|Birds of home versus birds of far away|
|Wednesday, 18 July 2012 15:18|
by Neil A. Case
There are red-winged blackbirds and cowbirds, black-capped chickadees and tufted titmice, blue jays, a pair of cardinals, mourning doves and downy woodpeckers landing in the trees of our yard, flying back and forth to our bird feeders and to the ground around them. A pair of rose-breasted grosbeaks and one of Baltimore orioles fly in and out with the more common birds. They’re all common really, birds I see every day, many of them birds I see almost every time I look out the window at the feeders.
I have shelves of books about birds above and around my desk. I have “Birds of America,” “The Audubon Society Encyclopedia of Birds,” “Peterson,” “Audubon,” “National Geographic,” “Kaufman and Sibley Field Guides to Birds,” and many many more. My bird books are as familiar to me as the birds outside the window. For variety, for new information, for things I haven’t thought of about birds, I get and look at magazines about birds and natural history.
When I was a boy Audubon magazine was about birds, of course, and National Geographic Magazine had a story about birds once or twice a year. Because I was already interested in birds an aunt gave me an annual subscription to National Geographic so I could see those articles about birds. They were all written and illustrated with color photographs by Dr. Arthur A. Allen, Professor of Ornithology at Cornell University.
Today many more people are interested in birds than when I was a boy and there are several magazines specifically about birds. One of those magazines is published by the Cornell University Laboratory of Ornithology. It’s issued quarterly and is named The Living Bird. Other magazines for birders are American Birds, Birding, BirdWatching, Bird Watcher’s Digest, and Wildbird.
When I haven’t been out much, as during the heat wave earlier this month, and have no personal account to use to introduce a bird or something else outdoors, when nobody has told me a bird or wildlife story recently, I can always find an article in one of those magazines and relate the topic to something I’ve experienced. For example, a recent issue of Bird Watcher’s Digest had a story about Midway Island. I’ve been to Midway. That was when I was in the Navy years ago. I was there when some of the albatrosses had nested and had young. I saw both Laysan and black-footed albatrosses, the famous black and white gooney birds of Midway.
The magazine BirdWatching, which was originally called Birder’s World, recently had articles about Kirtland’s warbler, painted bunting and Wilson’s plover. I’ve seen all three, the Kirtland’s warbler once in Indiana where it’s considered a rare migrant. Bird Watcher’s Digest, in addition to the article about Midway, had articles about the sora, mountain bluebird, red-footed booby, Brazilian cardinal and apapana, more birds which I have seen and can tell personal stories about.
I saw the Brazilian cardinal in Hawaii on the island of Oahu, not in Brazil. The Brazilian cardinal is not a native bird of Hawaii. It’s an introduced species, like the house sparrow and starling are in North America and like the house sparrow and starling they are common, at least on the island of Oahu where I saw them.
I saw the apapana on the island of Hawaii. It is native to some of the islands of Hawaii. It’s one of those birds called Hawaiian honeycreepers. The name is as Hawaiian as the bird, a name composed of many vowels. Another honeycreeper with a name of multiple vowels and a bird I saw is the iiwi.
So what bird do I write about this week? Should I pick one of those birds I’ve seen when I was away from home or should I try to think of something new about one of those common birds I see around the feeders outside my home?