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May 17, 2021

Return of Bird of the Week: Bare-faced Curassow

Bare-faced Curassow Female, Pantanal, Brazil

This is a smaller relative of last week’s Great Curassow, found in the Amazon basin and down into Paraguay and Argentina. It’s also sexually dimorphic. The males is black, with a white belly, extensive bare, black skin around the eye and a bi-colored, black and yellow bill. The crest is tightly curled black feathers. The female is a beautiful bird, with a rufous belly, barred back and tail and a splendid crest. This is a crepuscular species, usually out only in the predawn and evening twilight. It usually emerges from the forest into clearings to foage, as these two birds…

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Return of Bird of the Week: Great Curassow

Great Curassow Female, Costa Rica

As promised, we’ll leave the obscure Puffbird family behind and shift the focus to the much larger, but even more obscure family Cracidae. These are the Curassows, Guans and Chachalacas of Neotropical forests. Prized by Native Americans as game birds, they have developed a healthy wariness of humankind. Those that weren’t wary became dinner, after all. There are 54 species of Cracidae; WC has photographed only a bare handful of them. To say they are secretive doesn’t begin to describe it. Birds in this family look somewhat like turkeys or pheasants, but those are distant relatives. We’ll start with the…

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Alaska Politicians Exposed – Stooges, Shills & Shenanigans

TALL TALES from Juneau and the DC Debacle   AND IT’S ALLLL ON TAPE Sometimes you know things, but it’s nice to have them proven right out loud, through dramatic and surreptitious means. Such is the case with the immediately infamous “Pebble tapes.” If you haven’t heard them, make yourself a beverage and get ready to be a fly on the wall as your beautiful state and all its salmon get sold down the river (not the beautiful blue Nushagak of today – the contaminated, cyanide-filled Nushagak of tomorrow). We now know what our elected Republican leadership thinks of us,…

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Return of Bird of the Week: Barred Puffbird

Barred Puffbird, Darién Province, Panama

Here’s a final Puffbird to wrap up this family of birds. It may seem like WC has been writing about Puffbirds for months, but in reality WC has photographed only a tiny fraction of the 36 members of this family. So many birds; so little time. The Barred Puffbird has a pretty restricted range, from eastern Panama to Ecuador. It’s apparently most common in Columbia, where WC has never been. And despite being present in a chunk of Ecuador, WC has never seen it there, despite four birding trips to that excellent country. It’s rare, as well as difficult to…

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Return of Bird of the Week: Collared Puffbird

Collared Puffbird, Manu Road, Peru

The Collared Puffbird is found in Amazonia, the Amazon River basin, including the lower eastern slopes of the Andes Mountains in Ecuador and Peru. WC was lucky enough to see and photograph – admittedly poorly – the species in Peru, where it is comparatively rare. In fact, eBird reports less than 300 sightings for Peru. The bright orange bill, cinnamon head and distinct black collar makes this a very easy bird to identify in the field. Its call, given generally before dawn, is a classic jungle sound, a loud: “awww awwAWW-chaw awwAWW-chaw awwAWW-chaw”, repeated up to six times. This species…

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Don Young is Getting Desperate

It’s standard fare for Republicans to come out with glossy election-season “scare mailers” showing Democratic candidates in red monochrome, juxtaposed next to distorted pictures of [Obama/Pelosi/Schumer/AOC] or whomever is the boogeyman du jour. This usually happens 2 or 3 weeks before Election Day, and it reminds us that Republicans don’t really run FOR anything, they just like to scare their base into voting against something – and that something usually ends in “ism” and doesn’t exist. But this year is different. Congressman Don Young, facing his toughest opponent in decades (he’s been around since 1973), is starting the smears in…

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Return of Bird of the Week: White-eared Puffbird

White-eared Puffbird, Pantanal. Brazil

Remember WC cautioned readers that some of the Puffbird photos were pretty sketchy. Here’s another. The White-eared Puffbird is found from eastern Peru and central Brazil south to Paraguay and northeastern Argentina. It prefers the middle levels of jungle forest and the gallery forests of the lowlands. Like other Puffbirds, it still-hunts from mid-level perches in trees and shrubs, and will take a wide range of prey, from insects to reptiles to crabs. White-eared Puffbirds have one of the most southerly distributions of any species of puffbird; there is some evidence that the southernmost populations of White-eared Puffbird are migratory, moving north in the austral…

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Return of Bird of the Week: Gray-cheeked Nunlet

Grey-cheeked Nunlet, Darien, Panama

If there are puffbirds called “Monklets” you should have known there would be puffbirds called “Nunlets.” In fact, there is a whole genus of them, Nonnula, in which there are at least six species. The Gray-cheeked Nunlet is the only one of the six which WC has been able to photograph to date. It’s a pretty easy species to recognize: the reddish eye ring, cinnamon breast and brownish cap are distinctive. Ironically, the Gray-cheeked Nunlet is possibly the rarest of the six. This is a lowland species found in western Panama and eastern Columbia. Like all of the puffbirds, it’s an…

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Alaska AG Resigns When Workplace Harassment Uncovered

GOOD RIDDANCE TO BAD RUBBISH It’s been a very bad week for faux “family values” Christians in positions of power this week.   First, Jerry Falwell Jr. was outed by the pool boy for an ongoing sexual dalliance with him and his wife that spanned seven years and began when he was barely out of his teens. This revelation prompted Falwell to 1) throw his wife under the bus and disavow his own involvement (new developments on that today) and 2) step down, giving way to his temporary (or maybe not-so-temporary) replacement, Alaska’s own Jerry Prevo of the Anchorage Baptist…

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Return of Bird of the Week: White-necked Puffbird

White-necked Puffbird, Panama

WC has a few more photos of Puffbirds, but none of them are going to win any prizes for quality. Still, the birds are interesting enough that WC will share the mediocre documentation photos, with apologies for the sub-standard quality. Here’s a White-necked Puffbird, a species found from southern Mexico to Peru and much of Brazil. It’s one of the largest of the Puffbirds, and likely has the largest bill. It’s fairly uncommon across its entire range. Unlike its cousins you’ve met so far, this is generally a canopy bird, harder to find and photograph. This photograph is taken against the…

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