Category Archives: Offbeat

Another freaky Northern Cardinal

Last month a gynandromorph (half-male/half-female) Northern Cardinal spotted at a feeder in northwestern Illinois made the news. Today’s Columbia Daily Tribune has a report of a white-headed female Cardinal feeding at an Ohio back yard feeder for several years running. I’ve never seen anything like this, either, but apparently this type of coloration is not so uncommon. The below image is from a photographer in Virginia.

White-headed Female Cardinal #2 Mar 30

And this feeder visitor is a Flickr find.

White Cardinal (4)
White Cardinal (4) by Lee Coursey, Creative Commons on Flickr

Have you ever seen a white Cardinal or another bird with unusual coloration?

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Posted in Offbeat, Yard Birds | 3 Comments

My visitors came from *where*?!

I have a Statcounter counter on this site and I like to check it to see how visitors find The counter tracks visitors to not only the blog but also our birder gift & novelty shop and our Amazon affiliate birder shopping pages for books, birding supplies and optics. Last month I decided to keep track of some of the more unusual search terms people used to find the site. Here’s a breakdown of the most interesting search terms.

  • what are you doing? how would you like someone to blow that thing inside your house? This strange sequence of text leads to my previous blog post about Hayden Panettiere coming to the defense of birds while shooting an episode of Heroes. It makes sense once you read the article, but taken out of context, I can’t imagine what people would think that is all about!
  • swift value Just what is a swift worth these days, anyway?
  • frigate bird pooping At least they weren’t searching using Google’s image search.
  • giant crow museum Woo hoo! is number one in Google for this search! I’m just wondering: were they looking for a museum all about to oversized crows, or a massive institution devoted to corvids?
  • transvestite bird Rock on, this site is also number one in Google for this term.
  • women pishing I guess this one was looking for a list of great pick-up lines?
  • pecker prints No comment.

    Checking your stats is a great way to keep tuned in to what your visitors are looking for. They can spark a new idea for a future blog post or (in my case) a fun inspiration for a new line of t-shirts!

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  • Posted in Offbeat, Search Terms | Leave a comment

    Heroes star stops shoot to spare birds

    Heroes actress Hayden Panettiere is a well-known defender of animals and her work with PETA.

    Hayden Panettiere halted shooting on ‘Heroes’ after she accused a crew member of being cruel to birds.

    The 19-year-old actress was reportedly furious when the worker used a huge lawn-blower to blast birds out of a nearby tree after they disturbed filming.

    Hayden is said to have shouted: “What are you doing? How would you like someone to blow that thing inside your house?”

    The blonde star defended the feathered creatures by insisting they were only flying in front of the camera to get back to their nest in the tree.

    She reportedly made such a fuss the director eventually decided to move the scene to a new location.

    I doubt the lawn-blower blasted birds were white doves, but this was the most appropriate image of Ms. Panettiere I could find for this blurb. Read the whole story here: Hayden Panettiere’s bird row.

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    Posted in Offbeat | 2 Comments

    Funny Google auto-complete suggestions

    When using Google to search the internet, suggested phrases appear after you type in a few letters if you have the auto-complete functionality turned on. It’s a great tool to see what are the top searched phrases that start with words you’re researching.

    I had some fun with this tonight by searching for bird-related phrases. When I typed birds are in the search box, two of the top phrases that came up were birds are endotherms or warm-blooded animals. hypothesize how this can be an advantage for the birds and birds are spies they report to the trees. That last one is one of the coolest band names I’ve ever heard of.


    Typing birds with led me to birds with funny names which led me to some interesting lists.

    Here are a couple of other searches I tried:

    where do birdsgo when it rains | go during a hurricane

    what are birdswe just don’t know | afraid of

    why don’t birdsget shocked on power lines | freeze in the winter | have teeth

    Have you found any funny or interesting suggestions when using Google?

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    Posted in Offbeat, Search Terms | 4 Comments

    Orcas to drive away cormorants

    The Dutch group Sportvisserij Nederland plans to use recordings of calling killer whales (orcas) to drive away cormorants from some bodies of water. This unique method of bird deterrence, a French concept, will begin a trial run soon in Limburg.

    Klotputten by Jos Dielis, Creative Commons on Flickr

    Cormorants have no natural enemies in the Netherlands and in recent years their population has boomed. In the last 25 years the number of birds has increased twenty-fold. Management of the cormorants across Europe has been a hot issue for many years, especially for fish management.

    High concentrations of cormorant nests are known to kill trees and ruin habitat for other water birds like herons. During several guided birding excursions in Holland, we saw the destruction caused by cormorant invasions and heard of the issues the wildlife managers faced.

    Source: Orkageluid moet aalscholver verjagen

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    Posted in Netherlands, Offbeat | Leave a comment

    Why can’t screens protect jet engines from bird strikes?

    If you’ve ever wondered why the airlines don’t protect their planes from bird strikes by screening over the jet engines, check out this article from the New York Times.

    The Times also has an interesting photo being called evidence of the first airplane bird strike. The photo of a French military plane was taken in 1916. Like US Airways 1549, the French plane also landed safely.

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    Posted in Aside, Offbeat | Leave a comment

    Morphing Owl video

    This first came out over a year ago but it seems to be making the rounds again and I’ve just seen it for the first time. Watch how this Southern White-faced Scops Owl reacts to two different predators.

    NOTE: the YouTube video to which this post originally linked has been removed from the site; I swapped in the clip below on 09-FEB-11

    The first reaction occurs at about 1:00 and the second, more interesting, starts at about 1:40.

    Read more here. NOTE: link also updated 09-FEB-11

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    Posted in Africa, Offbeat, Video | 1 Comment