Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Mystery Bird: Bird with Dark Intentions

Key West, Conch Republic
April 2014
Best Guess: Brown Pelican.. far too large, perhaps a GMO

Unstable, gives off strong 'stay away' vibes
Eats garbage. Wouldn't eat better food if it was available. Has a personal preference for garbage
Strange sense of morality. May actually be insane
Has been failed by society tremendously

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Wood Stork

Wood Stork (FKA Wood Ibis [not an ibis])
Wakotahatchee Wetlands, Florida, USA
April 2015
Member of the Stork Family
§A Phalanx of Storks§

~true bird fact~ The Wood Stork's breeding system is timed to be during the dry season in the places he lives. This doesn't make sense at first, but the Wood Stork knows what's up. During the dry season, pools of water shrink, meaning that fish are concentrated in smaller areas and it's easier for him to find food.

~true bird myth~ Storks have long been associated with protection, wealth, and of course, child rearing. Storks are believed to hold high amounts of faithfulness and familial values. Not only are they associated with delivering babies (which they allegedly found in caves or marshes), but also with taking care of elderly relatives. Ancient Greeks had a law that punished anyone who killed a stork with death, and Muslims revered the birds because they made a pilgrimage to Mecca on their annual migrations. Many of these myths seem to come about because Storks are large, prominent birds that often nest among humans, but they also stem from the Stork's own behavior. They're very consistent birds- mostly monogamous, and they nest in the same site year after year.

Acts on emotion. Wears her heart on her sleeve
Finds enjoyment in the simple company of others
Doesn't think about 'the big questions'
Likes percussion instruments best

How endangered are they? They've never been a globally endangered species because they have such an enormous range, but Wood Storks had a hard time of it for a while. Back in 1984, their population was dropping by a precipitous 5% per year. However, a concentrated conservation effort over the past 30 years has brought them back up to healthier levels. In July of 2014, they were moved off the US Fish and Wildlife Endangered List and are now considered merely 'threatened'. There are now estimated to be somewhere between 6,000 and 10,000 storks in the States. Stork populations have followed a similar trajectory in Brazil. Good for you, storks.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Roosters of Key West

Key West has a lot of Chickens. Estimates are that over 2000 birds live on the 2x4 mile island. Locals are divided on the chicken issue- they add a lot of charm and character, but they are undeniably annoying at times. Regardless of what they think, there's not a lot that people can do about the chickens- they're currently a protected species. It is illegal to 'harm or harass' a chicken in Key West. Why are there so many roosters, and what type are they? Well, it seems likely that most of the roosters are the result of people releasing their chickens once cockfighting was outlawed. The sport used to be a big deal, especially in Cuba, and before the cold war, there was a major chicken trade. This means these chickens are probably mostly 'American Game' or 'Cubalaya' birds, but intermixed with other breeds that people had originally brought to the islands for food and eggs. They've interbred and have been feralized, to the point where it would be fair to just call them the Key West breed. Some have suggested the name Key West Gypsy Chicken, which is what I think I'll go with. Let's take a look at some specimens.

Feels unconnected to his past and his people's suffering. Not sure what to do with conflicted feelings about his privilege.

Gets asked for advice by younger chickens in the community. Often recommends folk remedies.

Pursuing a modeling/acting career. Big fish in a small pond.

Tough as nails. Doesn't mess around when it comes to her kids. The kids are cute, but a little rambunctious. You admire her pugnaciousness, but are not sure what message it's sending to the chicks about how to solve their own problems later in life.

Key West Gypsy Chicken
Key West, Florida, USA
April 2015
Member of the Junglefowl Family
§A Peep of Chicks§

~true bird fact~ They say Key West has fewer cockroaches than many other tropical destinations because these chickens keep the numbers down. I did not see any while I was there, so I have to assume it was due to the chickens.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Roseate Spoonbill

Roseate Spoonbill
Green Cay, Boynton Beach, Florida, USA
April 2015
Member of the Spoonbill and Ibis Family
§A Bowl of Spoonbills§

~true bird fact~ Most people know that the distinctive color shared by Rosey over here and his compatriat Flamingo comes from algae in the small crustaceans they mainly eat. Sadly, his unique coloration has also made him the target of poachers. Populations declined in the 1800's, when Spoonbill wings were popularly made into fancy fans.

Likes to weird people out with counterculture behavior and appearance
Would adopt pit-bulls, make a big deal out of it
Rich mom and dad
As the world changes to be more progressive, and his enemies fewer, he finds himself a little bit lacking in purpose

Amateurnitholog (author's notes)
Well, here it is blog followers, one birding resolution well and truly accomplished! Spoonbill is totally one of the birds I was most interested in finding during my recent travels to South Florida, and boy did he deliver. He was sitting totally cooperatively on a branch right along the boardwalk trail, but as you'll all see in coming weeks, he was far from the only interesting find. Propers to Green Cay and Wakodahatchee Wetlands, which are both incredible birding spots- really nicely maintained and well-attended. When I was a kid growing up in Florida, places like this didn't really exist there. It's heartening to see Florida embracing it's natural beauty and wildlife a little more with places like these.

Also of note- I posted this as a Holiday Special bird because 1) he looks like a Star Wars alien, and today is not-real-nerd-holiday May the Fourth 2) he is a predominantly South American/Mexican bird, and tomorrow is actual-real-holiday Cinco de Mayo. This bird looks like he would enjoy cracking open a Corona, huh?