Wednesday, September 28, 2016


Bufflehead aka. Spirit Duck
Cesar Chavez Park, Berkeley, California, USA
January 2016
Member of the Duck, Goose, and Swan Family
§A Paddling of Ducks§

{etymology corner} The name Bufflehead is reportedly a portmanteau of 'Buffalo' and 'Head', referring to this duck's unusually large and bulbous head. The Latin name, Bucephala albeola, is playing around in the same territory, translating to 'white bullheaded'. I mean it's a somewhat unusual head guys, but I don't know if I'd go that far.

~true bird fact~ The Bufflehead nest nearly exclusively in hollows originally excavated by Northern Flickers (sometimes other woodpecker nests are acceptable). Buffleheads are so small partly so that they can fit into these tiny hollows. That's how evolution works, right?

Talks in a squeaky baby voice, has other alarmingly immature affectations
Optimistic, at times too a fault

Jumps quickly to defensiveness when questioned
The life of the party
Exudes leadership energy

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Eastern Phoebe

Eastern Phoebe
Fore River Sanctuary, Portland, Maine, USA
August 2016
Member of the Member Tyrant Family
§A Zipper of Flycatchers§

~true bird fact~ A weird loner of a bird if there ever was one, the Eastern Phoebe is unique in that she chooses not to spend time with others of her kind. Even mating pairs don't spend time with one another, and females often chase their mate away while she's still on the nest.

~true bird history~ The first bird to ever be 'banded' in North America. A silver strand was wrapped around his leg by John James Audubon himself in 1804, so that he would be able to tell when (and to where) this particular bird would return to every year. Banding is still the primary way we keep track of bird migration patterns.

Refined tastes, a collector of fine things
A master of unilaterally ending conversations
Holds self and others to an unfairly high standard
Struggles to express affection, warmth

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Donald Trump Reviews Birds From My Trip to the North East

Ed. note: Your usual amateurnithologist is super busy these days with his very hard job, as you know from his endless grousing. Lest the blog fall into disrepair for another week, we've secured the services of controversial presidential candidate Donald Trump. In exchange we promised to put in a good word for him with the eagles, who he fears desperately. This is a "big get" guys, so don't go posting any political stuff in the comments, he's very sensitive.

Common Grackle
Staten Island, New York, New York, USA
July 2015

Donald Trump's Remarks
I don't like the Grackles, and I think it's very rude that you've asked me to start with a question about a grackle. Unprofessional! Everyone knows, and lots of people are saying, grackles are coming into the country, ok? And they're bringing disease, they're bringing crime, and some of them are probably good birds. I'm going to build a wall, and the grackles are going to pay for it. No one builds walls to keep birds out better than me, and you know it!

Pied-billed Grebe
Central Park, Manhattan, New York, New York, USA
July 2015

Donald Trump's Remarks
Grebes: Irrelevant birds, no one cares that they exist! Total hack, loser birds! A disgusting bird, what good is a bird if it's not beautiful? Semi-domesticated? I like birds who weren't captured, ok. What a joke! I have long, beautiful fingers.

House Sparrow
Fore River Sanctuary, Portland, Maine, USA
July 2015

Donald Trump's Remarks
Look, a sparrow is a beautiful bird, and it flirts with me, ok? I get it. I get it. But it's just not a 10 anymore. Boring Sparrow is jealous of flashier birds! Acts very needy, but just trying to manipulate me. Sad!

Fore River Sanctuary, Portland, Maine, USA
July 2015

Donald Trump's Remarks
Oh, look at my duck. Are you the greatest? Ducks love me. I'm eating a big bowl of swamp grass at trump tower right now. Water vegetables, very healthy. I have a great respect for ducks, and you know ducks like me. I've always had a great relationship with the ducks. (ed. note: Ducks support Donald Trump at approximately 5 percent).

House Finch
Maine Wildlife Park, Gray, Maine, USA
July 2015

Donald Trump's Remarks
Donald J. Trump is calling for a complete and total shutdown of finches entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what the hell is going on. I'm not saying they shouldn't come here at all, but there should be a loyalty test is what I'm saying. They need to have all the right documents, show the bird certificates. It's common sense!

Greylag Goose
Peaks Island, Portland, Maine, USA
July 2015

Donald Trump's Remarks
This is a big, beautiful, classy goose. If she weren't a bird, perhaps I'd be dating her. A smart bird, and I would know. My IQ is one of the highest. Goose should be number one bird. Birding is rigged! Ok? Ok, now somebody get these birds out of here. I wasn't joking, I hate birds, get them out of here.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Common Eider

Common Eider aka. "Cuddy" (informal)
Two Lights State Park, Cape Elizabeth, Maine, USA
August 2016
Member of the Duck, Swam, and Goose Family
§A Blush of Ducks§
The National Emblem Bird of Northumberland
The Largest Duck of the Northern Hemisphere

{etymology corner} The scientific name of the Common Eider (Somateria mollissima) translates to "very soft bodywool", which refers to this duck's particularly soft down. The feathers are plucked from the female's breast and are used to line the nest in the cold climates where these birds live. People use the down for blankets and pillows. Eider down can be harvested from birds sustainably and humanely though, so don't worry too much. Also, it isn't really used that much any more.

~true bird history~ The subject of one of the first ever bird protection laws. In the year 676 Saint Cuthbert declared that the colony of birds living on the Farne islands off the coast of Northumberland (Britain), were off limits. Among many other interesting qualities he possesses, the final resting place of St. Cuthbert is only known by group of 12 monks, and only when one dies does a new one get informed. Check out his wikipedia, it's pretty neat.

Bookish and cerebral
Needs a lot of down time. Naps
Big soup fan
Has many admirers, but doesn't know it