Blog Archives

Baby Birds 101 – To Rescue or Not to Rescue?

Working as a naturalist, I’ve received tons of calls about injured animals and thought I’d share some of my knowledge with you about handling situations with baby birds, since it’s the most common one.

Baby finch. Author photo.

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Word of the Week: Passerine

Today’s word is:

passerine

PronouncedPASS-er-in

Sciency Definition: A member of the order Passeriformes, the largest group of the class Aves.

Or I could have saidPerching bird.

What’s it do?  Members of the order Passeriformes are the perching birds, which include more than half of the living species of birds. They each possess feet adapted for perching or clinging. “Song birds” are all passerines but not all passerines are song birds; song birds just have the best use of the muscles used for creating vocalizations (the syrinx). Some song birds, instead of singing, create an incredible range of sounds including clicks, croaks, and mimics of sounds they hear in their environments.

Example sentence: Despite being categorized as passerines, crows and ravens do not use their syrinx muscles to produce songs.

Baby scrub jays might be passerines, but they have a song only a mother could love!

To see a video of one of the greatest passerine mimics on the planet, click here to watch a video of the Australian Lyrebird in action.

Mornings with Blue Jays.

June 2nd, 2011

This morning I awoke to the stirrings and twitterings of Bubba and Gump. Boy, were they ready to take on the day. I took Gump, who was being awfully spunky, out of the cage and placed him on top. Last night they both spent some time up there with Bubba throwing down a little dance move that told me he wanted to try flying, but wasn’t quite sure where to go. At some point, they started making a raspy little chirping noise that I hadn’t heard before. It coincided with me sucking air through my teeth at the dog, but I’m not sure if the two are related.

Feed me!

This morning it was Gump’s turn. He crouched, stood up, crouched, fidgeted, and leapt! His first flight!

Oh hai!

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Baby Birds 201 – Bluejays Steal My Heart

So a small clutch of baby Scrub Jays came into the nature center several days ago. The deliverer had found momma bird deceased and was clearly distressed to have discovered her babies orphaned. There were three. They were lethargic, quiet, cold, and in shock.

I called my rehabber and explained the situation. Instead of her usual response, “Okay, when can we meet up?” she said, “Okay, here’s what you do.” Rehabbers are typically overwhelmed in the springtime and apparently she thought I could handle baby birds solo.

I was up for the challenge.

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Baby Birds 101 – To Rescue or Not to Rescue?

Working as a naturalist, I’ve received tons of calls about injured animals and thought I’d share some of my knowledge with you about handling situations with baby birds, since it’s the most common one.

Baby finch. Author photo.

Read the rest of this entry

[Bird Video Series] #5: Bower Birds Love Blue

Bower Birds Love Blue concludes our week of bird videos! As a visual person, I find it nice sometimes to take a break from reading and processing, and just watch the behaviors in their natural settings. I hope you’ve enjoyed these clips too.

Bower Birds are known for several things: 1) amassing a lot of stuff with which to impress their potential mates, 2) erecting impressive structures out of sticks (complete with support beams) and 3) stealing blue things from humans.

This is a group of species that go to an enormous amount of trouble to attract and please a mate: with Bower Birds, it’s not just about having good-looking feathers. Some species build piles of beetle wings that iridesce in the light, while others thatch entry ways in which they hope to mate. Today you get two videos, and I won’t apologize for featuring David again. I just won’t.

[Bird Video Series] #3: Birds of Paradise

If you still haven’t seen the Planet Earth series, let me give you a sneak peek here. David Attenborough narrates this incredible clip of several different Birds of Paradise. Each has its own elaborate, colorful, sometimes mesmerizing mating display. These birds are no larger than your average chicken but their displays truly rival that of the Peacock. I remember the first time I saw this, I was so blown away I had to rewind it and watch it again, just to be sure I wasn’t hallucinating. Enjoy!

[Bird Video Series] #1: Dance of the Sharp Tailed Grouse

Sharp-Tailed grouse via Teo on Wiki.

I knew nothing of the Sharp-Tailed Grouse before catching a TV show featuring the reintroduction of a Western population and immediately wanted to share with you the amazing dance that this bird puts on during the mating season. In fact, I’m so excited about little-known bird behavior right now, I think this week will be a series of fun bird videos – check back for all five!

Sharp-Taileds are in trouble due to habitat loss and this little clip from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources does an excellent job of showing the mating dance. Other videos have poorer sound and I really wanted you to hear the sound of the foot-stomping that they do. I’ve never seen anything like it; it’s so fast you don’t even realize that the grouse are making it! Enjoy.

Teaching Crows to Contribute to Society.

Joshua Klein had an idea. It was an idea that could revolutionize the world, and, at the same time, revolutionize how we perceive one of the most maligned creatures inhabiting the skies: the corvid.

Corvids are known tool-users.

For centuries, crows and ravens have symbolized death, poverty, trickery, theft, and a million other negative things. In reality, corvids are extraordinarily intelligent, discerning creatures. Like other animals that man hates most, corvids do not simply survive alongside us; they thrive, even in areas that we devastate.  Read the rest of this entry

In Praise of the Heron.

Recently I’ve been fascinated with the many varieties of heron and have come across some equally fascinating photos. Herons are marsh birds with long legs, long necks, and long beaks. They remind me of pterodactyls in flight and are extremely patient hunters. They stalk slowly through the shallows in search of just about anything they can fit into their mouths and down their throats – which are stretchy enough to allow some pretty big fish passage. Enjoy!

It may look like they’re having fun, but only one of them really is.

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