Birds Getting Smaller?

There's a thing called Bergmann's Rule. This is an ecogeographical rule that states that within a broadly distributed taxonomic group, populations and species of larger size are found in colder environments, and species of smaller size are found in warmer regions. This only applies to birds and mammals because they produce their own…

Musing in the Garden

A little musing today. I’ve been watching two bird feeders outside my kitchen window for the past several months, the seeds devoured by California Towhees and occasionally a Spotted one, Western Scrub Jays, Eurasian Collared Doves, and lots of White-crowned and Golden-crowned Sparrows. In my backyard, near an intermittent creek,…

Leafy Cities

I received a question the other day from a fellow who lives in Ontario, Canada. He said that while walking around his town’s leafy downtown he noticed lots of birds but when he walks the nearby woods he doesn’t notice nearly as many. He wonders what’s going on. The key…

A Conspiracy of Birds

Over the years I have received a lot of emails with questions about birds. Most are straightforward, concerning identification or behavior. But occasionally I receive an exceptionally weird one. Probably the strangest question I have ever received was from a woman who said that in her home country (not the…

Social Distancing

We are practicing social distancing these days to avoid contacting the coronavirus. We have always practiced social distancing to a certain extent. We keep our distance when standing in line or when talking to others. We disdain “close talkers,” those who get right in your face when talking to you,…

Birds and the Homeless Problem

In 2011, animal control authorities confiscated 18 pigeons, a crow, and a gull from a homeless man in Los Angeles who kept them in cages. The pigeons, diseased and dirty, were euthanized and the gull and crow sent to bird rehabilitators. In 2018 the homeless guy sued the city, claiming…

Roadkills

Windows and cats are major sources of mortality for our birds but certainly aren't the only major causes. Somewhere between 87 and 350 million birds are killed by vehicles each year in the U.S., although the estimates vary. See this study. Barn owls seem particularly marked for doom. Now threatened…

Bird Festivals and the Pandemic

Clearly, the normal functioning of the world’s activities has been upset by the coronavirus as I write this blog in mid-March 2020. Stores are closing, meetings are cancelled, travel plans postponed, and the grocery stores that remain open are having their shelves denuded of canned goods and toilet paper. We’re…
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