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Lily Valley

BIRDS (and how to look at them)

75 posts in this topic

Now that I am officially going to retire from the human race, I've decided to become a bird.  It has occurred to me that I need to determine what KIND of bird.

Here is what I know about birds (thank you very much, you know who you are.)

I just got some brand new goggles and I'm waiting on my first field guide.  I have started sorting "Small / Medium /Large" birds into "sparrow/pigeon/  that's huge".  

I want to talk about birds.  

Today, a mystery bird that I have been scratching my head over showed up and sat with the pigeons at the morning business meeting (the telephone wire behind my house).  Usually these birds are all grey, and since I'm an amateur I classified it as "about pigeon sized, but not-pigeon".  It's smaller than a pigeon but bigger than a sparrow and TODAY, I saw that it had a bright color on it's throat.  I suspect sexual dimorphism.

IT'S A CLUE!!!!!   I am going to get back to my research and try to figure out what kind of not-pigeon it is.  

If anyone else wants to talk about birds, bird books, bird goggles or bird journaling, pictures of birds, bird telescopes, tripods or birds, I'm here all week.

I'm in New Orleans and work right next to city park (BIRD PARK) and will be taking my new goggles and new identification process OUT IN THE FIELD soon.

What kind of not-pigeons live near you?

 

 

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The Great Potoo is always an option and a lofty goal. Definitely not for everyone though.

Australian Magpie (technically a Butcherbird if I remember correctly) perhaps.

 

We of course have pigeons, and plenty of species of gulls. Sparrows, starlings, blackbirds, jays, rooks, magpies and crows are quite common. Nuthatches and treecreepers are lovely to see in the local parks, as are the various species of tit.

Edited by Seli

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I love the raptors. We've cleaned up our environment and waterways, and now we have multiple bald eagle nests for the first time in over 200 years. My favorites are the peregrine falcons, though. We have several falcon and eagle cams set up, and both the eagles and the falcons have adapted remarkably well to urban environments. One pair is painful to watch--the last two years have taken their toll on raptor watchers because, well, it's pretty gruesome. That nest has been a soap opera. (See Hope and Terzo at the Cathedral of Learning.) But it's fun to watch the hatchlings grow from white fluffballs to young juveniles in a matter of weeks. 

There's a local old guy who rehabs birds of prey and is known simply as "The Bird Man"--I have no idea what his real name is! He used to go around to the local schools and the nature center and give presentations to the kids, who got a kick out of it. 

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Thanks for this! I am keenly interested though as a city dweller it's usually “pigeon”, “not pigeon”, and “oh f*ck that’s a falcon outside my window chasing a flock of probably not pigeons”. 

Edited by Mlle. Zabzie

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Here in the Netherlands there are also some areas where improved environmental protection is visible, even though it is still not stopping the decline of many other birds. Back in the 80's many raptors had become rare, and storks were only surviving due to rearing programs. Now they are a quite common sight. And a lovely sight at that.

 

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There is a (usually) dry creek bed behind my house and for living pretty close to the central part of the city I see a lot of wildlife back there.  Austin is reasonably green anyway, but I think the creek bed serves as one of the city's wildlife thoroughfares.  I've seen raccoons, possums, lots of squirrels, a GIANT snapping turtle that looked mean as shit, a couple of smallish snakes that I couldn't identify, and a number of birds that you wouldn't necessarily expect in the city.  

One day when there was a little bit of water in the creek I went out there and spotted what I think was a great blue heron.  It was a gigantic bird.  Seen a couple hawks around, too.  Then Hurricane Harvey knocked down a few trees around the neighborhood, one of which was on the opposite side of the creek and it created an almost tree bridge across the creek bed that I see birds come and land on all the time now.  One day I was back there and spotted a large owl chillin' on the tree no more than 10 or 15 feet away from me.  I took a picture and tried to look it up and I think it was a 'Barred owl".   It didn't give a shit about my presence at all.  It knew I was there, and eventually I went inside and got my gf to show her the owl and it was still doing its thing when we got back and we got to watch it for another 15-20 minutes.  

Another interesting local bird quirk are the parakeets.  They're non-native but I guess the climate suits them and enough parakeets have apparently escaped over the years that there's a colony of wild ones.  I spot them every now and then around town.  

But I can't talk about birds of Austin, Texas without mentioning the Grackle.  These motherfuckers are creepy little shit birds and they are god damn everywhere.  And actually they aren't that little, they are a fairly decent sized bird.  They absolutely love parking lots.  If you go to any grocery store in Austin at dusk there will be THOUSANDS of Grackles.  They will fill up every tree, they will line all of the nearby power lines, and they will be making a hell of a racket.  They did a thing about them on the local NPR station one time and apparently a parking lot mimics their favorite natural habitat which would be an open field or plain with periodic trees scattered around so they have a nice little perch to scout for danger.  There seriously must be millions of these birds in the area.  I've gotten so used to them I don't think much of it anymore, but the first couple of times you see a parking lot overrun by them it feels like something out of Hitchcock's The Birds.

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On Grackles:   Is this what all the not-crows are?  I'm seeing a LOT of smallish grey birds that are between the size of a sparrow and a pigeon.  The pictures of the grackles I've found are shiny and black, not grey.  These are some non-descript looking birds I'm seeing everywhere.  I had hoped the brighter (brown?  Orange?  Orangy brown?) I was seeing this morning would help me on my google search, but alas.

I got nothing.  

Edit:  I need to lure them CLOSER TO ME.  I am currently looking for cat-proof feeders.  (This is not a SNACK station, kitties!!!).

Edited by Lily Valley

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It is worth getting a physical book with local bird species. They work so much easier when you are not completely sure what you are searching for. An internet search afterwards can always help with more varied images.

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3 minutes ago, Lily Valley said:

On Grackles:   Is this what all the not-crows are?  I'm seeing a LOT of smallish grey birds that are between the size of a sparrow and a pigeon.  The pictures of the grackles I've found are shiny and black, not grey.  These are some non-descript looking birds I'm seeing everywhere.  I had hoped the brighter (brown?  Orange?  Orangy brown?) I was seeing this morning would help me on my google search, but alas.

I got nothing.  

Edit:  I need to lure them CLOSER TO ME.  I am currently looking for cat-proof feeders.  (This is not a SNACK station, kitties!!!).

I'm no expert, but I would have to say not-crows is a pretty good description of grackles.  Apparently they are from Mexico and have gradually spread their range into and across Texas over the last 30 years or something.  New Orleans isn't too far away, so I would not be surprised if y'all are experiencing the early stages of the Grackle invasion.  However grackles are definitely at least as big as a pigeon and often a little bigger (if less chubby) and they do tend to be shiny and black so almost certainly they are not your smaller-than-a-pigeon greyish bird.  

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25 minutes ago, Lily Valley said:

On Grackles:   Is this what all the not-crows are?  I'm seeing a LOT of smallish grey birds that are between the size of a sparrow and a pigeon.  The pictures of the grackles I've found are shiny and black, not grey.  These are some non-descript looking birds I'm seeing everywhere.  I had hoped the brighter (brown?  Orange?  Orangy brown?) I was seeing this morning would help me on my google search, but alas.

I got nothing.  

Edit:  I need to lure them CLOSER TO ME.  I am currently looking for cat-proof feeders.  (This is not a SNACK station, kitties!!!).

Was it this?

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I LOVE birds. Not as much as I love dogs and all other canines, but I still love birds.

About 10 years ago moved out to the eastern shore of Maryland from central Maryland. So some same birds, Robins, Crows, Red Winged Black Birds, Hawks, Blue Jays, Cardinals, and Baltimore Orioles (the kind with feathers not baseball mitts - though both are rare to be seen deep into October :P ).

But lots of water fowl here. Pelicans. Seagulls of course. (Why do seagulls fly by the sea? Because if they flew by the bay they'd be bagels. Sorry :blush: ) So many Canadian Geese! Lots of ducks, mallards mostly but we had a big Rouen duck (about 2 1/2 times bigger than a mallard) for a while and some domestic white ones that interbred with the mallards so we have some brown/black/blue/gray females or the green/brown/gray/blue males that have the some domestic white feathers mixed in. For three years in a row we had a female duck make her nest and lay her eggs in the same bush in my front yard. Each year once the eggs hatch they mama takes her ducklings to the pond and they don't come back to the nest. Also have some beautiful herons, they're as tall as flamingos, to see them take off into the sky is really something.

Watching the geese fly is something too. When they are in the air they are graceful, but well they're really roly poly like turkeys and are anything but graceful in take offs and landings.

We also have turkey vultures (buzzards) that during the day are just constantly circling overhead like in a cartoon. It's a little disconcerting but they're just forever on the look out for roadkill and other carrion.

During the night we have the owls alert, and you can hear them hooting all night. Oh yeah, and the geese snore. In unison. Sounds like a bunch of lumberjacks with buzz saws in the distance. Anyway, I've gone out at night and seen owls in the big tree in my front yard.

Then we have this other bird, it's smaller than a pigeon, a little bigger than sparrow but its colors are black gray and white and not bright color at its throat. I had to research and learn what exactly this bird was and determined it was a Northern Mocking Bird. Every year we have lots of them building nests in the bushes and trees around here. But one year this particularly feisty one built a nest in the big tree in our front yard and this was the one that prompted me to do figure out what the hell kind of bird it was.

Every day when I'd go out with my dog, when my dog would go over by the tree the mockingbird would hop down and make threatening trills at my dog. Not only that, it turned its back on my dog fanning its tail out. I thought it was the funniest thing. My dog just ignored it as she sniffed around the tree, while the mockingbird trilled louder and louder, and more mockingbirds from other nests in the area came over and also tried to distract my dog away from the tree. Every day for a few weeks it did this!

One day about a month into summer I went out with my dog. The mocking bird didn't come out of the tree, but I saw it in the middle of the cul-de-sac and there were these four other things around it that from the distance I was looking, looked like big white grass hoppers. Then the mockingbird flew towards a neighbor's yard and the "grasshoppers" ran after it. They were the newly hatched babies of course.

Also, these birds sometimes are nocturnal! But mostly on bright moonlit nights. On cool nights in the Spring when I sleep with the window open, there's bushes right outside and they make a racket! Also, a few times I got fooled. Again with my dog, she'd have to go out at night to do her business. So I'd walk her around the house. It'd be a nice night, the moon bright in the sky and I'd see something white in grass. I thought it was a crumpled up paper napkin blown in from a neighbor's yard. Then we'd get closer to it and it would take off running and flying but staying close to the ground and trilling loudly. Very startling at night, you don't expect to see these kinds of birds out and active like that! All in all, fun little birds with big personalities!

One story about birds from where I lived in central Maryland. One day I heard a hell of a racket in my backyard. I went out to see what was going on. There was an eagle flying around being attacked by crows. The eagle was about 5 times bigger than any one of the crows but there were like ten crows. I'm guessing it was a territorial thing. The crows were merciless. They kept attacking the eagle over and over, cawing, cackling, crowing, making such loud noises until finally the eagle broke free of all the crows and just took off getting the hell out of there.

Also, I had a pet bird, a macaw for about 15 years.

 

Dinosaurs never did go extinct, they just got a little smaller and grew feathers...maybe they always had the feathers.

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22 minutes ago, drawkcabi said:

Dinosaurs never did go extinct, they just got a little smaller and grew feathers...maybe they always had the feathers.


See, I was going to post this.

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14 minutes ago, polishgenius said:


See, I was going to post this.

Sorry. But I think anyone who had a pet bird when Jurassic Park after seeing the movie never looked at their "Tweety Pie" the same way again. I know I didn't.

Another thing that makes this a good world -

Ravens actual can say "Nevermore":

 

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1 hour ago, Seli said:

It is worth getting a physical book with local bird species. They work so much easier when you are not completely sure what you are searching for. An internet search afterwards can always help with more varied images.

Or perhaps...

 

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12 minutes ago, Lily Valley said:

IT IS A GRACKLE!   A LADY Grackle!

Woo hoo!  Mystery solved :)

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This is the kinda shit I'm talking about.  Harbingers of the apocalypse.  

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@Manhole Eunuchsbane

LOLOL!!!  I am so sad POS birds is not a real book!

Drawk, the Northern Mockingbird is the one not-pigeon I can identify.  I love them.  We had one that used to come meaow at my indoor cat in the window.  PEST!  I love their flippy tails and the white stripe beneath their wings.  I love being surprised to see them when I'm expecting a duck or a crow (from the call).  I do NOT love them when they've grown up around people with car alarms!!!  :(

I forgot my new goggles and it's nearing sunset.  I'm off work and right by BIRD PARK.  Will not make this mistake tomorrow.  :nods:

Edit:  @S John   YIKES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  

Edited by Lily Valley

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