Blog Birding #91
by Nate Swick
Don Freiday has a conversation with a photogenic Black-crowned Night Heron:
Nothing much happened for long minutes as we remained fifteen feet apart watching the light drizzle make little ringlets in the salt marsh ponds. Finally I said, "Dude, you know, I really admire you night-herons, but worry about you starving to death sometimes. At least you conserve energy - mostly when I watch you, you stand. The more I watch, the more you stand. Sometimes you do look down, real exciting stuff!" I winked at him to show I was kidding. "But seriously, how do you ever catch anything standing around like that?"
At Earbirding, Andrew Spencer looks at the rambling "complex" song of several vireo species:
Most vireo complex songs tend to follow a pattern, with song-like phrases mixed with high, squeaky notes. There appears to be some variability, with a higher agitation rate correlating to fewer song-like notes, more high-pitched notes, a faster pace, and sometimes a longer strophe length. The Solitary Vireo complex, Gray, Warbling, and Yellow-throated Vireos all fall into this broad pattern. Hutton’s Vireo also seems to belong in this group, though like its primary song, its complex song is also atypical.
Kenn Kaufman breaks the news of another bird themed movie in the works:
Almost a year ago, I was contacted by a young filmmaker named Rob Meyer. He said he was working on a feature-length film that would involve birding, and he wanted my feedback on the draft of the screenplay.
Naturally I was interested. At that time, we were all looking forward nervously to the release of the film of "The Big Year," wondering if it would simply insult birders (it didn't) or if it would become a smash box-office hit (it didn't do that, either). The buzz about "The Big Year" had been going on for months, and birders were already starting to talk about the possibility that Hollywood might wake up and discover that we're out here.
A recent study, relayed on Not Exactly Rocket Science, suggests that exposure to urban noise makes sparrows worse parents:
A man-made world is a loud one. Between the din of cities and the commotion of traffic, we flood our surroundings with a chronic barrage of sound. This is bad news for songbirds. We know that human noise is a problem for them because some species go to great lengths to make themselves heard, from changing their pitch (great tits) to singing at odd hours (robins) to just belting their notes out (nightingales). We also know that some birds produce fewer chicks in areas affected by traffic noise.
Dave Irons at Birdfellow shares a short history of a lost ornithological pursuit, the collection of eggs:
By the mid-20th century the notion of conserving birds and protecting them from outright slaughter, and even collection, had entered the consciousness of the mainstream. Today, "egging" is a rare and criminal pursuit, frowned upon by the general populace and abhorred by the birding community. Although oology had gone out of fashion by 1960 (it was outlawed in the U.K in 1954), today hundreds of thousands of egg sets continue to reside in British and North American natural history museums.