• October 31, 2014
October 31, 2014, 8:02:53 AM *
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with your Chronicle username and password
News: Talk online about your experiences as an adjunct, visiting assistant professor, postdoc, or other contract faculty member.
 
Pages: 1 ... 34 35 [36] 37 38 ... 136
  Print  
Author Topic: Birders' Thread!  (Read 614777 times)
mouseman
Oh dear, how did I become a
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 9,708

The Validater/Validator-in-Chief


WWW
« Reply #525 on: May 26, 2010, 7:25:47 PM »


Reporting in from Ireland!  Rooks, crows, choughs, blackbirds, fulmars, gannets, red-backed shrikes, gray wagtail, coal tit, and more to come (no puffins yet).
Logged

In the midst of the word he was trying to say,
In the midst of his laughter and glee,
He had softly and suddenly vanished away -- -
For the Snark was a Boojum, you see.
                                                  Lewis Carroll
barred_owl
Elegant yet understated
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 9,465


« Reply #526 on: May 26, 2010, 11:40:26 PM »

Well, top o' the mornin' (or evenin') to ye, mouseman!  Happy birding on the Emerald Isle!  If you get pictures (hint, hint), you know we'd all love to see them!
Logged

...I can't help rooting for the underdog underbird.
collegekidsmom
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 3,038


« Reply #527 on: May 26, 2010, 11:52:35 PM »

I am so sorry that we have to see pictures of pelicans covered with oil in the Gulf of Mexico. I find those images heartbreaking.
Logged
nebo113
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 3,210


« Reply #528 on: May 28, 2010, 7:30:37 PM »

I am so sorry that we have to see pictures of pelicans covered with oil in the Gulf of Mexico. I find those images heartbreaking.

I confess that I move quite quickly to something else.
Logged
barred_owl
Elegant yet understated
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 9,465


« Reply #529 on: May 28, 2010, 10:55:27 PM »

I am so sorry that we have to see pictures of pelicans covered with oil in the Gulf of Mexico. I find those images heartbreaking.

I confess that I move quite quickly to something else.

They are heartbreaking images, for sure.  I'm afraid we'll be seeing more of them, too.  I just read today about an underwater plume of oil that is traveling on deeper currents toward Florida's Gulf coast, and has the potential to contaminate the food chain--plankton pick up the toxins and from there those toxins can travel up the food chain, which will include sea birds, of course, as well as predators like eagles and ospreys.  The oil doesn't have to be visibly covering a bird to be deadly to it, sadly.

----------------------

On a lighter note, I heard a Warbling Vireo yesterday while hubby and I were picnicking at a local park.  Unmistakable song, the mnemonic for which is, "If I see ya, then I'll sieze ya, and I'll squeeze ya till ya squirt!"

Logged

...I can't help rooting for the underdog underbird.
terpsichore
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 2,198


« Reply #530 on: May 29, 2010, 12:34:58 AM »

My garden is currently inhabited by a mockingbird who has quite a range of songs. I'm enjoying his concerts immensely.

There are also some hawks living nearby. Does anyone know what is going on when a large bird like that is chased by a smaller bird (a crow, or sometimes even a smaller songbird of some sort.) I see this almost daily. The smaller bird must be defending its nest or territory, but why does the hawk put up with being chased/harassed away?
Logged
cgfunmathguy
Beer-brewing
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 7,789


« Reply #531 on: May 29, 2010, 1:03:44 AM »

My garden is currently inhabited by a mockingbird who has quite a range of songs. I'm enjoying his concerts immensely.

There are also some hawks living nearby. Does anyone know what is going on when a large bird like that is chased by a smaller bird (a crow, or sometimes even a smaller songbird of some sort.) I see this almost daily. The smaller bird must be defending its nest or territory, but why does the hawk put up with being chased/harassed away?
I think this is the adult birds protecting nestlings and brooders. Hawks are predators, and they do eat other birds that they catch unaware. If the parents harass the hawk, I would assume that the hawk thinks the nestling is probably more trouble than it's worth. This is just a guess, however. My dad's asleep by now, or I'd call and ask him.
Logged

Alas, greatness and meaning are rarely coterminous with popular familiarity.
terpsichore
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 2,198


« Reply #532 on: May 29, 2010, 1:08:47 AM »

My garden is currently inhabited by a mockingbird who has quite a range of songs. I'm enjoying his concerts immensely.

There are also some hawks living nearby. Does anyone know what is going on when a large bird like that is chased by a smaller bird (a crow, or sometimes even a smaller songbird of some sort.) I see this almost daily. The smaller bird must be defending its nest or territory, but why does the hawk put up with being chased/harassed away?
I think this is the adult birds protecting nestlings and brooders. Hawks are predators, and they do eat other birds that they catch unaware. If the parents harass the hawk, I would assume that the hawk thinks the nestling is probably more trouble than it's worth. This is just a guess, however. My dad's asleep by now, or I'd call and ask him.

It must be something like this. The little bird has more to lose than the big bird has to gain. It's amazing to watch a large bird being chased away by a little bitty thing. It looks like the little bird is taking a huge risk. I love hawks, but I can't help rooting for the underdog underbird.
Logged
barred_owl
Elegant yet understated
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 9,465


« Reply #533 on: May 29, 2010, 1:22:54 AM »

My garden is currently inhabited by a mockingbird who has quite a range of songs. I'm enjoying his concerts immensely.

There are also some hawks living nearby. Does anyone know what is going on when a large bird like that is chased by a smaller bird (a crow, or sometimes even a smaller songbird of some sort.) I see this almost daily. The smaller bird must be defending its nest or territory, but why does the hawk put up with being chased/harassed away?
I think this is the adult birds protecting nestlings and brooders. Hawks are predators, and they do eat other birds that they catch unaware. If the parents harass the hawk, I would assume that the hawk thinks the nestling is probably more trouble than it's worth. This is just a guess, however. My dad's asleep by now, or I'd call and ask him.

It must be something like this. The little bird has more to lose than the big bird has to gain. It's amazing to watch a large bird being chased away by a little bitty thing. It looks like the little bird is taking a huge risk. I love hawks, but I can't help rooting for the underdog underbird.


Terpsichore, I think I might just have to grab that phrase for my new sig-line!

The behavior you've observed is a form of mobbing, in which one or more smaller birds harass a larger predatory bird until the predator leaves the scene.  It's unusual for a single bird to mob, but your analysis of the costs and benefits of the behavior is right on the money.  And, at this time of year--the height of breeding season--I wouldn't be surprised at all to see adult birds attempting to fend off potential predators this way.

FWIW, reports of mobbing 'backfiring' on the mobbers are extremely rare.  I've only heard one anecdotal account in which a group of Blue Jays were mobbing a Red-tailed Hawk that was perched in a tree; one jay got just a teensy bit too close and all the hawk had to do was grab it in its talons.  Bye-bye, Blue Jay!

Logged

...I can't help rooting for the underdog underbird.
nebo113
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 3,210


« Reply #534 on: May 30, 2010, 2:17:22 PM »

Saw an American kestrel perching on a telephone wire out in the country yesterday.  It's been years since I last saw one.
Logged
anthroid
hyperdiffusionist wackaloonery!
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 16,512

No happy socks because nobody gets Manitoba.


« Reply #535 on: May 30, 2010, 10:34:24 PM »

Re little bird harassing big bird:  my local bird guy insists that most of the little harassing birds in this area are red-winged blackbirds, who apparently are completely fearless when defending their territory.  They chase eagles away in this neck of the woods.

In other news, a perplexing bird has shown up:  it is largely black with brownish speckles on the wing, but the weird part is:  it has a very long, narrow, quite yellow bill (that looks like it would hurt if you got in its way).  It seems to like the suet sitting out, and it seems happy feeding out of the feeder or on the ground.  There seem to be 3-4 of them at a time.  It does not appear in any of my bird books.  It's about the size of a red-winged blackbird (smaller than a robin).  Thoughts?  I'm wondering if it's a Eurasian blackbird, except that my bird books say it's very unusual in the States and particularly in my Upper Midwest area.  I did hear a very unusual call last night, a harsh, loud laughing call (...though what is the difference between a song and a call?)

Yours truly,

Amateur Birdwatcher Anthroid
Logged

Am I the only one who even remembers Up with People??
barred_owl
Elegant yet understated
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 9,465


« Reply #536 on: May 30, 2010, 11:16:39 PM »

Anthroid--Your perplexing bird is an easy one.  :)  It's a starling, a European Starling, to be precise.  Depending on your bird book, you may or may not find a picture that shows all the different plumages, but the yellow beak with the speckled wings, and having a group of them together...yep, it's a starling.  Here's a pretty good pic of an adult in one of the plumages.


As for song vs. call:  Songs tend to be longer and more melodic than calls.  Conversely, calls are usually shorter, more abrupt, and less musical than songs (although some calls can be quite melodic: e.g., the yodel call of loons is relatively complex, as calls go).  Technically, only the perching birds (Order Passeriformes) produce songs--all the warblers, thrushes, sparrows, blackbirds, finches, and so forth.  But the perching birds can produce calls, too, like the "chip" call that a lot of the little birds make.
Logged

...I can't help rooting for the underdog underbird.
professor_pat
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 2,532


« Reply #537 on: May 31, 2010, 10:16:18 AM »

Barred_Owl, I so much appreciate your insights into bird behavior!

The baby hummingbird is about to fledge - has been stretching her wings and (according to other viewers) has been "edging" and whirring her wings as well. The young hummingbird in the nest by my house last year started whirring a day or two before she fledged.
Logged

To me, forums are more of a relaxing period in which the poster can allow himself or himself to be lost in a sea of wonder.
anthroid
hyperdiffusionist wackaloonery!
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 16,512

No happy socks because nobody gets Manitoba.


« Reply #538 on: May 31, 2010, 5:59:54 PM »

Anthroid--Your perplexing bird is an easy one.  :)  It's a starling, a European Starling, to be precise.  Depending on your bird book, you may or may not find a picture that shows all the different plumages, but the yellow beak with the speckled wings, and having a group of them together...yep, it's a starling.  Here's a pretty good pic of an adult in one of the plumages.


As for song vs. call:  Songs tend to be longer and more melodic than calls.  Conversely, calls are usually shorter, more abrupt, and less musical than songs (although some calls can be quite melodic: e.g., the yodel call of loons is relatively complex, as calls go).  Technically, only the perching birds (Order Passeriformes) produce songs--all the warblers, thrushes, sparrows, blackbirds, finches, and so forth.  But the perching birds can produce calls, too, like the "chip" call that a lot of the little birds make.

Blech.  I hate starlings.  Oh well.  The ones here don't seem to have quite as many speckles as in the photo but I bow to your knowledge.  Silly birds.  I let the bird feeders get emptied out and waited a week so that the junk birds would go away but no.  They're back--the crows, the cowbirds, the starlings, the grackles.  It's hard for the cardinals and finches to get a beak in edgewise.  And today, for the first time since I've been here, I discovered what's been eating tender young shoots and buds off of flowers in the front garden:  a pretty but completely unwelcome whitetailed doe.
Logged

Am I the only one who even remembers Up with People??
barred_owl
Elegant yet understated
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 9,465


« Reply #539 on: May 31, 2010, 10:36:33 PM »

I know what you mean about the starlings, Anthroid.  That guy who got the brilliant idea to populate Central Park with the birds mentioned in Shakespeare's plays, including the starling...well, he's dead now, but there are some who think there's an extra circle in Hell for people who come up with good-intentioned but really stupid ideas like that.

As for the deer munching your plants--we've found either bloodmeal or hot pepper flakes are good deterrents.  We mix in the red pepper flakes with the birdseed, too, and haven't had a problem now for months (we once watched four deer jockeying for position to take licks at the birdfeeder!).
Logged

...I can't help rooting for the underdog underbird.
Pages: 1 ... 34 35 [36] 37 38 ... 136
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.9 | SMF © 2006-2008, Simple Machines LLC Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!
  • 1255 Twenty-Third St., N.W.
  • Washington, D.C. 20037
subscribe today

Get the insight you need for success in academe.