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The Birdie Thread.

A place to come and chat about anything remotely Discworld, or just the weather.

Re: The Birdie Thread.

Postby phalarope » Fri Sep 08, 2017 10:53 pm

Side trip birding in southern Louisiana and swamps east of New Orleans before NADWCon added 5 life species to my list. Huzzah! :bounce: :bounce: :bounce: 2 are regional specialties: red-cockaded woodpecker :bounce: :bounce: :bounce: (endangered) and reddish egret, and the other 3 (black-bellied whistling duck, inca dove, Wilson's plover) are rare or vagrant in Maryland where I do most of my birding these days. Managed to digiscope the egret - pics later when I've gotten them out of the camera. So very pleased, I am. And should be. But I'm still 5 short of the 500 club in the USA, sigh.
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Re: The Birdie Thread.

Postby phalarope » Sat Nov 25, 2017 09:44 pm

Posted elsewhere of the addition of Fork-tailed Flycatcher to my lifelist the day after Thanksgiving (things to give thanks for - birds and the beauty they bring to the world). Today I added Grey Kingbird to my Maryland list. Marching inexorably to 800 and 350, respectively. Two hours away Harris Sparrow and Shiny Cowbird call. Mate doesn't want to make the drive (and the places the birds are, are not pleasant places to be once you get there... :roll: ) Conundrum.
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Re: The Birdie Thread.

Postby Nonny Mouse » Fri Dec 08, 2017 01:43 am

Weird thing today. We have a cold front in with some unusual winds. So I'm driving in to work and there are these massive flocks of birds swooping all over, so close to the cars on the freeway that for a few miles it was like having an escort. They were all around. Later I saw them on the telephone wires, so many they completely covered it for a few blocks.

The thing is, because I was driving I didn't get a good look at what they were. They seemed black and bigger than little songbirds but smaller than grackles. I think they were chasing insects, but it was so cool and unusual.
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Re: The Birdie Thread.

Postby Grace Speaker » Fri Dec 08, 2017 11:23 am

Nonny Mouse wrote:Weird thing today. We have a cold front in with some unusual winds. So I'm driving in to work and there are these massive flocks of birds swooping all over, so close to the cars on the freeway that for a few miles it was like having an escort. They were all around. Later I saw them on the telephone wires, so many they completely covered it for a few blocks.

The thing is, because I was driving I didn't get a good look at what they were. They seemed black and bigger than little songbirds but smaller than grackles. I think they were chasing insects, but it was so cool and unusual.
Murmurations of starlings, maybe?
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Re: The Birdie Thread.

Postby phalarope » Fri Dec 08, 2017 10:36 pm

Starlings. Certainly starlings.
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Re: The Birdie Thread.

Postby Sandra » Sat Dec 09, 2017 04:21 pm

They do look odd to those who are not used to them, even here (where they are native) people are surprised the little garden bird acts so differently in winter when they flock in thousands.
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Re: The Birdie Thread.

Postby phalarope » Sat Dec 09, 2017 05:40 pm

Starlings are unfortunately abundantly common here, and are pests. It was wonderful to see them in the UK where they belong, and sad to know their population is struggling there. My dad called them 'grackles' when I was a child and spent a lot of energy trying to keep them out of the purple martin house (including peppering the martin house with buckshot :roll: ). Imagine my confusion when I began birding in my teens and found out that grackles are native, and don't look like starlings at all - except for being black.
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Re: The Birdie Thread.

Postby Sandra » Sat Dec 09, 2017 07:07 pm

There's a lack of names for black birds - the US blackbird looks like a corvid (I'm not sure though) while ours are basically black thrushes.

I think we see so much of the starlings when breeding as a garden bird with it's peacocks colours iridescence and little gold flecks that we forget they're basically little black birds.
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Re: The Birdie Thread.

Postby phalarope » Sat Dec 09, 2017 08:14 pm

US blackbirds are Icterids (related to orioles), although the avian taxonomy has just been re-done, Om help us. There are 5 species with "blackbird" in the name, only 2 which are entirely black (Brewer's blackbird and rusty blackbird - I know :roll: - the latter are only black in breeding plumage); the others have brightly colored markings somewhere (at least the adult males do). It was fun seeing my first UK blackbirds - whoa! black American robins! :lol: :lol: Except for the jays (lots), magpie, and nutcracker, the rest of our corvids (4 crows and 2 ravens) are all black, and told apart mainly by geography.
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Re: The Birdie Thread.

Postby Nonny Mouse » Sun Dec 10, 2017 04:31 pm

Starlings makes sense, we don't see them a lot but we do have them. This flocking does only happen in winter. I love how they swoop. Thanks for the identification!

We also have red-winged blackbirds but not generally in the city and not so many.
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Re: The Birdie Thread.

Postby phalarope » Sun Dec 24, 2017 07:06 pm

phalarope wrote: Two hours away Harris Sparrow and Shiny Cowbird call.
Got the cowbird first Saturday in December. :D :D It's always fun trying to explain the lure of a black bird that superficially looks like 4 other black birds to non-birders in the neighborhood.

Didn't try for the sparrow because of time constraints. Finally tried for the sparrow last weekend, because an extremely rare duck (king eider) showed up on a reservoir sort of in the same area. Duck didn't hang around, and I missed the Harris sparrow by about 300 feet (after a mile walk from the parking area to the the area that it frequents), after standing around for an hour and looking at about a million song sparrows (cute and great to see in an urban park, but not what I was there for). Dodgy area for a woman alone, and the weather was starting to get threatening so I bagged it. Got home and found that another birder had located the wretched thing earlier in the day at the entrance to the trail. :roll:

However, today there is a male yellow-bellied sapsucker frequenting our birdbath in the back yard. VERY cool. :bounce:
Cheers -
Carol (phalarope)
'The world is full of signals that we don't perceive.' -- Stephen Jay Gould, (1941-2002) paleontologist, evolutionary biologist, science historian

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Re: The Birdie Thread.

Postby Sandra » Sun Dec 24, 2017 11:37 pm

We did have all that fun not far from where we now live this summer.

I was invited to dinner at a remote country pub - to get there we had to pass the quarry the flycatchers were breeding at. The number of cars was amazing. I know that the working quarry was being very clear that the public would be arrested if they got into the active quarry.

We're quite lucky our corvids are pretty distinct from each other - even our second crow (hooded crow) is mainly slate grey.
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Re: The Birdie Thread.

Postby Nonny Mouse » Tue Dec 26, 2017 03:02 am

Nature gave me a holiday gift two days ago. There was raven cawing outside, and when I went to see if I could find it, it was hanging out on our chimney! We don't often get ravens in the neighborhood, and they're my favorite bird, so I was tickled. :D
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Re: The Birdie Thread.

Postby chrisboote » Wed Dec 27, 2017 08:32 am

Went to South Africa for Xmas
(none of these are my photos because I didn't take any)
Saw my first ever malachite sunbird
Image
Plus lots of assorted bright colour birdies, dozens of different Weaver species, lots of Shrikes, including my personal favourite, (as they are so bold as to be practically tame) the Bokmakarie Shrike, which took bacon rind from my hand, then flew off to an Acacia to stick it on a thorn and peck at it for ages
Image
Also had a long-tailed widowbird, very rare in that part of the country
Image
But best of all was a pair of Goliath Herons, about 3m from the car
Image
Again, very rare to see even one of these, so two was lovely
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Re: The Birdie Thread.

Postby Grace Speaker » Wed Dec 27, 2017 12:25 pm

You lucky things - those birdies are lovely :D

I was lucky enough to have some long-tailed tits in the garden yesterday - not as colourful as your birds in SA, but they are the cutest little balls of fluff and it's always a privilege when they visit, bless 'em
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