Sunday, June 3, 2018

Western Kingbird

Western Kingbird aka. Arkansas Kingbird (archaic)
Mt Burdell Preserve, Novato, California, USA
May 2018
Member of the Tyrant/Flycatcher Family
§A Tyranny of Kingbirds§

{Etymology Corner} Certainly someone was very impressed with these birds to grant them such a regal name, right? Well... maybe they were an anti-monarchist, because kingbirds are named as such because of their aggressive and "take-charge" behavior (quoth wikipedia). I guess the name dickbird was already taken, so this makes sense.

~true bird fact~ Ironic for a country founded on defying a king, we in America have done nothing but contribute to the Kingbird's reign. By cutting forests and creating pastures and farms, we have created ideal habitat for this plains-hunting specialist. Not only that, but utility wires make for ideal Kingbird perches.

A real jokester, does a lot of silly voices
Doesn't agree with the concept of privilege, despite having it in abundance
Has a great sense of physicality. Comfortable in his body

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Bullock's Oriole

Bullock's Oriole 
Mt Burdell Preserve, Novato, California, USA
May 2018
Member of the Blackbird/Oriole Family
§A Pitch of Orioles§

~true bird fact~ Like many Orioles, has a real sweet tooth. Eats nectar, berries, and fruit, and even steals the sugar-water from hummingbird feeders if given the opportunity. Unlike his cousin, Hooded Oriole, who goes for citrus, he prefers grape jelly, if you're looking to give him a treat/reason to go to your backyard (again, sounds made up, but this is true).

A sweet boy
Gets excited and starts talking faster
People like to laugh at his jokes, not because they're funny, but because he is funny

So you're probably wondering who this Bullock is, right? I mean, you don't come to this blog because you don't care about the people birds are named after. So that means it's time for our most frequently-unread feature, Naturalist Corner! [the theme from Naturalist Corner plays]

 Sandra Bullock
(1964 - Present)

Sandra Bullock is an actress, producer, ornithologist, and philanthropist. She is best known for discovering this bird while filming Speed.

Ok, fine, that gag was not worth it. By the way, it's pretty hard to google up an image of 'drawing of Sandra Bullock' that doesn't give you a weird vibe.

William Bullock
(1773 - 1849)

While he's no Sandra Bullock, this guy had a pretty interesting life too. While he began his professional career as a goldsmith and jeweler, it wasn't long before he opened up an oddities and antiquities museum. Yup, this Oriole might as well be called Ripley's Birdlieve It or Not. Some of his collection was gathered from James Cook's expeditions, and include art and natural history objects. This exhibition was super popular in London. You know, #JustColonialismThings.

Not content to let the new world discoveries come to him, Bullock went on a couple of trips to Mexico and the United States to 1) gather specimens, 2) speculate on silver mining, and 3) make a failed attempt to start a utopian city called Hygeia. So basically, any naturalism was a pretty tertiary interest. He didn't even find this bird himself- it was officially described first by William Swainson, who in a classy move, named it after Bullock, saying that he 'drew on material' collected by him on one of these Mexico trips.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Lark Sparrow

Lark Sparrow
Mt Burdell Preserve, Novato, California, USA 
May 2018 
Member of the American Sparrow Family 
§A Crew of Sparrows§

~true bird fact~ Sometimes a Lark Sparrow will take over an unused Mockingbird or Thrasher nest rather than build it's own. Sometimes it doesn't even bother with the 'unused' part, and just lays it's eggs in a currently in-use nest. Amazingly the other birds don't seem to mind, and both sets of young can coexist together. Very utopian.

Cavalier. Doesn't mind taking risks
Is good at making crazy ideas sound reasonable
Puts others at ease

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Yellow-crowned Night Heron

Yellow-crowned Night Heron aka. Crab-eater
Hugh Taylor Birch State Park, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA 
April 2018 
Member of the Egrets, Herons, and Bitterns Family 
§A Pose of Herons§

~true bird fact~ These bad boys occasionally eat turtles, being able to do so because of special stomach acid that eats through their shells. This digestion prowess probably also helps with the crabs that make up a much greater portion of his diet. Apologies to all turt-lovers out there.

~real bird history~ The Caribbean once had it's own species of Night Heron called the Bermuda Night Heron. It was driven to extinction in the 17th century, during colonization of the islands. Yellow-crowned Night Herons were introduced to the islands in the 1970s as a response to a wildly out of control crab population boom. This attempt has been largely successful for all involved (except the crabs, perhaps).

Loves crabs so much that everyone buys him stuff with crabs on it for his birthday. All home decorations are crab-related
A low achiever, but content with that
Has a weird, old uncle on the West Coast that he never talks to, but that will one day leave him 
an enormous inheritance