Plumage

“Plumage” comes from the Old French meaning feathers or appearance. Today the word is almost exclusively used for a bird’s set of feathers. Depending on the species, birds have various plumages throughout the year. Feathers wear out, are broken, or lost and they need to be replaced on a regular…

Do Birds Matter?

[caption id="attachment_10705" align="alignleft" width="235"] California Condor[/caption] I have had this website, Ornithology.com for 20 years now. I started it just before my retirement from a university where I taught ornithology and ecology. Now, in my leisure years, I write this blog, give lectures, lead field trips, write articles and books,…

Avian Color Morphs

[caption id="attachment_10692" align="alignleft" width="300"] Swainson's Hawk Light Morph[/caption] We are familiar with soaring hawks overhead in search of prey. Red-tailed Hawks, Ferruginous Hawks, Swainson’s Hawks and others we distinguish by their markings, mainly their underside because that’s what we mostly see. But occasionally it gets a little confusing because one…

Birds and Bugs

[caption id="attachment_10686" align="alignleft" width="300"] Female House Sparrow[/caption] Flycatchers, bee-eaters, swallows and swifts conjure up images of birds flitting through the air in quest of some sort of arthropod. We mostly don’t think about the tiny prey item that gets engulfed by the snapping avian jaws. So let’s give them some…