Blog Birding #97
by Nate Swick
Rick Wright, of Birding New Jersey, is both intrigued and dismayed by art photographs showing birds in mistnets:
What I do not believe is that no birds were harmed for the sake of these images. The artist says that he “basically give[s] [himself] ten minutes or so to set up and take the photographs,” a very long time indeed for a bird to hang in a net while huge bipedal predators fuss with machines. Tongues are wrenched, eyes scratched, hands and feet broken, heart rates raised: to be sure, such violent events are infrequent (probably not as infrequent as some studies suggest), but anyone with open eyes who has spent time around bird banders has seen these things and more.
At Bourbon, Bastards, and Birds, Seagull Steve preps for another run to the Salton Sea with some Burrowing Owl pics:
As you know, it is not easy to be the Number 7 birder of the United States. Certain things are expected of me. The Global Birder Ranking System, while shrouded in mystery and intrigue, is also very demanding. For one, I am expected to identify birds accurately over 99% of the time, with some leeway allowed for misidentification (perish the thought!) outside of the ABA Area. Of course, it is my duty to educate the masses on how to properly look at a bird, and to help them improve their impoverished identification skills.
John of DC Birding Blog turns his attention briefly away from birds and looks at grass diversity. What he finds surprises him. The work of the consummate naturalist is never done:
Recently someone asked me questions about particular grasses, and I realized I could not answer them because I knew next to nothing about grasses. I mean, I can recognize certain grasses like the ubiquitous Phragmites australis and a few other wetland grasses like cattails and Spartina. Beyond those, though, my knowledge is very limited. So I have been making an effort to learn more about the grasses I encounter in the types of habitats I bird frequently.
For his Pledge to Fledge duties, Robert Mortenson of Birding is Fun took some non-birders up to a banding station in Idaho:
The Golden Eagle Audubon Society also had a scheduled field trip to the IBO and I was delighted to see that there were lots of youth and several non-birders in the group. I counted at least 30 visitors in the few hours we were there. Kids and adults alike were asking loads of great questions. There is no question in my mind that they were fully engaged in the wonderful world of birds. The IBO team was fantastic with all the guests, especially the kids.
Gull-expert Amar Ayyash of Anything Larus, takes a look at gull ectoparasites and tries to determine what they can tell us about the health of the birds we see:
A specific ectoparasite which parasitizes birds is "chewing lice". These lice usually feed on the feathers, skin and/or blood of their host. Without getting into any specific louse species, they can sometimes be detected on the surface of a gull's feathers by what look like small dark ovals concentrated together: