/caption] You have heard of the Big Year and the Big Day where birdwatchers compete to get the most number of species by running, driving, flying, and whatever to find new birds. For those of you who don’t have the ambition, energy, ability, or…

Birds We Like, or Not: Birdism

[caption id="attachment_9319" align="alignleft" width="325"] Vulturine Guineafowl[/caption] I often get asked, “what’s your favorite bird?” I don’t have one. They are all fascinating, from the common European Starling to the rare Kagu. Some have striking coloration, others display complex or bizarre behaviors, and some are just impressive for their size. Some…

Birds, the Modern Dinosaurs

[caption id="attachment_8835" align="alignleft" width="351"] Archeopteryx bavarica[/caption] Birds are modern dinosaurs. In the news recently was a study by China’s Institute for Vertebrate Paleontology which found the first clear evidence of dinosaur coloration from a 125-million-year-old fossil called Sinosauropteryx, an orange bird-like dinosaur with white tail stripes. More and more fossils…

The Overly Successful Starling

[caption id="attachment_9301" align="alignleft" width="350"] European Starling in Breeding Plumage[/caption] The European Starling’s scientific name is Sturnus vulgaris, which some think is very appropriate. It was first brought into the United States in the late 1800’s, but most introductions failed. But on March 16 1891, a wealthy New Yorker, Eugene Schieffelin,…

Bird Baths

[caption id="attachment_9254" align="alignright" width="484"] Eurasian Starlings[/caption] Bird baths are as important as bird feeders as birds can almost always find sources of food but sometimes, especially in the winter when water sources are frozen, water is hard to come by. Aside from the obvious reason that birds use water for…

Birds in Winter

[caption id="attachment_9247" align="alignleft" width="275"] Blue Jay[/caption] Winter is a tough time for birds. Most insect eating birds have made their way to the tropics of Central or South America, others have migrated down from higher latitudes or altitudes to winter in the valley, and some birds just stay put. The…