Kookaburra

In 1938, the feature film Tarzan and the Green Goddess contained a call from the Laughing Kookaburra even though Tarzan’s adventures occurred in Africa where there are no kookaburras; but the bird came to represent jungle calls in various movies. The call is heard in The Wizard of Oz (1939),…

The Smarter We Get…

Birds are smart and we ornithologists are continually elucidating the ways birds view their environment and respond to it. Recall my recent blog The Crow’s Story. The books and research papers coming out now reveal a whole new world of bird behavior and brain function. I read Jennifer Ackerman’s The…

Wind, Hot Air, and Bluster

I hesitate to get into politics in these blogs on birds, but the reason bird populations are in trouble are mainly due to various kinds of legislation – on land use, climate change, pesticide use, and so forth, which, of course, was passed by politicians who we elect. And having…

Birds Through an Opera-Glass

An ancient civilization cooking on a mound of sand discovered glass around 3500 BC but it wasn’t until the 16th century that glass was shaped into the first telescope in an arrangement of glass lenses that magnified objects up to 30 times. Later, double telescopes were created – the first…

The Crow’s Story

Birds are intelligent, especially parrots and crow relatives – jays, nutcrackers, ravens, jackdaws and others. The Clark's Nutcracker stores conifer seeds in the late summer and fall of each year and retrieves them in the winter and spring. A bird must find more than a thousand seed caches each year.…

Owl Giants

West of the Mississippi from Canada to Central America lives the Burrowing Owl. These small, brownish tan-colored owls with bright yellow eyes are the only raptors in North America that live underground in burrows they dig themselves or usurp from a ground squirrel or tortoise. In open habitats like grasslands…

Book, Books, Books

Are you reading a lot these days of social isolation? I read that an average of one bird book a day is published in the U.S. Seems like it because there sure are a lot of bird books out there and they seem to be arriving at an unwavering pace.…

Stool Pigeon

Earlier, I wrote a blog on pigeons with missing toes. It got me wondering about pigeons in general and especially why we call a police informant a “stool pigeon.” The phrase originally comes from the practice by hunters of tying a dead, stuffed, or replica pigeon to a stool to…
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