Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Lesser Goldfinch

Lesser Goldfinch
El Sobrante, California, USA
Member of the Finch Family
~true bird fact~ Lesser Goldfinches eat mostly seeds. They are especially fond of thistle and sunflower. A common feeding posture is hanging upside down from the tip of such a plant and picking the seeds out.
§A Charm of Goldfinches§

Both pretty and smart, doesn't really seem to understand how lucky she is
Not afraid to reach for lofty goals
Distrustful of altruism
Loves the sunrise and sunset
Blames the rare failure on 'haters'

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Black-billed Magpie

Black-billed Magpie
Park City, Utah, USA
Member of the Crows and Jays Family
 ~true bird fact~ One of very few non-human animals who are able to recognize their own reflection in a mirror. This is called the Mirror Test (pro click for picture of dog looking into mirror), and is thought to be an indication of self awareness. Besides our Magpie friend here, only great apes, dolphins, orcas, and elephants pass it. Kinda crazy, huh?
§A Tiding of Magpies§

No money, but always sharply dressed
Considers himself a gadfly of bird society, like Socraties
Likes to push the envelope, upset people
Sometimes hard to understand his motivations
A charmer

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Why is a Group of Crows Called a Murder? OR How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Collective Nouns

Hello birdfans,

You may have noticed that in the last few entries I've started including those colorful collective nouns that groups of birds are mysteriously possessed of. I never did this before because I just sort of figured that some guy made them up and thus they were not legitimate enough to include. I changed my mind because I got curious and went and looked up where they came from.
It turns out that the majority of these collective nouns originate from a late Middle Ages text called The Book of Saint Albans. Published in 1846 and written by an abbess at Saint Albans Monastery named Dame Julianna Berners, it was the first naturalistic text by a woman. Along with essays on hawking, hunting, and angling, Dm. Barners including evocative descriptors for groups of animals.

Given that she invented personalities for animals whole-cloth that nonetheless ring true, you could say that I feel some personal connection to this book. Since I've missed out on many interesting bird descriptors since I started the blog, I've decided to catch up now. Most of these birds have many options for what to call a group of them. I've chosen Dm. Barners' when possible, and my personal favorite when I couldn't find hers.
A Squabble of Gulls

A Bevy of Quails

A Cast of Hawks

A Herd of Cranes

A Fling of Sandpipers

A Sege of Herons (it seems it is up in the air whether this is meant to be a Sedge or a Siege)

A Merl of Blackbirds

A Party of Jays

A Gang of Turkeys

A Parliament of Owls

A Flight of Swallows
A Host of Sparrows
A Raft of Ducks

A Murder of Crows

A Loomery of Loons

A Kit of Pigeons
A Congregation of Egrets

A Gaggle of Geese

A Dule of Doves

An Ostentation of Peacocks

A Gulp of Cormorants

A Worm of Robins

A Descent of Woodpeckers

A Murmuration of Starlings

A Hover of Hummingbirds

A Hermitage of Thrushes

A Season of Tanagers

A Hobbling of Limpkins (Really? They don't have it bad enough already? Geeze..)
A Pod of Pellicans

A Ridicule of Mockingbirds

A Duet of Ospreys (I suppose they are never in a group larger than two.. Yeah, that makes sense)

A Charm of Finches

A Troop of Ostriches

This concludes today's very long and wordy update. While I'm writing at you endlessly, I should mention that the website has undergone something of a minor overhaul. To the right you'll find some helpful links and navigation, as well as some bonus content, in the form of Yr. Amateurnithologist's Life List. We are forever striving for improvement here at Bird Blog, and hope these additions make you very happy. In these trying times, it's important to take pictures of birds. Stay strong ya'll.

-The Amateurnithologist

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Birds.gif: Little Blue Heron Hunting

Click here to bring this Heron to life!

Little Blue Heron
Lake Worth, Florida, USA
Member of the Heron Family
~true bird fact~ The juvenile Little Blue Heron has white plumage, making it hard to distinguish from Snowy Egrets. Young Blue Herons are often taught to fish by these Egrets before they realize they're members of a different species.
§A Hedge of Herons§

Sharps and impressive, knows how to get things done
Comes from a wealthy family of high achievers, but has surpassed them on his own merits
Surprises one with rare little bits of savagery
Secretly driven by an inferiority complex

Oh, you wanted to see the full video? But of course (with musical bonus(?)):

Monday, July 1, 2013

Green-tailed Towhee

Green-tailed Towhee
Park City, Utah, USA
Member of the Sparrow Family
 ~true bird fact~ The female Green-tailed Towhee makes her nest in low scrubby bushes in the high desert. When the nest is approached by a predator, she drops to the group and runs across it using her legs, holding her tail straight up. This is thought to be a mimicry of the way a chipmunk runs, and draws predators away from the nest. A braver bird than I.
§A Teatpot of Towhees§

Sings lonely desert love songs to nobody in particular
Appreciates wide open spaces
Has a rugged and endearing dustiness to him
Rarely speaks out, but surprisingly erudite