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

New bird exhibit in Chicago

A new permanent exhibit called “Birds of Chicago” opened at The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum last Friday. The Nature Museum is located in Chicago at 2430 North Cannon Drive.

Learn about birds native to Illinois, with nearly 100 specimens on display that date back to the early 1900s. The birds range in age, size, color and rarity, showcasing everything from the large Midwest turkey and the common blue jay to the endangered prairie chicken. Touch screen kiosks provide visitors with additional information on the birds.

Visit The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum website for more information.

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Posted in Aside, Illinois | 1 Comment

Stimulating Dutch Sparrows

Amsterdam members of the Dutch political party GroenLinks (Green Left) want residents and businesses to help stimulate the city’s population of House Sparrows. GroenLinks is asking that new roof construction and roof renovations include sparrow-friendly ‘Vogelvide’ roof tiles.

The number of House Sparrows in the Netherlands has declined by 50% in the last 25 years. GroenLinks is asking Amsterdam to subsidize use of the bird-friendly roof tiles to help with the declining sparrow population.

Sparrows by barockschloss, Creative Commons on Flickr

In 2006, 100 new homes in Noordwijk, Alkmaar, Hardenberg and Amsterdam were fitted with the Vogelvide roof tiles.

Source: Geef de mus een huis in de Amsterdamse binnenstad

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Posted in Netherlands | 1 Comment

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

    Crested Lark believed extinct in the Netherlands

    Thirty years ago, the Crested Lark (kuifleeuwerik in Dutch) was an abundant species in the Netherlands. Today they are much harder to find in the rapidly developing Western European country.

    23003 Kuifleeuwerik / Crested Lark
    23003 Kuifleeuwerik / Crested Lark by Vlaskop, Creative Commons on Flickr

    Thirty years ago there were from three to five thousand breeding pairs of Crested Lark in the Netherlands. Today there are no breeding pairs left, according to Dutch bird research group SOVON. The preferred breeding grounds of the birds – flat, sandy patches – has been rapidly wiped out by industrial and new residential construction.

    Source: Kuifleeuwerik verdwijnt uit Nederland

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    Posted in Endangered, Extinct, Netherlands | 1 Comment

    Now that’s some fast development!

    Researchers have found that bird species known as “white-eyes” develop faster than other species.

    DNA analysis reveals that all 80 species of white eyes emerged in the last 2 million years.

    A handful of other birds and mammals have been known to adapt to new environments in such short order, but white eyes are unique because their speciation isn’t a simple reaction to shifts in local habitats, said study author Christopher Filardi.

    “White-eyes evolved into dozens of new species extremely fast while simultaneously spreading across much of [the southern] hemisphere,” he said. “At this geographic scale, there is no one thing from the outside that could have made this happen; there is something special about those birds.”

    White eyes may evolve faster, in part, because females can start breeding as young as four months old. It takes most tropical songbirds closer to a year to reach sexual maturity, Filardi explained.

    And unlike most birds, white eyes are hardwired to be social. They forage, travel, and even preen together, making it easier for them to colonize, according to the study.

    Silvereye/Waxeye/Tauhou closeup
    Silvereye/Waxeye/Tauhou closeup by digitaltrails, Creative Commons on Flickr

    Read the whole article DNA Confirms Fastest Evolving Birds.

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    Posted in Ornithology | Leave a comment