Friday, December 25, 2015

Pygmy Nuthatch

Pygmy Nuthatch
Natural Bridges State Park, San, California, USA
November 2015
Member of the Nuthatch Family
§A Jar of Nuthatches§

~true bird fact~ A very family oriented type, Pygmy Nuthatches are one of very few birds that have what are called "Nest Helpers". These are relatives of the bird that help with raising, defending, and feeding the chicks, and even include the previous years' young. They often huddle together for warmth in colder times, a record number observed being at least 100 (!!!) nuthatches in one hollow. It's always nice to have Nest Helpers around the holidays.

-$- Hollywood bird handbook -$- Played a significant story-role in the 2000 film Charlie's Angels. Cameron Diaz is able to locate the villains hideout in the climax of the movie by identifying the call of the Pygmy Nuthatch. She is able to pinpoint the location at Carmel, California because "that's the only place Pygmy Nuthatches live". In the movie a different bird is shown (A Venezuelan Troupial), and Pygmy Nuthatches have a much, much wider range (14 Western States, Canada, and Mexico). That's Hollywood for ya!

Loves gift-giving more than gift receiving
Has famous sugar cookies (the secret ingredient is nutmeg)
Tends to get frantic if everything isn't going perfect (most of the time)
Surprising depth of football knowledge

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Red-breasted Nuthatch

Red-breasted Nuthatch
Steep Ravine, Stinson Beach, California, USA
October 2015
Member of the Nuthatch Family
§A Jar of Nuthatches§

{Etymology Corner} "Nuthatch" is a corruption of nuthack, which describes the unusual way these birds eat. They take a nut, wedge it into the softer bark of a tree, and then hack away at it with their beak, either driving it in to the bark for safekeeping or smashing it open.
~true bird fact~ Red-breasted Nuthatches booby-trap their nests, not unlike Kevin from Home Alone. They smear sticky sap or resin around the entrances to dissuade predators or competing birds, and they do this with simple tools, like tiny branches. Impressive work, guys!

Clever, but showboats too much
Falls in love easily
Surprisingly high-end tastes
Getting too old for this

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Say's Phoebe

Say's Phoebe
Lake Del Valle, Livermore, California, USA
October 2015
Member of the Flycatcher Family
§A Zapper of Flycatchers (dubious)§

~true bird fact~ Say's Phoebes are really tough and love dry, arid, desolate landscapes. They live the furthest north of any Flycatcher, and would probably go even further if they could. The only thing stopping them is a lack of places to nest, and humans are helping with that. They breed even north of the treeline, using the Alaska pipeline as a place to build their nests.

Harbors a great amount of guilt for some past action
Finds beauty in unexpected places
Prefers to speak minimally
Makes good money, but always sends it 'home' to some unknown end


Thomas Say
An American self-taught, naturalist-of-all-trades, Thomas Say was actually best known for his work in Entomology (Insects) and Conchology (Shells). So well known, in fact, that he is known as the father of descriptive entomology. Say had a brief, but exciting life, helping to found the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, making expeditions into the previously uncharted territory of the Rocky Mountains and islands off the coast of Georgia and Florida, (...well, uncharted by white people), and eventually marrying the first female member of the American Academy of Sciences, Lucy Way Sistare. He met Lucy when he lived in an experimental Utopian socialist society called New Harmony, that he arrived at via a barge that was called "The Boatload of Knowledge" at the time. You probably want to read about this, because it's incredible. He died of typhoid fever at 47, having deliberately avoided making any money from his work, much to the detriment of his family.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Mystery Bird- Lounging Birds

Stinson Beach, California, USA
August 2015
Best Guess: Juvenile Seagull of some sort. It's so hard to tell with those, ya know? California Gull??

Hilariously lazy. Won't get up for anything
Musically talented, but lacking motivation
Cool under pressure
Just cool really. Ice cold