Flicker in the snow
Notice the curved culmens of these house finches; purple finches have straight culmens.
When an ice storm hits, the birds abound. Yesterday’s ice storm brought them in droves. Highlights were Pine Siskins, a Pine Warbler, and a Red-breasted Merganser. The feeders were a flurry of feathers.
2012 was my third full year of birding and I sure did enjoy it. I’m still a novice who thinks he knows more than he actually does, but the enthusiasm is real, although a bit more seasoned now.
In 2012, I submitted 256 eBird checklists, 239 of those in the state of North Carolina (the twentieth highest number in the state). I tallied 219 bird species with 201 NC species. Needless to say, I don’t get out of my hometown very much, but I do get out 🙂
All in all, it was a good year filled with lots of bird adventures with some mighty fine company.
I ended the year with a flurry of Christmas Bird Counts, two local events and two coastal ones.
I began the New Year with a productive trip to the Wilmington area where I got 3 life birds: Selaphorus hummingbird, Long-tailed Duck, and Razorbill. I didn’t take any photos but one of my cohorts on the trip, Michael Fulbright, snapped some real beauties. You can check them out here:
Happy New Year & happy birding, too!
The beaver is an engineer and architect. He dams up creeks to make ponds. Then come fish, turtles, and birds. Sometimes, man comes, too. He learns that beavers detect flow and continue their damming behavior in the presence of flow. Too keep flooding in check, and preserve serenity of beaver pond, man devises Flow Control Device. This paper describes the device and shows a diagram on the 2nd page:
At Bond Park, the beaver pond has been temporarily drained to install the flow control. Nature incurs a temporary wound but in time, the beaver will fill in the breach. The pond will refill. The fish will return. The birds will come back. The birder will be happy again.
This year the Purple Finches have irrupted south of their normal wintering grounds and I am beginning to see them more frequently. I saw 4 of them this morning at the beaver pond at Bond Park. Back home, I saw more at one of my bird baths. As a neophyte birder, I still have to pause, consider, and consult to ensure that my ID is correct. That’s not a bad thing either. It’s better to be sure and always open to learning. Enjoy these pics:
Thierry, Jen, Michael, and I enjoyed some cozy vehicular birding in my Honda Fit, and even with three scopes, four binoculars, four cameras, and four lunch bags, the birding and comradery, along with the weather, was exemplary! Depending on which of us is counting, we tallied a species list of approximately 65 birds. A few of my meager photos and a bird list are here:
Bird List (partial):
American Black Duck
Redhead – 5
Green-winged Teal (seen by Thierry, in flight)
Lesser Scaup – 1
Hooded Merganser – 4
Anhinga – 1
American White Pelican – 4 flyover
American Bittern – 3
Black-Crowned Night Heron – 8
White Ibis – 12
Osprey – 1
Northern Harrier – 3
American Coot – gazillions
Greater Yellowlegs – 1 flyover
Dunlin – 2
Great Black-backed Gull – 11
Caspian Tern – 23
Forster’s Tern – 12
Tree Swallow – lots
Marsh Wren – seen by Jen, Thierry
Kinglets – both species
Orange-crowned Warbler – 2
Palm Warbler – 4
Black-and-White Warbler – 1
Common Yellowthroat – 2
Yellow-rumped Warbler – 12
Red-winged Blackbird – lots
Common Gallinule – 2
I did a little study on bird bills today. Seems that Mother Nature has the perfect design for every bill. The monstrous seed-cracking bill of the Northern Cardinal enables the bird to open and consume seeds much faster than the bill of a Tufted Titmouse or a Carolina Chickadee. Those tiny birds usually do not dine in; they prefer take-out: dashing in quickly, grabbing a seed, and running for cover. In the safety of a nearby bush, they position the seed with their feet and hammer it open with their pointed bills.
The Northern Cardinal’s bill is an amazing study in the optimal structure for seed cracking. The conical bill features jagged edges, one near the base of the bill, and one closer to the tip. These proud points along the bill’s edges provide the strategic advantage needed to eat about 3 times as fast as a titmouse or chickadee. I’ve seen many a bird bander wince or howl when a cardinal clamps its bill on a delicate finger. Once, I witnessed a cardinal that would not let go and was hanging upside down from the bander’s bleeding hand. I’d rather hold a chickadee!