Blog Birding #87
by Nate Swick
Robert Mortenson of Birding is Fun takes the time to walk us through his identification process when faced with a mystery Myiarchus flycatcher:
There are some birds that are no-brainer identifications simply because nothing else looks like that species. However, many birds have nearly identical cousins and therefore demand a little more of our time and attention before putting a name to them. Your first impression of the bird pictured above may depend entirely upon where in the world you live and what you might expect in your area.
At 10,000 Birds, David Ringer reports that the well-known Inca Dove may be subjected to a common name change. Aztec Dove, anyone?
The proposal, titled “Change English name of Columbina inca from Inca Dove to Aztec Dove,” begins thus: “I’m serious.” Oh, honey.
“[Inca Dove is] a completely misleading, nonsensical, embarrassing name that should not be perpetuated…. In fact, I wonder how the planet manages to continue to rotate on its axis,” continues the author, Dr. Van Remsen, without a trace of melodrama.
ABA Blog contributor Rick Wright, at Birding New Jersey, considers a remarkable piece of modern art, and the sordid ornithological history to which it harkens back:
The history of birding and conservation in North America is closely bound up with the excesses of the feather trade. The stories are famous: Frank Chapman’s millinery count, the murder of Guy Bradley, the vital role of women in stopping the slaughter. With the Lacey Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and the general environmental enlightenment that set in in the middle of the twentieth century, feathers and corpses of native birds nearly disappeared from fashion and from art. Even Ostrich feathers, which remained legal and easily processed for millinery use, fell out of fashion for many decades.
At The Nemesis Bird, Drew Weber tries to make some sense of the recent spate of Dickcissel reports from Pennsylvania:
It will be interesting to document this phenomenon as the summer goes on. As a guide to focus search efforts in the best habitat, the habitat notes from Mulvihill (1988) are very helpful. Of the 32 sites, 16 were large strip mines with a mix of grass and legumes (clover, Trifolium sp. etc), and 11 were unmown hay fields with a similar composition, although maybe more grasses. 2 fields were listed as weedy or fallow, 2 were pastures and 1 was a clover field.
Bill Thompson III finds a bizarrely different sort of American Goldfinch:
Look closely at this bird. Notice anything missing? This is a male American goldfinch in summer/breeding plumage. Bright yellow body, black wings and tail...