Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Harlequin Duck. Bird Nests. New Wings. Kirtland's Warbler. Hooded Mergansers. Spoon-billed Sandpiper. Emptying the Skies. BirdNote: Blackbird, by Paul McCartney. First Super Bowl.


For "Winged Wednesday":

Cold-weather Clown: Harlequin Duck

"The Harlequin Duck borrows its name from the Italian comedic character, the harlequin, who wears brightly colored clothes. "Lords and Ladies" is another nickname, again because of the vivid coloration of the males. These ducks gives distinctly unduck-like squeaks when interacting, the source of yet another local name: Sea Mouse.
Although the male’s coloration is stunning, females and immature birds are more subdued, or cryptically colored, for protection against predators.
George Wallace, ABC’s Vice President of Oceans and Islands, remembers: “I saw these birds every day when I was a salmon fishing guide in Alaska. I was always amazed at the ability of these birds to literally outrun a skiff up a river running eight miles per hour. It’s really a lovely sight to see a female with a string of tiny fluff-ball chicks sprinting over the surface of water and then diving for cover under a fallen log.”

The eastern North American population was in decline but is slowly recovering. It is listed as threatened in Maine and is considered a species of special concern in Canada and the western United States."
How do Harlequin Ducks resemble colorful corks? Read more>>


17 bizarre and beautiful bird nests

"From tiny hummingbird nests to massive weaver nests that encompass entire treetops, take a photographic tour of these birds' impressive creations.

Bird nests come in a variety of shapes and sizes, from burrows in the ground to tiny cups perched high in tree branches. We've rounded up photos of some of the most fascinating nests on the planet, as well as a few unusual places for a bird to build a home."

black-capped social weaver nests in an acacia tree

Black-capped social weaver nests hang from an acacia tree.  (Photo: Wild Horizon/Getty Images)

More at:


Hawk receives new wings at Raptor Center

ST. PAUL, Minn. - "A young red-tailed hawk flew into a window near downtown St. Paul and suffered trauma to the head and damage to her left wing.  Lori Arent, clinic manager said, "She ended up breaking the tips off many of these outer feathers which really now inhibits her ability to fly." 

Arent clipped the damaged feathers and grafted the healthy new ones using bamboo sticks and epoxy glue. Arent expects the bird to be healthy enough for release as early as next week. "If we weren't able to do this process for this bird it would be here probably until next August or September," Arent said."  More in video:

And more:


Kirtland's Warbler: Mississippi Flyway Stand-out Species

image"Over the last three weeks, BirdNote has highlighted special birds in each of the North American flyways: Wood Thrush in the Atlantic, Whooping Crane in the Central, and Calliope Hummingbird in the Pacific Flyway.

Which special bird did BirdNote select for our fourth, and final, installment?

The Mississippi Flyway Standout Species: Kirtland's Warbler


Kirtland's Warbler © Laura Gooch

The Kirtland's Warbler is one of the rarest birds in North America.  The reason? Its breeding range is limited to a few locations in the Mississippi flyway, in very specific habitat, in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Ontario.

Kirtland's Warblers are picky about their nest sites. They require locations under jack pines that are more than five years old – but not more than 15 years old. And the sites must be in well-drained, sandy soil. Consequently, the Kirtland's Warbler has one of the smallest breeding ranges of any bird in North America.

Historically, forest fires benefited Kirtland's Warblers by clearing out older trees, causing cones to release seeds, and enriching the soil for young jack pines to grow.  But fire suppression and an influx of Brown-headed Cowbirds, which lay their eggs in the nests of other songbirds, nearly drove the Kirtland's Warbler to extinction. Only 167 singing males were found during a survey in 1987.

Fortunately, conservation efforts that began in the 1950's are paying off. Today, people come from all over the world to see Kirtland's Warblers in their native habitat in Michigan. Thankfully, as of 2012, there are over 2,000 singing males to welcome them!"


Listen to BirdNote shows about the Kirtland's Warbler:

Counting Kirtland's Warblers
Birds and Climate Change -  Places for Birds to Go   Kingdom of Rarities - With Eric Dinerstein


Hooded Mergansers - Getting Frisky

"It's winter, but many species of ducks are already preparing for spring.

Nearly all ducks are seasonally monogamous, forming pair bonds with new partners every imageyear. Go to your local pond, lake, or beach during the winter, and you may be lucky enough to see male mergansers, goldeneyes, or Buffleheads, displaying to attract the attention of females. If a female likes what she sees, the two will remain together until they mate the following spring. For migratory species, this requires flying together for hundreds -- or even thousands -- of miles back to their breeding grounds."  More and many pictures at:


Spoon-billed Sandpiper: Hatch.

image "...The first moments of life at a windswept Spoon-billed Sandpiper nest. Video includes commentary by the Cornell Lab’s Gerrit Vyn. Filmed July 7, 2011, near Meinypilgyno, Chukotka, Russia."

Watch the first ever footage of this critically endangered species nesting:

From me: I didn't realize how endangered and special these birds are.  The chicks wander around feeding themselves as soon as they come out of the egg.


Emptying the Skies: Important Film about Songbirds in the Mediterranean

“Emptying the Skies,” a film inspired by a New Yorker article penned by award-winning novelist and ABC Board member Jonathan Franzen. The film follows an intrepid group of bird-lovers who risk life and limb to disrupt the poaching of millions of songbirds trapped to be served as illegal delicacies at restaurants. The bird-lovers free as many birds as possible."

Video about this at:

Much more at:



BirdNote: Blackbird, by Paul McCartney


Upcoming Shows

Great Gray Owl SUNDAY Photographing The Great Gray Owl Featuring Paul Bannick LISTEN NOW ►

Donald and Daisy MONDAY Donald Duck - The Duck in the Sailor Suit by Bob Sundstrom  LISTEN NOW

Northern Beardless Tyrannulet TUESDAY Winter Sounds Of the Lower Rio Grande by Bob Sundstrom   LISTEN NOW ►

Eurasian Blackbird WEDNESDAY Paul McCartney's Blackbird  Written by Ellen Blackstone LISTEN NOW ►

Cerulean Warbler THURSDAY Recording Cerulean Warblers Featuring Charlotte Goedsche, Audubon North Carolina LISTEN NOW

Spoon-billed Sandpiper FRIDAY Photographing Spoon-billed Sandpipers in South Korea Featuring Adam Sedgley and Gerrit Vyn, Cornell Lab of Ornithology LISTEN NOW ►

Feathers of a Brown Pelican SATURDAY How Feathers Insulate by Frances Wood LISTEN NOW


On This Day:

Packers face Chiefs in first Super Bowl, Jan 15, 1967:

"On this day in 1967, at the Los Angeles Coliseum, the Green Bay Packers beat the Kansas City Chiefs in the first-ever world championship game of American football.

image In that historic first game--played before a non-sell-out crowd of 61,946 people--Green Bay scored three touchdowns in the second half to defeat Kansas City 35-10. Led by MVP quarterback Bart Starr, the Packers benefited from Max McGee's stellar receiving and a key interception by safety Willie Wood. For their win, each member of the Packers collected $15,000: the largest single-game share in the history of team sports.

Super Bowl Sunday has become an unofficial American holiday, complete with parties, betting pools and excessive consumption of food and drink. On average, 80 to 90 million people are tuned into the game on TV at any given moment, while some 130-140 million watch at least some part of the game. The commercials shown during the game have become an attraction in themselves, with TV networks charging as much as $2.5 million for a 30-second spot and companies making more expensive, high-concept ads each year."



Ray came over and we watered all my aloe vera plants.  The shut-off for the outside faucets had to be turned on to do that, and then turned off again as it supposed to freeze again on Friday night.  It takes two people to hold the two large patio doors, which are the temporary green house, that are leaning horizontally against the storeroom wall. It is working a lot better than expected.

Then while Ray washed my van, I weeded and raked the front flower bed.  Some of the bushes had frozen and looked scruffy, so I cut them back.  They will grow again in the Spring.

One of our SPCA foster moms sent a pleading email for me to take some of her foster kittens off her hands, as she had too many.  Our fosters parents aren't supposed to foster more than 12 animals.  Even that many is difficult to take care of properly. Please spay and neuter your pets! 

As I agreed to take some, she offered to send me pictures so that I could choose.  I said, 'I don't care what they look like, it's the personality that counts, just like people!'  They should be arriving in the next few days.

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