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April 22, 2018

Return of Bird of the Week: Resplendant Quetzal

Resplendant Quetzal

WC has been accused of posting photos of boring birds. While there are no boring birds, it’s true that some have broader appeal than others. So here’s a lot of folks’ candidate for the most beautiful bird in the Western Hemisphere, the Resplendant Quetzal. The bird is about 15 inches long, plus about 26 inches of tail. It’s iridescent green blue and red, and seen live absolutely takes you breath away. A member of the Trogon family, it is considered divine by Mesoamerican peoples. It is certainly spectacular, and WC counts himself luck to have been able to see and…

Return of Bird of the Week: Long-tailed Tyrant

Long-tailed Tyrant, Costa Rica

There are a staggering, bewildering number of birds in the Neotropics that eat bugs. Hundreds of species of flycatchers, alone. One of the more spectacular is the Long-tailed Tyrant. Long-tailed Tyrants feed exclusively on flying insects, especially stingless bees.  Insects are captured by making quick aerial sallies from a high exposed snag or branch. Not coincidentally, that perching makes them easy to photograph. The species has an extensive range, from Honduras to Brazil, The species is described as “fairly common but patchily distributed,” but the total population is unknown and the species is, in the phrasing of ornithology, “poorly understood.” Despite that long tail,…

Return of Bird of the Week: Golden-hooded Tanager

Golden-hooded Tanager, La Selva, Costa Rica

The Golden-hooded Tanager isn’t even Costa Rica’s most spectacularly beautiful bird, but it’s pretty darn impressive.Besides, WC has neglected the avifauna of Central America. Tanagers as a group are an extensive, amazingly color family. But you are more likely to see Golden-hoodeds; they are enthusiatic visitors to fruit feeders. These photos don’t really begin to show the colors on this bird. WC supposes he will have to go back. Darn. For more bird photos, please visit Frozen Feather Images.

Return of Bird of the Week: Greater Rhea

Greater Rhea, Pantanal, Brzil

And now for something completely different. The Greater Rhea, the signature bird species of Brazil’s Cerrado and Pantanal. The Greater Rhea is the western world’s largest bird, flightless and a cousin to the Ostriches of Africa and the Emus of Australia. They are all Ratites, a super group of large, long-legged, flightless birds. The Greater Rhea is smaller than Ostriches and Emus, but at 63 inches in height, still a very impressive bird. Ornithologists can match the speciation of Ratites to Gondwana’s plate tectonic breakup. Geology confirmed by biology; you have to like it. Among Rheas, the males raise the…

Return of Bird of the Week: Common Potoo

Common Potoo, Pantanal, Brazil

We’re headed to Brazil for this week’s bird, to the Pantanal, the immense swamp in southern Brazil. And the bird is the Common Potoo, a master of camouflage. You have to look closely to see the bird. Potoos are nocturnal insectivores, and during the daytime hold these vertical poses, perched motionless on the branches their coloration so strongly resembles. WC was guided to this bird by local tribe people. WC would have walked by it a dozen times without seeing it. Here’s another view. This view gives you an idea of the size of the bird’s mouth. Like their cousins,…

Return of Bird of the Week: Kelp Gull

Kelp Gull, Ushaia, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina

WC doesn’t intend to neglect the Southern Hemisphere’s birds. Here is one of the most widely distributed birds of the bottom half of the planet, the Kelp Gull. It’s found throughout the Southern Ocean, from Australia to South America to Africa, and from coastal Antarctica to Ecuador. It’s probably the most widely distributed gull on the planet. An omnivore, tolerant of mankind’s activities and highly adaptable, you have to admire it even if you don’t like it dining menu, which includes penguin chicks and carrion. Kelp Gulls are three year gulls; that is, they take three years to reach maturity….

Return of Bird of the Week: Western Meadowlark

Western Meadowlark, Farm to Market Road, McCall, Idaho

There are compensations for leaving Alaska. Surely one of them is the Western Meadowlark. It’s one of our most abundant and widely distributed grassland birds, found in open country from natural and planted grasslands of the Northern Great Plains to the Sagebrush Sea of the Intermountain West to the tidal flats along the Pacific Ocean. Its common occurrence, colorful plumage, and superb song make it one of North America’s most popular birds. Six states have named it their state bird. Despite the name and beautiful song, it’s not a lark. It’s an Icterid, a cousin to the Red-winged and Rusty…

Return of Bird of the Week: Rufous-winged Sparrow

Rufous-winged Sparrow, SE Arizona

The Rufous-winged Sparrow is just barely a North American bird, if you are a birder who keeps lists. This sparrow just barely occurs in southern Arizona; most of its range is in Medico which, for North American birders, isn’t part of North America. Geography doesn’t enter into it. The Rufous-winged has the distinction of being one of the last bird species in the United States to be discovered and described. It’s an uncommon resident of local distribution in the Sonoran Desert region from south-central Arizona to northern Sinaloa, Mexico. The species prefers the scrub and grasses along washes and streams….

Return of Bird of the Week: Great Blue Heron

More than any other North American bird species, the Great Blue Heron reminds you that birds evolved from dinosaurs. If anything brings the images of a flying dinosaur to mind, it is a Great Blue Heron slowly lumbering across the sky. WC is used to seeing these big herons doing strange things, but last weekend they showed him something new. A dozen or so birds were perched along the top of the cliff. the canyon rim along the middle Snake River, near Hagerman, Idaho. There’s no food up there; just old lava rock and some discouraged sagebrush. And a dozen…

Return of Bird of the Week: Cinnamon Flycatcher

Cinnamon Flycatcher, Menu Road, Peru

Without exaggeration, there are hundreds of New World flycatcher species. For this week’s Bird of the Week, we’ll head to the tropics, for one of the prettiest,  the Cinnamon Flycatcher. The cinnamon and brown-green coloration is lovely. It’s fairly common bird on both the east and west slopes of the Andes, from Venezuela down to Bolivia. It’s often seen in mixed flocks and seems to hang around after the rest of the birds have moved along. The species also lets WC show off the difference in image quality in low light between his Canon 1D-X and the old Olympus E-5…