Spring Comes Earlier Every Year

[caption id="attachment_10816" align="alignleft" width="637"] European Blackbird[/caption] Researchers have been tracking bird migration for many years but the biggest changes have come in the last fifty or so. According to the Science Daily, birds in Canada and Europe are moving northward a bit earlier each year. Birds that breed on the…

Insectivory

[caption id="attachment_10793" align="alignleft" width="363"] Crickets (Acheta domesticus) inside a bell pepper with a side of lubber grasshoppers (Romalea microptera) and superworms (Zophobas morio) From the New York Times. Sept. 8, 2018[/caption] A few years ago I traveled to South Vietnam. One day, walking along a backcountry road looking for birds,…

How Do Birds Find A Home?

[caption id="attachment_10781" align="alignleft" width="400"] 27th May 1883: Clouds pouring from the volcano on Krakatoa (aka Krakatau or Rakata) in south western Indonesia during the early stages of the eruption which eventually destroyed most of the island. Royal Society Report on Krakatoa Eruption - pub. 1888 Lithograph - Parker & Coward…

The One-Third Difference

[caption id="attachment_10776" align="alignleft" width="477"] Lesser and Greater Yellowlegs.[/caption] Have you ever noticed that there are pairs of birds that look a lot alike but are different sizes? How about Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers? Or Lesser and Greater Yellowlegs. Long-billed and Short-billed Dowitchers. And Cooper's and Sharp-shinned Hawks. These pairs are…

Half Female Half Male Cardinal

[caption id="attachment_10768" align="alignleft" width="489"] cardinal gynandromorph[/caption] There is a Northern Cardinal visiting a backyard feeder in Erie, Pennsylvania that looks like a male on its left side (red plumage) but resembles a female cardinal on its right side (gray plumage).  The bird is called a gynandromorph- an organism that contains both male…

Hummingbirds in Combat

Hummingbirds fight; that's obvious to anyone who has watched them at a hummingbird feeder. And their bills are made for fighting as well as feeding. The bills are long and sharp and can be use to thrust, parry, and pluck the feathers of an opponent. They are also made for…

The Probers

[caption id="attachment_10753" align="alignleft" width="370"] Shorebird Beaks[/caption] We've all watched birds pecking at trees working their way around the trunk and sticking their bills under the bark. These  are the insectivore probers, looking to extract an invertebrate [caption id="attachment_10750" align="alignright" width="183"] Brown Creeper[/caption] morsel. The penduline-tits of Eurasia, so named because…

Books, and More Books

I read one time that there is almost one bird book a day published in the United States. That’s a lot. Some of these are very minor local books, some are just junk, some are terrific and a lot are inbetween. One review of the best books of 2018 can…

Swallows and Tattoos

[caption id="attachment_10733" align="alignleft" width="548"] Barn Swallow[/caption] Swallows seemed to have captured people’s imaginations over the years. They are attractive, acrobatic, long distance migrants and one of the most aerial birds. Aristotle noticed them around 363 BC and stipulated (Aristotle didn’t always collect data or do proper or sufficient observations) that…