Welcome to my Bird Blog: Memoirs of a Lifelong Birder

Welcome to my Bird Blog: Memoirs of a Lifelong Birder

I began birdwatching and egg collecting at the start of the 1950s in Britain when I was 7 years old. Egg collecting came to an abrupt halt in 1954 when the British government made this pastime illegal but I continued to maintain my “life list”  

Coming to Terms with Terns

Coming to Terms with Terns

Related to seagulls, terns are classified under the bird family, Laridae, and although similar in appearance to gulls, they have constantly intrigued me because of the beauty of their flight. They are usually identified by their black and white plumage, their long, angular wings and 

The July 2021 Pelagic Bird Spotting Experience for a Struggling Bird Identifier

The July 2021 Pelagic Bird Spotting Experience for a Struggling Bird Identifier

This is a memoir of a COVID-invigorated Bird Spotter and his July 2021 journey from Half Moon Bay to the pinnacles of the Southeast Farallon Islands, and waters beyond, in search of pelagic birds: puffins, shearwaters, storm-petrels, and albatross. My thanks go to Alvaro Jaramillo 

From Racing Pigeons to Mourning Doves

From Racing Pigeons to Mourning Doves

For thousands of years, domesticated pigeons have been an integral part of human life. They were exploited by their keepers as symbols of fertility, prosperity and faithfulness, as a sacrifice for religious purposes, as a source of food, and as a courier and communicator. Additionally, 

<b>The Alarming Population Decline among Wild Birds, with Special Attention given to the Eurasian Skylark and the American Bobolink</b>

The Alarming Population Decline among Wild Birds, with Special Attention given to the Eurasian Skylark and the American Bobolink

I recall it was the summer of 1954 when my childhood hobby of collecting birds’ eggs and trading them at school came to an end. The British government implemented the Protection of Birds Act, 1954 forbidding the taking of wild bird’s eggs, and protecting the 

Learning About Sparrows, Those “Little Brown Birds”

Learning About Sparrows, Those “Little Brown Birds”

During the 1950s and 1960s, as a young birder in the north of England, I frankly ignored the rather common, drab and inconspicuous-looking birds known as house sparrows and tree sparrows that I encountered around the farm. The two species look very similar except that 

History of the Crow

History of the Crow

Recently, I came across a glossy, all-black American crow removing fiber from the back of my outdoors lounge chair. It gave me a look of disgust and then resumed its destruction, presumably to use the stuffing to decorate its nest some distance away. Both sexes 

The Worldwide Beauty of Birds

The Worldwide Beauty of Birds

Blue-crowned mot mot   The first resplendent quetzal I ever saw was on April 5, 1998 in the Monteverde Cloud Forest, Costa Rica. The species is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful birds in the world. I enjoyed the brief sighting 

Waterhen, Moorhen or Gallinule – Which is It?

Waterhen, Moorhen or Gallinule – Which is It?

Growing up in Yorkshire, I called them waterhens (now often known as moorhens) and read that they were members of the rail family. After all, they were the size and shape of a chicken, they “clucked”, and laid eggs like a hen (i.e. many eggs 

Mafia-Style Behavior Among Birds

Mafia-Style Behavior Among Birds

Meet the Eurasian common cuckoo bird and the North American brown-headed cowbird, both brood parasites. ­­ As a boy many years ago in northern England, I pursued a little brown bird called a hedge sparrow, flicking its tail and shuffling through dense bramble undergrowth and 

A Species of Bird that Gives its Name to a Color

A Species of Bird that Gives its Name to a Color

Eurasian/common teal bird (male)    The first Eurasian teal bird I ever saw was a flock flying south over the sea at Spurn Point, Yorkshire, in England, presumably on their way to wintering grounds around the Mediterranean or closer. The identification of this small duck 

Dotterel, a small plover, and a word in Britain used to describe a person easily deceived, stupid or gullible; why?

Dotterel, a small plover, and a word in Britain used to describe a person easily deceived, stupid or gullible; why?

As a small wader and member of the plover family of birds, the dotterel is known for its friendly, sweet and trusting behavior towards humans. As a result, it is easily caught, was hunted for sport, eaten by royalty as a delicacy during English Tudor 

Roman Coin for a “Butcher Bird”

Roman Coin for a “Butcher Bird”

Eurasian Red-Backed Shrike   I must have been aged 14 at the time, looking down near the blade of the spade I was using, when I spotted a large round object in the soil. It was dirty black, except for a distinctive blue-green patina caused 

Do you have Aberdevines in your Garden?

Do you have Aberdevines in your Garden?

Eurasian Siskin Male   A species of bird I did not get to see as an adolescent was the siskin, a member of the finch family, which only made it onto my Life List after a visit to Spurn Point Bird Observatory during 1962. Apparently 

Which bird is supposedly colored by the blood of Jesus?

Which bird is supposedly colored by the blood of Jesus?

The European goldfinch, a native of Europe, North Africa and western and central Asia, was such an attractive bird that hundreds of thousands were taken from the wild to become cage birds in Britain less than 100 year ago. This led to the British government