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

Friday, April 13, 2018

Good Birds, Bad Pics

Hey all. Sometimes birding is hard out there. When you've been doing it for as long as I have, and trying to blog about once a week, for the last, like, 6 years, sometimes you come up short of really great pictures of birds you've never written about before. More and more I'll come back from a walk with a camera full of birds and find that they're mostly ones I've already done. Being truly 'out of birds' is not something that I have to worry about for a while, but there's also the pictures to think about. I know I don't need to tell you, reader, that sometimes the quality of the pictures varies a lot. Of course, I do try to keep some kind of standard, or at least only flex that standard for a bird I'm really excited about. Sometimes a bird pic is just not good enough to run as a 'portraiture' entry. I just know I haven't captured the 'essence of the bird', so to speak, so I don't count it.

All that is to say that after looking through the last few months of bird photos, and a couple of misstarts to the ol' blog, this is what I've decided to go with. A trio of birds I was quite excited to get, but that don't really warrant a full blog on their own. Just on a, like, quality level. This way I get to show off these cool birds, but still reserve the right to do a full entry on them later, if I ever get a great picture. Let me know if you hate this blog entry, cause it's a little different. Love you lots. -A

Savannah Sparrow
Salinas River State Beach, Moss Landing, California, USA
January 2018
Member of the American Sparrows and Towhees Family
§A Flutter of Sparrows§

Quickly dismisses others' concerns

Hooded Merganser (male, non-breeding)
Mountain View Cemetery, Oakland, California, USA
February 2018
Member of the Ducks, Geese, and Swans Family
§A Brace of Ducks§

Feels persecuted for his taste in music

Hermit Thrush (probably..)
Point Molate Beach Park, Richmond, California, USA
February 2018
Member of the Thrush Family
§A Hermitage of Thrushes§

Spaces out

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Allen's Hummingbird

Allen's Hummingbird
Point Molate Beach Park, Richmond, California, USA 
February 2018 
Member of the Hummingbird Family 
§A Tune of Hummingbirds§

~true bird facts~ Truly a feisty little guy, he gets very particular about his territory. He has been observed to chase much larger predators, up to and including hawks and kestrels, out of his area. Not only that, but male and female Allen's Hummingbirds live in completely different environments- men go to more open and visible areas, with the women coming and visiting to check out the mating dance of the males, before returning to the denser, more protected woodlands where they make their nests. We all need a little space sometimes. That mating dance, by the way, is an arcing pendulum motion followed by a 100 foot dive that is so fast that it actually allows him to make a chirping noise with his tail feathers. It's pretty cool (here's the Anna's version of it, couldn't find any good Allen's videos).

So, as all long-time readers will know, Hummingbirds are not actually birds, but rather bugs, robots, or bio-robotic organisms. Some research indicates that they might actually be arcane (magical) relics that have been activated by wizards or something. As such, we'll skip the personality section, as Hummingbirds don't have em'. But still, you might be wondering, who is Allen's Hummingbird named after- that's right, it's time for another Naturalist Profile!

Image result for tim allen
Tim Allen

Tim Allen is a human actor, well known for his television shows and movies. The Allen's Hummingbird was actually created for an episode of his most famous and popular show, Tim Allen's Tool Time. In episode 07_18, Tim tinkers with nano-machines, electro-fields, and dark, ancient illustrations that his neighbor Wilson buys at an Illuminati auction to create the 'living' 'bird'. However, it is only after his son, Jonathan Taylor Thomas Allen, sneaks into his laboratory late at night, and properly aligns the crystal matrix, that the creature comes to life. Therefor, you could argue, that the naming convention applies to either or both Allens. The rest of the episode is spent in the zany antics of trying to prevent the hummingbird from reaching a source of argon gas, which it of course needs to reproduce. Obviously Allen was unsuccessful, and I'm thankful for it, since otherwise we wouldn't have these great hummingbirds today.

I know this is a lot of information that might be surprising (I never watched the show much, so I didn't know), but I got it directly from the Tim Allen wiki, which is very well-sourced.

Ok, so let's say that you don't want to know the #Truth about Hummingbirds, and instead want the mainstream media's alternative facts. Here's the guy they say discovered this alleged bird-

Charles Andrew Allen
1841 - 1930

There is virtually no information about Charles Allen on the internet- only this one picture (which is from a pdf of his obituary) and no wikipedia article, which is sad for someone who named this great hummingbird. He was born in Massachusetts, and his interest in birds started early, with a childhood friendship with a taxidermist, which isn't a weird thing to have at all. He held a variety of odd jobs- carpentry, fishing, civil war soldier-ing. Eventually the conditions in the furniture mill in which he worked caused him so many respiratory problems that he decided to move out to California. There he worked as kind of an early park ranger, and it was during this period of time that he collected bird and mammal specimens, which he sent to a colleague or friend for collection and classification. No information on whether or not he 'discovered' other birds, but it was his observation that led to the understanding that Rufous Hummingbirds were a different species from the above bird. He had 3 kids.