Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Bird Sick Day

It's a sad day blog fans, because your amateurnithologist is a bit under the weather. It's ok though, because everyone gets sick sometimes, and maybe we can get through this together. How do some of the birds we've taken a look at in the past deal with it when they get the sniffles?
Brown Pelican (juvenile) lazes about and feels sorry for himself. If you get too close to him he'll start coughing more loudly or moaning about his headache. Best to just give him some space.

Red-winged Black Bird believes in ayurvedic techniques and tries to purge her body of vaguely defined toxins. She goes to hot yoga, drinks tea that makes you sweat, and generally covers herself with lots of blankets. It's very sweaty, but she is dedicated.

There's no polite way to put it, Green Heron is a hypochondriac. He constantly thinks he's getting sick, and when he inevitably does, he approaches it like a job. He takes a ton of over-the-counter medicines, but also goes to the doctor and tries to get anti-biotics even though it's probably just a cold. That doesn't work for a cold, Green Heron! It's going to be worse for you in the long run..

Black-necked Stilt continues to live a party lifestyle and pretends he is not sick. He takes a big gulp of alcohol and laughs and says 'this should kill the germs!' Black-necked Stilt gets a lot of people sick because of his inconsiderate behavior.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Gray Catbird

Gray Catbird aka. Slate-gray Mockingbird
Green Cay, Boynton Beach, Florida, USA
April 2015
Member of the Mockingbird and Thrasher Family
§A Mewing of Catbirds§

~true bird fact~ We hope you, dear reader, are as delighted as we are to discover that the Gray Catbird actually does Meow. Well, it's debatable how much, exactly, he sounds like a cat, but enough so that that's what this bird is named after. Check this youtube video out (not mine) and decide for yourself. Like other member of his family, Gray Catbird has a well developed voice-box (in bird terms, a syrinx) and a complex song that often incorporates other noises from his environments, both natural and man made.

Completely unreadable in any conventional sense
Thinks he's a cat. Maybe he is. It's hard to deny such a strong conviction
Loves bells and shiny objects
Desires attention, but denies you his affection

Carl Linnaeus
A Swedish botanist, physician, and zoologist, Carl Linneaus did a lot for the field of ornithologist. It's his system of taxonomy (that is, classification of living things) that our system is still based on today. He's basically the guy that previously profiled naturalist William Swainson wanted to be, but without all the crazy. He was the first man to describe this catbird here, among 4400 other animals, in his groundbreaking work Systema Naturae, in which he pioneered the binomial scientific naming scheme. Believe it or not, animal names used to be much worse. Much of his writing, including this book, were in Latin, marking him as a total dweeb. Ironically, the catbird has an extremely complex taxonomical history and has been 'gotten wrong' a number of times. You don't name something a 'catbird' if you really know what it is, I guess. Unlike many in his field, and despite his clear nerd-dom, he was a bit of celebrity in his time, and was generally positively regarded by all. A cool Linnaeus story is that he once had to flee Hamburg because he called fake on a taxidermied hydra (!!!) that was the mayor's prized possession.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Rock Wren

Rock Wren
Death Valley, California, USA
February 2014
Member of the Wren Family
§A Flight of Wrens§

~true bird fact~ A Bird truly adapted to the desert lifestyle (and to California's deadly drought) the Rock Wren doesn't drink any water at all. He gets all the moisture he needs from his diet, which is mainly bugs and spiders. Makes me thirsty just thinking about it.

A lonesome fella
Sympathizes with the down-n-outs//drifter class (prisoners, the homeless, etc)
Out of date in his ideas and preferences. Doesn't reckon he'd like the city much, e.g.
Does what he can to help his fellow man


Amateurnitholog (author's notes)
I know I've been promising birds from the recent Florida trip, but for some reason today I felt like taking care of some unfinished business from another trip from a little more than a year ago. This bird was photographed on a big road trip I took all around California with two of my dearest friends who were both on their way out of the state at the time. It's a sign of progress for me when I can identify a bird now fairly easily that used to be a stumper for me. At some point in the last year, for example, I figured out that that tail is a real Wren indicator. From there it wasn't too hard to figure out Rock Wren (based on, i.e. season and landscape he appeared in). Like on every bird, I do hope I didn't get this one wrong. Regardless, it certainly felt like a less helpless, flailing process than the last time I tried to figure out what this guy was, and that's progress.