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