Friday psittacine blogging

Forgot to post this earlier.

Friday featherblogging


Because of their innate foraging capabilities, parrots are fascinated by texture changes, imperfections, holes, knots, bumps, etc.  All such things must be closely examined with the beak and/or tongue.  The seam in this denim shirt could possibly be exploited to yield fruit or a nut, or at the very least, some buttons to destroy.

Friday psittacine blogging: shadows and light


GBBC. Get outside and make a difference

Valentines, shmalentines! Do something that really matters – take part in the upcoming Great Backyard Bird Count, sponsored by Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society.

The count dates are February 15–18, as in this upcoming Friday through Monday.

Anybody can do it. You don’t have to be an expert, you can do it by yourself or locate a group in your area to hang with, and it doesn’t have to to take much time — you only need a minimum of 15 minutes, and you can record your observations online.

Here are the hows and whens.


Why do it? What difference can you make anyway?

Bird populations are constantly changing. No single scientist or team of scientists could hope to keep track of the complicated patterns of movement of so many species over an entire continent. The information from GBBC participants even more valuable as scientists try to learn how birds are affected by environmental changes.

The information you send in can provide the first sign that individual species may be increasing or declining from year to year. It shows how a species’ range expands or shrinks over time. A big change, noted consistently over a period of years, is an indication that something is happening in the environment that is affecting the birds and that should be followed up on. GBBC information also allows us to look at what kinds of birds inhabit different areas, such as cities versus suburban.

All the information from the GBBC and other surveys goes into a massive bird database called the Avian Knowledge Network. AKN now holds 36 million records of bird observations which are used by scientists around the world.

It’s been my experience and observation that a lot of us liberals talk a big line about science and the environment but too often, we don’t put our asses where our mouths are, even when something as easy and as important as this presents itself.

Now, go outside!

Friday multi-species household blogging

Cat outside meowing, CHECK

2nd cat, inside, meowing, CHECK

Dog glurping from nearby water bowl, CHECK

Dog snuffling wet nose in my face, CHECK

Parrot loudly riffing, CHECK

More dog glurping, CHECK.   Mmmmm, water

I love how Alfie can see me, but goes to the other door as if there’s someone he’s never met that just might live here and will let him in, since I’ve obviously lost my mind

I can’t believe

There was no love for the roadrunner.

I know the photo wasn’t that great but damn, that’s an amazing creature.

Geococcyx californianus, aka Badass!

It’s a difficult, and ultimately pointless, exercise to pick a favorite from the local avian wildlife but I will say I’m awfully fond of the roadrunner. Look at him! Isn’t he a magnificent creature?

As some of you may know, roadrunners are in the cuckoo family. The Peterson’s entry begins thusly:

The cuckoo that runs (tracks show two toes forward, two backward). Unique; slender, heavily streaked, with a long maneuverable, white-tipped tail, shaggy crest, strong legs.

Even though the photo leaves something to be desired, it’s the best I’ve yet achieved, after many failed attempts to get a good shot of one of these guys. Of course it would help if I had a better camera with a longer lens. I stalked this guy on foot for quite a while. He flew up into trees and skipped around and hid behind cactus, peeking out to see if I’d left yet. After a while, he ran off, I got back in my car and drove down the road, then doubled back and caught him returning to the spot he’d been in when I interrupted him.

I’m waiting for my ACME telephoto lens and birdseed to arrive any day now and when it does, watch out!

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Caracara cheriway, just past the Onion Creek low-water crossing on Highway 150 near Driftwood.

My first Summer Tanager


Not a great photo but the best of what I managed after I realized “Whoah. That’s not a cardinal” and before he flew away. These little dandies summer up here and winter in Central and South America.  Interesting: Summer Tanagers are the only entirely red bird in North America. Taken at  Freeman Ranch.

Sunday buzzard blogging

Coragyps atratus, aka Black Vulture. Black vultures, along with the red-headed Turkey Vultures, make up the ”buzzard” collective around these parts. To say they are plentiful is an understatement; they are in fact, legion, and it’s not uncommon to hear people complain about them. Not me: buzzard job #1 is eating dead things, primarily roadkill. My daily commute is up and down a torturous, hilly ranch road and I see these guys at work every day. They do an excellent job and thank goodness they’re here. One local cafe uses the buzzard as its logo- I really want one of those coffee cups.

The meal du jour on this occasion was a recently deceased armadillo.