In fact, we saw thirty-six species in about two hours of birding, with several unexpected treasures among them: An American Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) and a squadron of American White Pelicans (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) did fly-overs.
A somewhat chill wind drove us off the spillway after awhile, but we then moved along the tree line surrounding the parking area. The little birds were there: juncos, sparrows, nutchatches and more.
Here’s the list:
Thanks, Kim Paxton, for keeping a list in the field.
Our two hours at the spillway came after a super-informative morning in a LaTech classroom where Terri Maness walked us through an intimidating diagram of bird taxonomy in an impressively coherent, easy-to-follow fashion.
I enjoyed the taxonomy, at least as much as one can enjoy taxonomy! But the physiology discussion that followed was fascinating. Birds are truly amazing creatures. Did you ever wonder how ducks stand on ice in their bare feet and don’t freeze to death? I did, and Terri explained it today.
How about migratory birds traveling long, long distances without getting lost? They can see magnetic fields and navigate by them! How do birds get enough oxygen to not pass out, indeed, to fly at great altitudes? They have a 2-stage breathing system that enables them to take a much higher percentage of the oxygen out of the air they breath than we can.
Bird brains are much more densely packed with neurons than those of other critters, so go ahead, call me a “bird brain”! But don’t tell me I eat like a bird because if I ate as much of my body weight per day as a bird does, I’d soon be dead from morbid obesity.
Terri ended her classroom presentation with a few words about conservation. At some level we know this, but… we need to become more vocal and active. Cats–domestic cats–and plastic are two hazards birds face that we all should do whatever we can about.
It was a glorious day, but a frustrating one for me photographically. These are okay, but I have a folder full of “not quite sharp” ones, among them the eagle, the red-shouldered hawk, and many more.