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May 25, 2018

Closely related to the Black Butcherbird...

 Photo above: Genevieve Vallee / Alamy
Immature Australian Magpies (top) are seen in New South Wales, Australia. They are also found in New Zealand, southern New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Fiji.
Scientists have found that the magpies can understand other birds calls. I wonder if that means they merely recognize other birds calls or do they know the meanings of other birds' calls.
Please comment if you wish.

May 24, 2018

Elegant teamwork...

Photo: STR/EPA
A pair of Egrets build their nest in the Panbazar area, on the banks of the Brahmaputa River in the sprawling city of Guwahati, in northeastern India.
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May 23, 2018

One of the world's most formidable birds...

Photo: Maxmilian Hornisch
The annual competition of the Society of German Wildlife Photographers, which showcases talented European Union photographers, has chosen its 2018 winner: German photographer Maxmilian Hornisch's image of a Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos).   The photo (above) was the overall winner and first place in the birds category.   A description of the winning image states: 'Temperatures are rising, the snow melts and water slowly cuts its way down into the valley ... The Golden Eagle floats in through the retreating veil looking for winter's leftovers ... Numerous avalanches in the mountains have taken their toll, offering the Golden Eagles a generous supply of food after the snow is gone ... Two days later there was going to be new snow, heavily restricting the Golden Eagle's food supply once more'.
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May 22, 2018

Green Peafowl endangered in Cambodia...

Photo: Tang Chhin Sothy/AFP/Getty Images
A large Green Peafowl (a.k.a. peacock) is seen on a parked delivery van in a street of Phnom Penh in Cambodia.  Nearby residents say the bird is an escaped pet.   The I.U.C.N. classifies these peafowl as endangered in Cambodia with rapidly declining populations due to diminishing forest and hunting, which might explain this startling photo in a busy urban setting.
Please comment if you wish.  

May 21, 2018

Stilts are found around the world...

Photo: Mei Yongcun / Barcroft Images
MBlack-winged StiltM
(Himantopus himantopus)
Two Black-winged Stilts rest on a shoal near Anhai town at Jinjiang City, in China's Fujan Province.   In addition to the Black-winged Stilt, there are five other species and two sub-species of stilts found all over the world, including North and South America, Hawaii, Europe,  Africa, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, and Indonesia.
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May 20, 2018

Time for cygnets to hatch...

Photo: Graham Hunt / Alamy
MAbbotsbury SwanneryM
The first of this year's cygnets have hatched at Abbotsbury Swannery in Dorset, England.  I have never come across the word swannery before.  What a great sound is has!   Of course it is simply defined as a place for breeding swans, but for me there is something about the word swannery  that suggests things like elegance, verve, stylishness and flair, etc., etc.  However, I'm sure I will probably never actually use the wonderful word swannery in my normal course of routine.
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May 19, 2018

Hey! I'm talking to you...

Photo: Shivang Mehta / Alamy

A Chinkara or Indian Gazelle is seen getting an earful from a Rufous Treepie (Dendrocitta vagabunda) bird in Ranthambore National Park, famous for its tigers in northern India.   A Rufous Treepie is a member of the crow family.
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May 18, 2018

A scene that speaks of China...

Photo: Shi Guangde / Xinhua / Barcroft Images
The Chinese Egret (Egretta eulophotes), a.k.a. Swinhoe's Egret, is a vulnerable species in Eastern Asia, due to habitat loss.   As many as 3,400 individuals can still be found breeding in China, the Koreas and far eastern Russia.
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May 17, 2018

Plastic and rubber fatal for shearwater

Photo: Denise Hardesty / CSIRO / AP
A dead shearwater lies upon a table next to a plastic straw and pieces of red balloon found inside it.   It was discovered on North Stradebroke Island, off the coast of Brisbane, Australia; more and more a scene found around the world.
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May 16, 2018

Only 100 of these birds left on earth...

Photo: Anadolu Agency / Getty Images
( Cissa thalassina)
A hidden keeper uses a puppet to feed a 43-day-old Javan Green Magpie at the Prague Zoo in the Czech Republic.  The bird, which is endemic to the Indonesian island of Java, is one of the most critically endangered birds on earth.   As few as 100 are believed to be left in the world.   Wikipedia states that in the wild, Javan Green Magpies dye themselves bright green by eating green insects that contain a yellow pigment called lutein.   When kept in cages, their colour can change from green to blue due to inadequate diet.
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May 15, 2018

Cranes with breeding in mind...

Photo:Michael Tatman / Alamy Stock Photo
(Antigone canadensis)
Two Sandhill Cranes are seen performing a mating dance among Canada Geese, in Rookery View Park, Wauwau, Wisconsin, USA.   It is estimated that just over 1/2 million Sandhill Cranes exist in North America.
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May 14, 2018

Getting ready to make love...

                                                                           Photo: Maxim Malinovsky / AFP / Getty Images
                                                                                                              Photo by Aconcagua

(Tetra tatrix) 
A Black Grouse (above), a.k.a. Blackgame or Blackcock, performs courtship rituals in a field near the village of Lovchitsy, in Belarus.

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May 13, 2018

Oppoprtunistic crow in China

Photo: Feature China / Barcroft Images
A cheeky and enterprising crow plucks chunks of fur,  for its nest in a zoo, from the rear end of a recumbent Panda in Beijiang, China.
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May 12, 2018

Mrs. Moreau's Warbler...

                                                                          Photo: Dr. Neil Burgess
WWhat makes a bird memorable?W
Consider Mrs. Moreau's Warbler (Scepomycter winifredae)
1.  Discovered in 1938 and declared monotypic.
2.  Also known as Winifred's Warbler.
3.  Discovered by ornithologist Reginald Moreau in the         
     montane forest of the Uluguru Mountains of Tanzania.
4.  Reginald named the bird after his wife, Winifred Moreau.
5.  I.U.C.N. listed as 'Vulnerable' - threatened by habitat loss.
6.  Birdlife International says may be only 500 birds left.
7. The Rubeho Warbler, identified in 2009, in the Rubeho-    
     Ukaguru Mountains of Tanzania, is closely related and 
     the combined species are both labelled as 'Vulnerable' by
Source: The Clements Checklist of the Birds of the World (6th edition), Cornell University Press.

Please comment if you wish.

May 11, 2018

Amazing instinct and usual

Photos by BarrytheBirder
First 'hummer' arrives May 10 ... as predicted
Spring's first Ruby-throated Hummingbird arrived in the backyard yesterday, May 10th, as they usually do every year, for the last 10 years or so.   I was beginning to wonder because of the strange weather so far this spring.   Just minutes before the arrival of the 'hummer', two striking Rose-breasted Grosbeaks showed up at the feeders (see photo below).   If that wasn't enough, a short time later the first Pine Siskin of the spring showed up (bottom photo).   What with an Indigo Bunting and Northern Oriole earlier this week, it's been a colourful few days.

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May 10, 2018

First Indigo Bunting arrives at backyard feeder...

Photo: David Bree / Macauley Library / Cornell University
My wife and I were pleased to see the first Indigo Bunting of the spring, at the feeders on Wednesday of this week.  It did appear to be intimidated by the crowd of goldfinches however, and the visit was short.   The 'Indigo' did beat the arrival of Red-throated Hummingbirds, which normally show up on May 10.   The 'hummers' may be a day or so late this year.
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May 9, 2018

A Robin in Germany...

Photo: Karl-Joseph Hildenbrand / AFP / Getty
A Robin (Erithacus rubecula), a.k.a. Robin Redbreast in Britain, sits on a Tinder Fungus, growing from a tree in the Trettachtal Valley, near Oberstdorf, in southern Germany.  Tinder Fungus is also known as Hoof Fungus, Tinder Conk and Ice Man Fungus, and is found around the world. 
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May 8, 2018

Spring 2018's first Northern Oriole arrives...

Photos by BarrytheBirder

Warmly welcomed on May 5
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May 7, 2018

Encounter in Cape Town...

Photo: Nic Bothma /EPA

"Are you from around here?"
An African Penguin (Spheniscus demersus), above right, interacts with a Cape Cormorant (Phalacrocorax capensis), above left on Boulders Beach in Cape Town, South Africa.  If the cormorant appears to be looking askance at the penguin, it may be because the African Penguin, a.k.a. 'jackass penguin' has a donkey-like bray.
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May 6, 2018

40 million vultures poisoned...

 Photos: 2018 Whitley Awards
The Whitley Awards for Nature Conservation have been made for 2018.  One of the six award recipients recognized by the Whitley Fund for Nature was Manir Virani, a raptor biologist who is working to preserve endangered vultures in Africa's Serengeti-Mara ecosystem.   Varani left a promising cricket career to begin his project in 2003, following the Asian vulture crisis, which saw 40 million vultures poisoned by a now-banned anti-inflammatory  and pain killing drug used in cattle.   Winners are provided with funds to enhance their conservation projects.
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May 5, 2018

Moa Bird by Daniel Louis Munday (1867)

Photo: Estate of Harry Callahan
- courtesy Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York
Julius Haast stands among the skeletal remains he unearthed of several Moa Birds.   Haast was, by all accounts, a dashing figure in mid-19th century New Zealand.   The 6 ft. tall, robust and gregarious German geologist, stumbled (perhaps literally) upon the greatest collection of Moa bones, near the town of of Glenmark Station in 1866.
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May 4, 2018

Some of us know how much a fishing hook injury hurts

Photo:James D. Morgan / Getty Images
A penguin from the Taronga Wildlife Hospital, is released at Shelly Beach in Sydney, Australia, after being nursed back to health, following a fishing hook injury.   The hospital is located at Mosman, New South Wales, on the north shore of Sydney Harbour.
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May 3, 2018

The charm of 'hummers'...

                                                                                                                     Photo by Dave Kemp      
Photo: Pedro Lastra / Flicker
While waiting for the first of 2018 Ruby-throated Hummingbirds to grace the nectar feeders in my backyard in King City, north of Toronto, I revisted the superb photo above of an Anna's Hummingbird taken by my British Columbian friend, Dave Kemp.   I'm sure Dave has already spotted more than one hummingbird species already this spring, on Canada's west coast.   At left is a photo showing what a male Anna's Hummingbird looks like.
Please comment if you wish.

May 2, 2018

Cooper's Hawk (Accipiter cooperii)

Photos by Barry Wallace
Cooper's Hawk dines on Mourning Dove
Our backyard is a favourite spot for Cooper's Hawks and Sharp-shinned Hawks to take down Mourning Doves, on the ground, below the bird feeders.   The Hawk pictured here, on this occasion, was a juvenile Cooper's Hawk.   It is about 4" longer than a similar-looking Sharp-shinned Hawk, and it is often tricky to tell them apart, unless they are side by side (almost never).   The Cooper's Hawk has one distinguishing feature however.   It is the white band at the tip of its tail (see photo at left, below - and at bottom).   'Sharp-shins' do not have that white band.

This juvenile Sharp-shinned Hawk spent over an hour devouring its catch, before taking off with one small remaining morsel.    It should be full for a couple of days.
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May 1, 2018

A United Nations peacock in flight...

Photo: Fabrice Coffrini / AFP / Getty Images
U.N. peacocks in Switzerland
An Indian Peacock, or Peafowl (Raro cristatus) roams over the grounds of the United Nations of Geneva offices in the Ariana Park, in Geneva, Switzerland.   The peacocks have full access to the big 46-hectare park, with a splendid view of lake Geneva.   Most of the peacocks were donated to the UNOG in 1997 by a zoo in Japan.   Others were a gift from Permanent Mission in India.   Park gardeners take care of and feed the fowl.
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Apr 30, 2018

Breeding season underway...

Photo: Xinhua / Barcroft Images
Egrets arrive at the Xiangshan Forest Park, also known as the Fragrant Hills Park, in Nanchang, in East China's Jiangxi Province, on the northwestern outskirts of Beijing.   Thousands of egrets have settled at the park for the breeding season.
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Apr 29, 2018

Swan copes with garbage around nest.

Photo: Scanpix Denmark / Reuters
A Mute Swan (Cygnus olor) nests in debris on a lake near Queen Louise's Bridge in Central Copenhagen, Denmark.  The elegant swan is likely less than favourably impressed by the city's detritus that has befouled her nesting spot...a sad scene of incongruity.
Please comment if you wish. 

Apr 28, 2018

Backyard visitors

Photo: Robert Wallace
My Brother, Bob, who lives just north of Parry Sound, Ontario, just e-mailed me the photo above of White-tailed Deer and Wild Turkeys foraged in his backyard.   There's still lots of snow up there, by the looks of it.   Meanwhile, in our backyard, yesterday, in King City, just north of Toronto, Linda and I were potting dahlia tubers on the back patio, when a  pair of male and female Mallard Ducks landed beside us and checked out the thawing flower beds for a few minutes.  This was the first time we have had a mallard in our suburban backyard.   The pair of Mallards brought our backyard bird list to 61 species.
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Apr 27, 2018

Flamingos return to Albania

    Photo: Gent Shkullaku / AFP / Getty                                Photo: Bryan Scully

(Phoenicopterus ruber)
Greater Famingos fly over the Karavasta Lagoon in the Divjake Karavasta National Park, in Albania.   After Almost four years after Albania instituted a moratorium on huntingtion of the species has started to stabilize.

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Apr 26, 2018

Fixing up the nest...

Photo: Sergei Gapon / AFP / Getty Images
A stork carries a branch while building a nest, in front of the Orthodox church in the village of Krevo, 100 kilometres north-west of Minsk, Belarus.   Storks are large well-known birds with long legs, long necks, long bills and they belong in the Ciconiiformes family.   19 species of storks live around the world.
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Apr 25, 2018

A notice to readers of my other blog: 'Camera on King'

If you are one of the readers of my other blog " Camera on King", which I temporarily stopped about 4 months ago, while I underwent cataract surgery; I'd like to tell you that I am back in that saddle and  able to see well enough to photograph and publish photos of my beautiful, green community of King Township, in Ontario, Canada.  Comments on my photos and descriptions are always welcome.
Kindest regards,

Apr 24, 2018

Geese love the Netherlands

Photo: The Guardian
Netherlands most popular country for geese in Europe
The Netherlands pays tens of millions of euros to farmers every year to compensate for damage to crops caused by Greylag, Barnacle and White-fronted Geese which number between 1/2 million, in the warmer months, to 2.5 million in winter.   Intensive farming and the temperate climate are the apparent causes.   Motorists are being warned to beware of hundreds of geese breeding on the highway edges and intersections.   Reducing the goose population back to 2005 levels would involve the gassing and slaughter of 500,000 birds.   In the interim, drivers are advised to be extremely wary of the geese.
Please comment if you wish.

Apr 23, 2018

World is in the 6th mass extinction of its history...

Prothonotary Warbler photo 
by Helena Reynolds                                                   Roseate Tern photo by Brian Burke                                                                                                                 

                      -- Peter Doherty, Nobel Prize-winning immunologist and author

In my April 13th blog, I mentioned that Prothonotary Warblers and Roseate Terns were endangered in Ontario.   I was quoting from 'Birds of Eastern Ontario' published by Dorling Kindersley Limited and written by David M. Bird, Ph.D, Director of the Avian Science and Conservation Centre at McGill University in Montreal, in April of 2013.   Dr. Bird includes over 350 birds species in his guide, and 126 of those are designated as Rare/Declining/Vulnerable/Localized or Endangered, leaving 225 species listed as secure.  Numbers like these are being found in areas all over the temperate and tropical world.   It's not too late to reverse this decline and protect the birds in the air, the animals on the ground and the creatures in the sea.   If we protect their future, we will live to enjoy our own.
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Apr 22, 2018

World Press Photo Contest 2018 Winners

 Photo: Corey Arnold
Nature - Singles: First Prize
A Bald Eagle scavenges for scraps of meat in garbage bins of a supermarket in Dutch Harbour, Alaska, USA.  This photo, by Corey Arnold, won first prize in the Nature - Singles Category of the 2018 World Press Photo Contest.

Photo: Thomas P. Peschak
Nature - Singles: Second Prize
Rockhopper Penguins do what they do best as they navigate the coast of Marion Island, a South African, sub-Antarctic territory in the Indian Ocean.  This photo, by Thomas P. Peschak, won second prize in the Nature - Singles category. 
Please comment if you wish.

Apr 21, 2018

Much anticipation...

Photo by BarrytheBirder
WRuby-throated hummingbirdW
(Archilochus colubris)
I'ts coming around to that time of year when Ruby-throated Hummingbirds will be arriving from their spring migration in my neck-of-the-woods: southern Ontario.  For many of the past several years, they have been arriving on May 10th, but have also arrived a few times, as much as a week prior to that date.   It's been a cold rainy/snowy spring so far, hereabouts, and I wouldn't be surprised if they arrive a little later this year.   Some years, Indigo Buntings and Baltimore Orioles (see below) arrive at the same time, or just after, the 'hummers'.  We shall see what we shall see, however, and with pleasant expectations.   A comparative reference shows that early spring migrants in Britain appear to be 20 days late this year.

Photos by BarrytheBirder

Please comment if you wish.