mersenneforum.org

mersenneforum.org (https://www.mersenneforum.org/index.php)
-   Lounge (https://www.mersenneforum.org/forumdisplay.php?f=7)
-   -   Our fine fried feathers (https://www.mersenneforum.org/showthread.php?t=23902)

Dr Sardonicus 2018-12-15 18:36

Our fine fried feathers
 
I wish to create a thread devoted to observations, anecdotes and stories about birds. I'm not looking for mythology, folklore, or "bird jokes" here. If someone has a passion for these, perhaps sub-threads could be created.

Here is an example.

Once upon a time, long long ago, I lived in an apartment complex with rudimentary car ports -- posts with corrugated metal panels along the top half of three sides, and a slant of corrugated metal on top for a roof of sorts. And in some of the car ports, where the back panel met the roof on the inside, barn swallows had taken up residence.

Barn swallows are [I]great[/I] all-around fliers. They feed mainly on insects, which their flying ability lets them catch on the wing. And they defend their nests against anything they see as a threat. They often do this by "tag-teaming" the encroaching trespasser. I witnessed an occurrence of this behavior which made a lasting impression on me -- as well, I am sure, as it did on the hapless trespasser.

One fine morning, as I strolled through the parking lot, I saw two barn swallows zooming low near a dumpster from different directions, coming almost to the ground. And on the ground, where their flight paths had converged, was a cat.

I have [I]never[/I], before or since, seen a cat in such a state. Cats are well-known for being able to escape just about any predicament, but [I]this[/I] cat literally did not know which way to turn! It was banjo-eyed, panic-stricken, and wildly looking in all directions. And then, the barn swallows attacked again. One flew straight at its face. The cat clawed at the attacker. But while cats are very quick, the barn swallow was quicker. It easily avoided the cat's claws. Meanwhile, a second barn swallow attacked from the rear, giving the cat a peck near its tail. The cat wheeled around, but, fast as it was, it wasn't anywhere near fast enough. I left. When I returned later, the cat was gone. Apparently the barn swallows had eventually relented. But I'm sure that the cat had been taught a lesson it was not going to forget any time soon.

Dr Sardonicus 2018-12-21 00:14

Counting birds is murder...
 
Some of the people who keep track of birds engage in "bird counts." In a recent one (the Sunday December 16 Queens County NY Christmas Bird Count), a participating "nature lover" in Bayswater Point State Park found something unexpected:

[url=https://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/nyc-crime/ny-metro-death-park-ruled-homicide-20181218-story.html]Death of man found in Queens park ruled a homicide[/url]

Dr Sardonicus 2019-03-13 11:58

For the past week or so, I have heard birds singing as I haven't heard them sing in months. They have been singing as the night sky starts becoming noticeably less dark, around half an hour to 20 minutes before sunrise. This type of singing is known as the "dawn chorus." Its yearly return is a sure sign of Spring.

tServo 2019-03-13 13:02

Chimney swifts
 
In the lot just to my south is an old ( 50-80 year ) grade school that has been chopped up into apartments and condos. It's a fairly huge brick structure with several chimneys reaching toward the sky, now rendered obsolete by the installation of modern, efficient heating units.
Also, the top floor, which probably was a storage attic of sorts, is completely abandoned now and has these slats of wood covering the former windows. The chimneys provide nesting sites for the birds; he slatted windows for bats.
Every Spring, a good sized extended family ( say 20-30 ) of chimney swifts arrive and take up residence in the described upper reaches of the grade school. Every Autumn, when the days get short, they leave for their southern vacation. I judge the seasons by them.

They are fascinating to watch flying as they are surely some of the fastest birds I have ever seen. Also, they can change direction on a dime. I see them mainly at dusk when the hoards of night loving insects come out. Their shape, the results of untold millenia of evolution, reminds me of the swept wings of the me-262 or its descendants, the mig-15 and f-86.
The dusk sky is filled with their zooming about as they feed, chirping excitedly.
Thanks to the swifts for keeping the dreaded insect hoard ( which seems to get worse every year ) down.

Dr Sardonicus 2019-03-14 13:28

[QUOTE=tServo;510709]<snip>
The chimneys provide nesting sites for the birds; he slatted windows for bats.
Every Spring, a good sized extended family ( say 20-30 ) of chimney swifts arrive and take up residence in the described upper reaches of the grade school. Every Autumn, when the days get short, they leave for their southern vacation. I judge the seasons by them.\
<snip>
Their shape, the results of untold millenia of evolution, reminds me of the swept wings of the me-262 or its descendants, the mig-15 and f-86.
The dusk sky is filled with their zooming about as they feed, chirping excitedly.
Thanks to the swifts for keeping the dreaded insect hoard ( which seems to get worse every year ) down.[/QUOTE]Thanks for the posting! I've never seen them, but I have heard about them. It sounds like they fly about as well as barn swallows.

The question arises: Where did chimney swifts nest before there were chimneys? About the only natural locales I can think of are perhaps some caves, and hollow tree stumps. Perhaps the primeval forest in North America had enough hollow stumps of significant girth (and maybe height) to support a significant population of these birds.

But, it seems, their natural nesting sites have become rarer, or perhaps chimneys became so common the population grew in response. With the decline in chimneys (at least, the kind built of masonry), there will surely be fewer places for them to nest.

kladner 2019-03-14 19:44

[QUOTE=Dr Sardonicus;502903]I wish to create a thread devoted to observations, anecdotes and stories about birds. I'm not looking for mythology, folklore, or "bird jokes" here. If someone has a passion for these, perhaps sub-threads could be created.

Here is an example.

Once upon a time, long long ago, I lived in an apartment complex with rudimentary car ports -- posts with corrugated metal panels along the top half of three sides, and a slant of corrugated metal on top for a roof of sorts. And in some of the car ports, where the back panel met the roof on the inside, barn swallows had taken up residence.

Barn swallows are [I]great[/I] all-around fliers. They feed mainly on insects, which their flying ability lets them catch on the wing. And they defend their nests against anything they see as a threat. They often do this by "tag-teaming" the encroaching trespasser. I witnessed an occurrence of this behavior which made a lasting impression on me -- as well, I am sure, as it did on the hapless trespasser.

One fine morning, as I strolled through the parking lot, I saw two barn swallows zooming low near a dumpster from different directions, coming almost to the ground. And on the ground, where their flight paths had converged, was a cat.

I have [I]never[/I], before or since, seen a cat in such a state. Cats are well-known for being able to escape just about any predicament, but [I]this[/I] cat literally did not know which way to turn! It was banjo-eyed, panic-stricken, and wildly looking in all directions. And then, the barn swallows attacked again. One flew straight at its face. The cat clawed at the attacker. But while cats are very quick, the barn swallow was quicker. It easily avoided the cat's claws. Meanwhile, a second barn swallow attacked from the rear, giving the cat a peck near its tail. The cat wheeled around, but, fast as it was, it wasn't anywhere near fast enough. I left. When I returned later, the cat was gone. Apparently the barn swallows had eventually relented. But I'm sure that the cat had been taught a lesson it was not going to forget any time soon.[/QUOTE]
Mockingbirds are also highly aggressive chasers of all sorts of predators, terrestrial or airborne. Cats are prime targets, as are any birds that are remotely hawk-like. Mockingbirds aren't picky. I have seen one tormenting a turkey vulture.

On one of our trips to downstate Illinois, we heard a terrific cacophony of crows. As we watched, a hawk came flying hard through the tree tops. It was being pursued by a super-murder of crows.

Dr Sardonicus 2019-03-15 12:28

[QUOTE=kladner;510797]Mockingbirds are also highly aggressive chasers of all sorts of predators, terrestrial or airborne. Cats are prime targets, as are any birds that are remotely hawk-like. Mockingbirds aren't picky. I have seen one tormenting a turkey vulture.

On one of our trips to downstate Illinois, we heard a terrific cacophony of crows. As we watched, a hawk came flying hard through the tree tops. It was being pursued by a super-murder of crows.[/QUOTE]One time, when I was walking to the grocery store, I saw a red-tailed hawk being chased off by a few crows. When I was walking back, I saw a crow being chased off by some smaller birds, I forget what kind.

I was struck by the following occurrence in the war with Mexico, as described in a PBS documentary:

In the summer of 1846, US troops were stationed at Ciudad Camargo, in absolutely abominable conditions. They died in great numbers, of dysentery and other diseases. The "dead march" was played so often that the mockingbirds began imitating it. The road on which reinforcements came to the encampment went by the cemetery. As a result, the incoming troops were greeted by mockingbirds singing the "dead march." It must have been a real morale-booster...

LaurV 2019-03-18 03:02

Bugs Life, anybody?

xilman 2019-03-18 10:57

[QUOTE=kladner;510797]On one of our trips to downstate Illinois, we heard a terrific cacophony of crows.[/QUOTE]Essentially every evening we hear a terrific cacophony of corvids. Not technically crows but closely related. The [URL="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red-billed_chough"]choughs[/URL], or gracas they seem to call them in these parts, have started their nesting and mating season. Over the last month one pair has been taking first long twigs and then soft furnishings up into the crown of the dragon tree near the veranda. Last summer there were four birds up there, from which we deduced that they had raised two young.

It also seems that this pair is unusual as the species generally use cliffs, buildings, etc, rather than trees as nesting sites.

Dr Sardonicus 2019-03-18 13:30

Speaking of corvids, I once saw a "discussion" between two family members -- a crow ([i]Corvus brachyrhynchos[/i]) and a blue jay ([i]Cyanocitta cristata[/i]). The crow was sitting on top of a wooden "telephone pole" near a large spruce tree. The blue jay's nest was almost certainly in the spruce tree -- I'd seen it flying in and out of that tree many times.

The crow was placidly sitting on top of the pole. The blue jay was frantically flitting from one end of the cross-arm to the other, loudly calling a piercing "Jeer! Jeer! Jeer!" The crow just sat there, occasionally emitting a subdued "caw." And so it went. "Jeer! Jeer! Jeer!" "Jeer! Jeer! Jeer!" Caw. "Jeer! Jeer! Jeer!" "Jeer! Jeer! Jeer!" "Jeer! Jeer! Jeer!" "Jeer! Jeer! Jeer!" Caw.

It went on and on, and was still going on when I left.

Xyzzy 2019-03-18 17:12

[url]https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2019/03/wingspan-review-a-gorgeous-birding-board-game-takes-flight/[/url]

xilman 2019-03-18 18:01

[QUOTE=Dr Sardonicus;511035] The crow was sitting on top of a wooden "telephone pole" near a large spruce tree.[/QUOTE]

Have you heard they are not making telephone poles any longer?

[spoiler]Apparently, they are long enough already.[/spoiler]

ewmayer 2019-03-18 19:00

[QUOTE=tServo;510709]In the lot just to my south is an old ( 50-80 year ) grade school that has been chopped up into apartments and condos. It's a fairly huge brick structure with several chimneys reaching toward the sky, now rendered obsolete by the installation of modern, efficient heating units.
Also, the top floor, which probably was a storage attic of sorts, is completely abandoned now and has these slats of wood covering the former windows. The chimneys provide nesting sites for the birds; he slatted windows for bats.[/QUOTE]

Back in the late 90s when I lived in Cleveland OH, on one of my summer-evening walks I looked up to see what looked like a black tornado swirling above the red-brick chimney of a large old house on the lot next to the apartment building where I lived. On a closer look it turned out to be a great flock of chimney swifts - there must have been on the order of a thousand - swirling around the chimney. As I watched, the birds at the bottom of the funnel started crash-diving straight down into the chimney opening, and within minutes the bird-tornado had vanished and all was quiet again. Craziest animal-related thing I ever saw. Interestingly, the house they were using as their nesting site was occupied, at least for the most part. There must have been some large basement or attic space in there which was undisturbed ... but it was such an improbably large number of birds. I considered of asking the building owner/manager about it, but quickly thought better of it, didn't want to risk alerting the folks there to a bunch of "nuisance birds", in case they were unaware of the nesting flock and proved of such a mind-set.

[QUOTE=xilman;511047]Have you heard they are not making telephone poles any longer?

[spoiler]Apparently, they are long enough already.[/spoiler][/QUOTE]

And here I thought they had been displaced by hordes of will-work-for-less telephone Bulgarians - shows you what I know!

Dr Sardonicus 2019-03-18 21:05

Those big birds don't sing. They just sit and stare at you.
 
The turkey vulture ([i]Cathartes aura[/i]) has extended its range, due to man's activities.

The [url=https://blog.epa.gov/2013/06/10/turkey-vultures-natures-roadkill-clean-up-crew/]Turkey Vultures: Nature’s Roadkill Clean-up Crew[/url][quote]A century ago, turkey vultures were unknown in New York, New Jersey and other northeastern states, but thanks to our modern interstate highway system, they have moved north, following the trail of roadkill carcasses all the way up to Southern Canada. They are honorary Department of Transportation assistant road crews, reducing the amount of carrion that needs to be removed.[/quote]

Circling turkey vultures (AKA "TV's" and "buzzards," a misnomer generally accepted in the USA) are usually "just looking." They do [i]not[/i] follow dying animals and wait. They know when something has died, and "follow their noses" until dinner is sighted.

I saw a fair number of TV's perching nearby in the middle of the day -- on utility poles, and the roofs of surrounding houses. I asked one of my neighbors, "What died?" He said it was a deer. It was kind of fascinating. There were 4 of them perched on the ridge of one roof. When a fifth one came in to land there, one of the original four took off and headed for the feeding area. They seemed to want to perch just so close, but no closer. Between the vultures and the other scavengers, the deer was down to bones in just a few days.

Another time, I was standing outside around sunset, and, out of the corner of my eye, caught sight of something [i]big[/i] soaring by, really low. I looked in the direction I'd seen it go, and saw a turkey vulture land in a nearby tree. Then I saw several others already perching in the tree. They were obviously getting ready to roost for the night. They clambered through the branches by both walking, and spreading their wings slightly over slightly higher branches and using them to pull themselves along.

According to [url=https://www.allaboutbirds.org/do-vultures-find-dead-animals-by-smell-or-by-tracking-predators-or-scavengers-on-the-ground/]this page[/url],
[quote]Researchers proved fairly long ago that Turkey Vultures can smell. In 1938, the Union Oil Company discovered that by injecting a strong-smelling organic chemical called mercaptan into gas lines, they could readily find leaks by monitoring vulture activity above the pipelines. Some mercaptans smell like rotting cabbage or eggs. They and related chemicals are released as carcasses decompose. To us, mercaptans smell horrible, but for vultures they are associated with fine dining.

In a 1986 study in Panama, Turkey Vultures found 71 of 74 chicken carcasses within three days. There was no time difference between finding concealed and unconcealed carcasses, and the only carcasses the vultures seemingly had trouble finding were the freshest ones. Even though the older carcasses emitted a stronger odor, the vultures showed a definite preference for eating fresher carcasses.[/quote]

Although buzzards don't like their diner "too dead," sometimes they wait a bit so the process of decay softens the carcass up enough that they can get their beaks through the hide. Without waiting, they can usually gain entry through the eyes or the genital and anal areas (as can other scavenging birds). It is this behavior which has given rise to the many tales of "cattle mutilations," in which the aforementioned areas are eaten, and "mysteriously," there are no tracks leading to or from the dead animal.

March 15 is Buzzard Day in Hinkley, Ohio. They have returned to Hinkley Ridge on that day for many years. Like the swallows returning to Capistrano, it's a sure sign of spring.

My mom told a story she'd heard (or read) about a hunter who'd shot a turkey vulture, mistaking it for a wild turkey. A game warden happened by, and decided that, instead of telling him of his error and issuing a citation, a more condign punishment was to let him keep it.

ewmayer 2019-03-18 23:02

[QUOTE=Dr Sardonicus;511069]March 15 is Buzzard Day in Hinkley, Ohio. They have returned to Hinkley Ridge on that day for many years. Like the swallows returning to Capistrano, it's a sure sign of spring.[/QUOTE]

Used to go top-rope rock-climbing those cliffs, back in the day. On the drives there and back we of course listened to the [url=en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WMMS]eponymous local radio station[/url].

Hey, didja hear the one about the vulture who was denied boarding at the airport? Yep, he ran afoul of the "limit 1 carrion per passenger" rule.

kladner 2019-03-19 12:02

Some years back I was back in my state of origin: Texas, and drove fairly often from the Houston area to the Lower Rio Grande Valley. On a couple of occasions I saw really large groups of vultures and possibly other soaring birds gathering to migrate. They were really noticeable when riding the thermal elevator in huge spiraling groups. The Valley is a tremendous migratory flyway.

Black vultures do not have the turkey vultures' keen sense of smell, though they have excellent vision. Consequently, they may follow TVs to find food. BVs are more aggressive, though smaller, and may drive TVs off a carcass.

Then, there are [URL="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caracara"]caracaras[/URL]. These long-legged hawks hunt on the ground for small prey like lizards. However, they like carrion just fine. They hang around with vultures and dominate the kills found by the vultures. The ones I saw in South Texas are Crested Caracaras.

Dr Sardonicus 2019-03-19 13:17

Can you hear me now?
 
Some birds are real noisemakers. Here are a few I've heard of, and some I've heard live. Any others?

The screaming piha ([i]Lipaugus vociferans[/i]), a dull brown bird about 10 inches long, has an extremely loud call, one of the characteristic sounds of the Amazon rain forest.

The laughing kookaburra ([i]Dacelo novaeguineae[/i]) has a well-known call, used as a "jungle sound" in movies set in locales far from its native Australia.

Parrots, mynah birds, etc can also vocalize quite loudly.

Roosters are loud enough that municipalities which allow people to keep chickens often do [i]not[/i] allow them to keep roosters.

If you've ever heard a peacock, you know that their call is quite loud.

Crows can caw pretty loud.

A big group of blue jays can make quite a racket.

But to me, the most [i]surprising[/i] noisemaker is the Carolina wren ([i]Thryothorus ludovicianus[/i]). It's big for a wren, but still a small bird, maybe a bit smaller than a sparrow. But its call is [i]loud[/i]. So loud, it conjured an image in my mind, of a bird grasping a megaphone in its wing and holding it in front of its beak. In the "volume of call per volume of bird," it's got to be right up there with the screaming piha and the laughing kookaburra.

The loudest noise I've ever heard any bird make isn't a vocalization. It's the sound of woodpeckers "drumming," which they do in the late winter and early spring to attract mates, and to stake out territory. They used to drum on things like hollow trees, but mankind had provided something better. In my experience, the loudest drumming has been by flickers, which just [i]love[/i] to drum on the caps on metal furnace stacks, or on metal gutters near the top of downspouts.

retina 2019-03-19 13:19

Magpies
 
During breeding season magpies will chase me on my bike.

They wait till I pass, then swoop down from the tree tops and skirt along almost at ground level before the final attack run towards my head. Sometimes I speed up so they can't catch me, which requires about 50km/h. Sometimes I slow down to let them catch me. I think they don't actually want to hit the target (me) because most of the time they adjust their speed to avoid contact. But occasionally they misjudge and hit me right in the back of the helmet. At which point they panic, or get disorientated, or something, and take a few moments to recompose themselves before flying off satisfied the job was successful.

Putting cable ties on the helmet with the ends pointing outwards will stop the magpies from hitting also. But I don't really care. It is kind of fun to race with them, and adjust speeds to see what they will do.

Dr Sardonicus 2019-03-19 14:02

Re: Magpies
 
[QUOTE=retina;511128]During breeding season magpies will chase me on my bike.[/QUOTE]The magpies I'm familiar with are black-billed magpies ([i] Pica hudsonia[/i]). I've never heard of them doing that. Hmm... <google google>. How 'bout that! It seems that [i]another[/i] species of magpie is well known for this behavior.

Magpies are not fussy eaters. They eat berries, insects, and just about anything else they can get down the gullet. They will dine on putrescent, maggot-ridden carrion that would gag a vulture. Magpies are corvids, so are quite clever birds. They can figure out traffic signals well enough to grab a quick meal.

One summer I was bicycling along one busy street, and usually had to stop at the light at the intersection with a major thoroughfare. Just past the intersection, a "parliament" of magpies (I looked it up) descended to the edge of the road to dine on some road kill, which I could smell from across the intersection. When the light changed and car engines started to rev up, the magpies took off. The road kill was a dead skunk (which is one reason I could smell it from so far away). The sight of the magpies taking off thus made an interesting study in black and white.

Brownfox 2019-03-19 15:27

Yop. I've seen videos of this behaviour somewhere.

I regularly pass Eurasian magpies ([I]Pica pica[/I]) waiting on the hard shoulder next to a piece of roadkill. They've figured out that cars don't come onto that piece of tarmac and when no cars are coming they can walk out into the road and get an easy meal.

kladner 2019-03-20 01:15

[QUOTE]If you've ever heard a peacock, you know that their call is quite loud.[/QUOTE]I grew up in a small town south of Houston, TX. A short way down our little side street was a small bayou. Across that bayou was an estate belonging to a Catholic bishop. At one time, he had imagined the place as a retreat, with dairy cows and other livestock. That plan did not work out. However, he had also stocked the place with peacocks. In the time that we lived there, there may have been as many as 200 of the creatures less than a quarter mile from our house. We were so accustomed to racket that went on in breeding season that we hardly noticed. Guests, on the other hand, were appalled. To them, it sounded like a bunch of women being slowly dismembered.
[URL]http://soundbible.com/1301-Peacock-Call.html[/URL]
Now imagine a few dozen of such calls overlapping, going on for ~ten seconds per episode.
[YOUTUBE]rF3-mSBBwIQ[/YOUTUBE]
Typically, we could hear a preliminary 'honk', (at 55 seconds in the video,) a second of the "initiator" screaming solo, and then the grand choral opened up. I have no idea how many breeding aged cocks were over there, but it was loud.
These birds were also quite capable of flying over the tops of tall pine trees, even in full breeding plumage, with the huge tails, in the rain. Thus, they regularly came across the bayou and devoured plants in our yard. They also stomped around on our roof. My mom would get so irritated that she would throw gravel at them, which generally sent them packing.

[URL="https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Carolina_Wren/sounds"]Wrens[/URL] were part of the sounds of my summer childhood. When we go to downstate Illinois, it is wonderful to hear wrens shouting at various distances in the woods. Besides wrens, we also hear blue jays, [URL="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eastern_phoebe"]eastern phoebes[/URL], [URL="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pileated_woodpecker"]pileated woodpecker[/URL]s, and some I can't identify.
[YOUTUBE]SNVGPmo1xuA[/YOUTUBE]

We have a lot of nature sound recordings from Giant City State Park, and the Shawnee National Forest. We are going to be down there, arriving March 31st. It is hard to wait.

Dr Sardonicus 2019-05-06 12:51

Yesterday, I saw an Indigo Bunting for the first time. A sort of plump, approximately sparrow-sized bird, and the one I saw was a deep blue. It was flying, and in the shade, so I didn't get to see any possible iridescence. Looking up images, there seems to be a lot of variation in the shade of blue. Many are a much lighter shade of blue.

But the one I saw -- what a shade of blue! The only other bird I've seen that was mainly even close to that shade of blue is a Steller's Jay, which, in addition to a lot of dark blue, sports a remarkable black crest, and white around its eyes. It's a much bigger bird than the Indigo Bunting, of course.

Also bird-related: I was reading up on trees, and ran across a mention that sycamore trees can grow tremendously large (trunks up to 15 feet in diameter have been recorded), and that the hollow trunks of dead sycamores once served as homes for chimney swifts.

kladner 2019-05-15 02:22

Extinct bird resurrected as evolution starts over again
 
1 Attachment(s)
[URL]https://newatlas.com/extinct-bird-reappears-iterative-evolution/59639/[/URL]
[QUOTE]Evolution is an amazing process, helping life adapt to new environments and conditions – and now scientists have uncovered a rare occasion where it got a second chance. About 136,000 years ago, a flightless bird on an island in the Indian Ocean was wiped out, only to re-evolve itself back into existence tens of thousands of years later.[/QUOTE]

kladner 2019-05-15 02:42

1 Attachment(s)
[QUOTE=Dr Sardonicus;515930]Yesterday, I saw an Indigo Bunting for the first time...... [/QUOTE]
Buntings are amazing as a group. I have seen the Indigo. The one I would love to see is the Painted.
[URL]https://identify.whatbird.com/obj/206/overview/Painted_Bunting.aspx[/URL]
[QUOTE]A group of painted buntings are collectively known as a "mural" and a "palette" of buntings.[/QUOTE]

[URL]https://identify.whatbird.com/obj/203/overview/Indigo_Bunting.aspx[/URL]

[QUOTE]Indigo Buntings are actually black; the diffraction of light through their feathers makes them look blue. This explains why males can appear many shades from turquoise to black[/QUOTE]
Whatbird.com is a really useful site.

Dr Sardonicus 2019-05-17 13:27

[QUOTE=kladner;516780]Buntings are amazing as a group. I have seen the Indigo. The one I would love to see is the Painted.
[URL]https://identify.whatbird.com/obj/206/overview/Painted_Bunting.aspx[/URL]


[URL]https://identify.whatbird.com/obj/203/overview/Indigo_Bunting.aspx[/URL]


Whatbird.com is a really useful site.[/QUOTE]Looks like you'll have to head south to see the painted bunting. Looks like an exotic tropical bird!

Diffraction structures are also common on the scales of butterfly wings. The brilliant blue of morphos -- that isn't pigment!

The gaudiest bird I've seen in the lower 48 is the Western Tanager. The males are the gaudy ones.

This brings to mind another bird I saw once, in May 1977. I had never seen a bird that looked like it. I told my dad about it, since I knew he had once been very interested in birds. I said, "I don't know what kind of a bird it was. The only way I can describe it is, a [i]black-winged red bird!"[/i] He knew at once what it was -- a Scarlet Tanager. What he did [i]not[/i] tell me was something I learned years after he was gone, and I was looking through his old copy of [u]Birds of America[/u], which mom had kept. In the margin at the entry for the Scarlet Tanager, he had written in pencil when he had seen one near home as a child.

kladner 2019-05-17 21:14

[QUOTE=Dr Sardonicus;517008]Looks like you'll have to head south to see the painted bunting. Looks like an exotic tropical bird!

Diffraction structures are also common on the scales of butterfly wings. The brilliant blue of morphos -- that isn't pigment!

The gaudiest bird I've seen in the lower 48 is the Western Tanager. The males are the gaudy ones.

This brings to mind another bird I saw once, in May 1977. I had never seen a bird that looked like it. I told my dad about it, since I knew he had once been very interested in birds. I said, "I don't know what kind of a bird it was. The only way I can describe it is, a [I]black-winged red bird!"[/I] He knew at once what it was -- a Scarlet Tanager. What he did [I]not[/I] tell me was something I learned years after he was gone, and I was looking through his old copy of [U]Birds of America[/U], which mom had kept. In the margin at the entry for the Scarlet Tanager, he had written in pencil when he had seen one near home as a child.[/QUOTE]
Painted Buntings figure in my family lore. My dad was an avid birdwatcher. In the early 50's, Humble Oil, his employer, transferred him to an exploration crew on the King Ranch in West Texas. Hence, I was born in Kingsville, which is named for Captain King, of the King Ranch.

In the yard in Kingsville, Painted Buntings nested. The nest was parasitized by a Brown Headed Cowbird. This means that the Bunting eggs or hatchlings get pushed out by the larger Cowbird chick. My dad absolutely loved the Buntings and was enraged by the Cowbird, at which he threw rocks. This would have been an astonishing aberration from his usual very gentle nature, especially directed at a bird. Seeing the Buntings struggling to feed a large chick drove him over the edge. (This all hearsay. I was an infant at the time.)

The notes on Painted Buntings at Whatbird.com mention nest parasitism as one cause of decreasing populations.

We saw Scarlet Tanagers as migratory visitors in Houston. On vacation trips to the West, we were blown away by the Western Tanagers. Many birds of this sort have showy males, and greenish plain females. Perhaps it helps camouflage them on the nest.

kladner 2019-05-24 04:47

5 Attachment(s)
I have been working on recordings I made of birds on our trip to downstate Illinois. Some birds were clearly captured, but the recordings had steady substantial low to low-mid range noise. I am processing the files in Audacity, a marvelous free sound recording and editing program. Audacity has an impressively large menu of effects. When I started to take on the noise floor, I was thinking in terms of high-pass filtering. I messed with this filter for a while before I realized there is a Noise Reduction filter. It has you select a second or two that is as near to just the noise. It then produces a noise profile. There are controls for db cut, sensitivity, and a smoothing function I don't entirely understand.


In any case, a particularly good recording with a lot of steady noise had plenty of non-bird passages where the noise could be sampled. I ended up with a much cleaner track. I took a short clip with noise for comparison. Out pure perversity I am going to remove the name of the bird. :razz: It is unmistakable if you know the bird, and this singer was an outstanding specimen. I also have a couple of really good wren tracks, though one is mixed with another bird. The examples I offer have been processed in varying degrees. In the case of the wrens, there was some loud handling noise. Audacity allows you to zoom in on the wave forms a lot. This let me go in and do some crude surgery to slice out just the parts with the worst noise bursts. This made the files fairly short.


EDIT: [STRIKE]Here is the link to the Audacity help page for the Noise Reduction filter.[/STRIKE] It turned out to be a resident html file, so I copied it to a Word doc. This was found to be an invalid file, so it went into a zip, too. One cool function is the choice between "reduce" and "residue," which is the inverse of reduce. This lets you hear how much of your desired signal is getting filtered. I found the whole explanation really interesting.

I had to really struggle to get these up. The forum found my mp3s invalid which explains the zip files. On the longest track I also had to reduce the kilobits per second by half to get the size under the forum limit.

Nick 2019-05-24 07:33

Nice audio!

At this time of year on the cycle tracks through the Dutch fields, we regularly get buzzed by the [URL="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black-tailed_godwit"]Black-tailed godwit[/URL] (in Dutch called simply the "grutto") defending its nesting area.
The local swans are nesting too but they just ignore us!

kladner 2019-05-24 13:21

[QUOTE=Nick;517609]Nice audio!

At this time of year on the cycle tracks through the Dutch fields, we regularly get buzzed by the [URL="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black-tailed_godwit"]Black-tailed godwit[/URL] (in Dutch called simply the "grutto") defending its nesting area.
The local swans are nesting too but they just ignore us![/QUOTE]
Thanks!
Many birds will go after perceived intruders, even if said intruders don't they are intruding. Blue Jays nested in a large holly bush, maybe 7 feet tall, by my parents' house. I found out when I was setting out a sprinkler on the lawn and went to turn on the faucet by the bush. Unseen, one of the birds flew out and batted me on the head with its wings. Quite startling.


Once, in the Chicago lakefront park near us, we were out on a sunny day. By the bike/jogging path was a tree, in which Red Wing Blackbirds were nesting. Walkers and joggers going past were seen ducking and covering their heads when the birds attacked. There was a guy with a young dog out on the big lawn, away from the tree; and he was throwing a ball for the dog to retrieve. Once, the ball landed near the tree, the dog went after it and got it under fire from the birds. The guy found this amusing, and deliberately threw the ball there again. The dog just sat down and looked out him, not about to go there again. The guy had to brave the birds himself to get the ball back.

Dr Sardonicus 2019-09-16 01:02

The hummingbirds are [i]starting[/i] to go into "it's getting late in the season" mode. My feeder has three stations, and I'm starting to see [i]two[/i] hummers feeding simultaneously in late afternoon. In summer, this does not happen. Whichever hummer is at the station will challenge all comers.

Still, as sunset approaches, the hummers will revert to challenging all comers. I've even see one sit at the feeder, constantly looking around, and finally take off without having fed.

I have also seen one feeding, then looking up at another that zooms by chittering, resuming feeding, and continuing to feed as two [i]other[/i] hummers fight each other over the right to land at the feeder, then (literally) buzz off.

I have seen up to six hummingbirds swarming around my feeder, sometimes none of them getting to feed. They always spread their tail feathers as a challenge. Sometimes one swoops in to drive another one off. If I'm near enough, I can hear them making contact. Other times, a hummer at the feeder will turn to face an intruder, and the two will face off, rising vertically, "dancing beak to beak."

When it starts getting really cool near sunset before they head south, I expect to see all three stations at my feeder occupied simultaneously.

kladner 2019-09-16 04:42

Getting that long tongue into a feeder even once is a win. I saw a female Ruby Throated take up station in my folks back yard, on TV antenna guy wires, with her fledged offspring. She dominated 3 feeders. Females are larger, so impact may be among their tactics.They are very aggressive intra-gender with males competing at feeders.

Nearby humans mean nothing to hummers, except when humans very occasionally, on the hummingbird time scale, change location. When the large, slow-moving blobs are not where they were previously mapped, sudden course adjustments may be needed.:smile:

Dr Sardonicus 2019-09-16 12:45

[QUOTE=kladner;525896]Getting that long tongue into a feeder even once is a win. I saw a female Ruby Throated take up station in my folks back yard, on TV antenna guy wires, with her fledged offspring. She dominated 3 feeders. Females are larger, so impact may be among their tactics.They are very aggressive intra-gender with males competing at feeders.

Nearby humans mean nothing to hummers, except when humans very occasionally, on the hummingbird time scale, change location. When the large, slow-moving blobs are not where they were previously mapped, sudden course adjustments may be needed.:smile:[/QUOTE]
Yes, I've seen many "battle of the sexes" aerial fights. The size difference is quite obvious. I have also seen -- and heard -- impact with equal-sized combatants.

I've also noticed that, while they will fearlessly attack other hummingbirds, larger birds and, amusingly, even butterflies that happen to come too close, they will give a wide berth to any bee or wasp that happens to be trying to use the feeder.

Although they may not recognize the importance of us humans [i]directly[/i] -- and certainly don't perceive us as a threat -- they [i]do[/i] recognize the location, importance and state of the [i]feeders[/i] we provide.

If it's empty, or dirty, or the nectar or feeding stations are getting foul, a hummingbird will fly up to the feeder, give it the once-over, and zoom off. You can practically hear it saying "blecch!" Or, if the feeder isn't there (sometimes they show up earlier in Spring than expected, or the feeder is being cleaned and refilled), they'll show up, come to where they expect to find the feeder, and practically tap their feet in midair to say, "Hey! Where's my food?" Their ability to remember the locations of feeders over the winter is quite impressive.

If it's cool outside, I've had hummers buzzing around the feeder -- and me -- as I'm bringing it out to hang it up.

Even more impressive IMO than their ability to map the locations of food sources, is their having figured out that building their nests near hawk nests offers a degree of protection against nest robbers like jays and squirrels.

kladner 2019-09-16 17:35

[QUOTE]Even more impressive IMO than their ability to map the locations of food sources, is their having figured out that building their nests near hawk nests offers a degree of protection against nest robbers like jays and squirrels. [/QUOTE]
Wow! That I did not know. I suppose they would not be worth a hawk's effort, and so would be safer.

retina 2019-09-19 13:45

This vid gives a (dangerous) solution the the magpie attacks:
[url]http://youtu.be/9wHreVKgOT4[/url]

Also, people sharing their stories:
[url]https://www.magpiealert.com/SwoopingMagpieStoriesAndReviews.php[/url]

kriesel 2019-09-19 14:13

[QUOTE=retina;526126]This vid gives a (dangerous) solution the the magpie attacks:
[URL]http://youtu.be/9wHreVKgOT4[/URL]

Also, people sharing their stories:
[URL]https://www.magpiealert.com/SwoopingMagpieStoriesAndReviews.php[/URL][/QUOTE]Seems like the solution is to cover the helmet with a brown wig, so the helmet does not look like the rider is wearing a giant egg shell on his head.

Dr Sardonicus 2019-09-20 00:23

The hummingbirds in my area have headed south. I see an occasional one passing through, but the fighting over the feeder is done at least until spring. I wonder how many of them will make it back.

According to a study just out, the birds of North America are not doing well. For many species, not well at all.

[url=https://science.sciencemag.org/content/early/2019/09/18/science.aaw1313]Decline of the North American avifauna[/url]

Science 19 Sep 2019:
eaaw1313
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaw1313
[quote]Abstract
Species extinctions have defined the global biodiversity crisis, but extinction begins with loss in abundance of individuals that can result in compositional and functional changes of ecosystems. Using multiple and independent monitoring networks, we report population losses across much of the North American avifauna over 48 years, including once common species and from most biomes. Integration of range-wide population trajectories and size estimates indicates a net loss approaching 3 billion birds, or 29% of 1970 abundance. A continent-wide weather radar network also reveals a similarly steep decline in biomass passage of migrating birds over a recent 10-year period. This loss of bird abundance signals an urgent need to address threats to avert future avifaunal collapse and associated loss of ecosystem integrity, function and services.[/quote]

retina 2019-09-20 02:49

[QUOTE=kriesel;526128]Seems like the solution is to cover the helmet with a brown wig, so the helmet does not look like the rider is wearing a giant egg shell on his head.[/QUOTE]Yeah, I think your are correct. The magpies appear to dislike the headgear, and don't actually about the bike or the rider.

LaurV 2019-09-21 06:14

[QUOTE=kladner;525939]Wow! That I did not know. I suppose they would not be worth a hawk's effort, and so would be safer.[/QUOTE]
"Aquila non capit muscam"

Dr Sardonicus 2019-09-21 12:14

[QUOTE=LaurV;526218]"Aquila non capit muscam"[/QUOTE]
That's "muscas".

Yes, hummingbirds are generally too small and agile to be worth the effort of larger hawks to pursue and catch on the wing.

However, according to [url=http://www.hiltonpond.org/ThisWeek070901.html]THIS WEEK at HILTON POND 1-7 September 2007[/url], sharp-shinned hawks and loggerhead shrikes, which prey on other birds, do occasionally catch them on the wing. Insect-eating birds also occasionally catch hummingbirds.

Other sites say that owls sometimes find (and eat) hummingbirds in torpor at night.

There are at least two species of robber fly which can take down hummingbirds: the large [url=https://bugguide.net/node/view/3027/bgimage]red-footed Cannibalfly (Promachus rufipes)[/url] AKA Bee Panther, which lives in much of the eastern US (click on "Data" tab in previous link), and the even larger "beelzebub (or belzebul) bee killer" Mallophora leschenaulti (AKA black bee killer), which lives in Colorado and Texas (and south to Argentina).

See also Operation RubyThroat's [url=http://www.rubythroat.org/QuestionsPredators01.html]Predators #1[/url].

kladner 2019-09-21 15:40

That's quite a list of hazards for the poor little things. There is video on YouTube of the mantis threat succeeding.

LaurV 2019-09-22 08:18

[QUOTE=Dr Sardonicus;526222]That's "muscas".
[/QUOTE]
No, that's not. One of the biggest web-era misconceptions. The word "muscas" didn't exist in Latin, the plural of "musca" (fly) is "musci" (pronounced mus-tchi). Latin, in general, didn't form plurals by adding "s", this is more like an Iberic invention. The "am" is the accusative case in Latin. The sentence "Aquila non capit muscas" (and therefore the word "muscas") appeared for the first time as a title of a book wrote by an ignorant westerner, and it went into the popular culture like that. Even wikipedia is mistaken about it, and I tried for a while to convince them without success. Funny part is that we learned this from a Japanese guy (no joke!), many years ago, then we didn't believe, and made research. Old Latin books we have at home (our mother was language teacher and phylologist), including more "recent" books we used to learn from in school ("recent" here means in the 70'a and 80's, pre-net era) are very clear about that (but of course at the time we didn't give a dime about learning Latin, and we were only thinking how to make life miserable for our teachers and parents).

Re accusative case in Latin, it is hard to explain that to a native English speaker, as you don't have (much of) cases in your grammar. Think about the two (correct) Latin phrases: "Philosophus non facit barba" versus "Philosophum non facit barba". The first means something like "a philosopher does not make (build, construct, etc) a beard", when the second is "not the beard makes a philosopher". In Latin, same as in Romanian, due to case system, the structure of the phrase is flexible, you can move the words around in any way, and yet it will be very clear who does what, where the things are coming from, and where they are going. We use this deliberate and in subtle ways, to stress things or show subtleties, same as in German (where the cases are also present, but they got them from Greek two centuries ago when they restructured their grammar) where they place words at the beginning of the sentence to stress them out.

Both "muscam non capit aquila" and "aquila non capit muscam" are CORRECT Latin and they mean [U]exactly the same thing[/U], the eagle does not catch flies (i.e. an important person can't be bothered with trifle things), but in the first case the "flies" is stressed out. Also correct, and with the same meaning, would be "non capit aquila muscam" and "non capit muscam aquila". Due to aquila is nominative form, and muscam is accusative form, you know exactly who is catching who. The opposite, the flies catches the eagle, would be either "musca capit aquilam" or "aquilam capit musca", both correct and having the same meaning. Similar, "barba non facit philosophum", "non barba facit philosophum", etc, about 20 of the 24 possible permutations are correct, and mean the same thing, except the stress is different. Similar of what you do in English by rising your voice, when you say "[U][B]I[/B][/U] have a blue cat" (i.e. not you), vs. "I [U][B]have[/B][/U] a blue cat" (i.e. sure I have one!), vs. "I have [U][B]a[/B][/U] blue cat" (i.e. one, not more), vs. "I have a [U][B]blue[/B][/U] cat" (i.e. not a green one), vs. "I have a blue [U][B]cat[/B][/U]" (i.e. not a dog).

nomead 2019-09-22 10:05

Musca, Latin first declension, so the nominative plural is muscae. If the eagle catches one fly, then it's accusative singular, muscam. But if it's several, then it's the plural muscas.

Six years of Latin in high school, and got the highest grade in the matriculation exams. By coincidence the Finnish scoring system is in Latin, and that grade is "laudatur".

Latin never felt that difficult for me to learn, because even though Finnish is from a completely different language group, grammar cases are quite familiar. We have fifteen of them. Various constructs like ablativus absolutus never caused any trouble either. We have some similar grammatical constructs too. But plenty of other stuff on top of those, that cause trouble for those trying to learn Finnish, coming from an Indo-European language background... :devil:

Sorry, off-topic, not much to do with birds anymore.

retina 2019-09-24 23:57

[QUOTE=retina;526163]Yeah, I think your are correct. The magpies appear to dislike the headgear, and don't actually [care] about the bike or the rider.[/QUOTE]Oops, I accidentally a word out.

But I wonder if the headgear (i.e. the helmet) is triggering the magpies desire for shiny objects? That is, if the helmet was matt black will they still swoop? Perhaps they just want to add someone's shiny helmet to their hidden collection of shiny things.

kriesel 2019-09-25 00:32

[QUOTE=retina;526528]Oops, I accidentally a word out.

But I wonder if the headgear (i.e. the helmet) is triggering the magpies desire for shiny objects? That is, if the helmet was matt black will they still swoop? Perhaps they just want to add someone's shiny helmet to their hidden collection of shiny things.[/QUOTE]
Or, they're outraged that the egg-sucking primate was so greedy he got his head stuck in a large one, and now it's every bird's chance at revenge for an obvious nest robber.

Nick 2019-12-13 17:31

A puffin was found and rescued on the beach at Bergen (in the Netherlands) today.
They usually stay much further north.

xilman 2019-12-13 18:45

Ah, Eagles.
 
[url]https://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-us-canada-50751898/octopus-and-eagle-square-off-at-canadian-fish-farm[/url]

Moral: don't pick on octopodes.

BTW, that was a seriously pissed-off octopus. Bright-red indicates anger. It was cooling down and turning paler by the time it was finally released.

Dr Sardonicus 2019-12-13 22:03

[QUOTE=Nick;532820]A puffin was found and rescued on the beach at Bergen (in the Netherlands) today.
They usually stay much further north.[/QUOTE]The Rotterdam Zoo should check whether any of its puffins are missing
:-D

Sometimes birds are blown [i]very[/i] from their home ranges by fronts or storms.

I found a 2003 paper on the subject, [url=http://natuurtijdschriften.nl/download?type=document;docid=546160]Characteristics of Atlantic Puffins [i]Fratercula arctica[/i] wrecked in the Netherlands, January-February 2003[/url]

Nick 2019-12-14 08:41

[QUOTE=Dr Sardonicus;532854]I found a 2003 paper on the subject, [URL="http://natuurtijdschriften.nl/download?type=document;docid=546160"]Characteristics of Atlantic Puffins [I]Fratercula arctica[/I] wrecked in the Netherlands, January-February 2003[/URL][/QUOTE]
Thanks - interesting!

Dr Sardonicus 2019-12-22 00:35

A couple of bird-related news stories...

[url=https://apnews.com/6c918f6660b3e4b3c500f9ceee074bac]Hoot, hoot, hooray: Owl freed from vehicle's grille[/url][quote]SOUTHERN SHORES, N.C. (AP) — An owl that got trapped in the grille of a vehicle has lived to fly another day.

A barred owl took an unexpected three-hour ride to the Outer Banks of North Carolina over the weekend, said Lou Browning, the founder and president of Hatteras Island Wildlife Rehabilitation.

A family from Wilmington heard something hit their car on the drive to Southern Shores but kept going when nothing appeared out of the ordinary, Browning told news outlets. The owl was found after the family got to their destination, according to a [url=https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=10157683241193959&id=316636688958]Facebook post[/url] from the wildlife group.[/quote]

[url=https://apnews.com/23ff7dd17d8bc525dbb7c5b3100504ad]Whoo's there? Georgia family discovers owl in Christmas tree[/url][quote]ATLANTA (AP) — A Georgia family got a real hoot from its Christmas tree: More than a week after they bought it, they discovered a live owl nestled among its branches.

Katie McBride Newman said Friday that she and her daughter spotted the bird on Dec. 12. They had bought the 10-foot (3-meter) tall tree from a Home Depot, brought it back to their Atlanta area home and decorated it with lights and, coincidentally, owl ornaments.[/quote]

kriesel 2019-12-25 13:46

[QUOTE]They had bought the 10-foot (3-meter) tall tree from a Home Depot, brought it back to their Atlanta area home and decorated it with lights and, coincidentally, owl ornaments.[/QUOTE]How sweet of them, to make the owl feel so at home, albeit unintentionally. Although now that I think about it, owls being predators, I've never seen two together in the wild. Hawks are also usually solitary. Humans being diurnal, and owls nocturnal, they were probably trying to get him to fly away during the day, when he really ought be sleeping.

Dr Sardonicus 2019-12-25 14:30

[QUOTE=kriesel;533546]Humans being diurnal, and owls nocturnal, they were probably trying to get him to fly away during the day, when he really ought be sleeping.[/QUOTE]
According to [url=https://www.cnn.com/2019/12/18/us/owl-christmas-tree-found-trnd/index.html]this CNN story[/url], they actually did pretty well:[quote]The family left their windows and doors open that night, hoping the bird would leave on its own -- but it didn't.

The next day, they called the Chattahoochee Nature Center, a non-profit environmental center about an hour away from their home in Newnan. An employee there told them to leave the owl some raw chicken, concerned it may not have eaten in a few days.

The employee stopped by Saturday morning. She caught the bird and identified it as an Eastern screech owl, common in the Georgia area, a spokesperson for the nature center, Jon Copsey, told CNN. She also checked for injuries and gave it some food and nutritional supplements.

The owl was pretty thin, igniting the theory that the bird must have been inside the tree since they bought it, Billy Newman said.

[b]Returning the owl to the wild[/b]

The employee left the family some instructions: Leave the bird in a crate in a darkened room and release it after dark.

At dusk on Saturday, the family left the open crate outside. By 9:30 p.m., the owl had disappeared.

Copsey said the family did everything right in the situation -- closing it off from the rest of the house, trying to help it escape on its own and calling a wildlife rehabilitation professional.[/quote]

kriesel 2019-12-26 14:57

[QUOTE=Dr Sardonicus;533548]According to [URL="https://www.cnn.com/2019/12/18/us/owl-christmas-tree-found-trnd/index.html"]this CNN story[/URL], they actually did pretty well:[/QUOTE]
It would not be surprising if an owl in that situation was unable to fly. Aside from hunger and dehydration, consider what an ordinary commercial Christmas tree goes through in harvesting and shipping, and what harm that might mean for a winged stowaway passenger.
Christmas tree life cycle, seed to shipping: [URL]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OU9GBgD_fKY[/URL]
Palletizer detail: [URL]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EO_O7FT1tE4[/URL]

Dr Sardonicus 2020-02-14 16:19

Pack? Or is that a muster, an ostentation, or something else?
 
[url=https://apnews.com/0aee63c35b52b05dc14cc6c290bf5d3e]After residents cry fowl: Miami to relocate pack of peacocks[/url][quote]MIAMI (AP) — A pack of peacocks that has wreaked havoc on a Miami neighborhood will be relocated after city commissioners voted Thursday night to side with residents and agreed to have the birds taken away.

It was a big win for many residents who have complained that the birds have taken control of a Coconut Grove neighborhood, mating into the night, pooping in large piles and scratching cars as they travel in packs of 20 to 40 or more, the Miami Herald reported.[/quote]

kladner 2020-02-14 16:28

[QUOTE=Dr Sardonicus;537573][URL="https://apnews.com/0aee63c35b52b05dc14cc6c290bf5d3e"]After residents cry fowl: Miami to relocate pack of peacocks[/URL][/QUOTE]
I grew up in a small SE Texas town, across a small bayou from a Catholic bishop's retreat/estate where 200+ peafowl lived. The are destructive of shrubbery. They can fly very well, even in full mating plumage, in the rain. We hardly noticed the honking and screaming, but guests could be quite startled.
EDIT: The caretaker regularly threw (lots of) eggs in the bayou to try to control the population. We smashed them with our canoe paddles. You can imagine the smell on a hot summer day.

xilman 2020-02-14 17:31

[QUOTE=kladner;537575]The caretaker regularly threw (lots of) eggs in the bayou to try to control the population.[/QUOTE]What a waste of good food. Why not just eat them? After opening them first, of course, to ensure the contents are fit for purpose.

kladner 2020-02-14 19:54

I have no explanation for that long-dead woman's actions. Many of the eggs may have been well on the way to becoming peafowl [URL="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balut_(food)"]balut[/URL] before she found them. I suspect that delicacy would have been in very low demand in that region in those times.
EDIT: When we encountered them in the water they were hydrogen sulfide bombs.

Dr Sardonicus 2020-03-06 02:17

It's been noticeable for some weeks. And, of late, the pace has been accelerating.

More and more bird songs, calls, and appearances as they soar overhead. Birds I haven't seen since last fall.

Spring is almost here!

xilman 2020-03-06 07:27

[QUOTE=Dr Sardonicus;538988]It's been noticeable for some weeks. And, of late, the pace has been accelerating.

More and more bird songs, calls, and appearances as they soar overhead. Birds I haven't seen since last fall.

Spring is almost here![/QUOTE]But they still go for peanuts when coated with cyanide.

LaurV 2020-03-06 09:53

[QUOTE=xilman;538997]But they still go for peanuts when coated with cyanide.[/QUOTE]
Why would somebody coat a bird with cyanide? :shock:

xilman 2020-03-06 10:20

[QUOTE=LaurV;539000]Why would somebody coat a bird with cyanide? :shock:[/QUOTE]I suggest you ask Tom Lehrer.

Dr Sardonicus 2020-03-06 13:18

[QUOTE=xilman;538997]But they still go for peanuts when coated with cyanide.[/QUOTE]

With all due respect to Tom Lehrer, the peanuts would probably be taken by squirrels.

Luckily, there is an exciting new alternative that takes feeding the birds [i]to the next level![/i]

Introducing -- [b]Xilman[/b] Brand™ bread crumbs! Specially formulated for feeding pigeons, with cyanide [i]and[/i] strychnine! A real bargain, just tuppence a bag!

[Of course, as anyone who isn't a birdbrain knows, poisoning pigeons or other birds is a Bad Idea. For one thing, it could result in their being stricken in flight, and plummeting out of the sky, landing who knows where. For another, the birds could get to their nests, in some nook or cranny on the outside of a building where they then die. Ugh! Or, their bodies could be scavenged by other animals, which could then be poisoned and die.]

Dr Sardonicus 2020-03-06 15:03

This story might cause a few fundies' heads to explode. The bald eagle is, after all, the US national symbol...

[url=https://www.chicagotribune.com/lifestyles/ct-life-eagle-trio-mates-raises-young-tt-03022020-20200303-yh5pvlmlmvecnf7ivbxksh4kiq-story.html]Eaglets have 2 daddies — and a mom.[/url][quote]"It's definitely our own little soap opera," said Pam Steinhaus, visitor services manager at the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge.[/quote]

kladner 2020-03-06 15:50

We are hoping that the trees outside our new place will have the same migratory visitors we saw in the old place. Favorites are the Yellow Bellied Sap Suckers and Downy Woodpeckers. There are warblers passing through, too, but they are harder to identify specifically.


EDIT: I went to school for a couple of semesters just North of the eagle menage a trois, in Mt Carroll, IL.

kladner 2020-03-12 12:38

We've been hearing cardinals singing. I think they are full-time residents here. This morning, however, I was out early and saw a pair robins: the first ones in a couple-three months. :smile: They may have been investigating mud in the gutter for nesting materials. They make a cup-like nest from mud.

kladner 2020-03-25 19:21

A Planet of Missing Beauties -In Memoriam -By Tom Engelhardt
 
[URL]https://www.tomdispatch.com/post/176679/tomgram%3A_engelhardt%2C_%22the_skies_are_emptying_out%22/[/URL]
[QUOTE]The other morning, walking at the edge of a local park, I caught sight of a beautiful [URL="https://www.google.com/search?q=red+cardinal&client=firefox-b-1-d&sxsrf=ALeKk020pYPS3Sv9cSPA4XAK58flrAADjQ:1584557488371&tbm=isch&source=iu&ictx=1&fir=0GL2IX02Ek5IOM%3A%2C7ht6EkJIVTiCeM%2C%2Fm%2F01tgcy&vet=1&usg=AI4_-kTFB--qzEiKBN-H7G6-ojSgg0f8Wg&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjUvOHR2KToAhV8j3IEHe4qD08Q_B0wHHoECAoQAw#imgrc=0GL2IX02Ek5IOM:"]red cardinal[/URL], the first bird I ever saw some 63 years ago.

Actually, to make that sentence accurate, I should probably have put either “first” or “ever saw” in quotation marks. After all, I was already 12 years old and, even as a city boy, I had seen plenty of birds. If nothing else, New York, where I grew up, is a city of pigeons (birds which, by the way, know nothing about “social distancing”).

Nonetheless, in a different sense, at age 12 I [I]saw[/I] (was struck by, stunned by, awed by) that bright red bird.[/QUOTE][QUOTE]Think about it this way: as last year ended, [I]Science[/I] magazine [URL="https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/09/three-billion-north-american-birds-have-vanished-1970-surveys-show"]reported[/URL] that, in North America, there were three billion fewer birds than in 1970; in other words, almost one out of every three birds on this continent is now gone. As Carl Zimmer of the [I]New York Times[/I] [URL="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/19/science/bird-populations-america-canada.html"]put it[/URL], “The skies are emptying out.” Among them, warblers have taken one of the heaviest hits -- there are an estimated 617 million fewer of them -- as well as birds more generally that migrate up the East Coast (and so have a shot at landing in Central Park). Many are the causes, including habitat loss, pesticides, and even feral cats, but climate change is undoubtedly a factor as well. The authors of the Audubon Society’s most recent [URL="https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/2019/10/climate-change-threatens-bird-species/#close"]national report[/URL], for instance, suggest that, “if Earth continues to warm according to current trends -- rising 3 degrees Celsius (5.4 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2100 -- more than two-thirds of North America’s bird species will be vulnerable to extinction due to range loss.”

Extinction. Take that word in. They’ll be gone. No more. [I]Fini[/I].
[/QUOTE]

Dr Sardonicus 2020-03-25 23:32

Today while out on a walk, I saw an Eastern Bluebird -- a first for me.

A week and a half ago I saw [i]something[/i] bobbing around in place in a grassy area from quite a way off. I couldn't tell whether it was a squirrel trying to dig up a buried nut, or a goodly sized bird.

I approached only close enough to make out that it was a crow-sized bird of prey, apparently having dinner. I stood still and watched. The bird finally finished its meal, and casually flew up to a nearby branch. Not [i]completely[/i] certain of the ID, but I'm fairly sure it was a Cooper's Hawk.

Dr Sardonicus 2020-03-28 01:00

I saw a Great Blue Heron flying today. No mistaking that profile! It's a [i]big[/i] bird, kind of grayish-blue, with its long legs trailing behind in flight. Looking at one of those things, one can well imagine that "a dinosaur is flying by!"

kladner 2020-03-28 02:12

I heard a House Finch singing out over the alley today.

This is the close to what I heard: Pictures of other finches, too.
[URL]https://www.bird-sounds.net/house-finch/[/URL]
This one is better.
[YOUTUBE]/etr9XmMtfq0[/YOUTUBE]

Xyzzy 2020-03-28 15:54

[QUOTE=Dr Sardonicus;541116]I saw a Great Blue Heron flying today. No mistaking that profile! It's a [I]big[/I] bird, kind of grayish-blue, with its long legs trailing behind in flight. Looking at one of those things, one can well imagine that "a dinosaur is flying by!"[/QUOTE]We were bitten by one as a kid. It was a pretty serious cut and very hard to stop bleeding because the cut was very smooth like a knife cut.

:mike:

Dr Sardonicus 2020-03-28 16:24

[QUOTE=Xyzzy;541156]We were bitten by one as a kid. It was a pretty serious cut and very hard to stop bleeding because the cut was very smooth like a knife cut.[/QUOTE]
Maybe when I was little, I might have ventured near, if I had seen one.

But since then, I learned not to think of wild animals as possible playmates. I would not want to be anywhere [i]near[/i] one of those things! <shudder> Great Blue Herons' bills are like daggers. You're lucky it didn't gouge out an eye or two.

kladner 2020-03-28 16:34

[QUOTE=Dr Sardonicus;541160]Maybe when I was little, I might have ventured near, if I had seen one.

But since then, I learned not to think of wild animals as possible playmates. I would not want to be anywhere [I]near[/I] one of those things! <shudder> Great Blue Herons' bills are like daggers. You're lucky it didn't gouge out an eye or two.[/QUOTE]
In far South Texas, in the area Trump is trying to destroy with a wall, there is a nature reserve. In the visitors' center part of the display space has a very high atrium. In that space there is a model of a great blue heron that has to be 12-15 feet tall. It gives one a real sense of what terrifying predators they are to fish, frogs, and rodents. You sometimes see them "dance," stirring up the water around them to flush out prey.

Xyzzy 2020-03-28 19:30

[QUOTE=Dr Sardonicus;541160]Maybe when I was little, I might have ventured near, if I had seen one.[/QUOTE]The cantankerous one we encountered had been hit by a car. A family friend asked us to "hold its bill" while he wrapped up the bird in a blanket to take to a veterinarian. We still have the scar on our right thumb.

:mike:

xilman 2020-03-28 21:12

[QUOTE=Xyzzy;541183]The cantankerous one we encountered had been hit by a car. A family friend asked us to "hold its bill" while he wrapped up the bird in a blanket to take to a veterinarian. We still have the scar on our right thumb.

:mike:[/QUOTE]I still have a scar on my right forearm where I was attacked by a rabbit, though it has faded so much in the subsequent 45 years that the scar is now only visible when the surrounding skin is significantly tanned.

To forestall the inevitable MP-related questions, it was not a white rabbit but a general purpose brownish wild rabbit. Our cat caught it and was still alive when I arrived on the scene. It (the rabbit, not the cat) kicked me when I rescued it and made a deep scratch with the claws on one of its hind feet.

I have also been seriously nibbled by a sheep --- enough to draw blood but not enough to cause scarring.

I've never been kicked by a cow but that is how one of our cats met his untimely end.

Dangerous things are British field animals.

Uncwilly 2020-03-28 21:21

[QUOTE=xilman;541196]I still have a scar on my right forearm where I was attacked by a rabbit, though it has faded so much in the subsequent 45 years that the scar is now only visible when the surrounding skin is significantly tanned.[/QUOTE]I have a dog bite scar on the chin, just behind the front of the mandible. It required some sewing. Shaving to that point allows me to have a beard (a goatee, doorknocker, or other related styles) yet have a half-mask respirator seal tightly.

Dr Sardonicus 2020-03-28 23:00

[QUOTE=Xyzzy;541183]The cantankerous one we encountered had been hit by a car. A family friend asked us to "hold its bill" while he wrapped up the bird in a blanket to take to a veterinarian. We still have the scar on our right thumb.[/QUOTE]Someone who worked at a small-animal clinic told me of a similar accident with a Great Blue Heron undergoing treatment. It needed antibiotics injected into its breast.

The procedure was, get hold of the neck and beak first, then get the wings under control.

The guy holding the neck and beak lost his grip. The beak went straight for one of his eyes.

Lucky for him, he was wearing thick glasses, so he was uninjured.

The guy supervising said, [i]That's[/i] why you need to hold the neck and beak!

kladner 2020-03-29 03:01

Tangle with a great blue? Oh no. In close quarters or proximity it would naturally be pissed off and really dangerous. I guess if I had to assist a roadside retrieval I would. But it's a scary thought to be in striking range of that neck and beak.

LaurV 2020-03-30 03:47

[QUOTE=Dr Sardonicus;541116]Heron[/QUOTE]
[QUOTE=Xyzzy;541156]We were bitten by one as a kid. It was a pretty serious cut and very hard to stop bleeding because the cut was very smooth like a knife cut.[/QUOTE]
Oh, we always believed this "hobbledehoy" guy brings children, not kill them... :razz:

xilman 2020-03-30 08:00

We have blue tits!

Not because of the cold weather, I hasten to add. We have them because it is now getting warmer.

A pair of [I]Cyanistes caeruleus[/I] are building their nest inside a box we set up for them in the garden.

kladner 2020-03-30 16:08

[QUOTE=xilman;541312]We have blue tits!

Not because of the cold weather, I hasten to add. We have them because it is now getting warmer.

A pair of [I]Cyanistes caeruleus[/I] are building their nest inside a box we set up for them in the garden.[/QUOTE]
Any Great Tits? Like coconuts?

xilman 2020-03-30 17:48

[QUOTE=kladner;541324]Any Great Tits? Like coconuts?[/QUOTE]Not nesting where we can see them.

xilman 2020-03-30 17:56

[QUOTE=kladner;541324]Like coconuts?[/QUOTE]Yes, I do like coconuts. Thanks for asking.

Speaking of (semi-)tropical fruits, I harvested our pineapple today.

Up here in the sub-arctic pineapples are exotica (almost typed "erotica" there) and a couple of centuries ago the aristocrats vied with each other for their gardeners to grow them --- this being long before the days of air-freight.

Anyway, about two years ago I planted a pineapple top. It's easy and fun to do and they make nice foliage plants as long as they have plenty of space and no-one feels the urge to cuddle them (SWMBO eventually learned about that constraint).

Last July it put up a flower stalk. Development was slow ([I]vid. sup.[/I] re sub-artic) and the fruit was somewhat small by Costa Rican standards.

Now chopped up and about to be turned into a daiquiri. It isn't very sweet (again [i]vid. sup.[/i]) but smells and tastes good.

Its top will be planted in the hope that a second generation will turn up in another couple of years.

LaurV 2020-03-31 04:17

Don't trash the plant. I had one in the same conditions (planted from a top, first in a jar with water till it got roots, then in a ~6 liters pot with old soil from another plant, so not very rich anymore), the only difference it was that it stayed outside in the hot Thai climate, I watered it now and then, and it gave my 3 fruits before completely dying. First came after about 2 years, and I only kept it and continue watering it because the foliage was still looking nice, but then to my surprise, it got another stem with another fruit, and the 4th year repeated the performance, after which it dried completely and it was gone. I had no idea that they can repeat the performance after you harvest the first fruit.

axn 2020-03-31 04:58

Google "pineapple pups"

xilman 2020-03-31 08:09

[QUOTE=axn;541386]Google "pineapple pups"[/QUOTE]Good tip, thanks.

Very close examination of the plant reveals what might be a tiny pup growing between the leaves. I will leave the plant for a while to see what develops.

If all this was happening in La Palma the plant would live happily out of doors (they grow them commercially on El Hierro, the next island along) but would need watering occasionally. In Cambridge providing water is easy but heat and sunshine are more problematic.

Dr Sardonicus 2020-03-31 18:30

[url=https://apnews.com/a0565f7fc53c90ab5d78862a0135bd22]Ex wildlife chief: Trump rule could kill billions of birds[/url][quote]<snip>
The 1918 migratory bird law came after many U.S. bird populations had been decimated by hunting and poaching, much of it for feathers for women's hats. Over the past half-century, the law also was applied against companies that failed to prevent foreseeable bird deaths.

However, the Trump administration says deaths of birds that fly into oil pits, mining sites, telecommunications towers, wind turbines and other hazards should be treated as accidents not subject to prosecution. And an Interior Department proposal would cement that into federal regulation.

State officials and wildlife advocates who are suing the administration in federal court say birds already are being harmed under actions allowed by a 2017 Trump administration legal memo that signaled the rule change.

Most notable was the destruction last fall of nesting grounds for 25,000 shorebirds in Virginia to make way for a road and tunnel project. State officials had ended conservation measures for the birds after federal officials advised such measures were voluntary under the new interpretation of the law.
<snip>[/quote]

Dr Sardonicus 2020-04-02 13:56

Yesterday I saw a Pileated Woodpecker. I suspect I may have [i]heard[/i] it a while back -- I heard a call that reminded me of a kookaburra, and one of the Pileated calls at All About Birds was a closer match that other woodpecker calls.

No mistaking the sighting. Pileated Woodpeckers are approximately crow-sized. The bright red crest helps too.

It is said that Walter Lantz and his new bride were bedeviled by an Acorn Woodpecker on their honeymoon (besides the noise it made, the holes it chiseled out for acorns caused the roof of their cabin to leak), and that this was the original inspiration for Woody Woodpecker. But Woody looks like a Pileated, and his laughing call sounds more like a Pileated than an Acorn Woodpecker.

The Pileated, like the (now long-extinct) Ivory Bill Woodpecker used to be, is sometimes called the Lord God Bird or the Jesus Christ Bird, because of the exclamations inspired by seeing one of them clamped to the side of a tree, hammering away. It's quite a sight!

Uncwilly 2020-04-02 15:12

I thought that the Ivory Bill was possibly not extinct. If I am remembering right, there have been calls and sightings spread out over the years.

kladner 2020-04-02 16:36

[QUOTE=Uncwilly;541597]I thought that the Ivory Bill was possibly not extinct. If I am remembering right, there have been calls and sightings spread out over the years.[/QUOTE]
There have been sightings reported in the SE US, in swamps, I think.

Uncwilly 2020-04-02 19:13

[QUOTE=kladner;541604]There have been sightings reported in the SE US, in swamps, I think.[/QUOTE]And if I am not mistaken some calls or such have been heard. Yes, in the SE USA swamplands/bayous.

kladner 2020-04-02 20:46

I continue to hope that this OMG bird has managed to hide away somewhere. Habitat loss is their main enemy.:down:

Dr Sardonicus 2020-04-02 23:37

[QUOTE=kladner;541626]I continue to hope that this OMG bird has managed to hide away somewhere. Habitat loss is their main enemy.:down:[/QUOTE]

The credibility of some of the "sightings" or "hearings" reports is doubtful. I think one of the recordings, allegedly of the Ivory Bill's "double knock" drumming, turned out to be gunfire.

According to my dad's [u]Birds of America[/u], copyright 1938, the precipitous decline of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker was due to habitat loss. The book described it as a "creature of the deep woods." It was already thought likely extinct then, but the last confirmed US sighting was in 1944. I suppose it's [i]possible[/i] there are a few holdouts.

It seems that there was another variety of Ivory-billed Woodpecker in Cuba. It was last seen in 1986.

Dr Sardonicus 2020-04-03 14:05

I finally decided to look up LiMu Emu. I guess I can stop wondering how anyone could get an emu to tolerate having a pair of sunglasses perched on its beak, let alone putting them there without being maimed...

[url=http://www.virginislandsdailynews.com/is-that-a-real-emu-in-liberty-mutual-commercials/article_b68c9600-90e4-5042-a6d2-64070fa459d6.html]Is that a real emu in Liberty Mutual commercials?[/url]
Question: Is the emu in that insurance commercial real or CGI?

Answer: The "LiMu Emu," featured in ads for Liberty Mutual Insurance, has been a big hit for the company, which has gotten requests for emu-themed merchandise and has plans for more emu commercials later this summer. As for how the emu appears in the ads, here's the word from Jenna Lebel, vice president, brand and integrated marketing for the company: "LiMu Emu is a mix of a real bird and CGI. Live emus were used during the initial shoot on set. The final images of the emu in the commercials are a blend of footage captured from the live emus and our digitally created emu. Goodby, Silverstein & Partners (Liberty Mutual's advertising agency of record) collaborated with The Mill LA, a creative technology and visual effects studio, to bring LiMu Emu to life. For the commercials, the team created a digital model based on the live emu, which was used to supplement the footage."

Dr Sardonicus 2020-04-04 15:54

There's a bird in the area I haven't seen -- at least not a good enough look to tell, but I may have [i]heard[/i] it. There's a Red-shouldered Hawk around -- I have reports from two people who saw it; one saw it with a snake in its beak. I may have [i]heard[/i] it; I herd a hawk call the other say, and remember it not sounding like the Red-tail Hawk, which is quite common.

I also have reliable reports of the return of an individual bird I saw last year, a piebald robin.

Dr Sardonicus 2020-04-07 00:53

I saw the piebald robin twice today, close enough to get a good look. The white feathers are mainly on its back and the top of its tail.

kladner 2020-04-07 19:25

1 Attachment(s)
[QUOTE=Dr Sardonicus;541989]I saw the piebald robin twice today, close enough to get a good look. The white feathers are mainly on its back and the top of its tail.[/QUOTE]
Here's one to go with your piebald robin: a [URL="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gynandromorphism"]gynandromorph[/URL] cardinal. It is half male and half female, split down the middle.

Dr Sardonicus 2020-04-08 00:54

[QUOTE=kladner;542047]Here's one to go with your piebald robin: a [URL="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gynandromorphism"]gynandromorph[/URL] cardinal. It is half male and half female, split down the middle.[/QUOTE][url=https://i.pinimg.com/originals/73/9c/31/739c31e87885b3cf63950951464e905e.jpg]This Charles Addams cartoon[/url] comes to mind.

kladner 2020-04-08 14:47

[QUOTE=Dr Sardonicus;542061][URL="https://i.pinimg.com/originals/73/9c/31/739c31e87885b3cf63950951464e905e.jpg"]This Charles Addams cartoon[/URL] comes to mind.[/QUOTE]
ROFL! Thanks!


All times are UTC. The time now is 05:58.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.11
Copyright ©2000 - 2021, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.