Shorebirds give me a headache!

I apologize for borrowing your phrase, DaLo….although it’s not Warblers or even SLB’s shorebirds giving me a royal headache, but the dozens of pictures of shorebirds that I took at Ft. De Soto in April that I’m trying to ID.  I did ID the Short-billed Dowitcher easily enough, so my guess for her shorebird is Short-billed Dowitcher.  I also could ID the Marbled Godwit with that beautiful cinnamon color, but there are a few others that I will be posting to WBIT? for help.  They are definitely difficult to pin down with so many variations, especially when they’re not in breeding plumage.  Plus, Sibley states that immature Dunlin are “rarely seen south of their breeding grounds” (the Arctic & No. Alaska), and yet I believe that I have several pictures of immature Dunlin at the Fort in April….but I’ll post a picture to WBIT? anyway just to make sure.

It’s always nice to add a bird to your life list…..nice going, SLB.  Those Blue-grey Gnatcatchers are rarely still long enough for a picture, so knowing their behavior is a dead giveaway.

Jenn, it’s fine to like those “yellow-eyed birds” but I would prefer that they not harass my Jays.  The Sharpies are still around the yard today, although they seem to be taking a break this afternoon, as I haven’t seen them in the yard since early this morning.  I just filled all the feeders and suet cages, and the Jays and other birds have been eating in peace.  Actually, the Jays are at the food like ants at a picnic….this is the time of the year when they hoard food for the winter and I just found out that Chickadees do the same thing….imagine that!  There have been studies made on Chickadees at Cornell University and they found “the hippocampal formation, which is involved in spatial memory for cached food items, has a larger volume, relative to the rest of the brain, in October than at any other time of the year”….suggesting that “the enhanced anatomy might be caused by the increased use of spatial memory.”  So, from this I gather that their brain grows bigger in October to give them more memory….geez, it’s too bad we humans don’t have the same ability….I could certainly use more memory, all year long.  Aren’t birds remarkable?

On a visit to Padre Island, TX in 2007, I overheard one many saying to another that digital photography had ruined photography because “anyone can take decent pictures now”…..what a wet blanket he was!  And, look how far digital photography has come in five years!  Even phones take pictures, so if you don’t have a camera with you, a phone fills the bill.  If I do invest in a smart phone, I want one with a doctorate degree…why not have the best?  My current phone would probably be considered either a grade-school dropout or, at best, one with a high school diploma…it does not have a degree in anything.  Seriously, though, I’m not sure I would want a phone that is smarter than I am. 

DaLo, that picture of the RWB and the Cowbird is interesting.  Cowbirds, as you probably know, lay their eggs in the nests of other birds, usually Warblers.  The chicks are so much bigger than the Warbler chicks, so they get most of the food, while the smaller chicks don’t get enough to survive.  I’d be surprised if this Cowbird was raised by a RWB, although if it was, the chicks wouldn’t have trouble competing for food from the parents since they’re equal in size.  So, was it feeding the Cowbird, or just pecking at it?



Jenn, I do remember all the posts made by Brdbrain members this past spring about the Lark Sparrow at Ft. De Soto and I wanted to go see it, but we never found the time.  There was also a Purple Sandpiper around the same time, so it would have been nice to add two lifers to my list.  Right now the excitement is about a Pomerine Jaeger that has been there for at least three weeks, a bird rarely seen on land.  The Fort is worth visiting any day of the year, whether you’re looking for shorebirds or passerines, and especially during migration….I’m looking forward to going there again when we get back.

DaLo, I guess we’ll just never really know what your mystery bird was and I know how frustrating that can be.  I like to ID all the birds that I see and if I can’t ID them with a picture, the binoculars usually do the trick, but it’s always better to get a picture, although sometimes you need more than one.  Pictures


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