Blog Birding #103
by Nate Swick
I probably link to everything Nathan Pieplow writes on his Earbirding blog, but the subject matter is so interesting and unique I can't help it. This latest post, on whether Yellow-headed Blackbirds always turn to the left when singing, is no different:
When I came upon the claim in the scientific literature that singing male Yellow-headed Blackbirds always turn their heads to the left and never to the right, I immediately had to verify it for myself. Since the migratory Yellow-heads in my neighborhood have mostly skipped town, I went where the birds are always singing: YouTube.
As far as I can tell, the claim is correct. At least, I haven’t been able to find a video yet that disproves it. But let’s be exact: each male Yellow-head has two different kinds of advertising songs, and only one of them is accompanied by the leftward head-twist. Some researchers call these two song types the Accenting Song and the Buzzing Song.
Linda at Philly Bird Nerd has some super photos from the local "Magic Tree":
These images are a few of the terrific photos that I got last week at the famous tree on Bob and Edie's front yard. They are very accommodating to us crazy birders and even invite us onto the lawn for closer looks at the birds. I literally stand between famous bird photographers and authors a few feet from the tree to get photos like the ones above. Not only do we stand together, but they give me advice too! Pretty cool.
Corey Finger of 10,000 Birds offers a theory as to the abundance of Red-breasted Nuthatches across the southern parts of the continent this fall:
There can be no doubt that this year is an irruption year for Red-breasted Nuthatches. Sitta canadensis isn’t just irrupting out of its far northern home but exploding southward, with reports in every southern state except for Florida, including birds on the outer banks of North Carolina, on Grand Isle, Louisiana, in a suburb of Atlanta, and on the Gulf Coast of Texas. Bird bloggers from Wisconsin to Massachusetts have noticed the irruption and blogged about it. But just how much have Red-breasted Nuthatches shown up since their irruption started in August? Check out this graph adapted from eBird that shows the frequency of sightings in the United States in 2012 – Red-breasted Nuthatches are showing up on birders’ checklists just over sixteen percent of the time!
Laura Erickson shares some tips for making your windows safer for birds leading up to the bird-feeding season:
The windows through which we so enjoy watching our winter birds are treacherous deathtraps. Windows kill half a billion to as many as a billion birds in the United States every year. Of birds that hit windows and fly away, studies conclude that a full 50 percent die later from head trauma and other collision-related injuries. Many of these birds aren’t drawn into our yards by feeders: every spring and fall I hear of residential house window mortality by Ovenbirds, cuckoos, and other insectivores that never visit feeders. Some of these were attracted to yards by all the bird activity even though they themselves don’t visit feeders. I’ve been brought dead and injured saw-whet and Boreal Owls that had been drawn to feeding stations not for bird seed but for the birds themselves
Hilke Breder, writing at Birding is Fun, has some photos of balding Blue Jays that look practically dinosaurian:
The minutes of peaceful feeding usually end with the noisy arrival of a family of Blue Jays. They are molting in late August and every year one or two sorry-looking individuals show up bald - with few feathers, or may be just a stubble on their heads. Fortunately that's only a temporary state lasting about two weeks until the feathers have regrown.