Archive for the ‘Bird Nests’ Category

Birds in his beard…

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Birds of St. James’s Park, London

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Bahama Pintail
Bar-headed Goose
Blackcap
Black-headed Gull
Black Swan

Canada Goose
Common Merganser
Coot
Cormorant
Carrion Crow

Dunnock

Eastern White Pelican
Egyptian Goose
European Teal

Fulvous Whistling Duck

Gray Heron
Goldcrests (tiny!)

Hooded Merganser
(male & female)

Magpie
Mallard duck
Moorhen
Mute swans

Pigeons
Pochard

Red-Breasted goose (branta ruficollis)
Red-Crested Pochard
Ring-Necked Parakeet
Robin (English)
Rock Dove
Ross’s Goose
Ruddy Shelduck

Shelducks
Smew
Stock Dove

Tufted Duck
Woodpigeon

+ a Bahama Pintail / Gadwall? hybrid and
a blue-headed Mallard!

… and what looked like water pipits
(tho’ supposedly they are only winter visitors)

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Two Mockingbirds and a Merlin (female) at Amber Ridge in the Morning

This morning, I was walking around Amber Ridge when I heard raucous bird calls. As I drew closer to the source of the sound, I saw that it was being made by two mockingbirds. They were squawking and flying up in the air and then back into their tall, green tree. I drew close to the tree, to find out what was irritating them, and saw a placid Merlin (female) perched on a high branch whom they were trying to scare off. The Merlin’s banded tail and distinct, brown chest streaking, facial patterning, and size (11-12″ apx) and wingspan (shorter than a larger hawk) made the ID.

June seems late for a nesting pair of mockingbirds, and the Merlin (Merlin columbarius) is supposedly here in SoCal mainly between mid-October and March. Yet here was this drama unfolding at the top of the tree:  plain as day. Although the mockingbirds were not initially successful, my interest in the Merlin, demonstrated by a curious stare as I drew closer, prompted the small raptor to take flight … and the two mockingbirds chased it across the sky!

 

loud, shrill mockingbirds

defending a tall, green tree

the Merlin takes flight!

jb

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Male and Female Merlin

p.s. The drama was re-enacted again this morning, Sunday, 7/16/2019. This time, when the mockingbirds chased off the Merlin, she let out an almost four-second long series of 10-12 sharp chips as she flew. Her banded tail spread was spread out in flight and clearly visible. A striking combination of sight and sound! So the ID of the Merlin was confirmed again today.

Birds at Omi’s House

Omi's Birds

Ceramic Birds Nests by Gail Ritchie

Gail Ritchie

I saw these ceramic pieces by artist Gail Ritchie the John Natsoulas Gallery’s 31st Annual Ceramic Sculpture Exhibit on Thursday night.

Their delicate beauty stays with me.

Birds Can Smell

gabriellenevittFor a long time, scientists believed that birds could not smell. However, Dr. Gabrielle Nevitt conclusively proves otherwise in her research.

My specialty is olfaction – the sense of smell – and much of my research has focused on exploring how marine birds and fishes use smell in the natural environment. I have worked in areas ranging from olfactory homing in salmon, to olfactory foraging, navigation and individual recognition in birds, and in particular, petrels and albatrosses … 2016_lsh_nevittWhile most of my work has focused on the procellariiforms, I am broadly interested in the sense of smell in birds. Birds use chemical cues for a variety of behaviors, but olfaction and taste are largely ignored in behaviors from foraging to communication and sexual selection. nevittgabrielle179We were among the first groups to show odor-mediated individual recognition in birds. Long-lived Antarctic prions recognize the odor of their mates (Bonadonna and Nevitt 2004, Science) and leach’s storm-petrel chicks can recognize the individual odor signature of their nest (O’Dwyer et al. 2008). In collaboration with Henri Weimerskirch of CNRS / France, we were the first to apply high-resolution tracking to investigate the sensory basis for foraging in albatrosses. Our work shows that wandering albatross hunt by smell and can detect prey from kilometers away. (Nevitt et al. 2008, PNAS, Cover story).


BIRDS CAN SMELL
by Nancy Averett

Yet changing long-held beliefs takes time, and the scientific community is no exception. Dozens of Nevitt’s grant proposals have been rejected because of the birds-can’t-smell fallacy. A program officer once called to say her application was the worst he’d ever seen. “Your idea that birds can smell is ridiculous,”he said. “This will never be funded, so stop wasting your time.” She ignored him, and her perseverance and inventive methods have inspired others who share her fascination … Nevitt, Hagelin, and other avian olfaction trailblazers have pushed past criticism, failure, and even bodily injury in their quest to disprove one of biology’s most pervasive myths. “In science,” says Nevitt, “we rediscover the obvious sometimes.”

For more, see:

http://www.audubon.org/magazine/january-february-2014/birds-can-smell-and-one-scientist

Nesting Instincts

 

National Geographic

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