Birds.... are cooler than you!!!

Discussion in 'Science and Nature' started by chiefMOJOrisin, Aug 14, 2008.

  1. Birds kick ass. I could end my thread right there and it would be totally justified.

    I've been into nature for my whole life, starting when I joined Indian Guides (basically Cub Scouts, but not lame... no offense) when I was like 6. I used to love going to this place in upstate CT called Camp Jewel and go hiking and kayaking and other fun outdoor oriented activities.

    I used to focus mainly on reptiles/amphibians and mammals... those in my area and around the world. I never put too much thought into birds, other than wanting to know which ones in my woods were called what......after that, birds were just things that shit on my car.

    But this year, in February, my mother took me on an Eagle Boat Cruise up and down the Connecticut River that launched in Essex Connecticut. Now, the previous year I had made the trip to Cape May, New Jersey in the fall to watch the raptor migrations.... I saw literally thousands of Coopers, Sharp-shinned, Broad Winged, Red-shouldered and Red-tailed Hawks over one weekend...... but I had never seen an Eagle until then. Good fucking lord they are unreal.

    It's crazy to think that when the first European settelers arrived on the east coast there were Bald Eagles everywhere.... how do you think it became the national bird?? They, and several other raptor species, showed a noticable decline the second our dumb ancestors came here.... and when DDT was used widespread, it thinned the shells of many bird of prey species' eggs, causing a sharp decline in overall numbers. Other than the Bald Eagle, birds that were hit especially hard from the DDT (and humans in general) were Osprey, Peregrine Falcons and Northern Harriers. All of which, I am happy to say, have made substantial comebacks and all breed in Connecticut again. The Osprey especially has made an valiant comeback.

    In mid-February, while I was taking in the sights of the previous day's snowfall along the slushy-like river I had a revelation...... birds were where my mind, body, and soul need to be. Before I even saw my first eagle I was hooked. Within the first 10 minutes we saw hundreds of Common Mergansers, two Red-tailed Hawks circling high above the boat, an Osprey, Double-crested and the much rarer Great Cormorants, a few Common Loons, and an adorable Harbor seal.

    Since that 15 degree day on the Connecticut River I have devoted my life to birds. I quit my job as an electrician apprentice to work as an Open Space Management Intern (paid intership) for a neighboring town (Milford, CT)....which alows me to be outside all the time, which brings me closer to birds. I also volunteer one day a week, 4 hours at a time, at the CT Audubon Society's Coastal Center @ Milford Point in Milford, CT..... I am a docent and I answer all types of questions about birds, the reptiles/amphibians mammals inside the center, the natural history of the area, etc... The volunteering, in turn, gives me access to just about every single bird guide ever made, 3 spotting scopes that overlook a protected brackish marsh, and the natural greatness the site has to offer.

    I also band birds during the spring and fall migrations.... the fall banding season actually starts Tuesday.

    Most people wouldn't think of Connecticut being a good birding state.... well, it happens to be one of the best. My boss placed 2nd in the world in last years 'Big Sit' sponsered by Bird Watcher's Digest. The rules are that you have to record as many species of bird as possible in one day.....the catch is that you have to stay inside a 17 foot circle at all times. So, my boss set up his circle on a boardwalk we have the goes from the coastal center to right before the sand on the beach. It cuts through thickets and sand dunes and is just after a somewhat woodsy area. This spot is amazing because there are several different habitats within reach.... the open ocean (Long Island Sound), barrier beaches, tidal pools, satlmarshes, sand dunes, thickets/brush, deciduous trees, flower gardens (wild and planted), the beach, and the brackish marsh behind the building that takes in a river. In order it goes.... a row of houses, the large (maybe 1/2 mile wide) brackish marsh, the coastal center building, woodsy area and butterfly gardens, thickets and sand dunes (the path/boardwalk starts from the butterfly gardens and extends to the beach), the beach, the small tidal coves/bays/inlets, barrier beaches, tidal pools (depending on the tide..duh), and finally Long Island Sound.

    My boss set up his 17 foot circle on the boardwalk (which is only about 100 yards long...if that...including the paved path leading up to it) and was able to positively identify (sight or sound) 101 species in one day. To give an idea of how many that really is.... since I started recording my sighted species in mid-Feb, I have 166 species on my list. They saw 101 in like 14 hours, I saw 166 in 6 months. (technically they were 3rd because two teams tied with 115 species). I hope to be a part of this years Big Sit... if not directly with my boss, on one of his sup-groups.

    Birds aare amazing animals. They have an unbelievable story that starts with them dominating the world as massive reptiles. It is thought that feathers evolved well before any species was able to fly. As a matter of fact, the stereotypical Jurrasic Park Velociraptor actually had feathers on it. I mean, even the name... Raptor.

    The similarities between birds and dinosaurs are quite interesting. Besides the obvious visible similarities, there are structural likenesses. For instance, the homosexual-like limp wrists of raptors and tyrannasaurs that can flex all the way up and down.... they are present in birds and is part of the reason why they can fly.... Birds don't flap their wings up and down.. they make circles and flap them every which way. The limp wrists of dinosaurs are now what allow the hummingbird to fly forward, backwards, up, down, left, right, and even upside-down.

    If you don't think birds evolved from dinosaurs... look at the Crested Caracara and tell me that shit doesn't look like a dinosaur.
    (photo taken from Google....,GGLD:2004-29,GGLD:en)

    I recently rescue two exotic finches from a terrible home. Animal 5-0 went into this house to follow up on complaints and it turned out there wre like 8 cats, 4 dogs, these 2 birds and a few more, and a friggin sheep. Needless to say, they were confiscated and taken to a vet for a check-up, and ultimately to be adopted. The home where to animals lived was a few doors down from someone I work with, and I happened to be the first person she mentioned the finches to and I said I would take them. 1) Because I know they will have a great life because I spoil all my animals... and 2) if I have them, I know nobody else will be mistreating them.

    Now, I am soooooo against owning birds as a pet. An animal that evolved the ability to fly should not have to live in a fucking cage. Especially the beautful Macaws and other exotic parrots. Like I said before, I spoil my animals and they dictate how shit goes. A couple weeks ago I donated my 5' Nile Monitor lizard to a local organization who put him in a (minimum) 25'x25' terrarium and put him on display with some other reptiles. When I got him, he was only like 24" long.....he grew fast so I had to build him a custom enclosure. I made a 6'x6'x4.5' tall cage out of 2x4s and screen... it has 3 levels that are connected by cool looking branches I found in the woods, and lots of hanging natural looking stuff and a few branches jutting out from the walls. Instead of keeping those beautiful Spice Finches in a tiny cage, I let them fly around my room and they live/sleep/eat in the cage. I just leave the door open and they have learned to fly back when they need something. And if my cats want to chill, all I have to do is close the door to the cage. Two tiny, 4" finches in that huge enclosure is 100x better than their last home and the fact that they fly around the basement make me feel a liiiiitle bit better about keeping them as pets. If all I had was a 36"x18" metal cage I think I would release them.... which I have done 3 times. My sister lives in Florida and I vist her a few times a year...... I captured a Java Sparrow that someone let go/lost in my neighborhood and I drove down to FLA and let it go. The second time I released 3 budgies (parakeets)... the third time was the smartest.... the first two aren't native to Florida, but they live in warm climates and they at least have a chance to find a nice tropical place to live (I know there is a good chance they didn't make it...but maybe someone else caught them and let them go, and perhaps the cycle brought them to theit natural habitat). Similar to how I got the finches, I acquired two warblers. Warblers (most) are neotropical migrants that live in the rainforest (usually...and around) and migrate north to breed. On a perfect day in the spring at a perfect location in CT (the River Road in Kent, CT....warbler land!) it is possible to see 20+ species of warblers. So..... I had these two, gorgeous Magnolia Warblers in the winter (March) when they should be living it up in a tropical South American Land. Warblers are NOT the type of bird to keep as a pet. They only sit still for a second at the most, and have very particular eating habits.... they go from branch to branch to branch to twig to twig..never sitting stil and always on the lookout. I don't think most eat anything like partakeet food or classic bird food.... usually bugs. So, after making a short story long, I drove down to Florida and let them go. I am 75%+ sure that they survived.
    (photo of one of the Magnolia Warblers I released in Florida.... this is the tree he flew to right after I released him.)

    I'm not sure, but I think there is a very good possibility that the sound bite used for the Velociraptor's voice in Jurassic Park is the actual voice of a Spice Finch. They make a call, which I call the 'good eats call', that sounds like the raptor noise to a T. Who knows.

    I I had to choose a favorite bird, it would be easy because there is history behind it. My father passed away on June 17th of this year.... the same day, after I left his house and the funeral guys picked up the body, I was obviously bummed and I wanted to be in my most favorite place.... alone in the woods. So, I went into the woods behind my house for a quick birding hike. Now, I am not, al all, religious.... or even spiritual. But as I was walking down the path into my woods, I asked my dad if I would see any new species today. After about 2 hours a rather unproductive birding, I decided to sit crossed legged on the path and smoke up a bowlski. As I was packing it up, an majestic bird landed no more than 15 feet from me in a tree. It was a Rose-breasted Grosbeak. I had never seen one before then.... so my obvious thinking was that my dad was re-incarnated into this Grosbeak. Now, everytime I see the RBG, I think of my father..... seeing that bird on that day gave me a sense of relief that my dad was OK and much happier than he was the day before.
    (first photo I took of the Rose-breasted Grosbeak (my pops) from the path)

    Since I have a bias towards favorite birds, its easier to say that my favorite type of birds are warblers. They are the most colorful, energetic, and difficult to find/identify and photograph. There could be as many as 25 different species at a great location in CT during the peak of the spring migration. The thrill of the chase is great when photographing warblers. First off, they usually just appear.... when you are not ready. And when they do, they never sit still. They go from branch to branch looking for food, never staying in one place longer than the time it takes to snap 2 photos. Usually, I just throw the camera on motion and snap as many as I can before it leaves... then just deleate the 05% if them that suck, and keep/crop and save the best one(s). Once you do get a photo.... or identified a new species for your list..... it is amazing. You get such a feeling of accomplishment that can't be matched.... simply because it is all in the birds hands. Feeling a sense of accomplishment after painting a house in one thing....because you had control over the situation. When birding, you have to rely on you skills, memory, knowledge of the species/habitat/time of year/weather..... and the bird itself. It is a team effort and when everythig goes smoothly, it is an awesome experience.

    So, like I said.... birds are cooler than you!! I know they are waaay cooler than me! =)
  2. i dont even understand, some one was on this fourm talking about birds like this like a month ago. yes they are cool but its also a little bit funny that ppl are so into them.

    one time i went on a walk throught a bird preservatory and then there was this little book that you could write what birds you saw, so i wrote: large emperor penguin perched in redwood tree, attacking travelers, puple plumage.

    or something like that just to be funny.

    ^^^ Check out my gallery of nature shots^^^^ (mostly birds)

    At the audubon center where I volunteer, there is an Osprey platform that has been in use for several years now. I was lucky enough to be the one to see the very first flight of any of the 4 offspring. There is a webcam set up and it is played on a tv screen, live, inside the building. So one can look at the nest through the spotting scopes inside (or binoculars outside...whatever) and check the tv screen as a reference.... or just watch the screen. The webcam is pretty cool to watch...

    ^^^ If the webcam doesn't work, use the link below and click the 'Osprey cam' link on the left-hand side.

    (female Osprey...the mother of the 4 offspring where I volunteer. This shot was the 3rd of 4, and she was looking right at me beacuse she heard the first 2 shots.)

    (a Great Blue Heron (left), Great Black-backed Gull (right bottom), and Common Terns at sunrise on the shore of Long Island Sound behind the CAS Coastal Center @ Milford Point in Milford, CT.)
  4. Birds are amazing. I am so envious of them for the reason that they can fly.

    I, too, have an understanding for how truly awesome they are. I remember the first time I saw a bald eagle; I'll never forget it.

    And, Mr. Mojo Risin', I'm proud to say there are many osprey, and peregrine falcon around here!

    On the dinosaur note, you know velociraptors were feathered creatures, right?

    And if you like bird watching, I reccomend you visit the Everglades. It is a birdwatchers PARADISE.
  5. Yeah man birds are pretty interesting. Since I go to the beach nearly everyday I'm pretty familiar with a lot of the local coastal birds. We have a lot of falcons and hawks too and it's always kind of fun to see the smaller birds dive bombing the larger birds during nesting season lol. There's an aquarium over here and they received an injured albatross. I didn't know they can glide and sleep at the same time lol.

    And when you were mentioning how raptors were covered with feathers I thought of a recent show I watched.

  6. I have been to the Everglades when I was younger, but I wasn't into birding then so I didn't even really care then. I did, however, LOVE the fanboat rides!!

    ANd yes, I did know that velociraptors were feathered.... I know that my post was long, but I think I may have mentioned that.... who knows.

    Wouldn't it kick ass if Archaeoptryx and Moas were still around??!?!!?

  7. Ahh sorry, I skimmed over the "visual similarities" portion.

    Roseate Spoonbill

  8. #8 chiefMOJOrisin, Aug 14, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 14, 2008

    Those books/sign-ins are important. We have one in and outside of the Coastal Center where I volunteer.... they are used to get an idea of the rarer species in the area, and to know whos coming around and when.

    Rare bird reports are very important.... especially for harcore birders. Last week my boss got a phone call that a Sharp-tailed Sandpiper was somewhere on a beach/marsh in NY. The second he got the call he got in his truck and left...... so you know, The ST Sandpiper isn't a native species to North America and is an extremly rare fall vagrant, at best.

    So next time you see that penguin, make sure to right it down and report it!!!!

    Also, Cali... I think that is where I learned that Velociraptors had feathers!

    I am going on a trip of a lifetime at the end of this month...... I am driving cross country (really cross countrIES) to Alaska to go camping/hiking/birding and kayaking. I plan to do some serious birding on the trip. I am staying over a few times on the way there and back.... once in/near Badlans National Park in SD on the way home..... and once in Yellowstone on the way there. The trip is 25 days. 2 weeks in Alaska, 11 days driving... 5 there and 6 home. If I drove straight through, without stopping, I would reach my campsite in Alaska in 77 hours.
  9. About a month or two ago there were puffins that were showing up along the Northern/Central coast of CA. I don't think the scientists ever did figure out why they were coming so far south.

  10. Why not visit Glacier Nat'l Park instead of Yellowstone? :p

  11. Probably because it is would be alittle more out of the way than Yellowstone. I will be on I-90 and Yellowstone is closer to that road..... and I've wanted to go there for a looong time. Who knows though...maybe I will check it out. I'm going to Glacier Bay NP in Alaska =)

    The parks I will be hitting up on my trip are as follows.... (either just a quick stop, day trip, or camping)

    -Delaware Water Gap NRA (New Jersey/Penn border)
    -Cuyahoga Valley NP (Ohio)
    -Yellowstone NP (Wyoming)
    -Badlands NP (South Dakota) (staying in Deadwood, SD)
    -Wind Cave NP (South Dakota)
    -Elk Island (Canada)
    -Kluane NPR (Canada)
    -Glacier Bay NPR (Alaksa
    -Chugach State Park (Alaska...camping for 6 days)
    -Kenai Fjords NP (Alaska)
    -Denali NP (Alaksa...camping for 8 days)

  12. Fuck... going to Denali NP is one of my dreams.
  13. birds are cool. i used to be into reptiles and birds.

    i still band birds ocne a week durring the summer. its a lot of fun. sucks to get up at 4 in the morning though.
  14. Sweet a bird thread.

    I love watching birds, especially the raptors. I had a friend, who's dad would take us out to the desert and wack some wild rabbits with some birds. AMAZING shit when you're 16 years old, watching a speck in the sky, all of a sudden a red tail would smash into a rabbit and send it flying like a frisbee landing in spasms.

    Now keeping loud birds, that I don't like.
  15. my friend was up fishing in alaska, and they ran across a dead Bald eagle on the road, so he jumped out and sawed off both of its talons.

    those motherfuckers are huge.:smoke::smoke:
  16. #16 chiefMOJOrisin, Aug 15, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 15, 2008
    Someone mentioned they band birds too.... awesome shit, huh?? I love the data portion of it. Whether or not it has a brood patch... if it's wrinkled, smooth, blah blah. Measuring the primaries and *indentation* of which primary to determine what species of flycatcher. I'm starting to get a feel for the band sizes too.... I lke to guess what size it needs before the people who actually know ruin it.

    (*missing vocab word*)

    My bosses (not really bosses, people who run the banding program) let me take home a 20' long, 5' high mist net to set up in my back woods. I live in a very particular area that is mostly mixed deciduous forest, but it is about 1/2 mile from the Housatonic River, and maybe 2 miles from Long Island Sound.... that combined with a mile long powerline cut filled with overgrown thickets, tiny streams that open into swampy/marshy cattails filled pockets, rocky outcroppings, and random cedar trees makes for an excellent birding area during migrations. And in the off time too.

    During the spring migrations, I set up the net along a path I've made that runs perpendicular to the edge of the powerline cut so anyone cruising through the thickets gets nabbed.... not to band, but just to catch, examine and photograph each one... and to ultimately increase my knowledge of birds.

    Some of the highlights of the spring migration in my woods were two male Blackpoll Warblers (one first year and one breeding adult), A Canada Warbler, about 17 Yellowthroats (most of which are re-traps), two adult Blue-Winged Warblers who breed/nest in the powerline cut, and are a species in somewhat rapid decline, both species of Traill's Flycatcher (Willow and Alder), a Blackburnian Warbler... which was the second time I'd seen one, the first being a super fast photo and that was it..., a family of Carolina Wrens, several Yellow Warblers and, suprisingly, a female Indigo Bunting.

    It's funny, I've seen two rare (for my area) species while untangling birds from the mist nets...... A Pileated Woodpecker landed behind me and scared the ever-living bejesus out of me (if you've ever heard it's call within 30 yards of you... you know what I mean). I felt horrible because I left the Yellowthroat in the net a little longer while I put my camera together and snapped the two shots below.... and a Raven flew overhead when I was trying not to get bitten too much my a female common Grackle (very unhappy birds when handled).

  17. actually i cant lie i love ofspray and eagle

    ofspray are BIG and have special claws for catching fish

    and eagle just pwn other birds and fish and eagle fights are awesome!

    i love seeing those birds if im on a river but iv seen vultures on tv and they are cool to
    like they dont even need to flap there wings some time when there over parts of africa because the heat rising off the ground pushes them upward, and there necks are really long so they can push there heads in to rotting animals! now thats metal!

  18. dude, i live in NH and those wood peckers are here at my house all the time!

    like its crazy because they can wipe through the forest and between trees and iv seen it when im in the woods and they are actually pretty big, and they always peck at this tree in my swamp

  19. They are everywhere in Alaska. It's cool that he got a souvenir, but that bird symbolizes our country. Did he at least move it off to the side of the road?
  20. Yea man... Bald Eagles are too cool to degrade like that. Sure, it was dead..... but don't you think that is a little disrespectful??? Instead of moving the carcass out of the way you disect it?

    I forget who said it but.... yea vultures are badass!! There are 2 species in CT.... Turkey and Black Vultures. The acid in their stomaches would probably eat right though our bodies.... and their immune systems must be intense to allow them to take a face full of rotting deer meat.

    Here are some more photos to show off....

Share This Page