Birds Birds Birds!

Over the last week or so the city has been burning some of the prairies in the area.  The result?  Lots of charred land and clouds of smoke.  It’s also making for some good birding since you can see all the birds along the shore that you normally can’t.  You also can’t tell now but in a few weeks (once it warms up) it’ll be all lush and green and wonderful.

Why is the city burning perfectly good parkland you ask?  I’ll tell you (even if you didn’t ask)!  Natural prairies experienced fires on a semi-regular basis so the plants evolved to grow better with burning.  I can’t think of any specific prairie examples but a lot of plants from these types of ecosystems need fire in order to germinate their seed (Pinus banksiana, though not a prairie tree, is a prime example of this).  Fire is also a quick way to turn all that dead grass into fertilizer.

I wish I had my camera with when they were actually doing the burn because I had never seen the burning before.  I was surprised by how tame it was.  There was a ton of smoke and almost no flame.  The flames were maybe ankle height and pretty slow moving.  They didn’t even bother closing the park down because it just wasn’t that fast moving.

There was also some exciting bird sitings.  A lot of the birds that migrated south for the winter are coming back north for the winter.

One of my most favorite birds was sighted – Charadrius vociferus or the Killdeer.  They’re just so small and adorable and talkative!  I love the way they walk with their long legs…they just look so silly.  Michael has described it as similar to celtic dancers…they legs move while the upper body remains still.

As for birds that make me really homesick, I also saw quite a few common loons (Gavia immer) which aren’t really common around here and are probably just migrating through.

The red-winged blackbirds (Agelaius phoeniceus) are also back.  Actually I don’t think they ever left…they’re just getting all vocal and territorial now.

Branta canadensis or the Canada Goose, is also back and crapping up a storm.  Seriously these things are so obnoxiously messy.  They’re pretty though so I guess they can be tolerated.  They’re also really loud…according to Ducks Unlimited CA they’re one of the most talkative animals after humans.
I did see quite a few other birds, lots of doves, coots, mallards, robins and other assorted songbirds but I couldn’t get any good pictures of them. I guess that’s ok since this is a plant blog not a bird blog anyways.


2 thoughts on “Birds Birds Birds!

  1. I never tire of reading about and looking at photos of birds. Birding is one of the few remaining activities in our society that’s still based on the honor system – I love it.

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