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Nov 22, 2017

A feathered air show...

Photo: Biju Boro/AFP/Getty Images
A plump of Pintail Ducks, forming an impromptu aerobatics flight demonstration team, is seen at the Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary in the Morigaon District of Assam,  northeast India.
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Nov 21, 2017

Volunteers naturalists take part in off-putting task

Photo: Elaine Thompson/AP
Pictured above is a citizen patrol surveying dead birds that have washed ashore on beaches along the US. west coast, at Ocean Shores, Washington.   The information gathered is used as an indication of the coastal environment's health.
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Nov 20, 2017

Another west coast feathered beauty...

 Photo: Dave Kemp
Just over a week ago, I showed the photo below of a Stellar's Jay, which was taken by my British Columbia acquaintance, Don Flucker.   Now I have just received the photo above, of a Varied Thrush, taken by another British Columbia acquaintance, Bob Kemp.  Bob Kemp says not only did he have the Varied Thrush in the backyard, but also three Stellar's Jays, at the same time.   Gentlemen, I am so envious of the birdwatching you have on Canada's west coast.   

Photo: Don Flucker
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Nov 19, 2017

Good news about Britain's loudest bird

Photo: Robin Chittenden / Alamy
Patrick Bartram writing in The Guardian Online says populations of the bittern, a wetland bird that was facing extinction in the late 1990s, in Britain, are at a record high, according to conservationists.   Resident numbers of "Britain's loudest bird" increased in 2017, and experts, using the foghorn-like booming call of the males to survey the species, have found at least 164 birds at 71 sites.   The RSPB attributes the population rise to intensive conservation efforts that have protected preferred habitat of dense, wet reedbeds.   The wildlife charity said the turnabout in the bittern's fortunes have been aided by legal protection of habitats and funding through two environmental projects under the EU scheme for creation of new reedbed areas.  Britain leaving the EU could compromise the advances made.
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Nov 18, 2017

A bird or a flower?

Photo by BarrytheBirder
I took the photo above almost 50 years ago at Deepdene Manor in Bermuda.  Back then I knew nothing about tropical plants or exotic birds.   I remember being highly impressed with the Bird of Paradise flower back then and still am to this day.   And I now know there are over 40 different birds of paradise of the feathered kind, most of them among the most spectacular birds in the world.   See the Red Bird of Paradise, below.
Photo: We Love Indonesia

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Nov 17, 2017

British Wildlife Photography Awards 2017

Photo: Ben Hall
The British Wildlife Photography Awards celebrate the work of amateurs and professionals.   Pictured above is the 'Habitat' category winning photo, taken by Ben Hall, in Cheshire.   Winning images are presented in London's Mall Galleries, before going on a national tour, as wellas being published into a book.
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Nov 16, 2017

Pelican wrangling...

Photo by Petr David Josek / AP
Zoo workers in kayaks, in Liberec in the Czech Republic, try to corral and catch a large pelican to move it to its winter enclosure.   I wonder how long this little adventure took to complete?
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Nov 15, 2017

Haiku for a dove...

                                                                                                                    Photo by BarrytheBirder
A few random sticks;
the nest of a Mourning Dove.
As fragile as peace. 
                                                                                                               -- Robert L. Hinshaw, 2013

Nov 14, 2017

The tiny bird with the vibrant name...

Photo: Kostya Pasyuk / Alamy
(Regulus regulus)
A Goldcrest poses inquisitively on an oak branch in the Czech Republic.  Goldcrests are very small passerine birds in the kinglet family.   The bird's colourful golden crest feathers indicate the possibility of it having been called the "King of the birds" in European folklore.
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Nov 13, 2017

Misty morn in Kent...

Photo: Dan Kitwood / Getty Images
An early morning, moody mist engulfs several geese flying near Sundridge, Kent, England.   Sundridge is located in the Sevenoaks District of western Kent, approximately 25 kilometres  southeast of London, near to Surrey.
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Nov 12, 2017

A beautiful jay ~ west of the Rockies

Photo by Don Flucker
Cyanocitta Stelleri
I visited the west coast of Canada many years ago, but did not see A Steller's Jay.   Subsequently, I have seen many photos over the years but did not really appreciate the beauty of this bird until I saw the photo above, taken by an old acquaintance named Don Flucker.   I knew Don when he lived in Ontario, but he now lives in British Columbia, which explains how he is able to take photos of Steller's Jays on Canada's west coast.   What a great picture with the jay in the centre, the garden background on the left and the complementary blue birdbath on the right.
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Nov 11, 2017

Intersecting flocks of flying cranes

Photo: Frank Rumpenhorst / AFP / Getty Images
Two 'Vs' become one 'W'
Two flocks of migrating cranes, flying in 'V' formations,  overlap in the sky to form a "W".   The photo was taken as the cranes swept across the sky over Frankfurt am Main, Germany.
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Nov 10, 2017

Storks at sunset in Lombardy, Italy

Photo: Antonio Calanni / AP
Two White Storks (Ciconia ciconia) are silhouetted on their nest by the setting sun, in Zerbolo, Italy.   Zerbolo is a small Italian commune, 30km south of Milan.  White storks are found in Europe, Africa and the Indian sub-continent.   The male and female both build a large nest (see above) which may be used for several years.
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Nov 9, 2017

Endangered parrot takes a beating

An extremely rare Red-necked Parrot (see photo above), found only is Dominica, is seen scavenging for food in a rainforest hit by Hurricane Maria.   Since Maria, sightings of the bird, which is displayed on the country's flag, have been few and far between.   Hurricane Maria's 280 kph. winds destroyed the ancient Dominican forest that cover the island.  Some foliage remains but the island's very identity is compromised.   A green island has become a brown island (see photo below).  Dominicans have survived the damages of Erika, as well as the ravages of Hurricane David in the 1970s and are presumably expecting the tree cover to return.   But what of the parrots?

    Photos above: Tomas Ayuso/IRIN

The Red-necked Parrot (Amazona arausiaca) or Red-necked Amazon, is also known as the Dominican Blue-faced Amazon, the Lesser Dominican Amazon and the Jaco Parrot.   It is endemic to Dominica.

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Nov 8, 2017

Blue Jays share a bite...

Photo by BarrytheBirder
"Do you come here often?"
" seeds on the street!"
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Nov 7, 2017

Ontario's top ten birds for the 2016/2017 season

  No. 1 - Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile carolinensis)   All photos by Barry Wallace

Project FeederWatch ~ Ontario Region
November 2016 to April 2017 marked the 41st year that Project FeederWatch (plus its predecessor, Ontario Bird Feeder Survey) has tracked bird species at winter bird feeders in Ontario, as well as the rest of Canada.   Following are the most recent, top ten species for Ontario:

1.   Black-capped Chickadee
2.   Downy Woodpecker
3.   Dark-eyed Junco
4.   American Goldfinch
5.   White-breasted Nuthatch
6.   Blue Jay
7.   Mourning Dove
8.   Northern Cardinal
9.   European Starling
10. Red-breasted Nuthatch

  No. 2 - Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens)

   No. 3 - Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)

   No. 4 - American Goldfinch (Carduelis tristis)

   No. 5 - White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis)

  No. 6 - Blue Jay - (Cyanocitta cristata)

  No. 7 - Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)

   No. 8 Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)

   No. 9 - European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)

   No. 10 - Red-breasted Nuthatch ( Sitta canadensis)

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Nov 6, 2017

91-year-old David Attenborough is back...

BIue Planet II ~ seas seen as never before
The inimitable David Attenborough is returning with the sequel to Blue Planet, but now the seas are changing faster then ever.   One of the amazing segments (see photo above) features a bird-eating fish: the very large Trevally, in a lagoon on an Indian Ocean atoll.   The Trevally has seen a tern flying low above the water and has launched itself out of the water to snatch the tern out of the air.   Young, unwary terns are particularly vulnerable.   But you'll have to view the new series to see how successful Trevallies are when they jump out of the ocean.
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Nov 5, 2017

Whose afraid of the big bad turkey?

    Photo by Jim Hadcock
Photo by BarrytheBirder
Wild Turkeys, after having been wiped out of eastern Canada and the US. a hundred years ago, are making a remarkable comeback.  But they are increasingly clashing with human residents in semi-urban areas, who say the turkeys destroy their gardens, damage automobiles, chase household pets and attack people.   The complaints are often nothing more than a turkey blocking traffic, but recently in New England, there were five cases of Wild Turkeys that became so aggressive, local police has to shoot them to protect humans.  Recently, a large male turkey attacked a woman and her child and backed off only when the mother whacked the turkey several times with a shovel.  Local officials suggested residents "...step forward and act confidently."   Whenever I come across Wild Turkeys, they are always very wary and immediately head off in the opposite direction.   I also think Wild Turkeys have learned to recognize shotguns when they see them.
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Nov 4, 2017

Australia's favourite bird?

   Photo: Martin Harvey/Getty Images/Gallo Images
Photo: J. J. Harrison
Australia seems to have a love/hate relationship with many, many of its 800 bird species.   So much so that it seems no one has ever organized a survey of Aussies to determine the country's favourite bird.   But anecdotally, it seems that the Pink and Grey Galahs have a slight edge over all other birds on the 'down under' continent and would be chosen as the favourite bird if an official contest or special survey was held.  They are undoubtedly attractive.

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Nov 3, 2017

Changing Climate Photo Award...

Photo: Jose Luis Rodriguez
Jose Luis Rodriguez, 2017 Ciwem Environmental Photographer of the Year, was awarded the Ciwem Changing Climates prize for this outstanding photograph "Flight for Life", showing a kingfisher, caught mid-flight, with extreme pollution dominating the background.
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Nov 2, 2017

Bird of the Year in New Zealand

                                                                                                 Photo: Wikipedia Commons
Seen above are Keas at Arthur's Pass National Park, in Canterbury, New Zealand.   The Kea (Nestor notabilis) is the world's only alpine parrot.   It has been crowned New Zealand's Bird of the Year, with thousands more votes cast for the species than there are surviving individuals.   Pity.
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Nov 1, 2017

Canadian Pink-footed Goose

   Photo: Cernan Elias / Alamy
Photo: Bird Watching Magazine
Pink-footed Geese (Anser brachyrhynchus) are seen above searching for food on the marshland of the RSPB Nature Reserve in Southside, Merseyside, UK.  They are common and plentiful in northwest Europe, plus Greenland, Iceland and eastern Canada.  They are also known as Canadian Pink-footed Goose.
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Oct 31, 2017

Military Macaw battling to carry on...

                                                                                                           Photo by Tim Flack
(Ara militaras)
Military Macaws are caught for the pet trade and are endangered by habitat loss.  In 2007, Defenders of Wildlife estimated that each year 78,500 birds were caught in Mexico and a quarter of their original habitat has been cleared for development.   Today, fewer than 10,000 are surviving in a dwindling habitat.   In 2008, Mexico issued an export ban on its 22 parrot species, but illegal local market sales continue.  The macaw's IUCN Red List Status is 'Vulnerable'.
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Oct 30, 2017

Pigeons of New Guinea and Australia

The pigeons seen here were all photographed by Leila Jeffreys of Australia and are currently on display in at New York's Olsen Gruin Gallery.    Ms Jeffreys focuses on bird species diversity and these extraordinary colourful photos certainly belie the lowly reputation of the pigeon or rock dove.

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Oct 29, 2017

Near Canterbury in south-east England

Photo: Dan Kitwood /Getty Images
Redshanks (Tringa Totanus) land at Oare Marshes in the Thames Estuary, Faversham, Kent, near Canterbury in south-east England.   The estuary offers harbour for migratory birds as well as resident birds.
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Oct 28, 2017

Duck of many names...

Photo: STR/EPA
Whistling Tail Birds (Dendrocygna javanica) a.k.a. Black-bellied Whistling Duck, Indian Whistling Duck, and Lesser Whistling Teal, are photographed at Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary in Morigaon District, Assa, India.   With winter's onset, migratory birds have begun to arrive in north-east India.
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Oct 27, 2017

Bird photo winners

Natural History Museum, London
Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2017

Photo: Gerry Pearce 
Behaviour: Birds Category
The Incubator Bird
by Gerry Pearce, UK/Australia
Most birds incubate their eggs with their bodies.   Not so the Australian Brush Turkey (Alectura lathami), one of a handful of birds, the megapodes, that do it with an oven.   Only the males oversee incubation.   In the winning picture above, a male has chosen to create his nest-mound near the photographer's home in Sydney, bordering Garigal National Park.   If he and his mound were to a female's liking, she would lay a clutch of eggs inside.   In the photo above, the male is piling on more insulation of brush to raise the temperature.

Photo: Ekaterina Bee
10 years and younger category
The Grip of the Gulls
by Ekaterina Bee, Italy
Like all her family, five-and-a-half year old Ekaterina Bee is fascinated by nature.  On a boat trip off the coast of central Norway, her focus was on the cloud of Herring Gulls above her.   They were after food, and as soon as Ekaterina threw them bread, they surrounded her.   She liked the expression of the bird furthest away.   "It looked very curious, as if it was trying to understand what was happening on the boat.

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