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Jul 31, 2017

Spaniards paint their pigeons

Photos by Ricardo Cases
These photos first appeared in Britain's online Guardian newspaper almost three years ago, on August 6, 2014, showing pigeons painted in Day-Glo colours by Spanish pigeon racers.   Photographer Ricardo Cases captured the captivating world of hand-painted birds in spectacular colours and patterns.   The photos show colourful flying racers from Valencia and Murcia. From the ground, pigeon owners follow the flight of their individual birds which are easily(?!?) identifiable by colour. I think one would need a real 'hawk-eye' to spot an individual pigeon in this visual cacoffony of colour.

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Jul 30, 2017

Female Baltimore Oriole near Holland Marsh

 Photos by Barry Wallace

Above is a female Baltimore Oriole that I photographed two summers ago, just south of the Holland Marsh, between Dufferin and Bathurst Streets, in the Cawthra Mulock Nature Reserve.   Both entrances are about 1/4 mile north of Miller's Sideroad.   This bird was feasting non-stop on a concentration of small yellow caterpillars.   These are among a half dozen photos of this bird and are still my favourite Oriole shots.
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Jul 29, 2017

Long Point Bird Observatory 1 millionth banding

Photo: Claude Nadeau/Audubon
(Vermivora peregrina)
Southern Ontario's Long Point Bird Observatory reached its 1 millionth bird banding on May 29th of this year, at 8.15 a.m. eastern time, when a second-year female Tennessee Warbler was banded.   It was banded, had a few photos taken and was released.   Shortly thereafter, a Yellow Warbler was the 1 millionth and two bird banded.   57 years ago, the first bird to be banded and entered in the LPBO database was a Song Sparrow.   As the longest-running bird-banding station in the western hemisphere, LPBO is sure it has set a record, possibly a global record.   The most banded bird species at LPBO is the White-throated Sparrow, at 81,697 over the course of 60 years.
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Jul 28, 2017

East Yorkshire ~ on the North Sea

Photo by Danny Lawson/PA
There are three species of Gannets and the one pictured above is a Northern Gannet (Morus bassanus).   It is seen at the RSPB Nature Reserve at Bempton Cliffs in Yorkshire, England, where over 1/4 million seabirds flock to find a mate and raise their young from April to August.
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Jul 27, 2017

Distinctive-looking cranes with black necks...

Photo: Chogo/Xinhua/Barcroft Images
Black-necked Cranes (Grus nigricollis) are seen (above) looking after their chick in the Qiangtang Nature Reserve in Tibet.   It breeds on the Tibetan Plateau and remote parts of Bhutan and India.   It is revered in Buddhist traditions and is culturally protected.   The Indian states of Kashmir and Jammu consider them to be their states birds.
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Jul 26, 2017

Builds nest while hanging upside-down

Photo: Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters
There are at least 78 species of Weaver birds, which are also known as Weaver finches.   Most are found in sub-Sahara Africa and tropical Asia.   The ones pictured above were photographed building nests in a bamboo tree in Lalitpur, Nepal.   The Red-billed Quelea is a weaver bird that is reputed to be the most numerous of all birds, in the world. Subsistence farmers in the Quelea's ranges hate them for their voracious appetites for seed grains.
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Jul 25, 2017

Peruvian Pelican

Photo:Luis Robayo/AFP/Getty Images
One of the world's eight pelican species
A Peruvian Pelican flies over the Pacific Ocean in the Uramba Bahia Malaga National Park in Columbia.   The Peruvian Pelican is considerably larger than the Brown Pelican, which is the smallest of the world's eight pelican species.
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Jul 24, 2017

Big Birds in the Holland Marsh

Photos by BarrytheBirder
Last week near Pumphouse Road in King Township's Holland Marsh, I came across these birds within minutes of each other.   At top is a Wild Turkey, below that (at left) is a Peahen, and at bottom is a chicken rooster.   I was looking for smaller birds but was quite pleased to spot these bigger ones.
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Jul 23, 2017

Ellipsoidal distant planet?

Photo by John Weinstein / The Field Museum's a 
Guira Cuckoo egg
A friendly, non-parasitic cuckoo 
of South America

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Jul 22, 2017

Tending the young and innocent...

Photo by Slavek Ruta / Rex / Shutterstock
A beautiful white and pink Flamingo is seen nurturing its rather  non-colourful chick at Jinlava Zoo, in the Czech Republic.
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Jul 21, 2017

Storks in Mexico

Photo Yuri Cortez/AFP/Getty Images
Nice-looking neighbourhood
Wood Storks (Mycteria americana) nest in San Miguel de Allende, in Guanajuato State, central Mexico.   There are 15 species of storks in the world, but only three species occur in the new world.   They are the White Stork (photo above), the Maguari and the Jabiru.
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One of 60 Hornbill species in the world

Photo: AFP / Getty Immages
Wreathed Hornbill
(Aceros undulatus)
A cage containing a Wreathed Hornbill is seized by authorities in Sidoarjo, East Java, Indonesia.   Wreathed Hornbills are native to south and south-east Asia.   The species is not regarded as vulnerable but ongoing habitat destruction and fragmentation, plus hunting, may endanger the survival of this species.
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Jul 20, 2017

Great White Pelican

Photo: Slavek Ruta / Rex / Shutterstock
A Great White Pelican (Pelicanus onocrotolus) is seen eating a fish at Dvur Kralove Zoo in the Czech Republic.   The Great White is one eight pelican species in the world.

A wonderful bird is the pelican.
His beak will hold more than his belican.
He can take in a week
Enough food for a week
But I'm damned if I know how the helican!
Dixon Lanier Merrit ~ 1910
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Jul 19, 2017

No bird chick too young to save...

Photo: Lazlo Balogh / Reuters
A very tiny sparrow chick is photographed while being fed at a hospital for wild birds in the large Hortobagy National Park, in north-central Hungary.   Hortobagy is a World Heritage site.
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Jul 18, 2017

World most unusual and endangered owl...

Forest Owlet
(Heteroglaux blewitti)

Photo by PM Ladd/ZSL

The Forest Owlet was declared in 2014 to be the most endangered owl in the world. It was selected by scientists from the Zoological Society of London and Yale University because of its habitat loss in an extremely small and fragmented population in central India.   The scientists rated the top 100 bird species, of the world's 9,993 bird species, according to their evolutionary distinctiveness and global extinction risk, to determine the most unusual and endangered birds.  
The most endangered bird, of any species in the world, is the Giant Ibis, pictured in a FLPA/Alamy photo (below) of which just 230 estimated pairs remain in the wild, in Cambodia. 

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Jul 17, 2017

Bee-eaters in Nottinghamshire

Photo : Courtesy RSPB
Hopes are they might breed in UK
A Bee-eater (see above) at East Leake Quarry in Nottinghamshire, England, is one of seven of the recent rare visitors to the UK, which have raised hopes that they might breed.
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Jul 16, 2017

Puffins on the Inner Hebrides ~ Scotland

 Photos by Murdo McLeod/The Guardian
Puffins nesting on the Treshnish Isles
The Treshnish Islands in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland are home for the Atlantic Puffins pictured here.   Outside of the breeding season, these seabirds live most of their lives at sea, resting on the waves, when not swimming and fishing.   The record (in Canada) for the number of fish that a puffin can hold in its bill at one time, is reported to be 61.   Apparently, they were very small fish. 

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Jul 15, 2017

Pro Natura de Champittet Reserve ~ Switzerland

Photo: Cyril Zingaro/EPA
Crested Grebe and gull encounter
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Jul 14, 2017

World's smallest raptors

    Photo: Mei Yongcun/Barcroft Images


Michrohierax melanoleucus
'A predator that fits in the small of your hand'
The Pied Falconet is one of six falconets that are native to southeast Asia, and this falconet is 6-7" (16-18 cm.) long.   The Pied Falconet eats insects and small birds, some of which are larger than the falconet, itself.   It is considered the smallest of carnivorous birds of prey.   It also takes small mammals and reptiles.   Insects and birds (some as large as a thrush) are taken both on the ground in flight.
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Jul 13, 2017

World's oldest centre for birds of prey...

 Photos: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
Moccas, pictured above, is a one-year-old Andean Condor at the International Centre for Birds of Prey in Newent, Gloucestershire, UK.   Below, Burrowing Owls are lined up to be fed at the I.C.B.P.   In the wild these owls live in the open landscape of both South and North America, from southern Argentina to Southwest British Columbia.

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Jul 12, 2017

Male Cardinal doesn't mind a crowd...

                                                                                                    Photos by BarrytheBirder
Icterus galbula

I took these two photos of a male Baltimore Oriole at a backyard feeder, in the midst of a family reunion which was attended by about 30 adults and children.   I normally find Baltimore Orioles to be timorous and easily spooked, especially when they are low to the ground and there are many people about.   This one was an exception however, much to delight of all observers around and about it.
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Jul 11, 2017

Kestrels big and small...

Photo: Arne Dedert/AFP/Getty Images

(Above) A male Common Kestrel leaves a nest on the Landgrafenschloss Castle in Marsburg, central Germany.
It is also known as the European Kestrel, Eurasian Kestrel and the Old World Kestrel.   It is widespread in Europe, Asia and Africa.
Pictured at left, is a European Kestrel (on the left) and the much smaller American Kestrel (on the right).

Picture is courtesy of Will Lake.

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Jul 10, 2017

Not quite what I was expecting...

Photos by BarrytheBirder

I expected to be taking pictures of Ring-billed Gulls (above) at Woodland Beach on Georgian Bay last week, but I never expected to see a Wild Turkey (left) wandering around the beach cottage in which we were staying.

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Jul 9, 2017

Drumming out his ardour...

Photo:Christine Zdenek / PA
(Probosciger aterrimus)
A male Palm Cockatoo (right above) uses a branch as a drumstick in front of an admiring female.   The parrot is one of the very few species known that can recognize a beat.   It is also known as the Goliath Cockatoo or Great Black Cockatoo and is a native of New Guinea.   One can only guess at how much affection he drummed up from his female friend.

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Jul 8, 2017

The warbler and the cuckoo

Photo: Glenn Welch/Alamy
A cuckoo is pictured above being fed by a Reed Warbler in Lincolnshire, U.K.   Some species of cuckoos are brood parasites, laying their eggs in the nests of other smaller species, but the majority of species raise their own young.

Photo: Per Harald Olsen
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Jul 7, 2017

Flamingos found worldwide...

Photo: Imago/Barcroft Images
Lesser Flamingos
(Phoenicopterus minor)
Lesser Flamingos are seen in Lake Begoria, Kenya.   There are five species of Flamingos, plus two subspecies worldwide, in the tropical Americas, tropical Old World, the Andes and Africa.   'Flamingo' comes from Portuguese and Spanish flamengo "flame-coloured", in turn coming from Provencal flamenc from flama "flame" and Germanic-like suffix - ing.

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Jul 6, 2017

Bird preserved in amber for 100 million years...

Photos by Lida Xing and R.C. McKellar

Ancient bird probably hatched ready to fly
A recent story by Hanneke Meijer, in the Guardian online newspaper, tells how the discovery of a hundred-million-year-old specimen, wonderfully preserved in amber, shows how birds of yesteryear hatched fully prepared for takeoff.   Paleontologists from China, Canada and the US, describe in a new paper a hatchling bird that became entrapped in sticky conifer resin about 99 million years ago, in Burma.   Superficially, the bird looked like modern birds, that is, feathered and a good flyer.   However, the anatomy of their shoulder girdle is different, they were toothed and the fingers in their wing had claws.  The new specimen is nicknamed Belone.   Belone measures 6 cm. from head to tail, and consists of a skull, neck, wings and feet.   The rest of the body eroded away but left a thin trace in the fossilized resin.   Careful lighting reveals an outline of this bird with outstretched wings, open beak, feet drawn up and claws out as if ready to pounce (see artist's rendering below).      

Artist's rendering
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Jul 5, 2017

Osprey at Rutland, England

Photo: Christopher Cook / Alamy Stock Photo
Watching the wonderful fishing skills of Ospreys is an infrequent but favourite pastime of mine.   The photo above was taken by Christopher Cook at Horn Mill Trout Farm in Rutland, in the East Midlands of England.   What a wonderful adaptation of nature to allow a large raptor such a highly specialized hunting ability.
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Jul 4, 2017

New warbler species found in China

Photo: Per Alstrom
(Locustella mandelli)
A new bird species, named the Sichuan Bush Warbler, has been discovered in Central China.   The shy, russet-coloured bird breeds in the mountains of the Sichuan Basin at 1000 to 2300 metres.   This warbler was first noticed because of its distinctive, insect-like song in 1992, by two researchers, who, after nearly two decades of subsequent searching, found the bird again.   Analyses of the Sichuan Bush Warbler's DNA, its physical measurements, its russet plumage colour and vocalizations have confirmed that this is in fact a new species of bird to science.
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Jul 3, 2017

Rare new species discovered in Mexico

Photo - TonySilva

Blue-winged Amazon Parrot
Amazona gomezgarzai
The Guardian newspaper's Ian Sample, Science Editor, reports this week that Miguel Gomez Garza was on his last Yucatan expedition, gathering info for his book Parrots of Mexico, when he heard a group of parrots, but their call was like no other.   He waited and spotted half a dozen parrots with intense red fronts and beautiful blue tips on their wing feathers.   "I could not believe it.   The different noise belonged to a different parrot".   The bird has been named the Blue-winged Amazon Parrot, or Amazonia gomezgarzai, in honour of its discoverer, Miguel Gomez Garza, vet and ornithologist.   Mexican authorities have given Gomez Garza permission to capture a male and female for further study.   Tests on the parrot DNA (performed without harming the parrots) show the new species evolved from the White-fronted Parrots that were native to the region about 120,000 years ago.   A spokesperson has said there are probably only 100 Blue-winged Amazon Parrots in existence, making their conservation a priority.   Gomez Garza has stated that parrots face habitat destruction and while the international illegal trade is less alarming than a few years ago, it continues locally with certain species.   He adds that awareness will be the turning point in saving wild parrots around the world.
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Jul 2, 2017

Female Ruby-throated Hummingbird at the feeder

    Photos by BarrytheBirder

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