Category Archives: birds

Dorothy’s ducklings reach a milestone

Yesterday I noticed for the first time that Dorothy’s ducklings, now 3½ weeks old, are starting to grow their adult feathers, so their duckling down will gradually disappear. The feathers start on the shoulders and wings (looking like epaulets) and also on the tail, and move forward and backwards till the two fields meet.  Here […]

What bird are you like?

Can you resist this given that the quiz—which of 22 birds are you most like?—was designed by the estimable folks at Cornell University’s Ornithology Lab. Take the quiz here, and see whether you’re most like a kestrel, an American robin, a bald eagle, a blue jay, a Canada goose, a chickadee, a crow, a goldfinch, […]

Sunday’s Duck O’ the Week

Evolutionary biologist John Avise continues his series of North American ducks, designed to show you America’s ducks and educate you about the local diversity of this most fantastic of birds. Your job is to guess the duck species. The answer, some facts about the species, and a range map are below the fold. The black […]

Readers’ wildlife photos

Today’s post shows three species of bird in the rail family (Rallidae), and comes from reader Paul Peed. Paul’s notes are indented. This member of the Rail family is a Purple Gallinule (Porphrio martinica). It generally ranges in the southeastern US and throughout the Caribbean and Central America.  Remarkably, they have been reported in South Africa, Switzerland […]

Readers’ wildlife photos

Today we have installment #2 of Mark Jones’s photographs (#1 was yesterday). The photos document the return of the stork to England. You can read about their comeback in this article, which notes that the species hasn’t bred in England for hundreds of years: the last documented breeding was in fact in 1416! Yet everyone […]

Readers’ wildlife photos

Today we have a second installment (first one here) of reader Doug Hayes’s photos of the birds that frequent his backyard feeder. The title is “The breakfast crew.” Doug’s IDs and captions are indented: More scenes from the bird feeders in our backyard here in Richmond, Virginia. A male House finch (Haemorhous mexicanus) feeds a […]

Templeton pays $1 million for an unanswerable question: do keas feel joy?

Keas, Nestor notabilis, are the world’s only alpine parrots, found in New Zealand. What is it like to be a kea? When Tom Nagel wrote his famous article about what it is like to be a bat, he concluded that although bats may have consciousness, the content of that consciousness is inaccessible to us. He’s […]

Spot the bird!

Reader David Fuqua sent a “spot the” photo which he thinks is pretty easy. Well, give it a try. Here’s what you’re looking for (and verify the ID if you can); click the photo to enlarge it.  The answer is below the fold: I rate this one easy, maybe too easy for your readers. This […]

Readers’ wildlife photos

While evolutionist John Avise sends us a “Duck O’ the Week” every Sunday, I also get regular non-duck contributions from him (birds, of course, as he’s a keen birder). Rather than hold onto them until the duck series is done, I’ll post his latest batch. John’s notes are indented. I’ll let you identify the species, […]

Sunday Duck o’ the Week

Once again evolutionary biologist John Avise is instructing us on the various species of ducks in North America. Your job is to look at the photos below and guess the species. If you can’t guess it, learn its appearance and then go below the fold for the ID, John’s duck notes, and a range map. […]