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.