HowToKnowTheBirds

How to Know the Birds: No. 20, Alien Fairies in the Big City

Before we proceed any further, let’s play a little game. Let’s pretend we don’t know where we are. We scan around for clues and we see: Rush hour traffic—check. Pedestrians—check. Palm trees—check. Tall buildings—check. So far, so good. We’re plausibly in any one of those five densely populated cities. Now take a look directly overhead:

How to Know the Birds: No. 20, Alien Fairies in the Big City2019-12-07T20:33:53-05:00

How to Know the Birds: No. 19, A Big (Little) White (Blue) Egret (Heron)

The bird stood on the railing just beyond the high-rise hotel where I was staying. Moments earlier, a speedwalker had stopped for a moment to marvel with me at the beautiful beast. “We get a lot of those around here,” he informed me, sensing correctly that I wasn’t a local.

How to Know the Birds: No. 19, A Big (Little) White (Blue) Egret (Heron)2019-12-07T20:34:35-05:00

How to Know the Birds: No. 18, Flickers in the Flick of a Tongue

At my daughter’s soccer practice the other day, I saw an adult male Red-shafted Flicker. Pretty typical for this kind of woodpecker—feeding on the ground. Hm. If you calculated a time budget for the bird, I’m pretty sure you’d find that it spends more time feeding on lawns and in meadows than pecking on limbs and boughs.

How to Know the Birds: No. 18, Flickers in the Flick of a Tongue2019-12-07T21:19:53-05:00

How to Know the Birds: No. 17, Grackles in the Blink of an Eye

On a sunny afternoon a couple of weeks ago, we were at a truck stop on I-70 in eastern Colorado. It was a solid two hours from home, what with the Friday evening rush in the Denver metro region still to come.

How to Know the Birds: No. 17, Grackles in the Blink of an Eye2019-12-07T21:20:37-05:00

How to Know the Birds: No. 16, Calliope Futures

On a not-exactly-a-bird-walk a week or so ago, one of the participants, Roberta, was intent on documenting whatever it is that was happening in the general vicinity of a pot full of patriotic petunias...

How to Know the Birds: No. 16, Calliope Futures2019-12-07T17:48:24-05:00

How to Know the Birds: No. 14, Q. T. with a Great Blue

Hoooooookay. Reminds me of a visit, not so long ago, to Philadelphia, when I saw this dude near the art museum selling fake Rolexes. I also recall the time some friends and I had a full-on encounter with a full-frontal flasher in the Boston suburbs.

How to Know the Birds: No. 14, Q. T. with a Great Blue2020-01-26T08:52:03-05:00

How to Know the Birds: No. 13, Gannets—Take 2

Call me a late bloomer, but I can finally tell you that the experience of being in a gannet colony is overwhelming, a transcendence, an imponderable conjoining of sensory overload and perfect inner calm.

How to Know the Birds: No. 13, Gannets—Take 22019-12-07T21:23:27-05:00

How to Know the Birds: No. 12, Merganser Musings

The adult male, or “drake,” hooded merganser, Lophodytes cucullatus, has got to be just about the most ridiculously photogenic bird in the ABA Area. No matter how often I see one—the species has been expanding its range and increasing in number for several decades now—I can’t help myself. I have to take a picture.

How to Know the Birds: No. 12, Merganser Musings2019-12-18T12:25:20-05:00

How to Know the Birds: No. 11, Beware Expectation

I was leading a field trip a couple weeks ago, and our group came across this bird. One of the trip participants needed Hammond’s flycatcher for his county list, and we were at a good elevation—and a good part of the state—for that long-winged, small-billed, and generally dumpy empid. Was it a Hammond’s?

How to Know the Birds: No. 11, Beware Expectation2019-12-07T21:27:06-05:00