Blog Birding #79
by Nate Swick
David Sibley encourages the discussion about the Chicago mystery Elaenia, and mysterious bird sin general:
The Chicago Elaenia never called (which would have solved the mystery easily). As the days went by there was increasing interest in trying to catch the bird, primarily to get a feather for DNA testing. A firm diagnosis would have been nice, but the discussion was so good that I voted against trying to get a DNA sample.
Greg Neise at North American Birding considers the use of technology in birding:
My life is wrapped in and around technology. I make my living sitting in front of a computer, or with smart-phone in hand (or sometimes both simultaneously). I’m always looking for ways that technology can aid birders … in fact that’s how I make my daily seed. But I’m also drifting quickly into Old Fart territory. I started birding in 1972. A fact that, despite my almost complete lack of gray, qualifies me as a graybeard at this point. And the graybeards, it seems, are having problems with technology.
Julie Zickefoose waxes poetic about the Red-tailed Hawks of Boston's Mount Auburn cemetary:
A very familiar sight in Cambridge these days is a wheeling redtail. Oh, what a magnificent, yet very familiar sight to see. Hodge and I are the perfect pair. I look down, noting small plants and insects and amphibians, and she looks up, never missing a single redtail. We nudge each other, and together make an entire naturalist.
I'm not sure when redtails took over Cambridge, but it was well after I left. I'm sure they weren't around when I lived there. Neither did Pale Male nest just off Central Park, either. Urban redtails are a new thing, a beautiful thing, a needed thing.
The Nemesis Bird's Anna Fasoli shares some of her work on Scub Jays in Florida:
To survey the birds, we used playback to draw jays in, although most of them were curious enough to simply fly in and check us out. For jays that did not want to come out into the open, we used peanuts to entice them to open ground so we could read their bands (or confirm lack of bands). We then followed them down streets and through yards until they hit the invisible walls of their territory boundaries and didn't want to go any farther. Usually on these boundaries, fights with neighboring jays would occur, and intruders were quickly chased off. Territory boundaries were also made visible when jays would line up on fence posts or utility poles and refuse to move or fly closer to us, even for a peanut thrown on the "wrong side" of the boundary. It was also evident when a single jay would follow us onto the neighboring territory (not able to resist a peanut), as it would fly back to its own territory and cache it. In most cases, jays who were on their territories would literally cache the peanut almost exactly where we threw it.
Photographer Walter Kitundu of Bird, Light, Wind, offers some stunning, and a little gruesome, photos of raptors doing what raptors do:
Raptors look as raptors do because raptors do what raptors do. They kill things daily. They look fierce because that brow ridge protects their precious eyes during all manner of prey related entanglements. That down-curved bill tapering to a point makes short work of anything that resembles flesh.