Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Rhinoceros Auklet

Rhinoceros Auklet aka. Rhino Auklet aka. Unicorn Puffin(?!) aka. Horn-billed Puffin
Monterrey Bay, Monterrey, California, USA
January 2018
Member of the Auks, Murres, and Puffins Family
§A Loomery of Auks

{Etymology Corner} Technically not an Auk, he is the only living member of his genus. Closer to a puffin, but honestly just his own thing. You could see why they would think he was an auklet though, when you see the absolutely wild looking birds he's related to. The rhinoceros part is pretty easy to figure out, it's that 'horn' above his bill. It's actually pretty mild in this photo, it gets even craggier. It only appears in breeding season, like the horn on a Pelican, and no one knows what it's for.

~true bird fact~ Was able to repopulate California's Farallon Islands after the introduced rabbit population there was eliminated. Obviously rabits don't eat the Auklets, but they did drive them out of burrows, preventing them from breeding there. Sort of a conservation success story. I was only able to see this guy with his horn because of the population there

Gives off bad vibes, a dangerous bird
He didn't see nothin', this bird, and who's asking?
Mother issues
You know, I don't normally do this, but this bird looks kind of like if one of those mugshot magazines fell in a puddle and was actually a bird
He has a displeasing head shape and eye position
His wings looks like they were just knocked off, thrown away, picked up out of a garbage can, and then glued back on by a clumsy child
Looking at this bird I feel like I've traveled back in time to an era before birds developed aesthetics
He looks just smart enough to be mean
Bird looks like when he honks a cigarette butt flies out of his throat
Let's be frank, this bird looks like he is honored and grateful that you invited him to your daughter's wedding, on the day of your daughter's wedding

Saturday, March 3, 2018

If Birds were The Bachelor: The Birdchelor

Hi, I'm Chris Harris'shawk, welcome to the Birdchelor. On this season we'll be taking 14 lucky birds to beautiful Baja California Sur, where they will compete for the heart of our accomplished Birdchelor. Tonight we're going to be meeting and learning a little bit about our contestants, but first it's time for the bird of the hour

White-winged Dove
The Birdchelor
"I love that"
"You look beautiful"

Fantastic. Isn't he a catch? Well, the following birds certainly think so. Let's meet them now

Brown Pelicans
[simultaneously] "We're double trouble, a 2-for-1 special, and a triple threat!"

Medical Supply Salesbird
"I've got a bad feeling about this"

Instagram Celebrity
"I never play games, so let the games begin"

Hooded Oriole
Silly-invention Pedler
"I'm here to find my birdsband. No, I've never thought of a more reliable way to do it than this, why do you ask?"

House Finch
Folks Wisdomologist
"Gosh, do you think someone might like me? And on television?"

European Starling
"Don't hate me because I'm beautiful, hate me because of my many bad personality traits"

American Kestrel
Yoga Mat Sales Rep
"You can take the Kestrel out of America, but you can't take the America out of the Kestrel! Yee-Haw!"

California Scrub-Jay
Professional Gambler
"Hey White-winged Dove, I hope you'll... roll the dice on me" [blows on some dice, winks]

Snowy Egret
Fire Fighter
"I'm not here to make friends, but mostly because my cruelty makes it impossible for me to do so"

Pied-billed Grebe
Mom-fashion Expert, Momsultant, Momtrepeneur
"Cabo is the perfect place for me, a mom, to find love"

Website something-or-other
"I sure hope no one asks me about my traumatic past"

Common Gallinule
Phony Wellness Product Endorser
"You don't have to be crazy to come on this show, but that's what's going on with me"

Northern Mockingbird
Oddly Accomplished
"Free trip to Mexico? Sure, why not! I hope the Birdchelor doesn't try and talk to me"

A terrific group of birds, I'm sure you'll agree. This season promises to be the most dramatic season of the Birdchelor ever. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Wood Duck

Wood Duck aka. Carolina Duck
Mountain View Cemetery, Oakland, California, USA
February 2018
Member of the Duck, Goose, and Swan Family
§A Flush of Ducks

{Etymology Corner} Wood Duck is slang for a sucker or rube (I would argue infrequently used). Apparently it's 70's era lingo from the used car salesman community. No information presents itself on how this originated/why it would make sense.

~true bird fact~ A very different kind of duck from what we usually see, at least physiologically. Wood Ducks have sharply clawed feet, which they use to perch in trees near water. Wood Ducklings are born into nest cavities and have to leap up to 50 feet into the ground or water and can do so without injury. So all those videos of people 'helping' baby ducks by catching them as they jump out of their nest can go take a hike as far as I'm concerned.

You know that quote about 'dance like no one's watching'? Wood Duck always acts like someone's watching him.
Master of the celebrity encounter name drop
Gets a lot of his food at the farmer's market

 How Endangered Were They? A distinctly North American species, Wood Ducks never had much of a range outside of the USA and Canada (they're in other places now because they were popular ornamental birds). This was bad news for Wood Ducks during the height of American expansionism. They were actually on the verge of serious trouble by the late 19th century, both because of loss of habitat, and because of hunting, mainly for their feathers (the infamous 19th century fancy hat industry strikes again).

Happily, Wood Ducks are doing much better now, because at that crucial moment, some sweeping government regulation was enacted to protect them. The 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty Act declared them a protected species, and, along with the introduction of constructed nesting boxes, enabled them to bounce back. You know who else helped? Beavers, who also have a rebounding population, and happen to naturally make perfect Wood Duck habitats. So thanks beavers, and thanks reasonable regulations, for making this bird alive. And of course, zero thanks to our current president, who is choosing to roll back the Migratory Bird Treaty Act's protections for birds after 100 years of success stories like this. Hopefully this move loses him the bird vote.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Semipalmated Plover

Semipalmated Plover (Chorlitejo Semipalmeado)
Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur, Mexico
November 2017
Member of the Lapwing and Plover Family
§A Deceit of Plovers
§ (shocking)
The Most Common Plover on Migration in Most Areas★ (ehhhh...)

{Etymology Corner} Semipalmated Plover just has one of those birds where you're sure they meant to translate the name into normal-person-speak at some point and just never got around to it (lookin at you, Pyrrhuloxia). Semipalmated, this Plover's mouthful of an adjective, means 'somewhat palm-like', and describes the bird's semi-webbed feet. Aaaaand now you know that!

~true bird fact~ Unlike most plovers, this guy can actually swim. But, like, you know, only a little bit. So don't get too excited about this bird fact.

Caries a big camera around everywhere on vacations, but never shows off his photos
When compared with other Plovers, somewhat plain. You could think of him as the default Plover
I'll just come right out and say it, not a faithful partner. Shame on you, Semipalmated Plover