Few ornithologists in North America were as influential as Alexander Wilson. Rick Wright, at Birding New Jersey and Beyond, tells the story of Wilson's first moments in the New World, and the first bird that inspired him:
Those words ring a bell — and not just because Cantwell re-uses exactly the same phrases 30 pages later to paint the backdrop for Wilson’s life in Grays Ferry. In fact, the words, uncredited both times, are Wilson’s own, taken from his account of the Red-headed Woodpecker in the American Ornithology — where they describe the bird’s general nature and where Wilson makes not the least mention of this 1794 encounter. Cantwell’s transformation of Wilson’s natural historical information into a biographical episode verges on the dishonest, an example of what Frank Egerton called his failure to “differentiate between definite information and his inferences, which are extrapolated beyond the evidence.”
They're one of the most common species continent-wide but how many of us really pay attention to those ever-present Canada Geese. Chris Petrak at Birding is Fun does:
But ... if you do pay attention, you might ask why a pair of geese are protecting a dozen or more goslings when they normally lay only six eggs. A couple of years ago, I watched two adult geese leading twenty-three goslings in the Retreat Meadows; I was able to count the moving number when I had my photograph on the monitor so that the birds stayed still. Behind that group came another pair of adults leading sixteen youngsters. These were only two of the gosling collections scattered around those waters.
Ron Dudley, writing at Feathered Photography shares some remarkable photos of a mated pair of Western and Clark's Grebes:
Both species are common in my area and I’ve spent years photographing them and observing their behaviors. During the breeding season it’s relatively easy to single out mated pairs based on a variety of well-known behaviors that occur between paired birds.
One of the behaviors that occurs between mates is called “mate feeding”. This is where the female repeatedly begs for food from the male while he is on the water’s surface. When the male catches a fish he gives it to her and then almost immediately dives for another. The begging of the female stops while he is under water.
At The Perch, National Audubon's blog, Geoffery Giller documents some interesting findings regarding the incredible appetites of American Kestrel nestlings:
We have documented some of the rather amazing eating habits of nestling Kestrels. One photo, taken in Wisconsin in 2005, shows an approximately 18-day old female slooowly devouring a snake. Another photo shows a little glutton on the Crooked River Ranch, who was being retrieved for banding from its nestbox by volunteer Marilynne Keyser. Several photos show close-ups of the bird as it devours a western fence lizard. It’s too bad that we didn’t have the time to check on the progress of the nestling/lizard situation a day or two later.
Swallows, with their frantic movements and blazing speed, are an underrated identification problem. Greg Gillson, the Pacific NW Birder, offers some tips on the identification of the browner species:
The identification of swallows is generally considered a "beginning birder's" identification problem. As Kenn Kaufman explained in Advanced Birding, it is not so much that swallows are misidentified, rather many swallows go unidentified as they fly by overhead twisting and turning, swooping and diving. As an eBird reviewer, however, I think that some misidentification is happening with swallows--and not just by beginners, either. The ID problem I want to highlight is the 3 brown swallows. Yes, three. Northern Rough-winged, Bank, and Tree swallows. Wait--Tree Swallows? Yes indeed!