For the past 6 years I have had the opportunity to participate in Allegany State Park’s Great Outdoors Day with the Recreation Department. This year due to the scheduling conflicts . . . . I was only able to banding during the Friday Class Sessions. But I still had the opportunity to interact with over 200 children from numerous school districts.
Looking at each egg will make you wonder what advantages or disadvantages it might have. Take for example cliff nesting birds who building their nest on large ledges. Maybe those eggs which are more pointed are less likely to roll off the ledge because they will instead roll in a tight arch?? Why are birds eggs colored differently?? Maybe from a predator’s vantage those green or blue eggs could look like a hole in the vegetation?? Those birds with white eggs might not need to be camouflage because both parents take turns incubating the eggs while protecting the white coloring from predators?? Maybe cavity nesting birds require that white coloring so that the parents don’t accidently break the egg while in the darkness of the cavity?? Are duck eggs oilier than normal eggs to help keep them more waterproof? So many questions that are being looked at by ornithologist today and their findings are helping us understand the unique features in the development of these eggs.
Checking out an Eastern Towhee Nest.
By posting these two birdQUIZs, I am hoping you will also look closer at each egg and try thinking why each egg looks the way that it does. This exercise will help you finding the proper owner of the broken or hatched egg shell that you find laying on the ground. Good Luck with the quiz!! (more…)
Bird Eggs come in an array of shapes and sizes. They can be found elliptical, spherical or even oval in shape. Smaller eggs (like the Hummingbird) are the size of a pea and the larger eggs (like the Ostrich) can almost be the size of a football. Eggs are sometimes colored in ways of making them appear to be camouflage so that potential enemies are unable to locate them. An example would be the Killdeer who will lay her eggs on the rocky ground but assist in distracting the predator away with an injured wing display. Some species of birds have colors that will vary from egg to egg where others will always have the same reliable pattern. Many of our cavity nesting birds will have white or neutral colored eggs since they do not need their eggs camouflaged. Ducks eggs are larger in size in proportion of their adult sized body. Ducklings need to be ready to swim away as soon as they are born where most other nestlings are born feather-less and helpless. They do most of their developing within the first few weeks in the nest.
There are many different things to take in consideration when identifying the eggs of birds. Size, shape and coloring are the main ingredients in making the eggs identification but they are not always the most important details. Behavior and the birds natural history is sometimes very helpful way to identify a broken (or hatched open) egg that you might find on the ground. The birdQUIZ below is designed in helping you use everything I talked about in making the proper identification of these eggs!! Good Luck! (more…)
Young Naturalist J glad to be banding again!!
We had more visitors at the Northern Saw-whet Owl banding station this evening than owls! I need to high-five Grace 🙂 for helping locate our 70th bird of the season (in the mist net) and then allowing me to barrow a book that I need to read. Mike and Terry decided to head home early after banding our first 2 fluff balls (thanks for visiting). Grace left only minutes before we captured our 3rd bird and then recaptured the 2nd bird again (The owl must be net happy). (more…)
This is the story of my life (times 2 cats)!!
Not any of my work and spam that my mother sent me via email! For sure it is way out of my blog’s mission but way too cute not to post!!
Happy Halloween Everyone!
I did a post almost 7 months ago on the migration of the Spotted Salamander. Each spring these large salamanders come out of the ground and migrate to special mud puddles called vernal pools. It is in these vernal pools where they breed and the females will lay their eggs. It is such an amazing spring time event and who would expect that I would find two of these salamanders crossing the roads during mid October (going the opposite direction?)? (more…)
This evening some staff and volunteers from Jamestown Audubon joined me to band some Northern Saw-whet Owls. First few net checks we had come up empty and just before they were about to leave we heard what I believed to be a Saw-whets vocalizing around the net! Of course I kept them past their bed time and they waited to see if we would end up catching an owl with our next check. (more…)
Old picture of me teaching kids some bad habits
If you regularly follow this blog . . . . then you would know that I have an obsession with smelling the heads of woodpeckers. The woodpeckers head have a pine-musty odor to them but for some reason the smell is very pleasurable to me (ya, I am nuts – I know already)!! This evening while studying the migration of the Northern Saw-whet Owls . . . . I had a quick whiff of that odor! Bet you can’t guess what I did next?? (more…)
Don and a Fluff Ball
Saturday evening a fellow bird bander Don Watt and his family joined me for some Saw-whet Owl banding here in Allegany State Park. He is interested in starting his own owl banding station and joined me to get a better idea on how I am catching these tiny owls. I was happy to capture a Northern Saw-whet Owl for them just before they headed home (High Five!). (more…)
This weekend I attended the New York State Ornithological Association Annual Meeting in Batavia, New York. This meeting was hosted by the Buffalo Ornithological Society and I would like to say “thanks” for doing such an astonishing job organizing everything. You guessed it . . . . I had a LIFER this weekend!! (more…)
Today I headed over to a local elementary school and did a mini banding demo for some 2nd and 3rd graders. This was a very fun day with 30+ kids who were excited about birds and I was sooo happy to catch a Rose-breasted Grosbeak for them. This is a hatch year (born this year) Rose-breasted Grosbeak who is in its basic (winter) plumage. The red/yellow on the under wing coverts is the easiest way to determine the sex of the bird. Males have red and females have the yellow on their under wing covert. I just love the berry mess on this birds bill. (more…)
When you find yourself completely exhausted after taking a day off from work . . . . you just know you had an awesome day!! Today, I took my banding assistant (Young Naturalist J) to our favorite migration banding station. Typically when we head off to Braddock Bay Bird Observatory, it always seems like that we had picked the day after their best day of the year (and then end up getting skunked)! But . . . . this time we hit one of their best days of the season with bird’s being caught non-stop!! Young Naturalist J had two lifers and we had a handful of birds that we don’t normally get to handle. (more…)
Today we come across this yellow eyed serpent that lives in the forest. We found this guy while hiking along the North Country Trail here in Allegany State Park with a group of people (Thanks Lynn for finding him). This was my first time seeing any serpent like this before and to be honest . . . . I thought it looked just like Barney the Dinosaur (can you hear the music yet?). (more…)
I have dishes to clean, laundry to do, cat fur to vacuum up, etc . . . . but after dinner I craved the need to find warblers! Who doesn’t have a bazillion of things to do at home?? But, I couldn’t help heading over to Allegany State Park to seek out some birdies (You shocked?). Within the first few minutes of walking along the bike path I heard a Red-Eyed Vireo calling!! The little red eyed freak wouldn’t show itself but did get a quick glimpse of a Magnolia Warbler. I finally gave up looking and continued walking along the path. “Shhhhh, their is a bigger bird in the dogwood”!! I use my bird squeaker that I keep on my camera and what pops up but a Rose-breased Grosbeak!! Hey, I have not seen these guys in a few weeks! “What Up”?? That was enough to scatter not the one but probably 10 Grosbeaks in their! Nope, make that 9 . . . . one of them is a Gray Catbird. (more…)
The picture above was stolen from “Nature Knitter Blog” (Sorry Ruth)!. But there is reason for me doing so (really there is a reason)! Ok, here is the story! While catching up on everyone’s blog postings . . . . last Tuesday Ruth did a post where she said “No time for a post tonight. See you tomorrow with jelly pictures!” And of course . . . . me being the dumb ass that I am . . . . I say “send a jar my way? Hmmm”!! Then on Wednesday Ruth posted this picture of her amazing Grape Jelly that she made!! I really do need someone to sensor what I type because I was thinking with my stomach and said “Looks like the one on the far left wasn’t filled up all the way. You really shouldn’t save that one so please feel free to send it off this way! LOL!”. O – Ruth . . . . you sure are a sweetheart!! I bet you can’t guess what ended up in my mail box this evening? (more…)
Green Darner Up Close
Between dodge ball and many other fun activities this weekend . . . . we still found a few hours to focus on insects. We headed out to the Bova Area and quickly caught a few butterflies species flying around. They included the Common Ringlets, Pearl Crescents and Eastern Tailed Blue but those dragonflies were what everyone was most focused on. (more…)
MW putting on a show before watching Happy Feet at the campsite.
I hope everyone had a wonderful Labor Day holiday this weekend. Of course my little buddy Young Naturalist J’s family and other friends were camping here in Allegany this weekend. They are always soo good to me and did someone say fun? . . . . I will let the following pictures show you how much fun we had!! (more…)
Just some Monarchs meandering around the flowers!
I am having a hard time saying this . . . . but I am going to “try” and take a little break from the blog over the Labor Day Weekend (we all deserve a break from time to time)!! (more…)
While Young Naturalist C was in Cape Cod watching Whales and having a good time at the beach . . . . those of us back in Allegany State Park were butterfly sitting her caterpillars/chrysalis while she was off on vacation. Just last Thursday her oldest Monarch Butterfly emerged from its chrysalis (who Young Naturalist C named Lulu) and so I asked her mother if I could tag my first monarch (C couldn’t be around to tag it). (more…)