Science blog Laelaps takes a look at what pelicans and whales have in common:
The way pelicans and many baleen whales feed is called “engulfment.” It’s exactly what it sounds like. These predators open their jaws wide to surround masses of small prey, and both lineages share a similar framework of flesh and bone adapted to this method. Pelicans and baleen whales have huge, toothless maws — their U-shaped lower jaws typically measure about a quarter of their body length — and possess an expandable pouch of soft tissue slung from their lower jaws.
At Ohio Birds and Biodiversity, Jim McCormac makes a case for the underappreciated starling:
In its breeding finery, the European Starling is actually a showy bird. Fronted with a bright lemon-yellow bill, the starling is a study in glossy iridescence, reflecting rich purples and deep greens depending on how the light strikes the bird.
For much of the eastern half of the continent, picking a Mew Gull out of a flock of Ring-bills is a notable achievement. Greg Neise at North American Birding Blog offers some pointers as to how:
Gulling season is getting off to a rather slow start in much of our area, but things are starting to pick up. One of the most sought after vagrant gulls east of the Rocky Mountains is Mew Gull. Here’s a little primer to help you pick one out of a flock of Ring-bills.
Neil Gilbert of Obsessive Compulsive Birding manages to make it home for the holidays to find a fabulous bird in southern California:
Few things sting as much as a text about a rare bird at one of your local patches. The sting isn’t softened by several thousand miles, either. About a month ago, I seethed with rage when I received word about a male Hooded Warbler at Irvine Regional Park, a mere mile or so from my house. I consoled myself with that thought that, given the date, the bird would probably winter, allowing me to see it over Christmas break.
At Cornell’s Round Robin blog, an interview with 2011 ABA Young Birder of the Year, Rachel Butek:
I first got interested in birds when I was 16, all because of a sparrow in my Wisconsin backyard. It was just a “little brown bird” at first sight, but when I took a closer through my grandparents’ binoculars, I saw it was a delightful blend of buff and chestnut and stripes. And that was about all it took—just one simple little bird to change my life.