Sunday, November 23, 2008

November Bird Banding

We had another session this month. It was back to standard time, so I had to get up at 5:00 a.m. to make it out to the coast for our 6:34 a.m. start time. I actually was a little early.
My favorite bird yesterday:
We usually don't catch Western Scrub Jays as they are "too smart" (the Master Bander's words) to fly into a mist net. He said only the young ones are stupid enough to do it, and it only happens once. Alas, I aged this bird as an adult. Perhaps s/he (sex difficult to determine unless it's breeding season) was having an off day.

In spite of its large size and fierce appearance, it was very tame in the hand.
When I let it go, it gave a classic jay squawk and shat. Glad it didn't do that in my hand. Handling bird poop is definitely a side effect of banding, but the mostly small birds we handle make small effluvia. This is ... palatable. The jay is not a small bird.

We had another Oak Titmouse, which, again, endlessly abused the fingers of those who handled it. Wasn't me this time! Walter, the Master Bander, said that this bird's raised crest was the avian equivalent of the primate's raised middle finger.
Here's part of our setup; that's Walter on the left, with the canyon behind him.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A Few Election Observations

This blog is and has been apolitical, but I feel compelled to speak today.
Yesterday I witnessed a few things I never have seen in Los Angeles:

- I had to wait in line an hour to vote. All very patiently & quietly waited their turn.
- I was out on the street around 8 p.m. PST when the city gave a collective yell. Barack Obama had just been named the winner, and our 44th president.
- I waited in line to get into a club were we could see Obama's speech, and the majority of the cars driving by were honking and there were people literally dancing in the streets.
- Later, on the way home, several corners were full of crowds of people yelling with joy.

A fine moment in U.S. history to be alive.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

November Bird Banding

Cloudy and cool conditions made for the most pleasant bird banding in Zuma yet. For once, it was 10 a.m. and I did not feel like a turkey roasting in an oven.

Bewick's Wren. Such a pretty little bird, and feisty, too. They like to complain at the indignity of being held by a mammal.
And, for all you people out there who appreciate color, I present the
Nuttall's Woodpecker.

Lastly, the Oak Titmouse. Mark and I recently saw a lot of these up in the Central Valley, so it was fun to see one up close. It turns out they are avid and successful biters.