Category Archives: Funny

Fooling Birders

Beware, internet surfers – today is April Fool’s Day. Birders are not immune to being played for fools, if these pranks from years past are any indication.

The exciting headline Extinct Carolina Parakeet Rediscovered in Honduras appeared on April 1, 2009. This one came complete with a news release from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, which added authenticity to an unbelievable discovery. If you fell for this one, you were certainly not alone!

Last year Ted Floyd revealed a list of ABA Checklist Changes that had some birders just a bit freaked out. The list highlighted crazy splits, maddening lumps, and major, unprecedented changes to the ABA Area.

Also last year, blogger tai haku broke the story of ESPN’s entry into the competitive birding market: Email from ESPN: the “American Big Day Birding League.”

Bill of the Birds had a great prank last year, too, when he revealed a major change at BirdWatcher’s Digest: Our New Name!. The magazine was to be rebranded Wild Bird Watcher’s World (and Blooms).

By now, readers of 10,000 Birds must know they need to be on their toes on April Fool’s Day. Last year they got us with an unbelievable giveaway opportunity: Win a Free Trip to Thailand! In 2010 Corey revealed a shocking overseas birder conspiracy: Short-toed Treecreepers Do Not Exist. And in 2009 Corey reported seeing a Pileated Woodpecker in Queens, complete with photo documentation.

Google has been offering up pranks on April 1st for years. They featured birds in an early prank: Google’s PigeonRank was revealed on April 1, 2002. The search engine’s cruelty-free method of determining page rank uses trained pigeons to recognize objects regardless of spacial orientation. It’s all very complicated.

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Posted in Funny, Offbeat, Pop Culture | Leave a comment

This calendar is all over the place…

… literally! Some of the twelve birds featured in this 2012 Backyard Birds Mini Calendar may be Backyard Birds, but you’d never find them all in the same back yard.

Click picture to see larger

Northern Cardinals are native to eastern North America.

Cedar Waxwings live across much of North America.

Wren is kind of non-specific for a calendar published in Indiana, but it probably refers to the Eurasian Wren, which is commonly referred to as simply “wren” and is native to Europe and Asia.

Great Tits are back yard birds through much of Europe and are also found across Asia and north Africa.

White-crowned Sparrows live across much of North America.

Great Spotted Woodpeckers live in parts of Europe and Asia.

Steller’s Jays live across western North America.

Oriental White Eyes are found in tropical Asia. I can’t find any evidence of them frequenting feeders.

Siberian Rubythroats live in Siberia, natch. They eat insects.

Vermilion Flycatchers (spelled Vermillion on the calendar) live in the Americas, from the American southwest through much of South America.

I’m having a hard time figuring out what a “Common Tree Pie” is supposed to be, but it looks like a White-winged Redstart, native to southwest and central Asia. They eat insects.

Finally, the Azure Kingfisher is native to Australia and neighboring islands. However, the bird identified as such looks more like a Common Kingfisher (native to Eurasia and Africa). If you’ve got a thriving body of water in your yard, you might count a kingfisher as a yard bird, but they’d certainly never be feeder birds.

On Amazon’s best seller list, this calendar ranks #258,859 in books. That seems a little high to me.

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Grebe pellets & submarines

The other day at Gemini Springs I watched a pair of Pied-billed Grebes swimming around the fishing pier. During a period in which they were swimming on the surface for a long period, I took a video of the little water birds, setting my camera on the pier railing. After I started recording, an Osprey flew close over where I was standing, and I lifted up my binoculars to watch it hunting.

It wasn’t until I got home that I noticed the camera captured two interesting moments with the grebes. First, right at the start of the video, one of the grebes cast a pellet!

Birds cast pellets which consist of undigested materials. I bet a lot of birders are familiar with owls regurgitating pellets; dissecting pellets is a popular educational activity for school kids and anyone can actually purchase owl pellets online for this purpose. But owls are not the only birds that cast pellets after meals. Kingfishers, corvids, herons, swallows, shorebirds and others all cast pellets of varying sizes. The pellet cast by the grebe seems quite large in proportion to the bird when I think about the size of pellets cast by Barn, Great Horned, and Barred Owls, American Kestrels, and Red-tailed Hawks (the species pellets with which I am somewhat familiar).

The other behavior I caught on video was the second grebe doing a submarine move – appearing to submerge in place, rather than a more typical flamboyant diving movement. I’ve never seen this behavior before, but it’s apparently quite normal, judging from the Google results when searching grebe submarine.

Since I was watching the Osprey while my camera shot the grebes, I didn’t get to see either of these interesting moments with my own eyes. Thank you, camera! I will pay extra attention to the grebes who seem to be settling in at Gemini Springs for the winter, and hopefully I’ll see some interesting behavior like this. Who knows?!

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Posted in Behavior, Florida, Funny, Gemini Springs, Video, Volusia Birding | Leave a comment

Raptor robots

The following video profiles two companies that are marketing raptor robots. The machines are being marketed to airports as bird deterrents.

The Spanish company Bird Raptor Internacional has produced a model airplane painted to look like a Peregrine Falcon. In the clip, the “falcon” flies by a flock of gulls, who quickly disperse. I wonder if the falcon paint job had anything to do with it, though. Would they disperse if a regular model airplane flew closely over them?

A Dutch company has developed another robotic bird, but the GreenX model Bald Eagle actually flaps its wings! Developers of this model see it being used in nature films or as a spy plane. I think they should market to model airplane enthusiasts – I mean, what a cool toy!

Read more about the robo-raptors here.

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Posted in Funny, Netherlands, Offbeat, Science & Tech, Spain | 1 Comment

Drama Kings

I had fun watching the Red-winged Blackbirds on a spring visit to the Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary.

Red-winged Blackbird

Red-winged Blackbird

Our primary focus during our time at Montrose was spent looking for migrating warblers between the leaves of the Magic Hedge, but the Red-wingeds were hard to ignore. Especially when they do this:

Red-winged Blackbird

The males put on such a show, while the females seem much more polite.

Red-winged Blackbird

Red-winged Blackbird (female)

Bird Photography Weekly is a regular collection of user-submitted bird photos from all over the world. The new edition comes out every Sunday. Go have a look at this week’s submissions!

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Posted in Bird Photography Weekly, Funny, Illinois | 1 Comment

Unlikely Wood Duck

The other day Arthur and I were on our way home and we noticed an unlikely bird hanging out in a tiny pond adjacent to a small strip mall. Usually this little pond, dotted with debris, is host to Canada Geese and a small flock of Mallards. Occasionally, Red-winged Blackbirds konk-la-ree from a small patch of reeds. So we were very surprised to see a beautiful male Wood Duck having a preen on a tire in the water.

Wood Duck on a tire

Wood Duck on a tire

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Posted in Funny, Illinois | 1 Comment