Friday, July 29, 2011

#62 What's in a Name? Yellow Warbler

I am going to begin this series, What's in a Name? with one of my favorites - Dendroica petechia, the scientific name of the ubiquitous Yellow Warbler.

Birds, like all living creatures and plants, are given a two part scientific binomial name that is Latinized.

Whereas the common name can vary depending upon whether it is in English or the language of a certain country, the scientific name always remains the same.

The genus, describes something pertinent to the family, and a species name, usually suggests something about the bird.  Dendroica means "tree dwelling", which warblers certainly are! The second part of the name, "petechia" is a medical term and comes from the strongly marked dark red streaks on the breast, which reminded the person that named this species, Carl Linnaeus, of a rash on the skin!
yellow warbler © adrian binns

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

#61 Field Tip: Join a Bird Walk

Instead of going out on your own, try joining an organized outing. Group bird walks offer excellent opportunities to learn about a new birding location, see a large number of species, and meet like-minded birders who are usually always willing to share information. You might be surprised at how much more you’ll see, with many eyes to spot things, and people to call them out.

To find bird walks, check out local bird clubs, nature centers, local parks and other wildlife-oriented organizations.
photo © adrian binns

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

#60 Keeping an Eye On.... Mourning Doves

Named for their haunting "coo" sounds, Mourning Doves are distributed abundantly throughout the United States.

Mourning Doves feed their offspring a protein-rich crop milk, which the chicks retrieve by placing their beaks down the throat of the parents - both mother and father.  The young thrive on this sustenance for about a week after hatching, after which the chick is weaned off of crop milk and fed a mixture of regurgitated seeds and fruits.

Doves and Pigeons are unique in that they are among very few bird families that feed their young with crop milk.
photo © adrian binns

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

#59 Field Tip: Birds at 2, 5 and 10 o'clock!

"Check out the Oriole at 2 o'clock!" Does this mean to go home for lunch and come back in a few hours?  Of course not!  Clock directions provide handy points of reference to share the location of a bird in a tree.

Make sure everyone is looking at the same tree, clump of shrubs, or even an obvious building - and use a conventional clock to describe the spot.  For example, 12 o'clock is the very top of the tree in front of you, and 6 o'clock is the lowest visible branches (not necessarily the ground). 3 o'clock and 9 o'clock are located as expect on the 'face' of the tree.

Clock directions can also be useful to give angles from a particular point.  For example, "the bird is at 7 o'clock, about 10 feet down from the highest point on the dark green tree."
photo © adrian binns