Category: nature

March in Review: Figuring out where more work is needed–finances and personal/professional development

So, we’re now a quarter of the way through 2022, and the historical events can take a break for a decade or two now…I didn’t get the ‘reset’ I’d been planning on during March—but I’ll forage into the second quarter of the year guarding it closely.

The first quarter of the year seems to have been my ‘testing’ quarter. Testing to see if I could figure out a schedule that I could stick with, and the answer is—I’m still working on that schedule. I’ll fully admit that I’m not handling the possibility of a greater global conflict very well—when I get super stressed or down, I have the terrible habit of spending money. That means I now need to head into the second quarter of the year with a more solid plan for personal/professional development, writing, networking, crafts, and just life in general.

So, we’re now into year three of the pandemic, (the US started shutting things down roughly mid-March 2020), and its looking like everyone is trying to move to the ‘endemic’ mindset—hate to be a party crasher, but even in an endemic, the virus can and will still kill people. Therefore, lets still practice social distancing, washing hands, and wearing masks when in a crowded space. In terms of the total number of cases of the virus within the US, when I published ‘February in Review’ on March 1st, I noted that we had reached a little over 80.6 million cases and now as of April 1st —we have reached a little over 81.7 million cases (an increase of a little over one million cases). Numbers are going down, but is it due to the people vaccinating or just not going and getting tested??

Historical events?? The war is still ongoing in Ukraine, the sanctions are still building against Russia, North Korea is trying to develop longer range missiles, the SARS-CoV2 virus is still circulating, and I won’t even mention what happened at the Oscars last week. But, seriously—enough is enough, time out for everyone—grab a damn candy bar and chill.

The illegal invasion of Ukraine is entering the fifth week, and it seems that the talks between the two countries are stalling—FYI: I don’t think Ukraine should have to make any concessions—and Russia shouldn’t be asking for anything. Russia should have to make all the concessions for the illegal invasion. Yes, I know that there can be similarities drawn between this invasion and several that the US has led over the past few decades—the only difference, those political individuals are no longer in power here in the US (and haven’t left the country since they know they can be arrested elsewhere).

Anyway, I’ve digressed into a semi-rant on current events. As stated earlier, we’re a quarter of the way through the year, and before I really sit down and try to generate the goal list for April (and possibly an broad list for the second quarter), I should look back at the goals I set for March and see how I did with each of them.

The goals for March included:

  1. 130-150,000 steps
  2. Figure out my intentional movement calendar/board-game (aim for at least five minutes of intentional movement each day)
  3. Finish at least one non-fiction book
  4. Read two-to-four (if not more) fiction books
  5. Recommit to the limited spending challenge
  6. Time outdoors, meditation/sitting quietly, daily gratitude journal entries, daily oracle card drawings and overall commitment to improving my mental and spiritual health
  7. Craft time–complete one new cross-stitch project and at least eight days of photography
  8. Continue working on updating the blog/website
  9. Continue working on expanding my writing portfolio
  10. Work through at least one module of a personal/professional development course

So how did I do with each of them?

130-150,000 steps; I actually managed to surpass my goal step for the month. Since there were several days wehre I managed to get a walk in at Boomer and take Chaos through the neighborhood–I managed to get 169,631 steps for the month.

Intentional movement calendar/board-game; I’m still working on developing the calendar/board-game. I’m putting weight tracking sheets into my yearly journal (so far I have tracking for 10 weeks), and am working on developing ideas for HIIT workouts (and other cardio workouts as well)–probably will take moves from various workout programs.

Finish at least one non-fiction book; I’m still bouncing between different non-fiction books, and have only read about a third to half of any one.

Read two-to-four (if not more) fiction books; I’ve read numerous fiction books this past month, and they include:

  1. A Night for Us (Wilder Brothers Prequel) by Carrie Ann Ryan
  2. Evernight Unleashed (Ravenwood Coven #3) by Carrie Ann Ryan
  3. Perfectly You (Luna Harbor #2) by Claudia Buroga
  4. Here, There, and Everywhere (Butler, VT #8) by Marie Force
  5. Falling for the Enemy by J.E. Parker
  6. Don’t Call Me Greta by Angie Santon
  7. Unraveling the Past by Beth Andrews
  8. On Her Side by Beth Andrews
  9. In This Town by Beth Andrews

Though the only two that I’ve written mini-book reviews for are the two by Carrie Ann Ryan.

Recommit to the limited spending challenge; Umm..moving on to the next goal…

Time outdoors, meditation/sitting quietly, daily gratitude journal entries, daily oracle card drawings, and overall commitment to improving my mental and spiritual health

I managed to spend a decent amount of time outdoors, though there were some days where it was fairly brief.

I’m still working on doing the daily gratitude journal entries, oracle card drawings, and improving my overall mental and spiritual health.

Those two aspects of health are just like one’s physical health—they don’t ‘collapse’ overnight, and they can’t be ‘fixed’ overnight either. Improvement has to be a steady and ongoing effort.

Craft time; I managed several days of photography (either iPhone or camera), but haven’t completed a cross-stitch project yet.

Continue working on updating the blog/website;

Well, the answer to this will also encompass the following goal (expanding my writing portfolio). The short answer—I posted during the month of March, but not as often as I had during the previous years.

The two reasons: my inner critic/imposter syndrome and fear.

Fear, that none of the ‘newer’ topics would get viewed. Fear, that what ‘traffic’ I do get to the blog would disappear, and finally fear that I wouldn’t succeed.

My inner critic/imposter syndrome has been driving that train for the past few months. I know that it will take awhile to do proper SEO research for different topics (especially for the science/medical topics) in order to be able to drive traffic to the blog organically.

I also know that I can also find my tribe by writing and sharing the posts on different sites—I haven’t done a lot of that because I didn’t/don’t want to deal various other ‘hot button’ topics of my youth.

Self-reflection over the past month reminded me that I do have that deep inner sisu—I needed it in order to finish grad school, and both post-docs. If I didn’t have that inner fortitude, I wouldn’t have finished grad school (at least not with a PhD) and I sure as hell wouldn’t have made it through the post-docs.

Continue working on expanding my writing portfolio (science/medical writing, personal/professional development, hobbies/crafts, travel, and other topics as well).

As a slight continuation of the above answer—this really didn’t happen as I’m still trying to figure out what I want really want to write about (at least science/medical topic wise). Though I’m thinking of starting with an introduction to molecular cloning (and some tips on how to get a cloning project from start to finish), and then weaving that into series on GMOs (genetically modified organisms), biofuels, and vaccines.

I’ve got several bird pages ready to write and publish and am working towards writing/publishing a page a week (along with a blog post) or possibly every other week. I also have quite a few trips that I can write about for ‘throwback’ travels as well.

I just have to ‘ignore’ the inner critic/imposter syndrome and ‘quiet’ the inner editor that wants a ‘perfect’ outline before starting to do any type of research or writing.

Work through at least one module of a personal/professional development course from my 2022 e-course BINGO card (or others if they strike my fancy).

Nope, I didn’t work through any personal/professional development courses during March. Also, if I had work through a course—I didn’t make note of it in either of my larger journals.

So March wasn’t the best month in terms of meeting my goals. I managed to hit the step goal, get outside a little more often, and read quite a few fiction books (though this really isn’t a problem usually).

Moving into the second quarter—I’m going to focus on not spending nearly as much as I have the past few months (probably looking at deleting the two games off the kindle again this coming week). Also, focusing on writing, working through various personal/professional development courses, and being more active on LinkedIn.

Therefore the goals for April will include:

  1. At least 130-150,000 steps
  2. Finishing the intentional movement tracking sheets/game board and doing at least five minutes of intentional movement each day
  3. Read at least two non-fiction books
  4. Read at least two-to-five fiction books
  5. Commit to the no spend days/no spend weeks/limited spending month
  6. Time outdoors, meditation/sitting quietly, daily gratitude journal entries, daily oracle drawings
  7. Craft time
  8. Working through at least one module of a personal/professional development course
  9. Finally, writing, writing, and some more writing.

In addition to the above goals—I’m going to continue working on improving my time and project management skills as well (as being better at both will help me reach the above goals and other goals as well).

I’ll continue to send happy thoughts/good vibes to the people of Ukraine fighting to keep their country intact and move forward as they chose.

While the decade has been far from ‘smooth sailing’, and this year definitely seems bumpier than the last two—I’m hoping that it will be the last really bumpy year and we can heal, and move forward to a brighter future.

Therefore, I will remind people that if you follow me on other social media sites—I will probably have some political and/or religious posts/statements. I won’t apologize for my views (I believe in science, education for all, healthcare for all, women’s right to choose, people’s right to marry who they want, people identifying as they choose, and the separation of church and state—I’m a mix of pagan, wiccan, and atheist).

I will say this again—if my post is ‘upsetting’—ask yourself why you find it upsetting. I don’t share things to offend, but I do share to help try to educate in addition to showing my stance on various topics.

Therefore on the eve of this new moon, I send healing thoughts and vibes to the people of Ukraine and Russia. Nothing is gained through the loss of lives…

Namaste…

No Comments BookscareerCraftsfinancesHealthMonth in Reviewnatureno spend challengesoutdoorsPersonal Developmentprofessional developmentReflections

Updates and additional bird photography page is live

Canvasbacks on Boomer Lake

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.

Male canvasbacks

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).

No Comments bird watchingnatureoutdoorsPhotography

Updating the personal/professional development plan: reflections on the bounce zone

It has been roughly a year since I drew my first comfort/stretch/risk/die diagram.

Original comfort diagram that I drew mid-Feb 2021

It was an ‘assignment’ that I was given when after talking with a coach–it became obvious that I was floundering on trying to decide what I wanted to do with my life (since I’d decided to take time to actually try to answer that question)…

I decided that the diagram was going to encompass both personal and professional goals, thoughts, and ideas–mainly because I knew if I didn’t have some more ‘creative’ ideas down, I would spend way too much time wallowing in the analytical side of my brain.

The above diagram had roughly seventy-seven items within the four zones: 13 items in the comfort zone, 35 within the stretch zone, 17 within the risk zone and 12 within the die zone.

Over the past year, I also added in the ‘bounce’ zone–as I haven’t/hadn’t developed the ‘confidence’ to state that there were more activities that I felt ‘comfortable’ doing on a day-to-day (or even week-to-week or month-to-month) basis. I was starting to enjoy the activities, but still hadn’t/haven’t figured out the best ‘schedule’ for them to become ‘comfortable’ tasks.

Over the past week or so, I drew another one to see how far I’d come over the past year:

Latest Comfort diagram–Feb 2022

The comfort zone has slightly increased, the bounce zone is present, the stretch zone has ‘shrunk’, and the risk and die zones are holding steady.

While some things have ‘changed’–I also realized that I’ve also become slightly ‘stagnant’ as well. What became ‘stagnant’ is the fact that I wasn’t trying to push the boundaries of teh comfort, bounce, or stretch zones the past few months.

Therefore, I’m working on a plan to change that, with the ultimate goal of expanding the comfort and bounce zones.

How am I going to do that? Well, I decided it would be a combination of picking things from the comfort, bounce, stretch and risk zones and also incorporating things from my personal/professional development board game, and came up with the following list:

  1. Work several different ‘comfort’ tasks into the daily/weekly schedule (so that they don’t fall back into the ‘stretch’ zone), and they include: cross-stitching, meditation, reading (also work on expanding the genera), cooking, gardening, photography, and being outdoors.
  2. I decided to roll the dice last week (for the first time in awhile) for my my personal/professional development board game and came up with the following items:
    1. Start learning python coding
    2. Review genomics (though I’m going to include transcriptomes, proteomes, and metabolomes)–should have called the square ‘review -omics’
    3. Review statistics
    4. Landscape design (funny that I rolled this, as I’d already picked it out of the ‘bounce’ zone as something to work on this spring)
    5. Business development
    6. Public health
    7. ‘Rock Art of the American Southwest’
    8. Ancient India
    9. Ancient China
    10. Reading; while I rolled a ‘list’ of books to read–I will probably just go with whatever catches my attention
  3. Work on content development in the following areas:
    1. copywriting
    2. Blogging (science/medical education/communication; health/wellness; personal/professional development; hobbies/crafts, and travel)
    3. Science writing (‘short’ blog posts [~500-1000 words], ‘longer’ articles [~1000-2500 words], and ‘reviews’ [~2500-5000+ words])
    4. Creative writing (short stories, poetry, and so forth)
  4. Spirituality and Oracle cards
  5. Doodling and drawing
  6. Personal/professional brand development/management
  7. Refresh a foreign language
  8. Project management

Obviously I can’t do all of this at the same time—well I could, but I like sleeping too much…The end goals include: stretching my comfort zone, overcoming the writers block, transitioning into that first remote writing/data analysis position, and rediscovering who I am and what I really want to be doing with my life.

Content development and project management can be tied in with all the other items on the list–and actually that has been one of the ‘bigger bottlenecks’ lately–writing. I’ve started at the screen more times than I want to admit, and I’ve stared at various science news emails more times that I want to admit over the past month or so–and have barely written a word. I haven’t shared an news article for probably two week (prior to today), and that wasn’t because I didn’t want to–but because the words didn’t wan to come…not hte greatest feeling when one is thinking of pivoting into a writing (and deadline) intensive direction…

I created a ‘brain-dump’ (or brainstorming list) of ideas for the three different niches I’m thinking of writing within:

‘Brain-dump’ or brainstorming list of topics to write/blog about

You might notice that the ‘list’ is longer within the science/medical subsection–and that is because that is my background. I have my PhD in biochemistry and molecular biology, and have spent basically two decades working within higher education research, and have at least an understanding of various fields.

The other two areas aren’t as ‘filled-out’, but as I continue to brainstorm ideas, or even look within one or two of the selections–I’m pretty certain I’ll be able to come up with more ideas to write about.

One of the fundamental questions that one is suppose to answer when thinking of blogging, copywriting, or even writing–is who is your audience? What question(s)/problem(s) are you wanting to help answer/solve?

I think that for me one of those answers is trying to improve science communication between the general public and the scientific community, and also trying to improve science education as well. None of the topics are inherently difficult–but can be considered difficult if they’re not explained properly and limiting the amount of scientific jargon one uses.

As Albert Einstein said: “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it enough”.

Therefore, I’m going to be ‘diving’ into research for numerous topics, as I have a ‘basic’ understanding, but I also know that I don’t know certain areas well enough to explain them in simple terms.

I’m aiming to start having monthly (then working up to biweekly) blog posts on different science subjects, adding in a new bird photography page (biweekly, if not weekly) with an accompany blog post, and also a monthly ‘throwback travel’ page with its accompany blog post–this will be in addition to the different goals setting posts that I do monthly and any book reviews that I post as well. My aim–is to expand the comfort zone to include writing, blogging, and copywriting by the end of the summer.

What is something you could work on to move it from your stretch zone to your comfort zone?

No Comments careerfinancesfitnessHealthLifestyle Challengesmoney saving challengesnatureoracle cardsoutdoorsPersonal DevelopmentPhotographyprofessional developmentReflectionsSciencespiritualitytarot cardstravelUpdates

Two more duck photography pages are live, and other news

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.

With that said—the two new duck pages that have been added are for the Northern Shoveler and the Blue-winged Teal.

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).

Blue-winged teals swimming in Boomer Lake

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.

Northern Shovelers swimming in Boomer Lake

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?

No Comments bird watchingcareernatureoutdoorsPersonal DevelopmentPhotographyprofessional developmentUpdates

The Australian Budgerigar page is live: Throwback Thursday

Another bird page is live under the birding tab–the Australian budgerigar, or as it is known within United States as–the common parakeet.

Common parakeet seen ‘walking’ around the park, Boston MA

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)?

No Comments bird watchingnatureoutdoorsPhotography

Raptor & Duck Pages are live: the red-tailed hawk & bufflehead

So, another two bird pages are now live under the bird tab.

One is a year-round resident of Oklahoma, though you need to look towards the sky (or take a drive to potentially see it), and the other graces the state with its presence during the winter months.

They are the red-tailed hawk and the bufflehead.

I’d finally managed to get pictures (and properly identify) of the red-tailed hawk this spring and summer.

Red-tailed Hawks perched over Boomer Lake, with another flying in the background

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).

Group of male Buffleheads swimming on Boomer Lake

The females (and immature males) have a smaller white oval on their cheek, and are more drab in color (they lack the white flanks).

Group of Buffleheads swimming on Boomer Lake

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.

What is your favorite migratory bird to spot?

No Comments bird watchingnatureoutdoorsPhotographyScience

More bird pages are live: Canada Goose and Tufted Duck

There are two more bird pages live under the birding tab (and specifically within the Anseriformes/Anatidae [ducks, geese, and swans] sub-tab of the ‘water birds’).

The two pages are the Canada Goose and the Tufted Duck.

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.

Canada Geese and goslings swimming in Boomer Lake

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.

Tufted Duck swimming in Kensington Park, London UK

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.

No Comments bird watchingnatureoutdoorsPhotographytravel

Short post: The parakeet in the park

Female (or immature male) rose-ring (ring-neck) parakeet spotted in Kensington Park, London

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?

No Comments bird watchingnatureoutdoorsPhotographytravel

Odd facts and statistics on the US State Birds

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.

Collage of all the ‘state’ birds

So to start off, here are the odd statistics on the ‘state’ birds:

  1. 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.
  2. Ten states have both a state bird, plus another ‘official’ bird (game, waterfowl, raptor, or symbol of peace)
  3. 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)
  4. Seven states have the northern cardinal as their state bird
  5. Six states have the mockingbird as their state bird
  6. Six states have the western meadowlark as their state bird–though it is a summer resident for three of those states
  7. Two states have a chicken as their state bird
  8. Three states have the goldfinch as their state bird
  9. Three states have the American robin as their state bird
  10. Two states have the eastern bluebird as their state bird
  11. Two states have the mountain bluebird as their state bird (though it is a summer resident in one of those states.
  12. 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?

  1. 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.
Bald Eagle and gulls flying over Boomer Lake. Picture by JessicaMattsPhotography

2. The District of Columbia has a ‘state bird’–the wood thrush.

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.

Brown Pelicans flying over the beach. Photograph: JessicaMattsPhotography

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.

Northern flicker

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.

Male Willow Ptarmigan in mating colors

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.

Cactus Wren

12. Young California quail gain their gut microbiome by pecking at the feces of the adults.

California Quail

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.

Northern mockingbird

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

Lark Bunting

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.

American Robin

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

Brown thrasher seen up at Boomer Lake

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.

The Nene or Hawaiian Goose

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

Mountain Bluebird

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

Northern Cardinal

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.

Goldfinch

30. Meriweather Lewis, noted in 1805 the differences between the eastern and western meadowlarks

Western Meadowlark

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

Black-capped chickadee

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

Oriole spotted at Boomer Lake

35. When migrating the common loon has been clocked at speeds greater than 70mph

Common Loon

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

Eastern Bluebird spotted at Boomer Lake

38. Purple finches have lost territory in the eastern US to the house finch

A finch spotted in the winter

39. Roadrunners are able to eat venomous lizards, scorpions, and rattlesnakes.

Greater Roadrunner

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.

Scissor-tailed flycatchers at Boomer Lake

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.

Ruffed Grouse

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

Carolina wrens in the backyard

46. Ring-necked pheasants will sometime parasitize the nests of other birds (such as the ruffed grouse or the greater-prairie chicken)

Ring-necked pheasant

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.

California Gull

49. Hermit thrushes are likely to nest in trees west of the Rocky Mountains, but on the ground east of the Rocky Mountains

Hermit Thrush

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:

Delaware’s state bird
Rhode Island’s state bird

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?

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European Edition: Two more Rail Member Pages are Live

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.

Common moorhen spotted within Kensington Park in London, UK

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?

Eurasian coots swimming in Kensington Park

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.

No Comments bird watchingnatureoutdoorsPhotographySciencetravel