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May 17, 2021

Return of Bird of the Week: Gray-breasted Sabrewing

Gray-breasted Sabrewing

Return of Bird of the Week was delayed a day for the Fourth of July. With that behind us, let’s have a look at another hummingbird. This is a species WC has only seen once, and only briefly. This is the best of the three poor quality photos WC managed to get before the bird left. Like last week’s much more colorful Violet Sabrewing, this is a member of the genus Campylopterus, probably the drabbest member of that genus, and the subspecies Obscurus, the drabbest of that species. Kind of the polar opposite of its Violet cogener. WC has not been…

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Return of Bird of the Week: Violet Sabrewing

Violet Sabrewing, Costa Rica

Another stunningly beautiful hummingbird, to which WC’s photo doesn’t being to do justice. A gem of purple, blue and green, with a strongly decurved bill, this is another ridiculously colorful hummingbird. It’s also Central AMerica’s largest hummingbird, measuring 15 centimeters (a little over 5.25 inches). Unlike most hummingbirds, male Sabrewings compete for females on a lek. As many as ten birds gather and sing in saplings in the forest understory or edge, two to four meters above the ground. The song is described as “a long series of evenly spaced but variable notes: cheep tsew cheep tik-tik tsew cheep …, high-pitched…

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Return of Bird of the Week: Rufous Hummingbird

Rufous Hummingbird, Sawtooth NRA, Idaho

WC has access to his bird database again, so we’ll return to Hummingbirds for a bit longer to pickup some of the North American species; to this point, all but one of the 20 or so hummingbirds WC has shown have been endemic to Central and South America.[^1] We’ll start these last few with the Rufous Hummingbird. Alaska’s sole breeding hummingbird species. The Rufous Hummingbird has the longest migration of anybird species, at least if you measure the length of migration in the length of the bird doing the migrating. WC has photographed this species in Resurrection Bay, west of…

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Sullivan, Murkowski & Young cry racism? WHAT?

Hey, Republicans – you’re doing it wrong. In a time when the most NON-political issues have become political third rails like, I dunno… basic hygiene during a pandemic, the Republican party never ceases to amaze. As the Black Lives Matter movement rolls forward, demanding that Alaskans and all Americans look hard at reforming our law enforcement agencies in the wake of decades of horrific inequities and violence against people of color, toxic seeds of racial division are being sown even by our Republican Congressional Delegation. Buckle up, it’s going to be a bumpy ride. IT’S ONLY RACIST IF THERE’S OIL…

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Return of Bird of the Week: Lazuli Bunting

Lazuli Bunting Male, Boise Foothills, Idaho

We’ll take a break from hummingbirds for a bit. WC is being forced to change his digital asset management software – the software that stores and organizes his 180,000 plus photos – and the change process makes all those photos unavailable for the duration. Which is probably measured in days. Happily, WC has been testing other digital asset management software, and has bird photos cached there. Including some shots of Lazuli Buntings, photographed last month in the Boise foothills. There are a handful of North American bird species that WC thinks are a terrific introduction to the pleasures of birding….

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Alaska Republicans Silent and Absent. Again.

WHAT A WEEK! We say that every week, but this week sets the bar for bad weeks in the Trump administration. The historical lack of equal justice in our country, the horrific murder of George Floyd, the violence on the streets of our cities, the President threatening to invoke the Insurrection Act of 1807 and turn the U.S. military against its own citizens… The headlines we see on a daily basis sound like the stuff of dystopian fiction. But one thing that has happened as a result is that the response to these events by individuals has told us a…

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Return of Bird of the Week: Volcano Hummingbird

Volcano Hummingbird, Costa Rica

The Volcano Hummingbird is tiny, even for a hummingbird, just 7.5 centimeters (a little less than 3 inches) long. It also has a tiny habitat, ranging in the higher mountains of Costa Rica to western Panama. And within that habitat it prefers to scrubby vegetated areas. In that part of Central America, taller mountains tend to be volcanoes; hence, the species’ common name. The background in this first photo is in fact a volcanic cinder field. The species also has tiny territories, in some cases just 15 square meters, which the males defend aggressively. Unlike a lot of hummingbirds, the…

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The Anti-Greta, Climate Change & the Alaska Senate Race

By Zachary Brown She stood in the roiling crowd, amid clean-cut college kids and potbellied dudes in cowboy hats and media men dashing this way and that. Her stringy blonde hair, her dark eyeliner, her sneakers and the flannel tied round her waist, all gave a picture of punk defiance. How ironic, I thought, given the suit-wearing merchants of the status quo she represents. They chose someone small and thin as a garter snake for their enormous, dreadful task. Meet Naomi Seibt: the anti-Greta. The GOP needed an answer to Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teenager who has gained astonishing traction…

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Return of Bird of the Week: Violet-bellied Hummingbird

Violet-bellied Hummingbird, Ecuador

Among birders’ favorite hummingbirds has to be the Violet-bellied. Not only is the male’s coloration spectacular; this species favors the flowers of the understory, making it more accessible than most hummingbirds. And it is sometimes attracted to feeders. It’s a handsome bird from this angle, but when it catches the light right, well. It can make your eyes water when you see it through your binoculars. This is a small hummingbird, about 7.5 cm – just under three inches – long, weighing just 3.4 grams. But it certainly has the most flash per gram of any bird in the Western…

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The Unmasked Avenger Strikes the Capitol!

TALL TALES from Juneau Eyes on the Dunleavy Disaster   A WORLD-FAMOUS ALASKAN! No, not Jewel or Tom Bodett or Jack London – not an Alaskan famous for talent and ability. No, just the Representative from Kenai, now famous for writing a bunch of ignorant stuff about the Holocaust and hitting “send.” In case you missed it this week – first in the Alaska Landmine, and afterwards in media outletsaround the world – Rep. Carpenter email blasted all his colleagues comparing the coronavirus screening at the doors of the Capitol building this week, and the stickers that indicated you’d done…

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