Adam Riley has spent the last week on tour in Austria and Hungary and one of the many highlights has been extended views of Bearded Reedling. This secretive reed-dweller represents a monotypic bird family and hence is highly sought-after by bird family tickers. We were treated to great views of this bearded male in Hungary.
speaking of being a massive ecology nerd, guess what season it is, folks!
That’s right, it’s FLEDGLING BIRD SEASON here in North America, which means it’s time for an annual reminder that most species of birds have almost no sense of smell. Someone probably told you that if you touch a baby bird, the mother will smell you on it and reject her baby. THAT IS NOT THE CASE.
Pictured: a young Mourning Dove, after being rescued from the tender mercies of my dog, circa spring 2005. It’s a fledgling! Note how it has most of its feathers, but still looks a bit awkward and scruffy, and, being unable to properly fly, can be caught by an elderly husky or a child.
Hatchlings: IF it is covered in fluffy down (or partly naked) and cannot flutter successfully, it’s a hatchling, and has fallen from its nest prematurely. Look for the nest- if you find it and can reach it, return baby and then gtfo and let the parents return. If you can’t find the nest, or if you find it in pieces on the ground, use a small box lined with dryer lint or dog hair or similar fluff and attach as close as possible to where you found the bird or where you think the nest was. Return baby!!!!
Fledglings: If you spot a young bird covered with feathers on the ground, chances are it’s a fledgling (bird tween, can flutter) who is not doing well in flying 101, but it is probably NOT injured or sick. Hanging out on the ground is part of the learning to fly process! If it looks like it’s in immediate danger (i.e. of being run over, stepped on, or eaten by a cat or dog), the best thing you can do for it is to gently scoop it up and place it in the branches of a nearby tree or shrub, and then LEAVE. The parents are likely nearby, and will return once the coast is clear of humans/predators. If it flutter-hops away from you and you can’t catch it, then don’t worry! It just successfully avoided a predator (you), and therefore can probably continue to do so.
DON’T DON’T DON’T: Try to feed it, bring it into your house or car, or take it to your local vet or animal shelter.
IF it IS actually for-real injured, you can catch it and contact a local wildlife rehabilitation professional (and then listen to whatever they tell you), but keep in mind that they get a LOT of fledgling birds, and those birds have a pretty high mortality rate. They may tell you that there is nothing you or they can do but allow nature to take its course, and that’s hard, but important to hear and respect.
American Dickwood This little dick is hard to see because he’s colored like leaf litter. That’s ok, though, because aside from its name, this woodcock is hardly worth mentioning. It’s got a small fat body, short legs, and a big fat head. The eyes are set way too far back, making this bird look extra stupid. Probably so it can see while it has its weird flexible bill jammed into the ground right up to its face trying to find worms. Color: dirt
Fact: The American woodcock is colloquially referred to as a “timberdoodle”. People also call it a “bogsucker”, “mudsnipe”, or “Labrador steamer”. Nobody respects this bird.
I have been invaded by Starlings today, and it resulted in a TON of pictures. This is a glimpse. I never knew a bird tongue could look like this. It is like there is a middle “beak layer”. I present to you - a Starling Tongue. Can an ornithologist confirm that this what it is supposed to look like and it is not like the Starling has a piece of his tongue frozen or something?
These birds always catch me off guard. Turns out I had been taking down a mist net without noticing the owl perched five feet above me! This individual was dozing off in the setting sun, which made its typically-dull plumage appear reddish-brown.
One of my favorite birds, the limpkin! (A close second to caracaras).
Limpkins are also called crying birds from their haunting cry that echoes through the swamps. There is an South American folktale about a man who never made time to grieve for his deceased mother and was eventually so overcome with grief that he turned into a limpkin and that is why the bird cries.
Limpkins almost vanished from Florida due to habitat loss and their main food, the Florida apple snail, disappearing. Limpkins were saved by an unlikely species, an invasive apple snail from South America. This new food source brought back Limpkin (and Snail Kite) populations that were once so close to disappearing from Florida forever.
My two bycatches today were both in-the-hand lifers for me: pine warbler and brown-headed nuthatch!
Sadly, neither of these guys could be banded since they’re not on my permit or protocols yet. Brown-headed nuthatch is pending though– they’re cooperative breeders and a great model species for studies in social networking!
And this <3 What a lovely surprise when I checked my photos tonight! Apparently, Mrs. Cardi took a bath before she went to the booth to get a little snack fed by her loving hubba. Yes, the kiss pic is blurry, but I included it anyway, for proof :D