Monday, August 8, 2011

Around the Yard and Around the Web

Crows are geeks.

And if you have any doubt, let me offer some evidence.  This crow is clearly an "early adopter".  I photographed him this weekend helping himself to cherries in the cherry tree. 

Even though the cherries are very ripe, most of the birds haven't quite gotten around to feasting on them yet.  (Although, Saturday night, coming home from a monthly poker game, my roommate and I surprised a raccoon in the tree.  He -- actual gender unknown -- was pretty small, so I'm guessing he was one of this year's crop.  I got to see his masked face for just a second before he vanished into the shadows. )  The crow however is on top of things, and getting first jump on the cherries.



It continues to be an exciting year for fledglings and juveniles.  At least one group of House Sparrow young'uns is coming of age around my yard.  I now have photos of them at several stages of development.  I suspect that there is more than one group though, because I took some photographs of slightly older fledglings a week or so before I caught shots of younger ones. (You can see those photos here and here.)  

Saturday morning there was a juvenile House Sparrow raising quite a ruckus in the front yard.  It went on for almost ten minutes with him flitting from bush to bush.  I never did figure out what he was so agitated about, and eventually he quieted down and went back to his normal routine.  But I did get some good shots while he was pontificating.

Timmy's Friend
I also managed to get some good shots of my resident Pigeon Timmy, along with his frequent companion.  Timmy is the larger pigeon with the lighter colored wings.  I have also noticed a new pigeon in the neighborhood -- a thin, mostly white pigeon that I haven't seen until recently.  I'll keep an eye on this new arrival and see if I can get some photos.

The great challenge of the season, for me, remains the House Finch fledglings.  The couple has been here almost all year, and I was pretty sure they were nesting nearby, but so far I have no definitive proof of juvenile finches.  I saw some birds recently on the rail that could have been the elusive youngsters, but I didn't get a good enough look, and couldn't get any photos.  Like Captain Ahab, though, I will continue to pursue them.

Updates, Follow-ups and interesting links

I was very happy to be included in the most recent Carnival of Evolution.  If you haven't seen it (or don't know what a blog carnival is -- I didn't until recently) it is basically a regular round up of  blog writing on a certain topic -- in this case evolution, which is broad enough to include many things.  My recent post Game Show Pigeons and Ball Playing Dogs was included and I've been gratified to see a nice up-tick in viewings as a result.  If you're interested in biology, evolution, science writing or any number of related topics I suggest you check it out.  It comes out monthly and is hosted on a different blog each time.  This edition was hosted on Lawrence E. Moran's blog Sandwalk -- which is, itself, well worth checking out.  (There's even a musical interlude called "Cambrian Explosion" that you really have to see.)

There are blog carnivals, by the way, on all kinds of topics.  If you're curious, you can check out Blog Carnival to get an idea of what's out there.

One of the people who found my posting from the carnival was Roslyn Dakin, a PhD student from Kingston, Ontario.  Turns out, she also has an interest in the Monty Hall problem.  Her take is somewhat different than mine and well worth checking out.  In fact, her whole blog is very rewarding.  You can check out her Monty Hall article here, and her most recent posts here.

And, finally, there's a great article in the Grand Forks Herald recently, by Herald editor/publisher Mike Jacobs.  "Target Species Enrich Birding Experience", about the joys and expenses of having a birding wish list.  (I have a wish list -- both local and more farfetched -- which I'll be sharing in the near future.)  

If you like Birdland West, you might also want to check out our sister blog Books and Beasts, which focuses on reviews of books about animals and related topics.

(Many of the original photographs featured on Birdland West are available for sale as art quality prints.  You can check out all of our offerings at  If you see an image here that does not show up on our Imagekind site please contact me directly and I'll let you know about availability.)


  1. Thanks Alex. Speaking of crows, have you seen this study:

  2. I hadn't actually seen the study, although I did hear about this phenomenon -- I believe it was in John Marzluff's PBS special. Marzluff is here at the University of Washington and has done a lot of the groundbreaking work on crows.