Friday, March 24, 2017

Western Meadowlark

Western Meadowlark
Richardson Bay Audubon Center and Sanctuary, Tiburon, California, USA
January 2017
Member of the Blackbird/Oriole Family
§A Pod of Meadowlarks§
★State Bird of Montana, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oregon, and Wyoming. The only bird with more states to his name is the Northern Cardinal. They are, of course, fierce rivals over this issue.

{Etymology Corner} The Western and Eastern Meadowlark are so similar that the Western version remained an unidentified species until John James Audubon himself named them. He called them Sturnella neglecta because they had been ignored for so long. The main way to tell the two bird species apart, by the way, is their significantly different songs. So good luck with that if you live in the middle of the country, where their ranges do overlap.

~true bird fact~ Western Meadowlarks have unusually strong bill-opening muscles. This facilitates their number one method of feeding, which is sticking their bill into soil or bark or whatever, and prying it open to get at the insects and stuff within. This method of feeding is named, unfortunately, gaping.

A little rude to strangers
Confident and willing to lend expertise
Has a need for love and attention that can never really be filled
Has mantras that he often repeats

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Et Tu Birdte? The Birds of March

Julius Caesar. Jesus Christ. Han Solo. All the subjects of famous betrayals. You know who else has been betrayed? These birds! Behold their tales of woe, dear reader, and take heed.

Northern Mockingbird's right hand man coveted his leadership position at Chemco, thinking he was the better bird for the job. He shoved Northern Mockingbird into a big open vat of chemicals at their evil chemical factory, which you think wouldn't work great because birds can fly. However, Northern Mockingbird was holding two doughnuts (one in each wing), and therefor was unable to get those wings moving in time. He was left for dead, but actually the chemicals gave him super powers, so he'll probably get revenge at some point.

Black Phoebe was not at fault for his downfall. He was pushed into a position of fame and prominence early in his life by his parents, who both had dreams of success that they hadn't achieved. After some early successful turns in commercials and TV shows, he got a major role in a movie that became a true genre classic. Black Phoebe missed a lot of school and normal social engagements to do this. He got exposed to some pretty messed up stuff early too, making it hard for him to transition into normal adulthood. His parents ended up embezzling all of the money he earned as an actor. He went through a rough patch, but seems to be getting some promising roles in indies now, and he's cleaned up his act.

California Scrub Jay was supposed to be a voice of his generation. His fiery speeches were compelling and convincing. He had a way of communicating that cut through typical political lines, speaking clearly both to the common man, and to the more idealistic types. Unfortunately, he kept getting caught sending inappropriate pictures, and in the mail, which made it even weirder. He survived a few scandals, but eventually retreated from the public eye. Years later, seeing what people are now willing to accept from their political leaders, he wonders why things turned out this way for him. In the end, he betrayed himself by believing that he could not fall in this way.

Anna's Hummingbird was talked into an adjustable rate mortgage when he didn't really have a stable enough income to cover it. Sure enough, times didn't stay green forever, and the house was repossessed, and financially he's never really recovered. The messed up part is that the shady realtor was his mother. Did she sabotage Anna's Hummingbird on purpose? Or was it a sub-conscious lashing-out as a result of their constant disagreements about the lifestyle choices he made? Either way, she knew about the risks and convinced him to go into it anyway. Anna's Hummingbird's credit score is still really bad. What a messed up thing to do.

Thursday, March 9, 2017


Bushtit aka. American Bushtit
Lands End, San Francisco, California, USA
February 2017
Member of the Bushtit Family
There is §No Official Name for a Flock of Bushtits§

~true bird fact~ An extremely distinctive nester, Bushtits weave a sack/sock like structure with an opening at the top that hangs down of the branch of a tree. This thing is made of moss and spidersilk and lined with feather (how alchemical). It's already not a common nest structure (it's called a Pendant Nest, btw), but what makes it even odder is that other adult birds outside of the mating pair help build it, often males, which is nearly unheard of. Family groups all sleep in the nest together until the young are ready to fly. It all sounds extremely cute.

Highly active and dynamic
Definitely friendly, but a bit humorless
Bold for her small size
Doesn't have the time or inclination to deal with a lot of bullshit (so so close to being able to say 'you can't spell bullshit without bushtit...)

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Greater White-fronted Goose

Greater White-fronted Goose aka. White-fronted Goose (regional) aka. Greater Whitefront aka. Specklebelly (colloq.)
Wetland's Edge Park, American Canyon, California, USA
January 2017
Member of the Duck, Goose, and Swan Family
§A Chevron of Geese§

~true bird fact~ Like many geese, whitefronts have unusually strong familial bonds within the bird world. Not only do couples stay together, but children will often migrate and form lasting relationships with their parents. Goose siblings even continue to interact with one another throughout their lives. This is kind of a tangent, but why are we so quick to point out and assign value to animals showing monogamous behavior? This is listed as a fun fact on so many birds. Seems like we might be projecting..

~also of note~ The Greater White-fronted Goose wikipedia page contains one of the more egregious examples of someone editing themselves onto wikipedia that I've personally encountered. Check out the section entitled 'Backtracking Technique" near the bottom for a passage about Micha Horacek's Goose tracking technique that definitely, definitely was written by Micha Horacek. Or more likely, copy-pasted from his research paper.

Smokes a pipe
Resentful of being seen as 'part of the flock'
A creature of habit. Always orders the same thing at restaurants.
Hides a dark suburban secret