Sunday, August 20, 2017

Painted Bunting

Painted Bunting aka. Nonpareil (fr)
Big Bend National Park, Texas, USA
July 2017
Member of the Cardinal Family
§A Palette of Buntings§

{Etymology Corner} The scientific name of this bird is Passerina ciris. Evidently, it's named after the Greek Mythological character, Princess Scylla. She is turned into a bird after betraying her father in favor of an invading King Minos, who she has fallen in love with at first sight. She subsequently drowns while attempting to swim after her fleeing love, who wants no part of this whole thing. It's a wild story. It's also a pretty bad name for this bird, since she was supposedly transformed into a seabird, which this is not. I can agree, however, that this looks like a bird brought into the world through magical means.

~true bird fact~  As anyone can see from looking at it, this bird is incredibly colorful. This has made him a frequent target of poachers. In the 1800's, the were trapped in the thousands and shipped back to Europe for heavily marked-up sale as caged birds. This kind of trade is now illegal, happily, but has not been entirely eliminated. I know it's probably none of you dear readers, but please stop buying wild animals.

How endangered are they? They are listed as Near Threatened by the IUCN. Now I don't want you to panic, because they are till a fairly common bird, with an estimated 13 million adults out there. The rating is probably the result of a dramatic 60% dip in their population that took place between 1966 and 1995. Numbers have seemed stable since then, but you can never be took careful with a bird like this. The pressures on their population seem to be habitat loss from development and the aforementioned poaching.

Musically inclined
Despite his outwardly confident appearance, he's been the subject of a lot of pressure throughout his life
You can tell how he's feeling very easily- 'wears his hear on his sleeve'
Always laughs at your jokes

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Yellow-breasted Chat

Yellow-breasted Chat
Big Bend National Park, Texas, USA
July 2017
Only Member of the Chat Family
The brand new family this bird belongs to has §No Collective Noun§, but if I was gonna just straight make one up (as I suspect often happens), I'd call them a... §Smalltalk of Chats§

~breaking bird news~ The Yellow-breasted chat, was, until this very year, considered to be our largest Wood Warbler. I guess this was based mostly on him being a yellow songbird, even though he is, like, twice as big as all the other wood warblers, and displays other biological differences as well. He even imitates songs, like a member of the mockingbird family. I guess hindsight is 20/20 and I'm no bird scientist, but I think we probably could've called this one a little sooner. Anyway, this is all so new that he is currently considered to be the only member of his taxonomic family, and almost all websites still incorrectly list him as a wood warbler. In fact, things as so uncertain for the chat, that he might get categorized as something else entirely at some point. I think we should just let him do his thing.

Ahead of his time- in 20 years we'll all look back on what Yellow-breasted Chat was doing and realize he was just miles ahead of us
Pursues his personal philosophy very consistently
Shows vulnerability in a very strong way
Finds the more simple acts of day to day living challenging sometimes

Friday, August 4, 2017

Cartoon Roadrunner vs. Real Roadrunner

Let's talk about the Road Runner. He was my favorite cartoon when I was a kid for sure, beating out even the antics of beloved proto-troll, Bugs Bunny. But as you age, you put away childish things, and now I probably prefer real road runners. This is a bird that's been on by bird-bucket list (birdcket list(TM)) for a while now, and on my recent Texas trip I finally got to see him, and in abundance. So I was thinking, just how does the Road Runner cartoon compare to the genuine article.

Long, prominent tail
Dark crest
Darker wing than belly

Not really predominantly purple/blue
Wrong number of toes
Beak shape wrong
Neck too long


Runs quickly, favoring roads (up to 15 miles per hour)
Doesn't really fly (flight is possible, but brief)
Lives in the Southwestern American Desert (per Chuck Jones)

Can outrun a coyote (they can get up to a whopping 43 miles per hour)
Would be hunted by coyote (coyote are voracious hunters and scavengers, but one of the few things that live in their range that they don't eat are Road Runners. Not worth the effort?)
Call is just extremely wrong

So how do we put this all together? Ultimately, I'm going to give him a passing grade because I think this cartoon succeeds in depicting a caricature of a roadrunner for the most part. The important part is that he is recognizable as his real-world inspiration, but just barely. The color is the real tricky part- it's just not a color these birds have (except in a small spot behind the eye). Most damningly, no other Looney Tune has a color scheme this unrealistic. Rabbits can be grey, ducks black, pigs pink, coyotes brown, etc. I guess what I'm saying is he's no Beaky Buzzard

Realism Score: C-

Also, have a profile, cause why not 

Greater Roadrunner aka. Chaparral Bird, aka. Chaparral Cock, aka. Ground Cuckoo aka. Snake Killer
Big Bend Ranch State Park, Presidio, Texas, USA
July 2017
Member of the Cuckoo Family
§A Race of Roadrunners§
Excellent State Bird of New Mexico

~real bird legend~ Road Runners have a special place in the belief systems of many Native North and Central American peoples. They are considered to be courageous, strong, and fast, perhaps because of their habit of taking on fearsome venomous prey like rattlesnakes, scorpions, and horned lizards. The X shaped mark their feet make (2 toes in front, 2 in back), is thought to ward off evil and has been used as a sacred symbol by the Pueblo tribes. The footprint disguises the direction you're going in, keeping evil spirits from following.

Adventurous, tends to rush in
Equally at ease by himself and around big groups. Either way he ends up talking a lot
Maybe should be a little more careful, seems to walk around like he's invincible
Sleeps well at night

Friday, July 28, 2017


Killdeer aka. Chattering Plover aka. Noisy Plover (archaic)
Odessa Meteor Crater, Odessa, Texas, USA (Trip Advisor Quote: "Don't expect much, and you won't be disappointed")
July 2017
Member of the Plover/Lapwing Family
§A Season of Killdeers§

{Etymology Corner} Named onomatopoetically after the sound it makes. It's archaic names refer to this habit of noisy, frequent, distinctive calling as well. As for whether the cry sounds like 'killdeer' or not, your amateurnithologist is extremely skeptical.

~true bird fact~ Killdeer build their nests right out in the open, not attempting to disguise or protect them environmentally. What they do instead is a very active defense of their nest. The Killdeer may be most famous for her 'broken wing display' (below), in which she flutters around and pretends to be injured, to get predators away from the nest. When they've been lured far enough away, she simply pops up, good as new, and flies away. To deal with larger, non-predatory animals, the killdeer will charge them and perform a different display, attempting to get them to change their path to avoid a nest-trampling.

Seems nice, but really loves to gossip
Always a few months behind the curve in discovering new trends and technologies
Thinks she knows everything about your kids, just because she has kids
Great cook

Monday, July 17, 2017

Hooded Oriole

Hooded Oriole aka. Palm-leaf Oriole
Alvarado Park, Richmond, California, USA
July 2017
Member of the Blackbird/Oriole Family
§A Split of Orioles§

~true bird fact~ He's called a Palm-leaf Oriole especially in California because of the unusual way they make their nests. A female Oriole will poke holes in the underside of a palm frond and then thread fibers through these holes, essentially sewing a nest to the bottom of the leaf. In fact, the northward expansion of his range is largely owed to more people planting more ornamental palm trees. These birds certainly live up to their nickname in your Amateurnithologist's own neighborhood, as this bird was observed flying to and from a palm tree (actually I've seen him for a few years now, but this was the first time I was able to get a decent picture).

Loves citrus fruit (this one sounds like something I would make up, but appears to be true)
Always on the lookout for a shortcut to avoid hard work
Summer is his favorite season
Just very chill

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Trip Report: Cosumnes River Preserve

Cosumnes River Preserve, Galt, California, USA
January 2017

Duck, var.

Another day in paradise, another trip to a local birding destination. These pictures were taken when your amateurnithologist found himself with some unusual time off and was able to go on some fun day trips to birding locales slightly further afield.

Cinnamon Teal, has a youtube prank video series

Today's pictures come from the Consumnes River Preserve and the adjacent Woodbridge River Preserve in eyebrow-raisingly named Galt, California. The preserves are part of California's heavily farmed central valley and the Consumnes River represents the last free flowing river of the valley. Located between Sacramento and Stockton, there are 46,000 acres of protected land, 40,000 of which are farmed.

Green-winged Teal couple, collect salt and pepper shakers

It's an important spot for birds, and your amateurnithologist was blown away by the variety and sheer quantity of birds present. And that makes a lot of sense, since this spot is part of the Pacific Flyway, one of the 4 major migration routes for American birds. Among its 250 native bird species are the rare Sandhill Cranes (got em') and Tri-colored Blackbirds (WHEN?). Both the Audubon Society and the American Bird Conservancy have declared it an "Important Bird Area."

Sandhill Crane, always stands next to shorter birds to make himself appear taller
The preserve itself is beautiful and well-maintained, and given that we attended in the middle of the day, on a weekday, it was surprisingly well-attended, mostly by like-minded bird people. Some serious scopes were on display.

White-fronted Goose, high tolerance for crowds
It was mostly a waterfowlful affair, and all manner of ducks and geese and assorted others were on display. I had the great experience of getting a much, much better shot of a Northern Pintail immediately after I had posted a blog about him. Such is the life of a bird blogger. We appeared to be right in the middle of White-fronted Goose migration, who got riled up and all took off together and blacked out the sky a few times.

Northern Pintail, always acts weird when you try to take a picture of him

Best spots for me were the rarely observed Sora (still have no idea how I spotted him in the reeds) and the vaunted and endangered Sandhill Crane. It was my first time getting a shot of the California subspecies (all previous cranes I had seen were in Florida). Other birds seen, but not included in this photo essay included Great Egret (in breeding plumage), Northern Shoveler, Belted Kingfisher, Canada Geese, American Kestrel, and Black-necked Stilt.

Sora, loves to do amateur research on topics that interest her

Overall I would give Galt, CA objectively high marks. It's a veritable fountainhead of birds, and you won't find yourself shrugging off enough birds to fill a whole atlas. Take the train. Go Ayn-y time.

Final Rating: Yes

Friday, June 30, 2017

Eared Grebe

Eared Grebe aka. Black-necked Grebe
Lake Merritt, Oakland, California, USA
April 2017
Member of the Grebe Family
Cirque du Soleil presents §A Water Dance of Grebes§
World's Most Abundant Grebe (congratulations!)

~true bird fact~ Eared Grebe goes through a pretty astounding cycle of transformations every year. While 'staging' (the period of prep time before migration), his body doubles in weight and he becomes completely flightless to bulk up. Then, right before migration, his digestive organs all shrink and his flight muscles and heart increase in size dramatically, allowing him to make the mirgratory flight. This process takes so long that this grebe has both the Latest Fall Migration of any North American Bird and the Longest Period of Flightlessness for any flighted bird (9-10 months of the year). I guess this goes without saying, but he also seasonally gets those cool head frills. This bird is a more compelling transformer than anything in those terrible Michael Bay movies, and you didn't even have to pay 15 dollars to see him.

Very high level of energy, seems to never run out of things to do
Cares a lot about being addressed with "respect"
Loves bawdy jokes
Has a pretty deep knowledge of old time-y hair products that he uses to get that look

Sunday, June 25, 2017


Hayward Regional Shorelines, Hayward, California, USA
April 2017
Member of the Sandpiper Family
§A Trip of Dunlins§

{Etymology Corner} Derives from 'dun' the color, which is a dull, greyish brownish number. It's basically a name that means 'boring-colored'. There are way, way drabber shorebirds than this, so I don't know what they*'re on about.

*- The 'They' of the previous sentence refers to the international bird-naming consortium.

~true bird fact~ The Dunlin is a very successful shorebird and has a mind-boggling range that most other birds could only dream of. He can be found on most shorelines around the Northern Hemisphere, making him a very common bird. Take a look for yourself! Still, he was one your amatuernithologist hadn't quite 'gotten' until he did this blog. If you, dear reader, are looking to up your Dunlin-Identifying game know that he has a distinctive black belly-patch and reddish back, but only in summer. The real trick is the slightly droopy bill that makes him look a bit sad or melty. He is, apparently, a good one to learn to ID other shorebirds by.

A bit 'judgy' of shorebirds who haven't traveled as much as him. Not everyone has that much disposable income, Dunlin
Long periods of inaction, followed by bursts of manic productivity
Still acts like a young adult despite being well into adulthood. This is a problem that could get worse with time
Thinks he can just tell what's true and what isn't by gut instinct, but honestly doesn't have that good of a radar

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Baby Owls in Golden Gate Park

Great news everyone! And I do mean great, because Great Horned Owls are nesting in Golden Gate Park. Well, probably not anymore, because even at the time I took these shots, a few months ago, they were getting kinda close to fledging I think. Big shout out to local bird-friend Eliya who gave me the hot tip and showed me the owls. These good good baby owls were shot around sunset, so the pictures I took aren't the best. Go see them next spring, why not. They're very good.

Great Horned Owlet aka. Fluffems aka. Sweet Baby Owl aka. Robert "DOWNy" Jr.
Bison Paddock, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California, USA
April 2017
Member of the True Owl Family
§A Glaring of Owls§
The Provincial Bird of Alberta, Canada★

~real bird myth~ Pretty much any group of people who came into contact with this bird came to believe it had some kind of supernatural powers. The Pima thought the owls were reincarnated warriors, while the Passamaquoddy thought of them as friendly spirits whose calls could make people fall in love. The Hopi saw them as harbingers of warm weather and good harvests, and the Zuni used their feathers in battle to imbue themselves with some of the owl's powers of stealth. If there's anything everyone seems to be able to agree on, it's that the owls are not what they seem.

This is their mother. She has had it up to here with their shenanigans.

And these are the babies. I think there were three all together, but I never got a good shot with all of them. They:

Are always attached to their phones
Just want things handed to them, must've been all those participation trophies
Use all this slang I don't understand
Why can't they work their way through college?

Just kidding, I love these baby owls, and to prove it, here's an amazing .gif I made of them from some of Eliya's footage. May it see you through some hard times.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

American Flamingo

American Flamingo aka. Caribbean Flamingo
Ardastra Gardens, Nassau, New Providence, The Bahamas
April 2017
Member of the Flamingo Family
§A Colony of Flamingos§
The Most Widespread Flamingo
State Bird of Gujarat, India

~true bird facts~ This is one weird bird, so there's a lot of cool facts about them. Problem is, you probably already know most of them. Here's some cool things you already know about flamingos:

We've all learned this one at some point- they've got that distinctive pink color because of the brine shrimp and algae that comprises much of their diet. Much like our friend the Roseate Spoonbill, their feathers would be grey without this supplement.

Thanks to their recent brush with virality you probably also know why they stand on one leg. It's because of the alignment of their hip and knee joints- they balance perfectly in the center of the bird when bent, meaning that standing this way actually uses almost no energy. It's also a way to regulate body temperature. Important for large animals that don't sweat.

You might've also seen their entertaining synchronized walking-dancing thing they do. It looks like this (these are not American Flamingos, but rather Chilean). It's a mating/pairing ritual, but no one is really sure how the birds decide exactly. It has to do with when they move in unison and when they stop.

One thing you might not know is that Flamingo tongues were considered to be a prized delicacy in ancient Rome. Why do we know so much stuff about Flamingos? I can only assume it's because they're big and cool looking.

Easily upset stomach
Likes to complain
Beauty-product based pyramid marketing scheme
High self esteem, has a high bar for others

Thursday, June 1, 2017

BUrdZZFEED presents: What Kind of Bird Are You?

That's right loyal fans, Amateurnithologist has sold out again, this time but good! We've partnered with Buzzfeed to bring you the only official quiz that will tell you what kind of bird you are (please do not fact check either of these statements). Featuring all new bird photos from yours truly, as well as over 9 meticulously calibrated questions, this bird quiz is unlike anything you've ever seen. Amateurnithologist is now taking offers to appear on morning shows, publish books, and receive prestigious awards. So without further ado, go take the quiz, and like, I don't know, post your results? Whatever people do with these things.

Friday, May 26, 2017

7 Music Video Bird .gifs to Brighten your Day

Since the dawn of time they have inspired art. Birds, the land-animals of the sky. Paintings, poetry, literature, even great film. But you know, there are also a lot of songs out there about birds, and some of those songs even have music videos, and some of those music videos even have birds. In fact, birds are so great, that some music videos just have birds in them for seemingly no reason. So obviously I had to make some .gifs.

Aaliyah, Are You That Somebody (1998)

Bird Type: Hawk (hard to tell from the shots what type, my guess is Red-tailed)
Bird Justification: Aaliyah wants the "Boy" of the song to know that she is "watching (him) like a hawk in the sky". Not a tremendous justification given that the hawk is in kind of a lot of the video.
Use this .gif: When you want him not to speak (you know that would be weak)

Prince, When Doves Cry (1984)
Bird Type: Release Dove (a white domestic subspecies of the common Rock Dove aka. Pigeon)
Bird Justification: The song is called "When Doves Cry", but honestly it's not really clear what that means. There are only a scant few dove moments in the video, but they're all very good.
Use this .gif: As inspiration for your extremely obscure 80's music video-themed costume party

Drake, Take Care (2012)
Bird Type: Blue Jay
Bird Justification: The video uses a variety of animals in motion in ways that are reminiscent of the ways the human animals in the video move. Furthermore, the Blue Jay is the mascot of Drake's home town of Toronto's MLB team.
Use this .gif: with the hashtag #relationshipgoals

KMD, Peachfuzz (1991)
Bird Type: Rock Dove aka. Pigeon
Bird Justification: Lev Love X declares in the opening verse of the song that you should "..use your imagination, just a smidgen/if I was a bird I'd be a pigeon", at which point the music video does a fade out to a really tight shot of a pigeon. As a bonus, he moments later declares that he likes to "eat fresh fish like a pelican". In the larger context of the song, he seems to be trying to convince some fly girls that he's old enough to date despite his young appearance.
Use this .gif: to demonstrate a high level of maturity

Nelly Furtado, I'm Like a Bird (2000)
Bird Type: Digital, generic (although earlier in the video she appears to hand feed what really appears to be a white-headed black bulbul, which is so insane that I don't even know what to think)
Bird Context: Whole song
Use this .gif: moments of triumph, elation

Kylie Minogue, All the Lovers (2010)
Bird Type: That dang Release Dove again, clearly the most popular music video bird
Bird Context: virtually none. They appear throughout the song as some kind of visual theme
Use this .gif: Ok, I might be totally off base here, but based on the music video, I feel like this dove is kind of an orgasm metaphor (sorry to be blue, this is usually a family blog)

Katy Perry, Roar (2013)
Bird Type: Blue and Gold Macaw
Bird Context: The music video's concept is that Katy is going to find her inner strength to tame a tiger in this jungle. During this time she sings at many animals, one of which is this lovely Macaw.
Use this .gif: When you've got a friend crush and they're not as enthusiastic as you to hang out and stuff, but you're sure you'll wear them down with your persistence

Thursday, May 18, 2017

White-cheeked Pintail

White-cheeked Pintail aka. Bahama Pintail aka. Bahama Duck aka. Summer Duck 
Cabbage Beach, Paradise Island, The Bahamas
April 2017
Member of the Duck, Goose, and Swan Family
§A Brace of Ducks§

~true bird fact~ Something about these ducks must make them especially suited to the island lifestyle, since in addition to being spread throughout the Caribbean, they are also native to the Galapagos Islands. They are the only native duck there.

Soft-spoken to the point where it's a little weird. Is it an affectation?
Prefers an unconventional work schedule
Will take a sip of your drink without even thinking about it
Can party, sure, but prefers to have some alone time

Tuesday, May 9, 2017


Recently the staff of Amateurnithologist was walking in the desert, like you do, hoping for the unlikely Sage Grouse or Roadrunner siting, but really just going for a hike. We had reached the trail entrance, having completed the loop, and we heard a harsh and very threatening buzzing noise coming from right beside us. It's a noise I don't hear often, but it's unmistakable, both in its source and its message. It was a rattlesnake, and it was telling us to get out, which we did (but not before I snapped a picture). An experience that was a bit scary and a bit cool, but not much more, at the time.

A few days later an extremely large lizard walked right into my house through my open back door. This is something that has never happened before. We regarded each other for a moment, me on the couch, the lizard on the floor, and then he ran under my stove. I've been unable to escort him out of the house, I assume he's around here somewhere.

These experiences, though, got me thinking- why are reptiles so aggro towards me at the moment? And then the light bulb went off- of course! They've jealous that all my animal-related attention has thus far gone to birds. Well no more, reptile friends, you're on the blog now. So no need to, like, attack me any further. Let's kick things off right with a few cool reptos I've seen lately (I call them 'reptos' for short, that's how cool I am with them).

Green Iguana aka. American Iguana 
Esplanade Park, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, USA
April 2017
Member of the Iguana Family
§A Mess of Iguanas§ (not so sure about this one)

~true repto fact~ Have been used as a common food source in Central or South America for over 7000 years. Nicknamed 'bamboo chicken' or 'chicken of the trees' for their reportedly chicken-like flavor. Actually endangered in some places due to over-hunting.


Northern Curly-tailed Lizard
Fort Fincastle, New Providence, Nassau, The Bahamas
April 2017
Member of the Curly-tailed Lizard Family
The internet presents the venery term for a group of lizards as a 'lounge', but I absolutely refuse. There is §no real name for lizards§

~true repto fact~ Introduced on purpose to South Florida in the 1940's to eat sugarcane pests. They went kinda nuts from there and are now everywhere in South Florida. This explains why I never saw them as a kid, but now see them all over the place when I'm down there.

Appreciates good food

Brown Anole aka. Bahaman Anole aka. De la Sagra's Anole
Ardastra Gardens, New Providence, Nassau, The Bahamas
April 2017
Member of the Bush Anole Family
~true repto fact~ This is one of those lizards that can detach his own tail. When pursued by a predator, he can just drop a big chunk of it at will, and it will continue to move on its own, hopefully distracting the pursuer. The tail, partially, grows back.

 An old-school nerd with truly esoteric hobbies. None of that pop culture stuff

Western Diamondback Rattlesnake aka. Texas Diamond-back
Ballardini Ranch, Reno, Nevada, USA
May 2017
Member of the Viper Family
§A Pit of Snakes§
Responsible for the most snakebites in the USA (bites are 10-20% lethal if untreated, so get that checked out, I guess)

~true repto fact~ There is such a thing as a Rattlesnake Rodeo, which is not at all the fun thing it sounds like. It's primarily people torturing and killing Rattlesnakes they've caught for entertainment. I mean, I know we're all afraid of snakes, but that sucks. Hey, don't do this.

Loves a good campfire

So, there you have it. Did you learn about reptiles? Do you love them now? Do they love me now? Will that lizard (who research indicates is something called an Alligator Lizard) leave my house? Only time can say. Next week we'll be back with some more bird-like blog subjects.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Smooth-billed Ani

Smooth-billed Ani
Cabbage Beach, Paradise Island, The Bahamas
April 2017
Member of the Cuckoo Family
§A Silliness of Anis§ (disagreeable)

~true bird fact~ Lives a seriously communal life-style. Several pairs of birds build the nest together and all lay their eggs in it in layers. These nests are crazy multi-layered deals, and up to 35 eggs have been found in one nest. The birds incubate and defend the nest together, and raise the chicks. The chicks themselves, once old enough to do so, begin to care for the younger birds.

~real bird myth~ The meat of the Ani, reportedly gross tasting, is considered to be a cure for lung issues by the Surinamese native people, but only if you don't know that you're eating it.

Lots of strong feelings about whether having a smooth bill or a grooved bill is better. This conflict may originate from a sneetches-like situation.
Does a lot of starring out at the horizon, thinking about unrelated things
Doesn't see why you'd waste money going out to dinner

...Ok look, I don't usually do this, this is a friendly n positive blog, but I gotta say...

This bird looks like a blackbird fell into the ooze from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: Secret of the Ooze
Like if an unflattering caricature of a crow came to life
Bird looks like he's wearing a a big, novelty, Halloween mask of himself
If you asked a kid to draw a "dinosaur versio of a bird", this is what they'd come up with
I'm just saying, he looks like he told you that you wouldn't like him when he's angry, and then you went and made him angry anyway
Smooth-billed Ani looks like a gargoyle you made to ward away trespassers from your tomb. Carved him on a column
Kinda looks more like a lizard than a bird
Typed 'scary bird from a nightmare' into google search and he came up, is all I'm saying


Thursday, April 27, 2017

White-crowned Pigeon

White-crowned Pigeon
Ardastra Gardens, Nassau, New Providence, The Bahamas
April 2017
Member of the Pigeon and Dove Family
§A Passel of Pigeons§

~true bird fact~ Truly an island bird, White-crowned pigeons nest in an entirely different habitat than they feed in, sometimes flying across entire bodies of water to get from one to the other. They nest mostly in mangrove groves and feed on the fruits of hardwood trees. They're strong fliers, traveling up to 30 miles each way for this commute. It's said they can outpace a speed boat. Is this surprisingly fast? Let's do some math. (All research done using google search)

Pigeons fly at an average speed of 77 mph, which is actually quite fast for a bird. In fact, the fastest self-propelled horizontal flight speed (ie. not in a dive) in the bird kingdom belongs to a member of the pigeon family, the homing pigeon, which has been measured at 110mph (!!). An average bird, say, an unladen swallow, travels at about 30-40mph. An average, not-super-expensive speed boat travels at approx 45mph, so yes, this bird flies a lot faster than a speed boat.  I'm so glad we learned this about pigeons today guys.

How endangered are they? I regret to inform you that these cool, fast pigeons are also rapidly approaching danger, in addition to boats. They are categorized by the IUCN as a 'Vulnerable' species. In other words, they are not quite endangered, but definitely threatened. There are about 7500 nesting pairs in FL, but the real worry is their declining numbers throughout their largely Caribbean range.  They get hunted some, but the biggest threat is lost of their nesting habitat, which often gets cut down to grow crops, especially sugarcane. They're also a bird positioned to be hit especially hard by climate change, since they basically only eat this one type of fruit, and if the seasons go all nuts, that would be a major problem for them.

Always getting IDed, despite being more than old enough
Surprises you with his somewhat old-fashioned views
Prefers to buy used things rather than new things
Fond of idiosyncratic clothing choices (ie. straw pork pie hat)

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Red-legged Thrush

Red-legged Thrush (zorzal de patas coloradas)
Ardastra Gardens, Nassau, New Providence, The Bahamas
April 2017
Member of the Thrush Family
§A Mutation of Thrushes§ (what?)

Native To: The Bahamas, The Cayman Islands, Cuba, Puerto Rico, The Dominican Republican, and Haiti

~true bird fact~The Red-legged Thrush is basically the Caribbean Robin, meaning it has similar behaviors and occupies a similar ecological niche. Unfortunately, this means that just like the American Robin, he is cool looking, but quite boring. On the other hand, his fake bird facts are super interesting.

This bird is a pirate
In fact, he is a robot pirate, with a bionic eye that works kind of like a monocular
Prefers to target the riches colonialists or capitalists who threaten his people
Drunk pretty much 24-7 (whether this is sad or fun is up to you, reader, to determine)