How Many Birds in the World?

According to a recent study*, there are about 50 billion living birds in the world, six times as many as there are people. It was not easy to come up with that figure but the diagram below gives a graphic representation of how the researchers did it. It’s not easy…

The First Frontier

I am reading the The First Frontier by Scott Weidensaul, prolific nature writer and eminent ornithologist. A synopsis of the book reads: “Frontier: the word carries the inevitable scent of the West. But before Lewis and Clark, … it was the East that marked the frontier—the boundary between Native cultures…

Birding Bob

There’s a birdwatcher in Central Park in New York City who calls himself Birding Bob. He leads bird walks in the park for the nominal sum of $10. But according to the New York Times, Bob ruffles the feathers of some birdwatchers. What he does is play bird calls, which…

Are East Texas Birds Toxic?

Just returned from East Texas a short while ago. Did some birdwatching of course but saw nothing exotic or unexpected, but I was struck by the difference in coloration in East Texas birds compared to those at my home in Northern California. The Blue Jays were a striking blue and…

The Golden Eagle

The majestic Golden Eagle, named for the shining feathers on the back of its head and neck, inspires awe around the world. Reflecting the reverence many have for this raptor, the Golden Eagle is the national symbol for five countries: Albania, Germany, Austria, Mexico, and Kazakhstan. The scientific name Aquila…

Swallow Migration

In Late and Middle English, the word “swallow” meant “gulf, abyss, hole in the earth or whirlpool,” and later “throat or gullet.” The Norse version of the word meant “devourer or swallower.” Today it means to put a drink or piece of food down the throat, accept a story without…