Weather and Birds

And the answer to yesterday’s photo quiz.

It’s been a rough few days over much of the US and Canada, with temperatures like in the old days — made only worse by the weather people’s insistence on giving us the “wind chills,” too.

It’s been hard on the birds, too, as anyone watching feeders or out driving the country roads will have noticed. But I don’t think it can compare to a nasty night 105 years ago today in Lincoln County, Nebraska.

Screenshot 2014-01-06 11.36.26

Most years, I don’t even see 10,000 Lapland Longspurs, far less walk around town picking them up from vacant lots.

Stay warm!

Congratulations to A.B. for pointing out some of the important characters that permit the identification of this bird. The very long wings are a great way to rule out the superficially similar sparrows and Old World sparrows. 


Photo Quiz

A few years ago, Kenn Kaufman pointed out that the “photo quiz” was not an innovation of Birding or British Birds or Continental Birdlife.

No, the first birding photo quiz appeared in Bird-Lore in December 1900, with the intention, as Frank Chapman put it,

of arousing the student’s curiosity [and] impressing the bird’s characters on [her or ] his mind far more strongly than if its name were given with its picture.

In honor of the sesquicentennial of Chapman’s birth, coming up this summer, we’ll be “re-running” the Bird-Lore quizzes on and off over the next months.

Here’s one that seems especially timely:

Chapman photo quiz I

What is it? Please respond in the comments, and be sure that you include an account of how you identified the bird, not just its name.

And if you already played in 1900, please give others a chance before jumping in.


A Mystery from Guyana

Like anyone else with sense, I love jacamars, and so I lingered over last November’s poor images of Paradise Jacamars when I was moving them to flickr tonight.

paradise jacamar Guyana 2007 412

Quite a bird, as sharp at one end as at the other!

One of my photos, though, offered up a surprise–and a mystery.

mystery Guyana

In flagrant violation of Rule 2 for Successful Birding, I was looking at the stupid viewfinder when something flashed across the background.  What is it?

mystery Guyana cropped

Is it really blue? I’m at a loss, never having seen a Cotinga cotinga fly.