Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas Special: Turtle Dove

Turtle Dove aka. Mourning Dove aka. Rain Dove
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Member of the Pigeons/Doves Family
*true bird fact*~ The most hunted of all birds, in some years as many as 70 million will be shot in the US alone. Wow, that's terrible!

A delicate, artistic type
Spends a surprising amount of time on the internet
Genteel and soft-spoken, to the point of sometimes speaking too softly
Really does want to help
Pretends she hates that one Christmas song that she's in, but actually kind of enjoys it

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Bird Talks: The Photogenic Pigeons of Toronto

 Pigeons, official bird of the City. They are interesting for a number of reasons.
They are, perhaps, the most reviled bird there is. Unsurprisingly, we (the amateurnithologist) believe this to be the result of a deep misunderstanding and find quite a lot to like about them.
One thinks of a pigeon, on first blush, as being the closest analogue the bird kingdom has to a homeless person, a drifter. Often poorly groomed, vaguely sick looking, probably addicted to drugs.
But let's not forget- pigeons are marvelously adaptive and have succeeded in living among humans to an admirable extent. It is not their word that is dirty, dangerous, infectious, poisoned. It is ours.
I think pigeons are really more like naturalists or anthropologists. They enter into our world and do their best to blend in. They are observing us in our natural environment. So next time you judge a pigeon, remember, he may be judging you right back.

With an opinion,

Rock Dove aka Rock Pigeon aka 'Pigeon'
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Member of the Doves/Pigeons Family
*true bird fact*~ The bird with the second longest relationship with human beings, Rock Doves have been domesticated for over 5000 years. That's just slightly shorter than the horse.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Hey Man, Nice Bird: Heermann's Gull

Before we move on to today's bird, a brief peek behind the scenes of the workings of Amateurnithologist dot blogspot dot com. The way we, the Amateurnithologist, work, is we take nice pictures of birds, and then do our best to identify them later. The resource we use for this generally has been spectacular webpage, which has a remarkable bird identifier tool. When your amateurnithologist cannot find a bird using this, it generally means the bird in question is something worth looking into. Like perhaps the bird he is of an unusual coloration (non-breeding season, juvenile, female). Or the bird is not really considered a species at all. Or the bird is uncommon enough that it doesn't come up in searches as a likely result. Such was the case with today's bird, who your bird blogger had to identify through a thrifty combination of google image match and wikipedia. Prepare yourself for Amateurnithologist's second ever (semi) endangered bird:
Heermann's Gull
Pacific Grove, California, USA
Member of the Gull Family
*~true bird fact~ He gets a lot of his food by means of piracy, mainly stealing fish from Brown Pelicans and California Sea Lions (!) This means he is brave, or maybe a jerk. Perhaps both.
How Rare is He? Estimates are that there are about 300,000 individuals. Which sounds like a lot until you hear that 90% of them live on a small Island called Isla Rasa in the Gulf of California, and that they breed nowhere else in the world. They are classified as Near Threatened, but are expected to be ok, unless something drastic changes.

Exotic and Impressive, like a foreign street performer
Never had much formal education
Seldom troubled by the problems of the world
A bird to call if you need some dirty work done
Kind of reminds you of a ninja, actually

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Mystery Bird Series #3: Large Sea Bird

Wekiva Springs, Florida, USA
Best Guess: Yellow Eyed Penguin

Appeared to be extremely hungry, perhaps overweight?
Good-natured and generous
Gets huffy about things, but no one takes him seriously
Bumbling and humorous to observe
Prone to misadventure

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Birdter Homes & Gardens: Swallow's Nest

Home Details
Description: A mud nest, the construction of which took over a thousand trips for the swallow
Location: Oak Hammock Marsh Interpretive Center, Stonewall, Manitoba, Canada
Occupants:A Barn Swallow, presumably her eggs. Wait a second, did I just successfully take a picture of a swallow?! The calls for a celebration!

Barn Swallow
Oak Hammock Marsh, Manitoba, Canada
Member of the Swallow Family
*true bird facts*~ The most abundant and widely distributed swallow in the world, some estimate that there are 200 million of her in the world. That's a hard number to... swallow.

A free spirit, no one can tell her what to do
Mentions her favorite inspirational quotes frequently
Shops at the farmer's market
Has never really known hardship, but cares deeply about issues
Knows about flowers

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Bird Portraiture: Common Loon

Common Loon
Church Lake, Nova Scotia, Canada
Member of the Loon Family
*true bird fact*~ The de facto national bird of Canada, she appears on the Candian one-dollar coin. Dollars are commonly called 'Loonies' there for this reason.

Endlessly pleasant and charitable towards friends and strangers alike
Never has a moment of downtime- an athlete, socially active, sings, volunteers at a soup kitchen
Looks at the Canada Goose with a combination of sympathy and confusion; doesn't really understand why they couldn't be great friends 
The more you get to know her, the more sure you become that she doesn't really have any flaws or normal-person-issues, which is almost more unnerving than anything else you could discover, if you think about it
Still, a great bird that one can't help but admire. Has many admirers

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Bird Portraiture: Canada Goose

Canada Goose
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Member of the Goose/Duck Family
*true bird fact*~ While nesting, she loses flight feathers, making it impossible for her to fly until her chicks hatch. That's pretty deep if you think about it.

Filled with resentments
Especially critical of the Common Loon, who she believes does not deserve to be Canada's national bird
Fond of fake flowers
Keeps herself in really incredible shape with esoteric workout routines
Not especially pleasant to be around, pushes your buttons

Has a weird tongue (but don't make fun of her for it, you're above that)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Birds.gif: Seagull Stomp

You better just click on this
The video that this striking .gif image comes from was taken long before the amateurnithologist had a nice camera or was indeed an amateurnithologist at all. Identifying him is hard with quality this low, but current bet is that he is a Herring Gull, most common gull in Scotland (where this video was taken). This odd and enticing behavior is likely intended to draw worms or other insects out of the ground (perhaps by mimicking the sound of rain), but it's all speculation at this point.

And just for fun..

Oh yeah, and bird blog is back, act like you know

Monday, September 10, 2012

Bird Portraiture: Black-necked Stilt

Black-necked Stilt
Hayward, California, USA
Member of the Avocet/Stilt Family
*true bird fact*~ Exceptionally leggy birds, they have the second greatest leg-to-body-mass ratio of any bird. They are outdone only by the famous flamingo.

Sticks in packs, not really a leader
Laughs at really dumb jokes. Girl birds roll their eyes.
Really proud of their leg-length. Consider Flamingos to be 'just too much'.
Seems irresponsible at first, but holds down a respectable job

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Bird Portraiture, Snowy Egret

Snowy Egret
Hayward, California, USA
Member of the Egret/Heron/Bittern Family
*true bird fact*~ Plumes from her were once so popular that they were valued at twice the price of gold per ounce. The reason? Fancy hats.

Focuses with laser-like intensity on her many goals
Studies eastern philosophies and the martial arts
Stops you dead in your tracks with an icy glare, not a bird to be messed with
Has moments of enlightenment in which she understands the whole of the world. These usually occur while she is fishing.
Secretly has a lovely singing voice
Want more pics of Snowy Egrets? Well that's exactly what is available to you if you click here!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Apologies and Retractions: A Cormorant is not an Anhinga

Take a look at this bird. He is a Double-Crested Cormorant, a bird of great quality and uniqueness. He is many things to many people, but one thing that he is not is an Anhinga. The Amateurnithologist incorrectly identified this bird as an Anhinga to some friends while out-and-about and thus brought disgrace upon this entire endeavor and the profession of Amateurnithology as a whole.
The mistake was made by observing the bird's behaviors, which are similar to the aforementioned Anhinga. He swims low in the water and dries his wings in a similar way, to be exact. He is related to the Anhinga, but not closely enough to be in the same family. Anhingas have a much narrower head and beak, as well as an overall lighter, more colorful, and smaller body. Most damningly, however, Anhingas do not live in California, where this sighting was made. The Anhinga is native only to Florida, where the Amateurnithologist hails from. This serves as a (wholly inadequate) explanation as to how this mistake could have been made. We strive for greater quality than this at Bird Blog. You, dear readers, and the birds we catalog, deserve better. May we never speak of this again.
Double-Crested Cormorant
Oakland, California, USA
Cormorant Family
*true bird fact*~ He has exceptional longevity for a bird, living as long as 17 years in the wild (the average is a saddening 6 years).

Comfortable with his body, confidant. A bird to strive to be like
A great dancer, but kind of a show-off
Sometimes pretends he is a fish when he dives underwater

You may be wondering now what an Anhinga looks like, but this birdtographer has not taken a picture of one yet. It is our usual policy to only include original works on Amateurnithologist, but in the interest of improving understanding, we provide this stock photo.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Bird Portraiture: American Crow

American Crow
Berkeley, California, USA (eating a raspberry)
Member of the Crows/Jays Family
 *true bird fact*~ Crows are smart. Really smart. Scientists seem to think that crows (and their Jay relatives) have imagination and can form opinions. They're hardly bird brains!

Highly developed sense of morality. Outraged often.
Likes riddles and brain teasers. Can do the Sunday New York Times Crossword.
Her favorite time of day is dusk.
A bit of a gourmet. Especially critical of chain restaurants and fast food

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Birdter Homes & Gardens: Father's Day Edition

Birds can make a home anywhere. Even though people have largely destroyed the planet, birds remain successful. One of the great secret skills of birds is their ability to find a place to live. Often these places are worth photographing and cataloging themselves, doubly so when you can actually see the birds who make them into homes. Thus, a new feature is born- Birdter Homes & Gardens (please let the Amateurnithologist know if that title is just 'too much')
Home Details
Description: A metal pipe, original purpose of which is unknown
Location: Fruitvale Avenue, Oakland, California, above a Peet's Coffee
Occupants: Seem likely to be a family of song sparrows. They are looking pretty big, so perhaps they are getting ready to fly soon.
This adult sparrow would fly back and worth every 2 or 3 minutes, collecting some kind of food and returning to feed it to the chicks. Given today's holiday, we imagine this sparrow as a dutiful dad, going out and working hard to feed his kids (this may actually not be a male sparrow).
We at Amateurnithologist appreciate your many sacrifices and efforts, Dads and Birds, and wish you a happy Father's Day. Look for more posts soon!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Birds.gif: Duck Eating

(click me to completely transcend the tyranny of still images)

Cayuga Duck
Oakland, California, USA
Member of the Duck Family
*true bird fact*~ He is a domestic duck, which means you can keep him as a pet or friend. He is well regarded as this kind of duck because his quack is not loud or disturbing.

A homebody
Good with kids, trustworthy
Eats interesting light snacks throughout the day
A good listener, understanding and non-judgmental

Full duck-vid (with AUDIO):

Monday, May 21, 2012

Bird Portraiture, Red-winged Blackbird

Red-winged Blackbird
Berkeley, California, USA
Member of the Blackbird/Oriole Family
*true bird fact*~ The red-winged blackbird has some interesting migration habits- it can fly at up to 30mph and travels in uniform-gendered flocks. Can't make this stuff up, folks

When birds have big meetings to decide things, he represents the blackbirds/orioles. A Noble Ambassador for his family.
A bit of an adrenaline junkie, likes to go fast
Can't stand drugs or cigarettes, a straight-edge bird
Appreciates extreme sports
Works hard and plays hard

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Bird Portraiture, Wild Turkey

Wild Turkey
Oakland, California, USA
Member of the Turkey/Grouse Family
*true bird fact*~ A strong second-place contender for the USA's national bird. Benjamin Franklin advocated for him over the Bald Eagle.

Strong convictions, a bit of a blowhard
Makes an unpleasant dinner guest, messy
Not in good shape
A good person to ask for financial advice, knows his stuff

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Mystery Bird Series #2: Black Owl in the Woods

Oakland, California, USA
Best Guess: Long-Eared Owl (strange coloration.. molting? juvenile?)

Stared at me very intently, somewhat creepy
Appears in many places, seems to follow one
Even appears in places that it could not conceivably get to
Accompanied by strange whispering

Ṃ͖̯͐̿ͅả̤̥͔͖̯̬͚y͖̥̰͍̰̓́̆͊͋̊̚͟ ̡̖̗̺̭̿͛̾ḇ̞̪ͬ͆͂̊ͅeͪ͗̑̽͏̜̣͇ ̂̃̊͟d͍͎̳̋ͩͨͨͯe͔̓͆ͧ̍͊mͣ͠o̷͚̘̼̺̯ͮ͛ͬͭͩͪ̉n̍̐̓̾ͅǐ̝̀ͅcͮ͊ͨ́ͩ̾͏͎̹̮̤̫ ͚͙̹̪̬̠͎͊̏̓̋ĭͭṉ̷̱̓ͥ͆ͮ̈́ͯ ̪̹͇̏͋s̹̲̪̥̻̯̤̎̏̑̐̌ͥͧ͡ơ̊ͪ̽ͮ̏͂́ͅm̸̱͍̭͎͒̌̎ͮͣ̏͐ͅe̬̦̝̝̻̦͓ͨ̄ͦ ͎̪͎̳̺̬̟͞w̱̙̩̘̓̚ã͓̦̩̦͓͉́̄̎̓ͭẏ̩̯̗̹̿͆ͩͯ͘

À̸̼̻̰̺͇̾ͮͧ͒́v̟̜͔̲͔̰̬ͣ̀͟ͅo̟͈̿ͧ͛ͯ̂̊͌ĭ̸̺̀̓ͭ̿͟d̅͞͏͕͈̻̖͓͎͠ ̶̯̫̯̼͍̫̃̀ä̛̗͈̝̿ͭ̓́t̷̡̨̪͓̝̞͒ͨ̋̋͊ͅ ͤ̅̆͐̿͜͝͏͖͚͍ͅá͎͕̮̫̊̋͂̿͠l͓̖͕̝̭̹̂͆ͪ͛̚͟lͥ̓͊ͩ̋̏͢͏҉̤ ̖̖͎͇̜̗̋̌̚̕c̗̠̯͓̰̞̔̀̆̽̇ͣ͑ͬ͜ỏ̬̞̣́͂͆͐ͧ̾̃͢s̥̥ͧ̐ͥ̏̿ţ̥̪ͣ͐ͬ̐ͧ̌s͉̖̼̣͉̳̿ͫ͛͊ͨ͛ͪͥ

T̢̯͉̻̺̜̒̒͐ͮ͋͆̏̔̅͢ͅH̨̅̏ͦͣ͐̾ͤͧ̈ͮͤ̆̉͗͛ͮ̀͝͏̫̯͉͚̹̖͈̭͍̦̙̘̩̱̣̦̲E̶̡̛̺͚̺̼͍̲ͪ̈́̐̔͗R̸͖̫̹̜̼̯ͤ̓̄̂̌̀ͨͣ̾̀͜Ę̔́ͣͦͤͣ̀ͩ̀ͯ̔͒̃̄ͣ҉͕̮͎̮͇͞ ͋́̆̋̅͛͋ͣ͗ͧ͌͗̓̐̔̊̚҉̣̮̱͉̞̦̝̫̤̲̟̹͖̼̥̺̝ͅͅI̷̸͍̼̙̭̞̝̲̬̺̜͚͉̹̲ͧ̊͒ͬ͆̐̑̾̿̇̾̈̇͆̀ͅͅŚ̛̾͛̎ͮ̽̈̃̔͛͌͌҉̶҉̴̣̩̦͖͇͇̺̹͍͚̬ͅ ̨̧͉͙̭̯̹̭̣̙̟̱̰͎̩͋̓͋͑ͨ͌͑ͭ͊ͥ̔̍ͯ̎ͯͤ̍́͟͡ͅͅͅͅN̨̛ͪ̀͑ͧͧ̽ͮ̎ͭͮ͛ͣͯ͐ͥͦͫ́̕͏̙͈̺̰͕̝̼̳͙̹̫̲̳͎̟̭̦Ȍ̷̜͈̹̩̪͙̼̰͙̭̹͔̱̲̞̝̞̟̎̑̍̄̍ͭ̀͠͠Ţ̞̺̯̭̟̲ͦ̑̓ͩ̌̀ͮ̓͗̇̽ͤͦ͌̔̆͝͡͠Ḩ̭̱͖͎̲̰͎̳̹̯̰̘̞̘̙͕̽̔ͪ̌̎͌ͩ͡Į̨̓̾͂̓͒͑̏̐ͣ͋͗҉̵̧̹͓̟̤͚̩̟͖̪̼̼͕̟̝͎N̡̨̛̜̞͍̦͔̲̤̣͈̗̩͍͓̼̤̿ͩ̒̉ͬ͊ͩ͒ͣ̊́̚G̴̻̪̭͇͓̩͋̈́ͮ̆͐ͨ̂ͧͭ́̔̍͊͊͗̎̈́̅̽͠ ̴̷̙̱̦̳͓͖͚̺̟̗̲̘̩̪͕̦̙̩̾̋ͦ͒ͯ̐̊͗̈͒ͯ̆͢͞T͖̯̲̭̣͈̻̰̝̩͍ͧͧ͆̋͗͊͑̋̔̀̂͗̈́ͣ̿̊͑̋͘̕Ǫ̶̘̲̰͎̜̞͉̣͎̱̝̰͒̊͛͐̿ͮ͆̂ͬͬ̔̿̉͜͟ ̵̱̘̘̬̫̜̝͔̫̪̭͖͓͖̼̠̣̺͓̔̍ͭ̔̂̒ͦ̽̾̿͊͘͝͠͞W̸̞̞̥̠̖̞̮̫͊͒́͗͋ͮ̇̌̈͂̆̏̌̚̕̕͟͡Õ̭̖̙̌ͨͤͣ̋̌̿ͣ̑̀̚͠͝͞ͅR̶̟͕̜̦͖̞̯̹͚̪ͥͭ̐̄ͭ̽ͬ̐͊̔͛͒̉͘̕͟͞R͍̘̘̯̠̥͍̙̲͇̠̳̖͛͆ͨ͑̓̂̚͜͝Ý̵̡̼̬͔̹̥͔̯̪̘͐̓ͭ̅͗̈́̌ͬͨ̍͗̃̅̚͝ͅͅͅ ̧̡̦̝̩̮̗̙͑ͮ́͗ͣ̐ͤ͑̽̈͛͢͝ͅĄ̥̰̭̦̼̳̭̲͇̞̒̉̿͗̊̉͌ͧͨ̒̆̂́̕B̶̧̧͉̜̤͓̲̺̫̩͕͚̣͍̤̘̭̜̙̐̌ͫ̍͂ͩ̓ͯ̋͒͑͆̂̎ͬ̀͟͞O̶̡̅̆̄̅ͦ͆̄̿ͫ̂̈́͑ͥ̇͋̃́̚̕҉̥̹̹̝̜̮̲͖͖͚̣̮̦U͑̌̾ͥ̾̇̂̀҉̰̯͔̰̬̙̦̟͙͙̥̟͈̰͓͔̮͉T̸̢̤̫̘͉̳̥͇̟̲̮͚̮̰͆̐ͩ̊͒̃͛̆͐̾̍̇̔͢͠͡


Sunday, May 6, 2012

Bird Portraiture, Western Scrub-Jay

Western Scrub-Jay
San Leandro, California, USA
member of the Crow/Jay Family
*true bird fact* ~ He likes to hide seeds for the winter. Sometimes he forgets them and they turn into trees. This is what we call the 'circle of life'.

Very patriotic
likes kids, coaches little league softball
Doesn't get a lot of things about modern pop-culture, uses slang incorrectly
Into health foods
A little bit awkward when trying to express emotions

Friday, May 4, 2012

Bird Portraiture, Tricolored Heron

Tricolored Heron
Green Cay, Florida, USA
member of the Egret/Heron/Bittern Family
*true bird fact* ~He used to be named the 'Louisiana Heron', but changed his name for some reason. That's really.. something..

Likes to get dressed up and go out on the town
A smoker
Will just kind of stand around loitering, likes to be around people
Used to be involved in some sort of shady criminal activity, doesn't like to talk about his past

Monday, April 30, 2012

Birds.gif #1: Bird Bath

(click me to be transported to a wonderful world of .gif)
New Feature!! Sometimes the amateurnithologist encounters a bird performing some kind of charming or interesting behavior that can only be captured accurately in motion. Thus, birds.gif
This bird has been ID'd as a

Brewer's Blackbird
Berkeley, California, USA
Member of the Blackbird Family
*true bird fact*~ She is named after noted Ornithologist Thomas Mayo Brewer who also has a duck and a shrew named for him. Now that's a legacy!

Likes to pamper herself sometimes
A capable and unashamed mom
Reads light fiction books on the beach
Drinks a coffee with her female friends

Here's the full video. No sound because who really wants to hear me say "ooh, look at the birds, they're so cute" like a 7 year old girl.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Bird Portraiture Series #4 of X, Black-crowned Night-heron

Black-crowned Night-heron
San Leandro, California, USA
member of the Egret/Heron/Bittern Family
*true bird fact* ~ Will freely raise chicks that are not his/her own. It takes a village to raise a child!

As his name implies, a bit emo (a self-fulfilling prophecy)
Talks a lot about his band
Bumps into things; not aware of his own size
Secretly self-conscious about his crest