Thursday, February 14, 2008

Commoners


It is very easy to take common birds - the ones you see daily - for granted. Despite being common, these birds are extremely interesting to observe. Many common species are in fact very cool-looking, but we see them on such a regular basis that we seem to forget how stunning these birds really are.

One of my favorite species is the Say's Phoebe. I like the way the muted grays, browns, and salmon-pink colors blend together. It is fun to watch them hover and dart for insects and their whistled calls are delightful as well. Normally they keep to open fields, but there are a couple that live in the neighborhood. I took my scope and camera out in the neighborhood this afternoon and found this one perched atop of post at the end of my street. This one was very tolerant of me (usually they are a bit skittish), so I was able to stalk right up to it for photos. Here's a profile shot:

Later in the afternoon, I again went out to try to get more photos of it in better light. It was nowhere to be seen. I jogged up to the neighborhood lake with light starting to fade to see if there were any photogenic birds around. Sure enough, three Double-crested Cormorants were lined up on the edge of the lake like statues. By stalking at an agonizingly slow pace, I got close enough to get head shots. I love those turquoise eyes!

Yesterday, I helped out with the MoSI bird banding at Starr Ranch. We set a new MoSI record - fewest individuals caught and fewest species caught. We banded five new birds, recaptured three, and released two unbanded. The species and numbers are as follows: Hermit Thrush, 7 (four banded and three recaptured); Fox Sparrow, one; Anna's Hummingbird, one released unbanded; and Spotted Towhee, one released unbanded. Dismal. It was still a fun day though - there were Band-tailed Pigeons flying around and vocalizing, and I heard a Rufous-crowned Sparrow. The Spotted Towhee that we caught had bumblefoot (a disgusting warty growth on the feet and legs), which prevented us from banding it. I did snap a couple shots before releasing it.

1 comment:

Parus said...

Banding at Starr ranch.... you lucky. I was on their website the other day.... If WI had even half the programs that they have, we'd be a heck of a lot better off in our eco/bio programs. I was astonished to see that many of the programs were set up purely for volunteers to get involved. Here in WI, you have to be a grad student to get anything even close to what they have out there. Jeez, you're lucky to live out there.....