My Twitter Feed

May 17, 2021

Return of Bird of the Week: White-whiskered Puffbird

White-whiskered Puffbird

Another of the puffbird species that WC has been able to photograph, this one in 2010. Panama is more or less in the middle of this species’ range, which extends from Mexico to Ecuador, generally in humid evergreen forests and shady forest edges, usually pretty low in the understory. This is an ambush predator. It perches motionless on branches, where it can be remarkably hard to see, and then sallies out to capture insects, spiders, frogs or lizards, then returning to its perch to beat the prey to death on the branch before eating it. Unusually among puffbirds, it is…

Read More

The COVID Caucus Out on the Town

ALWAYS LOOK ON THE BRIGHT SIDE Let’s start off with a little Facebook gem from Rep. Steve Thompson (R-Fairbanks). It takes a look at the sunny side of the COVID-19 pandemic. Hey, you guys… Don’t think of it as 168,000 dead Americans – think of how many Americans are still alive! Considering that any day now, COVID-19 is going to be the third leading cause of death in the United States, it’s hard not to wonder when Rep. Thompson will stop thinking that the “panic is out of control.” And if you google Rep. Steve Thompson, here’s his weirdly ironic…

Read More

Return of Bird of the Week: Lanceolated Monklet

Another member of the Puffbird family, this is the Lanceolated Monklet, one of the rarest birds WC has photographed. “Lanceolated” means “spear-shaped,” a reference to the chest and flank streaking. “Monklet” is a play on the name of its cousins, the Nunbird, but the Monklet is pretty mall, so instead of being a monk it’s a “monklet.” It’s one of the smallest members of the Puffbird family, only 5-6 inches long. The large head and bill, in contrast with the small tail, makes the bird slightly comical. Its appearance is very distinctive, with those profuse long recurved whitish nasal tufts and…

Read More

The ‘Law & Order’ Party Cheers AK Law Breakers

OH REEEEALLLLY… So, it seems that Don “I call it the beer virus” Young is perfectly happy to wear a mask in the White House for a photo op, just not in his own state to protect his constituents. Here he is at the elbow of the Maskless One, at the now famous bill signing where the President referred to Yosemite National Park as “Yo Semites.” The bill was signed in the hope that it might help the beleaguered candidacies of Republican Senators Cory Gardner of Colorado and Steve Daines of Montana. No Democrats were invited to the signing of…

Read More

Return of Bird of the Week: Black-faced Nunbird

Black-faced Nunbird, Eastern Peru

Here’s another member of the Puffbird family, and close cousin to last week’s White-fronted Nunbird, the Black-fronted Nunbird. At least in WC’s experience, this is a much more common species, and unlike its cousins, hangs out in the lower understory, making it a little easier to photograph. It’s also a little more active than its more sedate White-fronted cousin. Its call is very different, an upslurred  “curry-curry-curry” to WC’s elderly ears. The head is uniform black, with that bright orange bill. There’s a small bare patch on the face, behind the eye, also black. The body shows highlights of blue-gray…

Read More

Return of Bird of the Week: White-fronted Nunbird

White-fronted Nunbird, Ecuador

There are whole families of birds that are only found in the Neotropics – Central and South America – that are almost unknown to all but hard core birders. One of those families of birds is the Bucconidae, the Puffbirds. They take their English name from their somewhat puffy appearance. It’s called “lax plumage” and gives the birds a disheveled, puffy look. There are 36 species of Puffbirds. WC has only seen and photographed a few of them. One of them is the White-fronted Nunbird. Nunbirds take their name from their mostly black feathering which looks vaguely like a nun’s habit….

Read More

Anchorage Assemblywoman – “Wear your mask!”

TALL TALES from Juneau and the D.C. Debacle   OOPS After last week’s edition of Tall Tales hit your screen, Dan Sullivan let all Alaskans know how it feels when your United States Senator can’t even tell the difference between two civil rights icons that he served with in Congress. He expressed his obligatory regrets at the passing of Rep. John Lewis by posting a picture of himself in front of the Smithsonian’s new Musem of African-American History and Culture with… the late Rep. Elijah Cummings. He wasn’t the only one to make this cringe-worthy gaffe – His fellow Republican…

Read More

Return of Bird of the Week: Long-tailed Sylph

Long-tailed Sylph, Ecuador

A reader has pointed out that the Bird of the Week feature has had almost exclusively hummingbirds for a half a year now. It’s a fair point. WC is far from exhausting his collection of hummingbird photos, but there are dozens of other families of birds. So WC will change tracks starting next week. But let’s end the hummingbird series with a bang: here’s a Long-tailed Sylph. It’s a difficult bird to photograph. A photographer is forced to a vertical composition, and the famous “Rule of Thirds” has to be thrown out at the start. And no matter what the…

Read More

Wasilla GOP Candidate Forum Madness!

I WATCHED THE MAT-SU REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE FORUM SO YOU DON’T HAVE TO Yep, I watched it all, courtesy of the video taken by the eponymously-named Republican blogger, “Politadick.” There’s no easy way to prepare you for this, so let’s just dive in. But first, a visit to the United States Flag Code:   THE EMCEE: Mike Coons, recently reappointed by Gov. Dunleavy to the Alaska Commission on Aging hosted a Mat-Su candidate forum this past weekend. It took place at the Senior Center in Wasilla. Why isn’t the governor’s appointee to the Commission on Aging wearing a mask at an…

Read More

Return of Bird of the Week: Collared Inca

Collared Inca, Peru

The taxonomy of this hummingbird is a mess. Depending on which ornithologist you are talking to, the Collared Inca is actually four species (GReen, Collared, Gould’s, Vilicamba) or just one. WC ran out of digits attempting to count the subspecies; again, it depends entirely on the bird researcher. WC has seen three of these “species” but counts it as one. Birds of the World (paywalled) has lumped the four and treats them as a single species. This is a cloudforest bird, resident year-round in the humid montane forests of the Andes, mainly at 1,800–3,000 meters altitude, sometimes lower at 1,500 meters….

Read More