Back to Nature (Published on TBNWeekly.com - March 9, 2005)
Readers to identify mystery bird
Lets have some fun.
|Name this bird.
For this weeks column wed like to try something a little different.
Wed like to give our readers an opportunity to decide who is in our
photo, the Mystery Bird.
Here are a couple of hints.
In the southern half of North America this species is the counterpart of the
Northern version of the boreal regions of Alaska and Canada. In behavior and choice
of habitat the two species are essentially similar, although this one feeds mainly
on large insects such as locusts. In cold weather, when insects are hard to find,
it will hunt small birds or mice. Our mystery bird impales its prey usually
a small bird, mouse, or insect on a thorn or barbed-wire fence which
facilitates tearing it apart then or at a later time; hence its vernacular name
Butcher Bird. (E-Nature.com)
The Northern version is very similar to our mysterious feathered friend, but
is larger with a black mask that does not extend across the top of the bill, pale
base to the lower mandible, a paler gray overall color and faintly barred
Northern birds are similarly-sized and colored but have slimmer bills and lack a
black mask. (U.S. Geological Survey)
Write us with your answers and well let you know if youve guessed
The live oaks are brimming with the promise of new life, spring rains and birds
nesting. As Spanish moss drapes from their thick, graceful limbs, hurricanes and
drought seem far from memories. Crinolines of rhododendrons show in pinks, whites
and scarlet under the shelter of the oaks, as white ibis troupes meander about the
lawns poking their long, slender, red bills into the winter soil in search of
insects and grubs.
In only a couple of weeks we can officially put away winter and call the season
spring. It still may be 20 degrees with snow flurries up in Michigan, but this
afternoon its sunny with temperatures in the 70s on the west coast of
Florida. And thats the way it is here. We go from cold to hot, hot to cold.
One day were wearing jackets and the very next day were searching the
bottom drawers for shorts and T-shirts.
Northern tourists and wildlife both have well established flyways to
flock and take advantage of our moderate climate, so lets get out and join
Although many of the parks can supply you with a Birding Check List to keep track
of your sightings, you will definitely need a good, comprehensive birding guide
book. There are various guide books to choose from including many styles of books;
photography or illustration, focusing on comparison between close-like species or
books that pay in-depth attention to habitat and behavior as determinations and
guidance for identification of species.
Some guide books are designed just for beginners. These are great for casual
birders and also for children such as: Golden Books A Guide to Field
Identification, Birds of North America. My partner and I generally carry three or
four guides with us in our vehicle and one each in our backpacks. These are our
favorites: Peterson Field Guides Eastern Birds, Roger Tory Peterson;
National Audubon Society The Sibley Guide to Birds, David Allen Sibley;
American Bird Conservancys Field Guide All the Birds of North America;
and The Audubon Society Field Guides.
No one book is perfect. And for each sighting, you must consider the lighting,
refracted colors, time of day, songs, sounds, age of bird, habitat and region.
Also, take into account previous stats on sightings of the species in the area.
Listen to the mockingbirds. Theyll give you some clues of whos in town
as they mimic the songs of visitors. Youll be surprised at the variety of
birds flying through Tampa Bay at this time of year.
With appropriate guide book under arm, grab the binoculars; get out the camera,
insect repellent, sun glasses and cap. Its time to check out whos
coming for dinner in Florida. Perhaps youll catch a glimpse of our
Mystery Bird while trekking the wilds of Florida. We just never know
wholl be visiting our feeders or sitting upon our fence. Enjoy occasions
spent in natural surroundings away from the bricks and mortar of everyday life.
Give awareness to our Earth. Simply take pleasure in being back to nature.
Karen can be reached at MyMuddyPawsStudio@gmail.com.