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Sun Mar 22, 2015 at 06:00 AM PDT

Dawn Chorus: Open Thread

by Kestrel

Spring has now officially arrived and many of us are seeing the first signs of the new season upon us with bird activity in our areas. I had my first real hummingbird activity kick off on St. Patrick's Day with a couple of Anna's darting around at my feeders. How about you? Any signs of spring activity among the birds in your neighborhood?

This is an open thread, so share your sightings and photos and let's see what spring has in store for us all.

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Sun Feb 22, 2015 at 05:59 AM PST

Dawn Chorus: Open Thread

by Kestrel

There is no topical diary scheduled this morning so we'll make this an open thread. If you want to sign up for a diary, please do so in the thread and matching mole or I will acknowledge. What's new in your birding world?

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Black Noddy? Taiga Bean Goose? Yellow-faced Grassquit?

No, these aren't the names of the latest rock bands coming to you on Spotify, though it would be easy to be confused about that.

These are, in fact, bird names. Yes, there really is a Taiga Bean Goose. And a Tundra Bean Goose, too. Just in case you're not sure which bean goose you're looking at.

I've long been fascinated by bird names, some of which are downright goofy (see poll). Does the goose in question eat beans? Is it shaped like a bean? Does it live in bean fields? (Wikipedia says the name derives from its habit of grazing in bean field stubbles. But hey ... Wikipedia.)

Here's the Taiga Bean Goose. (Googled image; all other photos mine unless otherwise specified.)

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I wish I had the answers for all the various bird names, but I don't. Fortunately, some names of bird species are easier to understand because their names are associated with an obvious characteristic (Red-winged Blackbird) or the name of a person somehow responsible for its discovery or naming (Mr. Swainson of Swainson's Thrush or Swainson's Hawk fame).

Most common of all among bird names are their associated colors and other visible characteristics. That makes sense, even when some of the other bird names leave you scratching your head. There are names for just about every color in the rainbow if you think about it. I have and I'm sharing some of them here.

Feel free to play this colorful game by sharing your own examples in the comments.

Greater Yellowlegs. No complaint here. It is what it is, though I wish the photo showed more of its long, bright yellow legs here covered by water. But a good name. An A+.

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Yellow-rumped Warbler. Another perfectly named bird. It's even bending over a bit to show you why its name fits so well. Another A+.

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Red-winged Blackbird. A trifecta! How could there be a better name? A+ for sure.

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Green Heron. Playing a little fast and loose here, oh bird namers. Green Herons are one of the most complex-colored birds around. They have very little green anytime of the year, adult or juvenile, breeding or non-breeding. They are greenish on their heads, but this bird is much more bluish and gray, rust and brownish, white and just about everything else -- except green. I think a better name would have been Blue-Gray Reddish Streaked-breasted Heron. Green Heron gets a C+ from me.

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Poll

The silliest, goofiest bird name from among all these actual real bird names is:

1%1 votes
17%10 votes
17%10 votes
3%2 votes
1%1 votes
1%1 votes
7%4 votes
10%6 votes
5%3 votes
5%3 votes
5%3 votes
21%12 votes

| 56 votes | Vote | Results

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Sun Aug 31, 2014 at 06:01 AM PDT

Dawn Chorus: An Unusual Visitor

by Kestrel

Back in June I shared a Dawn Chorus diary about an egret rookery that was getting a lot of attention in Sacramento for two reasons. One, it was smack dab in the middle of a residential neighborhood, not the most likely place to find a boatload of egrets and herons. And two, there was one unusual visitor to this Northern California rookery that many of us had never seen before: a Little Blue Heron.

Please join me below the little orange dangdoodle for more on the Little Blue Heron.

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If you're not a birding enthusiast and just happened to click here to see what "white wonders" I'm talking about, please just scroll your way through the photos here to find out. The white wonders are egrets, elegant birds that dazzle with their acrobatics, their wide wingspans and flight, and their communal nesting that rocks at this time of the year as the chicks mature and put on shows for us mere mortals.

Check out these young'uns happy to show you what I'm talking about:

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These young birds are Snowy Egrets and they are growing up fast, still fighting each other in the nest for premium spots and screaming like banshees to be fed. They show off in many photos below.

Join me below the curly orange worm about to be regurgitated from an adult Snowy Egret into the grateful maws of awaiting young chicks to see more.

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Okay, so that's not a photo of a blackbird (it's a crow) and it's not singing in the dead of night (but in the daylight,) but it introduces my topic -- blackbirds -- so I used it. So sue me. Besides, I don't think Paul McCartney meant a specific blackbird in that song. Who knows?

But I do have a specific blackbird in mind for this edition of Dawn Chorus. I'm talking about the awesome and vocal bad-ass, the Red-winged Blackbird, one of the most abundant birds in the world.

A few looks:

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Sun Apr 27, 2014 at 06:37 AM PDT

Dawn Chorus: Open Thread Edition

by Kestrel

Goodness, it appears that whoever had Dawn Chorus duty this fine Sunday morning has overslept or forgotten his or her turn. Until the scheduled diarist comes along, let's use this as an open thread about what's happening in your birding world or anything else you feel like sharing.

This Western Meadowlark is announcing to all that Dawn Chorus is open for business!

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Sun Jan 12, 2014 at 06:03 AM PST

Dawn Chorus: Food, Glorious Food

by Kestrel

What do birds eat?

Back in 2012, I wrote a Dawn Chorus diary on birds' beaks and bills (http://www.dailykos.com/...) and how they evolved to help birds pursue their food sources.

Today, I thought I'd flip that around a bit and look at the food that birds eat with that variety of beaks and bills.

Let's take a look at a nice photo of a bird with a bit of food and then join me below the tangled orange spider nest bird feeder to consider this topic some more.

A Cedar Waxwing with a tasty berry

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Sat Nov 30, 2013 at 07:47 AM PST

14-year-old Girl Shoe Advice

by Kestrel

Do you have a 14-year-old girl? Do you have a clue about what kinds of shoes she likes?

I drew a gift tag in my office building's multi-tenant effort to provide holiday gifts for those in need. The tag I got is for shoes for a 14-year-old girl and I'm clueless. I don't have kids and certainly don't have any sense whatsoever what a 14-year-old girl might like. Flats? Heels? Something flashy or something plain? I hate to go at this blind because I'd like to find something that said girl might actually wear. I'm afraid that on my own I'll get something the unknown girl will recoil from.

Any advice or ideas? Feel free to share. If you have a 14-year-old girl, maybe she'd take a look at the offerings on Zappo's and add a link or two or three of things she likes in reply to this? I definitely can use any help I get here. Thanks!

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No deep thoughts to share this morning, just a bit of fun. I hope all of you with photos to share will join in and add other examples within the alphabet theme. A simple concept, it's funny I've never thought of it before. I'm a bit surprised that I have something for every letter (except X) among my personal photos. Of course, I did need to use scientific names for U and Z, but otherwise I had much to choose from. Please add your own!

A is for Avocet

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B is for Blackbird

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C is for Cormorant

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D is for Dipper

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Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 08:13 AM PST

Cascading Misery

by Kestrel

I cannot imagine what it must be like to be Barack Obama right now. I feel sorry for him.

His legacy and his signature achievement is being eroded every day, both by partisan hacks who are actively trying to destroy him, but also now by people who see ineptitude (the ACA rollout) and feel betrayed ("If you like your insurance plan, you can keep it.")

Just when I was feeling hopeful watching the Cruz Carnival take the GOP to the cliff's edge, we get this, a self-inflicted wound of such enormity that it threatens Obama's entire Presidency and endangers Dems everywhere.

I am so depressed.

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It seems to me that autumn always tries to tiptoe in. A little less light in the morning when the alarm goes off. Twilight starts to creep in a bit earlier each afternoon. And then it seems like all of a sudden, fall has arrived. Wasn't I wearing shorts and sandals just last week? Now it's chilly enough at daybreak to need long sleeves.

The internal clocks of birds are  vastly more fine tuned than those of us lowly humans. And their clocks are telling them it's time to move on. Migration has begun.

One of fall's first visitors, a White-crowned Sparrow

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I hope you got to read the fantastic diary on migration that lineatus offered here Sunday before last. If not, go back and read it here and continue on into the comment thread where she ended up posting most of the diary since she was in a remote location and posting via phone. http://bit.ly/...

As she notes, migration is very much motivated by food and sex. Finding both explains why some birds move from one place to another and why others find they don't need to, depending on their location and habitat.

I thought I'd use today's diary to share photos of some birds we are already starting to see or can expect to see showing up in the weeks ahead. Please add your own and/or tell us which birds you hope to see soon in your neck of the woods -- and please tell us where you are. I'm in the West in Sacramento, CA and I saw my FOS (first of season) White-crowned Sparrow this morning.

I also want to share this very cool link to the ebird.org Regional Migration Forecast. http://birdcast.info/... This is a weekly forecast that shows you up-to-date movements in almost-real time (I think using Doppler radar, though I'm not certain of that).

Please enjoy and share!

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