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I would have loved to see those snowy egrets and loggerhead shrikes! Certainly having water bodies near you increases your chances of seeing many, many different birds.

Today I saw a flock of Canada geese flying in their typical V-formation, no doubt in process of migrating south. I also saw a small flock of grackles and a larger flock of starlings. All were just twittering away in the trees. Aside from the common house sparrows that live here year round I didn't see any other birds. Yesterday I saw a cardinal, blue jay, crows, and a red tailed hawk.


Debbie Grejdus
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You are so right Debbie about riparian areas potentially being host to a variety of disparate species of birds. This time of year when Little Shu-Shu and myself go birding every late afternoon 1-2 hours before sunset, at and within 200 yards of "Cemetery Pond," we see in an hour or so between 18-25 species of birds, many of them in large flocks/groupings.

Yesterday at that time we saw the following species:
violet-crowned Hummingbirds
magnificent hummingbirds
streak-backed orioles, male and female
orchard orioles, male
barn swallows
tree swallows
common moorhens
American coots
pied-billed grebes
vermillion flycatchers, male and female
Western Kingbirds (up to a hundred loudly cavorting high in the trees)
house finch, male and female
lesser goldfinch, male and female
groove-billed anis
common ground doves
blue grosbeaks, male and female
golden-fronted woodpeckers, male and female
turkey vultures
blue-grey gnatcatchers
white-collared seedeaters
loggerhead shrikes

Alas, for the first time in a week no black phoebe yesterday but there's always today!

Have you ever seen loggerhead shrikes?

They are really "cool" birds despite their reputation (although in five years of viewing them I have never seen them do it) of impaling their prey-primarily insects like grasshoppers and dragonflies and occasionally lizards, small rodents and small birds- on thorns and barbed wire in order to be able to consume them. You see, the shrikes are lovely white, black and grey 8-9" black masked birds of prey that lack the talons of raptors but have a hooked beak to capture and consume their prey.

Here they are always seen perched prominently on top of small-medium sized trees. About 1/3rd of a mile from the pond in the middle of a millet field there is a solitary tree that was left there to provide shade for the cattle when the field is fallow. Most of the time when I pass by it there is normally one and sometimes two shrikes perched atop of it-hence, I call that tree "the shrike tree."

In flight they are easy to identify as they directly zip through the air displaying their three colors.

LHS' who are classified as songbirds make a variety of sounds but their most common call is a series of distinctive harsh screeching notes of which Maria gets a kick out of it when I ask her if she heard the "shrike shriking."

Last edited by LanceB.- Alter Ego; 10/17/13 02:23 AM.
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I have seen snowy egrets a few times, but not the loggerhead shrikes. I have known for years what they are and I always liked the looks of them, but my area is not in their range, unfortunately.


Debbie Grejdus
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Bird Name Pet Peeve #2
(to be addressed in another post, Bird Name Pet Peeve #1)

When I first got involved in birding a few years ago, an experienced birding guide verbally chastised me as I had the audacity to refer to a bird we had seen as a "seagull." She firmly corrected me by saying that there was no such species as a "seagull" but rather each type of gull has a specific name. This new and what proved to be highly accurate information was in direct contradiction to what I had been led to believe in Boston, Mass as a child by no less than an authority as Barney the (puppet) Seagull Weatherbird on a local tv channel who each night at 11PM provided the meteorological forecast. Didn't Barney himself know what he was after all?

After doing some research, I discovered that there were worldwide 43 species of gulls, none of them named "sea." In Mexico alone, over twenty species of gulls occur there with some of the most common ones being California gulls, Franklin's gulls, Heermann's (no not Herman's!) gulls and Laughing gulls- even though my favorite gull is named a Mew gull although it hardly resembles any feline that I am familiar with.

Consequently, I have become a zealous convert in not only attempting to identify each gull I see by its proper name (or at least not say "oh no not another seagull!") as no two species of gulls are identical in appearance but also in trying to inform others that at the very least when seeing a gull one should acknowledge that they are individual species with no "sea" in them no matter where they were viewed.

So, if you ever hear anybody ask "why are seagulls called seagulls? Because if they flew over the bay, they'd be called bagels!", you will know that they themselves have flown over the cuckoo's nest!

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The Mew gull is a nice looking bird. I like the Herring Gull and the Black Backed gull.

I remember years ago sitting in my car eating lunch at a place called the "cove", an area by a river. I would stick my hand out the window with some food and the gulls would fly right up to my hand to grab a snack.


Debbie Grejdus
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What really gets my gander, even more so than when people (definitely not Debbie though, as she really knows her gulls!) call all gulls, no matter what their given name may be, seagulls, is calling those seemingly ubiquitous, messy, loud and assertive (ok, aggressive!) geese Canadian rather than their rightful name Canada. For some reason, primarily many people from the U.S. think that those geese are named Canadian. Just because that name is frequently misapplied in current usage does not make it correct or appropriate to do so.

So, let's get the straight poop about those geese. Despite the urban legend that has grown about them, there is no credence to the assertion that they are named after a (mythical?) taxidermist, John Canada, who allegedly was the first to identify them and named them after himself. In reality, they first appeared in Carl Linnaeus' seminal work Systema Naturae in 1772 under the Latin name Branta canadensis. In 1836 James Audobon called it the Canada Goose.

Presently, all North American field guides to birds refer to them only as the Canada Goose as does the well-respected The Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Yet, they are still often called Canadian even though that is not their rightful name. One need look no further than BellaOnline's Birding Site to receive verification of this prevalent misinformation. At that site's current Top Ten list of articles, there are two articles about those geese, one correctly titled "Canada Goose Migration Map" while the other is incorrectly titled "Predators of the Canadian Goose." When I clicked onto the latter article, at the bottom of it there were ten goose links using the word Canadian while none said Canada. Wanting to quote from one of those links, an article titled "Canadian Geese or Canada Geese?" that I had previously increduously read that presented from my perspective a misguided attempt to justify calling them Canadian Geese, I was connected instead to an article about Redhead Ducks.

So, please let's not be a silly goose and call them by the wrong name. My wife Maria knows to call them Canada, although those of you who may have read a previous post on RAFT in regards to Maria and swimming birds, may correctly surmise that she calls them Canada Ducks!

Got to run now as it's time for me to feed my bow wow, Little Shu-Shu.

Last edited by edwardd1; 10/18/13 03:29 AM.
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O Canada Goose

O Canada the land multitudes of us call home,
Why not declare us the national bird.
An idea that certainly is not absurd,
As our identity we are proud regardless how far we roam.

O we are named Canada, glutinous, glorious and free.
Jingoistically we deserve more recognition than the loon or pelican,
But please do not call us Canadian.
O Canada our nomenclature is, as any other name sends us up a tree.

O we are the Canada Goose!
Boisterous, bold, brave and exponentially multiplying,
It's in our nature without even trying.
Even if they could fly, we are better than any darn moose!




Gulleslly, I thank you for getting this far. As a reward, I will spare you from the yet unwritten A Gull Without a Sea.

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In five days for a little over a week I will be in the "birders paradise" of San Blas, Nayarit. Due to its varied habitats SB and its environs is home to numerous western Mexican endemics, a fine selection of widespread tropical species, and in fall/winter, large numbers of migrant landbirds and waterbirds.

While there, pretty much birding from dawn till dusk, the following are the top 36 birds I hope to experience while I am there. Most of the species on this list I have seen before with only a couple of exceptions. Many are "old friends" that I want to revisit with. Many are quite "common" while others much less so. Some really "cool" birds will not be making the list as I will not be venturing off to the habitats they frequent. Around 300 species of birds occur in and around SB. Except for the first three species this list is in no particular order.

Top 36 Birds I Hope to See in San Blas

1. Blue-Footed Boobies
2. Lesser-Ground Cuckoos
3. Elegant Quail
4. Golden-Cheeked Woodpeckers
5. Acorn Woodpeckers
6. Black-Throated Magpie Jays
7. San Blas Jays
8. Purplish-Backed Jays
9. Yellow-Winged Caciques
10. Lineated Woodpeckers
11. Pale-Billed Woodpeckers
12. Colima Pygmy-Owls
12. Ferruginous Pygmy-Owls
13. Squirrel Cuckoos
14. Rusty-Crowned Ground Sparrows
15. Magnificent Frigate Birds
16. Green Kingfishers
17. Belted Kingfishers
18. Wood Storks
19. Roseate Sponbills
20. Anhingas
21. Reddish Egrets
22. Tri-Colored Herons
23. American Oyster Catchers
24. Royal Terns
25. American White Pelicans
26. Orange-Fronted Parakeets
27. Mexican Parrotletts
28. Crested Caracaras
29. Blue Mockingbirds
30. Cinnamon Hummingbirds
31. Citreoline Trogons
32. Elegant Trogons
33. Mountain Trogons
34. Russet-Crowned Motmots
35. Rufous-Bellied Chacalacas
36. Painted Buntings

This was indeed a daunting and highly subjective task coming up with only 36 top birds as I should be seeing over 150 species and dozens upon dozens of really neat birds were not included that I probably will be experiencing.

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I think you are going to really enjoy your trip to San Blas.

"For man, as for flower and beast and bird, the supreme triumph is to be most vividly, most perfectly alive."

~D.H. Lawrence


Debbie Grejdus
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H.D. Thoreau and R.W. Emerson one a naturalist the other a transcendentalist, Two Robins in a Nest?

"I once had a sparrow alight upon my shoulder for a moment, while I was hoeing in a village garden, and I felt that I was more distinguished by that circumstance that I should have been by any epaulet I could have worn."
Henry David Thoreau

"Hear! hear!" screamed the jay from a neighboring tree, where I had heard a tittering for some time, "winter has a concentrated and nutty kernel, if you know where to look for it."
Henry David Thoreau

"The bluebird carries the sky on his back."

Henry David Thoreau

"O birds, your perfect virtues bring,
Your song, your forms, your rhythmic flight,
Your manners for your heart’s delight,
Nestle in hedge, or barn, or roof,
Here weave your chamber weather-proof,
Forgive our harms, and condescend
To man, as to a lubber friend,
And, generous, teach his awkward race
Courage, and probity, and grace!"

RALPH WALDO EMERSON, May-Day and Other Pieces






Last edited by edwardd1; 10/21/13 08:47 PM.
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