So, I’m trying to get back into the habit of both creating new content and ‘increasing’ the different sections of the blog (i.e. adding more photography pages, travel pages/ideas, and soon small and large articles). Though currently the two sections that are going to be ‘increased’ first are the photography and travel sections.
The reason(s): 1) I have numerous pictures on different birds (and/or other creatures/natural sites), and places I’ve visited that I’d like to share, and 2) the amount of ‘research’, writing, and editing needed for each ‘page’ is in the ballpark of only a few hours (per page).
I will be adding to the other ‘landing’ pages throughout the year, in addition to having constantly occurring blog series—but these will be the posts (especially the larger ‘portfolio’ pieces) that will take longer—because of 1) the amount of research I will be needing to do; 2) determining the best starting/stopping points for each blog series; and 3) finding/creating the graphics needed for each of them.
Therefore, if you head over to the birding/photography section, you will notice a new page under the ducks, swans, and geese section: the canvasback.
As I mentioned on the canvasback’s page–this is a winter visitor to Oklahoma, and can be spotted on various lakes throughout the state.
I’m lucky enough to live within walking distance to Boomer Lake, and have managed to spot these guys a couple of times this winter–though these are the best pictures for being able to correctly ‘identify’ them as canvasbacks and not redheads.
Did you know that out of the ducks, swans, and geese family there are 28 members that can be spotted within Oklahoma at some point (migration, winter, breeding, year-round), with an additional 14 members that are ‘accidental’ residents?
Out of the 28 members, I’ve currently spotted seven throughout the years in Oklahoma (I’ve spotted others elsewhere in the US or abroad).
An additional goal (besides the two or three I listed on the canvasback page) is to try to get pictures of at least another seven to eight members of the family (which may mean going to other area lakes, such as Sanborn).
So there are two more duck pages live under the bird photography tab (specifically under the ‘water birds’ and then the ducks, swan, and geese family).
So, as I mentioned in several posts—I’m slowly trying to update/add to the site to account for wanting to move a little more into the three niches that I’d picked out for concentrating on for writing (personal/professional development, health/wellness, and science/medical writing/communications). One of the things I’ve been trying to do is ensure that there is a single line of tabs at the top of the page—and that if there is a drop down menu, all items are still visible on the screen.
The one section that will probably be ‘changing’ slightly as I work on this aspect is the combo birding/photography tab—mainly because of how many bird pages I have currently up.
Both of these birds are migratory and/or winter residents within Oklahoma.
I’ve only managed to spot the blue-winged teal as it makes its way north in the spring (I have yet managed to make it up to Boomer in the late summer to catch them as they are one of the first ducks to migrate south in the late summer/early fall).
The northern shovelers will both migrate through the state, and a few of them will even winter around Boomer Lake—so I’ve managed to spot these guys several times in both the winter and early spring.
While the peak of fall migration has passed, there are still birds migrating south—hopefully I’ll be able to spot a few other species over the next few weeks (especially if I can manage to get up to the lake just as the sun is coming up).
What is your favorite fall migratory bird to spot?
Another bird page is live under the birding tab–the Australian budgerigar, or as it is known within United States as–the common parakeet.
When I started this project of creating individual pages for each bird I’ve managed to get a picture of in the ‘wild’–I never thought that I’d be considering the parks and streets of cities (such as Brighton MA or London UK) as ‘wild’.
But currently, that is exactly where I’ve spotted the two parakeets–the ringed neck parakeet (in a London park), and the budgerigar–‘walking’ around the corner park as I was walking my dog one afternoon. Since I didn’t see it later that afternoon, it either flew off or the owner was able to find it and take it home.
The budgerigars are native to Australia, but are a favorite in terms of captive birds raised for pets. They’re third on the list, behind dogs and cats.
I actually had one as a pet when I was younger—but my cat at the time managed to figure out how to open the cage and while he didn’t eat the parakeet he did injure it severely (hence why I don’t try to have cats, dogs, and birds at the same time).
With the budgerigar page published, that currently ‘wraps’ up the parrot and parakeet order in terms of birds spotted in the ‘wild’ and me having digital pictures of them. I do have a couple of pictures of a scarlet macaw from a trip to Honduras back in 2001—but those are actual physical pictures (I have to try to locate where the scanned pictures ended up).
Have you either seen a parrot/parakeet in the wild, or have you owned a budgerigar (and if so—what color)?
I’d finally managed to get pictures (and properly identify) of the red-tailed hawk this spring and summer.
While I’ve always heard their calls, I always had a hard time spotting them. This year, I managed to spot a couple of them soaring over Boomer Lake, and over the house (one nice thing about living close to a wooded area).
Their ‘red’ tails are harder to spot when they’re soaring above your head, as the tails only look ‘red’ from above (or when they’re perched), looking up at them—the tails are more of an off-white color with bars across the feathers.
The bufflehead, is the smallest diving duck in North America and graces Oklahoma with its presence during the winter months.
The mature males are easy to spot—they have a large white patch on the back of their heads, along with a white flank, and black wings (that when folded—give the appearance of a black back).
The females (and immature males) have a smaller white oval on their cheek, and are more drab in color (they lack the white flanks).
Since they’re diving ducks—once you spot them going under, keep an eye out as they will pop up somewhere nearby within thirty seconds or so.
One goal (hopefully for this fall) is to try to get up to Boomer Lake early enough in the day to spot different duck species that are going to be migrating through on their way to the warmer waters to the south.
As much as I’d love to get a picture of a bufflehead duckling, I’m not sure if I’ll be able to make a trip north to Alaska or Canada and wander around looking for a duck sticking its head out of a old flicker hole.
The Canada goose is a bird that probably needs little introduction, as it is a common waterfowl species throughout North America, and was introduced to the ‘Old World’ in the late 1600s.
The Canada goose is one of two waterfowl species that is present year-round at Boomer Lake (the other is the mallard—page coming soon), and can be spotted either out on the lake, along one of the many ‘fingers’ or wandering through the fields grazing on the grass. Also, depending on where you live in town, you may even see them crossing the street, snoozing in someone’s front yard, or grazing in said yard.
I actually was able to get a couple of walks in this spring, to where I was able to get some pictures of the latest group of goslings as well.
The tufted duck on the other hand, is a native to Eurasia—but has slowly made its way to North America (unlike the Canada goose—I don’t think anyone ‘introduced’ the tufted duck to over here). They can occasionally be spotted within the northeastern part of the continent (both within the US and Canada), but is considered somewhat common in western Alaska.
I managed to get a single picture of one when I was over in London several years ago, walking through Kensington Park on my way back to my hotel.
The only photography goal I can think of for the Canada goose is to see if I can get pictures of the different subspecies (currently that number sits at seven), while my photography goal for the tufted duck is to try to get a picture of one in North America, and then try to get a picture of one with a gosling swimming somewhere in Europe.
So another series of bird pages are live under the bird tab. I decided to go a head and get the order page (Psittaciformes) for parrots and their relatives, the family page (Psittaculidae) for one of the three ‘true parrot’ families, and the species page for the rose-ring (or ring-neck) parakeet completed and published.
Did you know that there are over 350 different species of parrots (and their allies), and a third of them (basically a little over 115 of them) are endangered or threatened? This is due to lost of habitat, illegal bird trade, and introduction of non-native predators.
I managed to get a single picture of a female (or immature male) rose-ring parakeet on my trip to London several years ago. Seeing a parakeet in the middle of London in early October was an odd sighting—but it turns out they’ve adapted to the country quite well.
London is just one of the cities that these parakeets have managed to adapt to, they can also be found in other large cities in Europe, and even within the US (they’ve formed colonies in California, Florida, and Hawaii).
A goal is to get a picture of a mature male (they’re the ones that have the colored ‘rings’ around their necks), and a picture of them in either Africa or India (their ‘natural territory’), plus possibly getting a picture of one within the US (I’d prefer to go back to Hawaii to try to find one, but might have to settle for California after we get the pandemic under control yet again).
Have you seen a rose-ring (or ring-neck) parakeet before, and if you did–was it in the wild or at a zoo?
Unless this is your first time visiting my blog (and then, hello and how do you do), one may realize that bird watching and photography are some favorite pastimes of mine. While creating the birding section of my blog and the various bird pages, I’ve come curious on the topic of ‘state’ birds.
Every state has an official ‘state’ bird and after seeing the list of birds, I decided to create a list of ‘fifty-one’ odd facts about the state birds. In addition, I also found about a dozen odd stats about them as well.
So to start off, here are the odd statistics on the ‘state’ birds:
There are over a thousand different species of birds within the United States, but only twenty-seven species, plus two types of chickens were chosen as state birds.
Ten states have both a state bird, plus another ‘official’ bird (game, waterfowl, raptor, or symbol of peace)
The state birds of nine states (plus the District of Columbia) are only present in the state (or area) from mid-spring to early/mid fall (breeding season)
Seven states have the northern cardinal as their state bird
Six states have the mockingbird as their state bird
Six states have the western meadowlark as their state bird–though it is a summer resident for three of those states
Two states have a chicken as their state bird
Three states have the goldfinch as their state bird
Three states have the American robin as their state bird
Two states have the eastern bluebird as their state bird
Two states have the mountain bluebird as their state bird (though it is a summer resident in one of those states.
Two states have the black-capped chickadee for their state bird
What I found ‘weird’ was that high frequency of the northern cardinal (14% of the states), mockingbird (12% of the states), and western meadowlark (12% of the states) being chosen for state birds. These three choices by nineteen states account for 38% of the ‘state birds’.
So, what are some weird/odd or amazing facts about the various state (or national) birds?
The national bird (the Bald Eagle) is no longer considered endangered or threatened (it is one of the biggest success stories of the Endangered Species Act). Though it is still protected at the state level in many states.
2. The District of Columbia has a ‘state bird’–the wood thrush.
3. The rough translation for the wood thrush’s scientific name (Hylochila mustelina) is ‘weasel-colored woodland thrush’
4. Male wood thrushes do more of the feeding of the chicks than the female; this allows her to start a second brood.
5. The first national wildlife refuge (Florida’s Pelican Island) was created in 1903 by Teddy Roosevelt to protect the brown pelican.
6. Besides being the state bird of Louisiana, the brown pelican is also the national bird of Saint Martin, Barbados, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and the Turks and Caicos Islands.
7. Northern flickers actually hunt for their food on the ground, with ants being a staple in their diet.
8. In addition to nesting in trees (like all other woodpeckers), northern flickers have also been know to use abandoned burros of belted kingfishers or bank swallows.
9. The willow ptarmigan is the only grouse in the world where the male regularly helps raise the young.
10. The willow ptarmigan is also a master of camouflage; they can be snowy white in the winter and a mix of reds and browns in the summer.
11. The cactus wren gets its liquids from the juicy insects and fruits it eats; therefore rarely relying on water.
12. Young California quail gain their gut microbiome by pecking at the feces of the adults.
13. California quail broods mix after hatching and all parents help care for the young
14. A male northern mockingbird can learn up to 200 songs during his lifetime.
15. While it is called the northern mockingbird, it is actually absent from many of the northern states.
16. Lark buntings are able to survive periods of drought by taking moisture from grasshoppers and other insects
17. Lark buntings are endemic sparrows to the grasslands and shrub steppes of North America.
18. The entire American robin population ‘turns over’ on average every six years, though many may live longer than that.
19. Did you know that robins can become intoxicated when they exclusively eat honeysuckle berries?
20. Brown thrashers have been known to imitate the songs of Chuck-will’s-widows, wood thrushes, and northern flickers
21. Brown thrashers are the largest common host for the ‘parasitic’ brown-headed cowbirds. Though they can tell the difference between their eggs and the cowbird eggs, and usually reject the cowbird eggs that had been laid in the nest.
22. The Nene evolved from the Canada goose, which probably arrived on the Hawaiian Islands roughly 500,000 years ago.
23. The Nene is the sixth-most endangered waterfowl species in the world.
24. There are Hawaiian geese (Nene) living in the Slimbridge Wetland Wildlife Reserve near Gloucestershire, England
25. Mountain bluebirds can hunt for insects either in flight or from perches
26. A male mountain bluebird with a high-quality nesting site is more likely to attract a mate than a more ‘attractive’ male with a low-quality nesting site.
27. Female northern cardinals are one of the few female songbirds that sing
28. Cardinals don’t molt into duller colors–the mature males stay bright red year-round.
29. Goldfinches are strict vegetarians, and the offspring of other birds who parasitize their nests (such as the brown-headed cowbirds) rarely survive more than a few days on the all-seed diet.
30. Meriweather Lewis, noted in 1805 the differences between the eastern and western meadowlarks
31. Male western meadowlarks usually have two mates at the same time, as the females do all the incubating, brooding, and most of the feeding of the young
32. Black-capped chickadees hide their food to eat later, placing individual items in different spots
33. Black-capped chickadees adapt to changes in their flocks and the environment every fall, by allowing neurons with ‘old information’ to die and replacing them with new neurons
34. Baltimore orioles are known to breed/hybridize extensively with Bullock’s orioles where their ranges overlap within the Great Plains
35. When migrating the common loon has been clocked at speeds greater than 70mph
36. Common loons are only present in a few states during the summer. Most of the US is actually within their migratory routes to the coasts, where they will spend the winters (and the young will stay for two years before heading back north).
37. Eastern bluebirds will typically have more than one brood per year
38. Purple finches have lost territory in the eastern US to the house finch
39. Roadrunners are able to eat venomous lizards, scorpions, and rattlesnakes.
40. Roadrunners may also be seen walking around with a snake protruding from its bill, swallowing a little at a time as the snake is digested.
41. The scissor-tailed flycatcher tends to wander on their way to and from their winter grounds in Central America. They have been spotted as far north and west as British Columbia, and as far north and east as Nova Scotia.
42. The scissor-tailed flycatcher as the second longest tail for members of the kingbird family. The fork-tailed flycatcher has the longest tail.
43. The popularity of the ruffed grouse as a game bird led to some of the earliest game management efforts in North America back in 1708.
44. The overall population of the ruffed grouse goes through an eight-to-eleven year cycle that is in correlation to the snowshoe hare population.
45. It is only the male Carolina wren that sings
46. Ring-necked pheasants will sometime parasitize the nests of other birds (such as the ruffed grouse or the greater-prairie chicken)
47. Ring-necked pheasants practice ‘harem-defense polygyny’ where one male will keep other males away from a group of females during the breeding season.
48. The California gull became the state bird of Utah in 1848, after they started feasting on the katydids that had been devastating the crops of the settlers.
49. Hermit thrushes are likely to nest in trees west of the Rocky Mountains, but on the ground east of the Rocky Mountains
50. Male hermit thrushes will collect the food for the nest, giving it to the female who will then feed the nestlings.
51. Not really odd facts, but here are the two pictures of the chickens that are also state birds:
So there are the ‘fifty-one’ odd facts on state birds (yes, I know that the last fact are just pictures). So far I’ve managed to get a picture of thirteen or fourteen of the birds–I’m leaning more towards fourteen, since I’m pretty positive that is a purple finch I got a picture of this winter.
A photography goal–get a picture of the other state birds, though I’m not sure if I’m also going to include the chickens in that or not. You might have noticed that I didn’t mention every state in terms of their state bird–I thought it would be more fun to test everyone’s knowledge.
So question–do you know the state bird of your state?
So there are two more bird pages live under the birding section, and they aren’t geese, swans, or ducks: they’re two members of the rail family that I saw on my trip to the UK a couple of years ago.
Ever since I started this project (creating bird pages for the various birds I’ve gotten pictures of over the years), I’m constantly going through my old pictures and asking–which bird is this, and am I sure that is the correct bird?
For most birds, I’m usually correct with my identification, but there have been others that I’ve been wrong on. As it turns out I wasn’t correct with my first identification of these two birds; I’m made a ‘rookie’ mistake and assumed they were just ‘regional’ variations of birds I’d seen back in the US.
Well, it turns out that that was the wrong assumption to make–they’re actually separate species from the ones I’d spotted within the US.
The first one is the common moorhen. The reason why I’d thought that it was similar to the one I’d seen down in South Padre Island, is that they had been considered the same (or possibly subspecies) up until 2011–so only a decade ago, and I have an ‘outdated’ bird book.
The ‘Old World’ has the common moorhen, while the ‘New World’ has the common gallinule.
The second one I had ‘mistakenly’ identified was the Eurasian coot–I thought it was the American coot. Yes, I know that the name ‘American’ should have given it away that it probably wouldn’t be found in the UK–but if the pied grebe can occasionally migrate over the Atlantic Ocean, whose to say that the coot couldn’t?
I now know that there are several coot species, and I’ve managed to get pictures of two of them–in order to make it a perfect trifecta, I now need to head back to the Hawaiian islands and get a picture of the Hawaiian coot.
There are still one or two more birds from the UK trip that will be getting pages, but currently this brings the rail family up to date for members that I’ve spotted either within the US or abroad.
So several more pages are now live under the birding tab of the ‘blog’.
An new organizational page (the ‘water birds’) is up and running. This ‘tab’ will contain all the bird orders/families that are associated with the water (members spend at least fifty percent of their time near, on, or in the water). As mentioned on the page, while there are raptors that eat fish (namely the osprey and bald eagle), they aren’t included within the tab as they don’t spend that much time on or in the water (they grab their food and fly off to eat it).
The order (Anseriformes) and family (Anatidae) pages for the ducks, geese, and swans are also up and live under the birding section (specifically under the ‘water birds’).
This is another group that will take several days/weeks to finish, as I think there are thirteen to fourteen members of the family for me to do research over (most seen within the United States and three or four were also seen over in the UK).
So far I have two swan pages up on the site: the Mute Swan (seen in both Boston and the UK) and the black swan (seen solely in the UK).
The black swan is native to Australia and was introduced to the northern hemisphere starting in the 1800s, and the mute swan is native to northern hemisphere–but within the ‘old world’ and was introduced throughout the rest of the world starting again in the 1600-1800s.
The next set of pages will probably cover the geese that I’ve seen (again mainly in the US, but several were also spotted within the UK) and I’m hoping to have those pages up and ‘live’ by the end of the weekend.
A photography goal is to get pictures of the two native swans in North America: the trumpeter and tundra swans.
Curious to know if you’ve seen a swan–which species was it and where were you?
Last week I managed to get in a walk at Boomer Lake and as I was crossing the bridge on my way home I noticed that the grebe was swimming about.
I also noticed that it is showcasing it’s mating mark–the bill.
During the summer/breeding season, the bills of pied-grebes turn white with a black stripe on them.
The rest of the year, the beak is a more drab brown color, and there is no black stripe.
Since we’re in their year-round range, I had been hoping to spot one this summer. While I saw several during the winter, I have no idea if they were a mix of males and females, or all of one or the other. I will be keeping my eyes out again on walks, to see if maybe I can spot one possibly carrying their young with them for a swim.