Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Hybrids! Hybirds!

Last week, I discussed a genetic mutation that can change migrations and allow some birds to help them colonize new regions of the world.  I thought that this week, we would discuss how mutations can change the nature of animals themselves.  I've included three pictures of bird hybrids that I've been lucky enough to see.  These animals exhibit interesting mixes of behavior.  For instance, the Domestic X Canada Hybrid I found at Lake Henderson acted like a Domestic Goose even if they were bigger and very differently colored that the other Domestic Gooses in their flock.

In some cases hybridization can be dangerous.  In the case of the American Black Duck X Mallard Hybrid, many people believe that hybridizations like this are putting serious pressures on the American Black Duck population that is currently experiencing some big drops.  Hybrids are essentially a waste an opportunity to add productive members back to the population.  This is also occurring with Golden-Winged and Blue-Winged Warblers and some speculate that hybridization with Bachman's Warblers added serious and significant pressure to that species decline.

What hybrids have you guys seen?

Domestic X Canada hybrid

Tricolored X Little Blue Hybrid

American Black Duck X Mallard Hybrid

Wild Bird Wednesday - Link Here

Cornell Lab of Ornithology Article on Hybrid Geese - Link here

Was the Labrador Duck a Hybrid? - Link here

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Rufous Hummers in Georgia

Genetics and migration are funny things.  Sometimes Genetics dictates what birds will do from how they sing to how they migrate.  For some birds, genetics determines what song a bird will sing.  Flycatchers for example have their songs programmed in their genetic code and some birds have their migration programmed into them.  If these things are programed in, that means they can changed and I had the opportunity to visit with a friend of mine and see evidence of this recently.  In the past few years, Rufous Hummingbirds have started to really take a hold in southeast as their wintering grounds.

The pictures you see below are a a male RUHU that has successfully made its home in Georgia.  As you can see, he's growing into quite the male with resplendent colors.  This bird is a tough little reminder of the how difficult migration can be and how birds are pushing their own limits.  The RUHU is a delightful bird to see and enjoy.  

As we approach migration, its important to remember to the increasing rigors that are facing our feathered friends as they attempt to race across our continent to get to their breeding grounds.  Until the next time, get outside!

The Male Rufous at the Beginning of the Winter

Starting to show off his colors

Rufous Hummingbird - Link Here

Wild Bird Wednesday - Link Here

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Crowning Achievement

There are all sorts of birders out there.  One of the things I miss about New England Birding is the cold winds of shorebirding. Gusts of near zero or subzero winds while you are trying to count the dunlins and turnstones really made winter special.  Here in Georgia, Winter birding is different.  There are warm days and lots of sunshine and no subzero gusts.  I spent some time with a new friend enjoying her yard.  Even though it was raining, the birds were out in force.  In particular there was an awesome Orange Crowned Warbler and Ruby Crowned Kinglet.  The Rain made their Crowns very visible.

Some people have describe the Orange Crowned Warbler as our dullest most unremarkable Warbler and some of that stems from the fact that the OCWA hides its crown almost all of the time.  Yet, on this rainy day, the crown of the OCWA was barely visible.  Making it a real treat to see!  While I miss the cold wind, I think these Georgia summers have some exciting parts as well! Until the next time!

OCWA with hints of Orange in the Crown

And enjoying some Suet

A rain soaked RCKI

More on the OCWA - Link here

Wild Bird Wednesday - Link here

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Wilson's Snipe

There are many reasons to love Wilson's Snipe.  First off, they are a shorebird that is rarely at the shore.  they are prefect reminders that adaptations in the natural world are diverse and endless.  Snipe can act like more typical shorebirds and yet never see the seashore.  Snipes are just really cool birds.  It is worth noting that the word Snipe is really fun to say very quickly and loudly.  

Snipes are really normally very secretive birds.  Recently, I had an encounter with a Wilson's Snipe in Clayton County's Huie Ponds.  This particular Snipe is really easy to spot and will display feeding behavior very clearly for people to see.  This provides for great opportunities to observe this bird and see its behavior.  The Snipes at Huie are very cooperative and I would definitely recommend going and looking at these guys to really see and observe them.

I've been spending lots of time with my daughter so birding has been limited.  While I wait for the days I can both, we do manage to do a lot of backyard birding together.  So far she loves to hear white-throated sparrows and cedar waxwings and I am hoping that she will continue to enjoy the outdoors and birds!

Linking to Wild Bird Wednesday - Link Here

Wilson's Snipe Info at All About Birds - Link Here