Blog Birding #117
by Nate Swick
The new I and the Bird is out at 10,000 Birds. The theme this month? Jays:
Few birds in the world are as beloved and admired as the Jays. While the family Corvidae has no shortage of species that combine the self-realized human traits of intelligence and social aptitude, only in the jays is that other desired characteristic, beauty, wielded to such great effect. Because throughout human history crows and ravens have been looked upon as clever tricksters or malevolent spirits, but jays, their smaller, more colorful, more congenial cousins, have long been celebrated by birders and Beatles alike. Because who doesn’t love jays?
Writing at Birding is Fun, Lillian Stokes gets to the bottom of the mysterious irruption of thousands of Razrobills to Florida waters:
"Seen the Penguins?" the fisherman asked us, as we walked out yesterday with our binos and scopes towards Tarpon Bay on Sanibel Island in FL. Ordinarily we would have wondered just what the fisherman had been drinking, but not now. What he was referring to was the big invasion of Razorbills into Florida waters, on a scale that has never been seen before. The Florida birding listserves are jammed with Razorbill sightings. Birders and photographers are eagerly searching for these about football-sized, black-and-white alcids. Birders in Anna Maria Island, FL, where Razorbills hang out by the fishing piers, are being asked by the fisherman whether penguins can fly. Before this December there had been 14 records of Razorbills in Florida with only 1 record from the Gulf Coast. Now there are hundreds, if not thousands of Razorbills in Florida waters and no one has a definitive answer why.
Jim McCormas of Ohio Birds and Biodiversity considers the rapid expansion of Red-shouldered Hawks in his part of the continent:
Hard as it is to believe these days, at one time forest cover in Ohio had been reduced to about 10%. All of those heavily forested Smokeyesque places, such as the Hocking Hills, Shawnee State Forest, Mohican State Forest, etc once resembled lunar landscapes. Forest-dependent animals such as the Red-shouldered Hawk did not fare well in those dark days of deforestation. As our forests recover and mature, the hawks are recolonizing the Ohio country in ever-increasing numbers. This is even true in heavily wooded urban and suburban 'scapes. Red-shouldered Hawks are not an uncommon sight in many wooded Columbus neighborhoods, for instance. They weren't there not all that long ago.
At the new multi-author blog Bird Canada, Charlotte Wasylik celebrates the avian themes work of indigenous artist Kenojuak Ashevak:
Celebrated Inuk artist, Kenojuak Ashevak, known for her stylized drawings and painting of Arctic animals including many birds, died earlier this week at the age of 85. She has been called one of Canada’s greatest artists and was a role model to several generations of artists in the North.
The National Gallery of Canada has 50 of her works, including the original drawing for “Enchanted Owl” which was commemorated on Canadian postage stamp.
At Birding New Jersey and the World, Rick Wright initiates the year of the Common Nighthawk with a post on the subject of that most bizarre trait of the goatsuckers, their enormous mouths:
If there’s one thing the nighthawks and their goatsucking cousins are known for, it’s their extravagant oral cavities. (Fuertes’s nighthawk is terrifying blown up to so much more than “nat. size”!). One species, the dramatically marked Nacunda Nighthawk, is even named for that character: “nacunda” is widely reported to be a Guaraní word meaning “bigmouth.” (Just incidentally, South American languages would appear to have lots of words for those who blab; “nanday,” as in Nanday Parakeet, means “noisy talker.”)