Eat and Be Eaten
Ornithology - The Science of Birds
by Dr. Roger Lederer
2M ago
In North America about half of all the migrating birds on the continent average 860 miles on their southward journey. The other half averages 1960 miles. Sort of illogical, given that migration is a dangerous activity, the birds that travel 1960 miles have a 23% death rate over the winter while those traveling the shorter 860 miles have a greater death rate at 35%. This is a vast oversimplification as we’re lumping lots of birds into only two categories. But it actually makes sense. Although travelling farther has its risks, spending the winter in colder climes farther north is more hazardous ..read more
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Economic View of Birdwatching
Ornithology - The Science of Birds
by Dr. Roger Lederer
2M ago
There’s a recent (Oct 2023) article in the journal Ornithological Applications entitled “Historical racial redlining and contemporary patterns of income inequality negatively affect birds, their habitat, and people in Los Angeles, California.” It’s rather complex but the basic idea is that well-to-do or even moderate-income neighborhoods have a greater diversity of birds than do low-income neighborhoods. In upper-income neighborhoods you can find robins, bluebirds, titmice, chickadees, towhees, sparrows, etc. while in economically deprived areas you are more likely to find what they call synan ..read more
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The Twelve-wired Bird-of-Paradise
Ornithology - The Science of Birds
by Dr. Roger Lederer
3M ago
Regularly I like to blog about some of the more interesting birds of the world. Today, one of the 45 species of Birds-of-Paradise. Birds-of-Paradise, family Paradisaedae, are only found in Indonesia, New Guinea, and a small part of Australia. In the early years of exploration, European Traders shipped Bird-of-Paradise skins from New Guinea to collectors and museums. The natives cut the feet off the birds to make them look better and when the skins were examined in Europe, some thought the birds simply had no feet and remained in the air their entire lives – they were in “paradise”, hence the n ..read more
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The Naming Controversy
Ornithology - The Science of Birds
by Dr. Roger Lederer
3M ago
I earlier discussed the proposal by the American Ornithologist’s Union (AOU) to change the common names of birds named after people. Let me add a little more here. Will this lead to a change in scientific names as well? Thick-billed Longspur, once called McCown’s Longspur The AOU changed McCown’s Longspur to the Thick-billed Longspur because of McCown’s support of slavery as a Confederate general but the scientific name Rhynchophanes mccownii still includes his name. Isn’t that still honoring him? There are other American birds that pose this same issue such as. Myadestes townsendii for the To ..read more
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The Snakebird
Ornithology - The Science of Birds
by Dr. Roger Lederer
3M ago
I like to alternate my posts between scientific and philosophical musings with looks at some interesting birds. Today the bird is the Anhinga. The word “anhinga” is derived from the native Brazilian Tupi-Guarani language word “ana’ĩnĩa,” which translates to “devil bird”, “snake bird” or “evil spirit of the woods.” The Tupi people (one of the largest indigenous groups of people in Brazil) named the bird because of its eerie appearance and hunting behavior. Europeans adopted this name which evolved into “anhinga,” the common English name for the species. The scientific name is Anhinga anhinga ..read more
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Bird Names Changing?
Ornithology - The Science of Birds
by Dr. Roger Lederer
3M ago
From the Washington Post, November 1, 2023: “The American Ornithological Society (AOU) says it will alter the names of North American birds named after humans, starting with up to 80 of them.” Their justifications are that the names are of people with negative reputations – endorsing or participating in slavery, for example – and that the names are not descriptive. Let me ponder those reasons a bit. From the Washington Post, November 1, 2023 The statues of civil war heroes of the South, plaques bearing names of racists, and even Thomas Jefferson, a slave owner, have been removed in the last fe ..read more
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Common Cuckoo
Ornithology - The Science of Birds
by Dr. Roger Lederer
4M ago
“Cuckoo” has come to describe someone not fully in control of their mental state, but it has a number of other meanings that you can look up here. But today I’m going to give you the real scoop on the real cuckoo bird. The Common Cuckoo, Cuculus canorus. Cuckoo and cuculus both reflect the bird’s call; canorus is derived from the Latin for “to sing.” Common throughout Asia and Europe during summer and winters in sub-Saharan Africa. They inhabit forests, open woodlands, grasslands, shrubby brush, wetlands, and agricultural areas.About 13 inches long and four ounces, their diet is mainly insec ..read more
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Japanese “Nightingale”
Ornithology - The Science of Birds
by Dr. Roger Lederer
4M ago
The English name “nightingale” refers to the Japanese Bush Warbler, a common songbird in Japan. The singing of the bush warbler has encouraged the keeping of these birds as caged birds in homes. To encourage singing the cages of birds were covered with a wooden box with a small paper window that allowed only subdued light in. (Honestly, I don’t know how restricting light entering the box would encourage singing.) The bird had another use, though. The bush warbler’s droppings, Uguisu no fun,  contain an enzyme that has been used for a long time as a skin whitening age ..read more
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Japanese Gardens and Birds
Ornithology - The Science of Birds
by Dr. Roger Lederer
4M ago
Just returned from a three-week trip to Japan. Not a birding trip but I snuck in some birdwatching when I could. Mostly visiting cities and towns and villages, I had a look at several parks and gardens. Japanese gardens are attractive, neat, and clean, but perhaps overly so. One of the elements of Japanese garden design is to “avoid clutter.” Well, the gardens certainly do that. It was common to see gardens with trees bare of branches and no leaves except at the outside edges and top, few or no shrubs, and either bare ground or very low ground cover. The gardens were more than maintained, they ..read more
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A Little Hiatus
Ornithology - The Science of Birds
by Dr. Roger Lederer
5M ago
This just a quick note to subscribers of Onithology.com blog posts. I will be out of the country for a few weeks and won’t be able to publish my blog until early October. If you miss reading my blog, I have written about 400 of them so you can read the ones you missed or reread the ones most interesting to you. You can scroll down a bit and click on Previous Post. See you in a few weeks. Roger Lederer at Ornithology.com ..read more
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