Beware, Seagulls

Just today I received an email from a reported at a British newspaper in Yorkshire, England, asking if I knew anything about babies (human babies) being attacked by seagulls. No, I hadn't, so I looked it up. Couldn't find any information on baby attacks, but I read about others. One…

Singing for Fun

[caption id="attachment_9301" align="alignleft" width="300"] European Starling in Breeding Plumage[/caption] In 1889 a religious book emphasized the spur provided by the possession of a song. This notion matched the quotation under examination: A bird sings because it has a song and must sing it. In 1902 a column in “The Brooklyn…

The Mysteries of Eggs

[caption id="attachment_8494" align="alignleft" width="300"] A Variety of Bird Eggs[/caption] I’ve always known that birds’ eggs are pretty amazing structures. Encased in a shell with everything it needs to produce a new bird, an egg does so in 10 to 60 days, depending on the species. You can get an overview…

Migratory Bird Treaty Act Defiled

From NPR: The new Secretary of the Interior, responsible for the protection of our natural resources, is a former gas and oil lobbyist. Bernhardt says that responsible energy development on public lands is good for both American taxpayers and towns dependent on oil, gas or coal. The Department of the…

The Brown-headed Cowbird

[caption id="attachment_10925" align="alignleft" width="259"] Brown-headed Cowbird Male[/caption] We think of a parasite as an organism that lives on or in another organism and derives its food from its host. That’s the common definition, but in use it’s generally broader. Your brother-in-law who constantly borrows money and doesn’t pay it back…

Roxie and The Feather Lab

[caption id="attachment_10917" align="alignleft" width="495"] Roxie Laybourne at the Smithsonian[/caption] Part of my job as a professor and ornithologist was managing the university’s vertebrate museum. Students and faculty used stuffed specimens for teaching or research and the general pubic would come in asking various questions about what they had found (including…

The Incredible Shrinking Birds

[caption id="attachment_10904" align="aligncenter" width="436"] Bergmann's Rule[/caption] According to Science Daily, May 23, 2019, warm blooded animals – birds and mammals - are getting smaller. That seems bizarre until you put some pieces together. Scientists have known about Bergmann’s Rule for many years. This “rule” is actually a general ecomorphological concept…

Montana Birding

[caption id="attachment_10900" align="alignleft" width="498"] Chestnut-collared Longspur[/caption] I just returned from a fishing trip to northeastern Montana with two biologist friends from graduate school. Impressive scenery. I expected it to be flat and cold. Well, it was cold, but the topography - mountains and valleys and canyons made for an attractive…