Category: birds

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Look, Ma, a Titmouse!

By Bambam
Juniper titmouse (Baeolophus ridgwayi) Cornell Univ.

The Juniper Titmouse is sort of the ultimate Little Gray Bird (LGB), although I suppose that Dark-Eyed Juncos would contest that ranking. (And here I go capitalizing bird names like some kind of birding writer, which I am not.)

M. and I have been loyal citizen-scientists for Cornell University’s Project Feeder Watch since shortly after we moved up here, first sending in paper forms and now doing it online.

The computer generates a group of likely southern Colorado birds, and of course you can add something that is not on the list.

They don’t really migrate. We live in the pale purple area—
“scarce,” whereas the dark area is simply “year-round.”

Every year, grouped with the Mountain Chickadee and the Black-Capped Chickadee is the Juniper Titmouse. What’s that?

Until on March 12 when I looked by the lower sunflower-seed feeder, at the edge of a patch of Gambel oak, juniper, and piñon pine, and there was this triangle-headed LGB. A titmouse, clearly! And it has shown up occasionally since then.

A titmouse “cool fact”: 

Like many other members of the chickadee family Juniper Titmice don’t migrate and instead stick out harsh winters on their breeding grounds. One of the ways they survive the cold, virtually insect-free season is by storing seeds in crevices of trees or other places to eat later.

But the name! While “mouse,” the small rodent, comes from the Proto-Indo-European *mus,” meaning mouse, the small rodent, the “mouse” in titmouse has another ancient root, from “Proto-Germanic *maison (source also of Dutch mees, German meise), from adj. *maisa- “little, tiny.”

 As for “tit,” the Online Etymological Dictionary says this:

1540s, a word used for any small animal or object (as in compound forms such as titmouse, tomtit, etc.); also used of small horses. Similar words in related senses are found in Scandinavian (Icelandic tittr, Norwegian tita “a little bird”), but the connection and origin are obscure; perhaps, as OED suggests, the word is merely suggestive of something small. Used figuratively of persons after 1734, but earlier for “a girl or young woman” (1590s), often in deprecatory sense of “a hussy, minx.”

The British would call all the chickadees “tits” as a generic term. North Americans generally don’t.

If you run into anyone named Titmouse (it happens), be sure to say it “TIT-mus.”

Since I don’t live on the Pacific coast, I never see boobies.

Recent Dark-mantled Gulls

By Bambam

I am someone who is interested in knowing and keeping track of what shows up in Sitka. Gulls can be abundant around town during some times of year. Thousands often loaf along the tide flats, work the salmon streams, or pick scraps from the fishing industry. The vast majority of gulls we see here are … Read more

The post Recent Dark-mantled Gulls first appeared on Sitka Nature.

Happy World Shorebirds Day!

By Bambam

In collaboration with Global Shorebird Counts, Gyorgy Szimuly, a Hungarian conservationist and birder created World Shorebirds Day. World Shorebirds Day is held every year in September and aims to raise awareness surrounding the threats facing shorebirds throughout their life cycles, as well as advocating for more shorebird research, conservation action and monitoring.  World Shorebirds Day […]

The post Happy World Shorebirds Day! appeared first on Nature Canada.