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  • August | 2012 | Birds and Words
    require one permit per birder from a moderately good humored fellow who in a desperate and failed attempt at conversation proudly asserted that he had just seen a crow We decided to save communication with the permit seller for another day and headed straight for the lagoon Here s the phalarope in non breeding plumage looking pretty much like the one I saw today Photo from here The Phalarope is remarkable in many ways The bird happens to practice reverse sexual dimorphism which basically means that the females are both larger and more brightly colored than the males an extraordinarily rare feat since most female birds seem to be doomed to eternal drabness In addition female phalaropes are also sequentially polyandrous which entails mating with a male laying eggs leaving said male behind to incubate the eggs and then unabashedly running off with another bigger brighter better richer male Over and over again How entirely progressive Sexual history of the phalarope aside today was remarkable for other perhaps slightly more mundane reasons as well It was the first day of Fall birding I hadn t used my binoculars in over two months and I really missed them It rained the entire drive out to Port Perry located in the mellifluous township of Scugog and by rain I mean the kind of dismal downpour that pretty much left me with no visibility whatsoever I was starting to panic because I had forgotten my rain jacket at home first day of birding I left everything behind including my field guide but once we drove north of Whitby the skies opened and the weather warmed up such that I had to don my Tilley hat It felt miraculous once we arrived permit in hand at the lagoon Canada Geese initially barricaded the path but once they saw our scope they gallantly stepped aside and let us pass We saw Yellow legs greater and lesser Killdeer Spotted Sandpipers fluttering above the water a gazillion Bonaparte gulls they were molting stellar works in progress Cedar Waxwing Black Terns which were juveniles so totally not black argh a Kingbird a Common Yellow throat a few Osprey and a Merlin chasing and attacking from above a Red Tail Hawk As soon as we were done with the sewage lagoon and a delicious bacon egg breakfast and got back on the highway the rain started up again Just as dismal Visibility back down to zero The morning magically enveloped in a dreamy fog It s good to be out birding again Share this More Email Press This Share on Tumblr Like this Like Loading This entry was posted in Uncategorized on August 11 2012 by Julia Zarankin Another Mystery by Julia Zarankin Leave a reply Learned Birders While on my fabulous Scandinavian adventures I encountered some waterfowl I hadn t seen before Can anybody ID this fabulously regal looking duck goose If you d like to see different angles of this bird or are curious about her ducklings

    Original URL path: http://coyot.es/birdsandwords/2012/08/ (2015-09-25)
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  • July | 2012 | Birds and Words
    teaching me things should the occasion arrise Perhaps some of the birding etiquette toward beginners will rub off on them You really are the best Birders Share this More Email Press This Share on Tumblr Like this Like Loading This entry was posted in Uncategorized on July 18 2012 by Julia Zarankin New York Envy by Julia Zarankin Leave a reply Informed Birders It should come as no secret for those of you who know me that I harbor irrational feelings of love and devotion toward New York All of it I love the city s energy museums architecture parks everything Imagine my delight when I watched the trailer for this HBO documentary about urban birding called Birders The Central Park Effect The trailer is fabulous and if you happen to have HBO you can watch this tomorrow at 9pm Eastern time And if anybody wants to record it for me I promise to offer a hearty reward Speaking of other NYC wonders my good friend over at Accordion Diaries a fabulous blog whether you have a penchant for accordions or not pointed my attention to this article It turns out that if I lived in New York I could have gone out birding with none other than Jonathan Franzen in Central park in June Of course it might have been too much pressure to converse casually with the writer who single handedly sparked my own own birding obsession and I probably would have committed countless birding ID faux pas such as the time when I mistook a run or the mill Turkey Vulture for an exquisite Golden Eagle Perhaps best that I couldn t make this particular outing Share this More Email Press This Share on Tumblr Like this Like Loading This entry was posted in Uncategorized on July 15 2012 by Julia Zarankin Back from Cooler Climes by Julia Zarankin Leave a reply Worldly Birders I ve just returned from Paradise aka a trip to Norway which included venturing to the Lofoten Islands an archipelago north of the Arctic circle The trip also included inordinate amounts of pickled herring smoked salmon cinnamon buns cardamom buns and plenty of fabulous coffee it turns out Norway is the largest consumer of coffee in Europe information courtesy Lonely Planet guide which I think I ve memorized including all of their jokes alas Midnight sun literally photo taken at 12 15 am in Henningsvaer Lofoten Islands Norway Yes people that is honest to goodness sun in the sky And it s after midnight It felt both surreal and extraordinary and for three days sleep seemed superfluous An odd otherworldly colossally disorienting yet stunning landscape Apparently again I m channeling Lonely Planet here so apologies for factual misdemeanors this is the land fata morgana since the air is rarefied up at the 68th parallel fabulous mirages that occur on the horizon and on our last day I think I saw one One minute there was a mountain in front of me the next

    Original URL path: http://coyot.es/birdsandwords/2012/07/ (2015-09-25)
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  • June | 2012 | Birds and Words
    And I started thinking about it in earnest Why indeed It started out as you all know somewhat sentimentally with a crush on Jonathan Franzen bird essayist extraordinaire fellow onetime Missouri resident which then lead to a fascination with Phoebe Snetsinger aka greatest birder ever coincidentally also onetime Missouri resident and finally to my first birding outing where I saw a Red winged blackbird which is apparently the greatest cliché ever but such is life and never looked back And it s now been close to three years I wonder why it is that people friends relatives acquaintances honestly EVERYBODY are so shocked to learn that I m a birder A bird watcher One of them Those strange folks who don Tilley hats and oversized pocketed vests travel around in large groups and stare up at the sky talk about optics interminably and enjoy awful bird related puns How could I possibly be one of them Well I haven t yet succumbed to the beige vest but the rest is indeed applicable Just a few days ago I received a wonderfully thoughtful gift from a friend a notepad with a raven on it that says Raven Lunatic Oh the puns But you know what I had birding sensibilities before I ever went out into the field I ve owned a Tilley hat since I was 18 a bit young to be sporting such geriatric looking apparel but I ve accepted my fate and I ve always been an acute observer In fact I first discovered binoculars as a young tween pardon the awful word I m testing it out and don t think I ll do so again and spent many hours staring into our neighbor s house watching her watch The Wheel of Fortune with her husband over a tepid cup of Ovaltine The binoculars were confiscated by my parents And years later I used to watch my South African housemate watch birds from our balcony in New Jersey I must have been born with a slight voyeuristic streak which is probably a requisite trait for a writer anyhow In a way I knew birding and I would click But the biggest surprise is how much birding has taught me about the writing process So much of birding centers around looking carefully observing the most minimal alterations and movements learning to put them into words and most importantly waiting If anything birding is teaching me the art of patience which I then bring to my writing desk every day Very often a bird is there hovering above our heads and we have to play the waiting game until it decides to make a surprise appearance Sometimes it mocks us and only discloses its song and there is seemingly little payoff for our work but then when you least expect it a different often more spectacular bird appears almost out of nowhere It s magic A form of magic sunset on Georgian Bay I did see a Black and white

    Original URL path: http://coyot.es/birdsandwords/2012/06/ (2015-09-25)
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  • May | 2012 | Birds and Words
    otherworldly miraculous and a touch forbidding A lovely unexpected surprise On a somewhat unrelated note if you happen to live in Toronto don t miss the Picasso exhibit at the AGO The exhibit covers the progression of his art over seven decades What struck me this time was the raw energy in Picasso s work The fearless enthusiasm for seeing the world from new perspectives new dimensions new angles The elemental pulsating yet childlike creative energy The exhibit surprised me at every turn Here s a taste Wounded Bird and Cat 1939 Share this More Email Press This Share on Tumblr Like this Like Loading This entry was posted in Uncategorized on May 19 2012 by Julia Zarankin In which I too solve a mystery by Julia Zarankin Leave a reply Birdiest of Readers Ever since reading about the literary mysteries solved by one of my favorite bloggers Pickle Me This I ve wanted to solve one too And then suddenly it happened Remember I once posted a photo by my birder photographer friend Benito Well it turns out he lost an Ipod this weekend at Rondeau where I too would have been had the Automotive Gods not conspired against me in the cruelest of ways possible and a certain Steve found it posted a comment on my blog in which he addressed me as Benito but such errors are bound to happen and I must admit I was a tiny bit flattered would that I had B s photography and bird identification skills with his coordinates I quickly forwarded said message to B and guess what Thanks to Birds and Words the internet Steve s googling know how B and his Ipod will soon be reunited Here s to retrieved Ipods great tools for learning birdsongs etc migratory birds and solving avian mysteries Share this More Email Press This Share on Tumblr Like this Like Loading This entry was posted in Uncategorized on May 16 2012 by Julia Zarankin I love Birds by Julia Zarankin Leave a reply Worldly Birders it s true I love birds Even hawks and sparrows And every single warbler I can t ID correctly in spite of all that I m overflowing with affection for avian creatures It may well be the effects of May and it could be that I now recognize more than 5 birds and it might well be the effects of good old Zeiss one can never underestimate the power of superior optics In any event bear with me as I gush Before the gushing I should add that Birds and Words didn t make it out to Long Point and Rondeau this weekend as planned Instead I had the unfortunate experience of being rear ended by an intoxicated driver which promptly turned into a gargantuan insurance saga and all of this excitement was immediately followed by a speeding violation by yours truly and an unsavory interaction with a cop who was neither moved by tears nor sobs So by the time Saturday morning rolled around I was in no state to set the alarm for 4 30 am And then something strange happened My husband my dear husband who likes nothing more than sleeping until noon and later on Saturdays knowing how upset I was to miss a day of Prime Birding offered to take me birding somewhere in Toronto and suggested Leslie Spit Tommy Thompson Park And guess what There was a Spring bird festival It turns out it was International Bird Migration Day And all of this was written up in Toronto Star And I met one of the owners of Birds and Beans coffee shop and that s when I finally knew that I was at the right place at the right time This was my first time doing solo birding so I saw about 1 of what was actually out there but my husband was impressed I pointed out the obvious yet thrilling suspects first The Red Winged Blackbird the Tree Swallows the Robins the Sparrows sorry I couldn t narrow it down there was a nifty white stripe by the eye but that s about as far as we got the Common Terns yippee OK it was impossible not to recognize the common terns Tommy Thompson Park had set up a breeding platform for them and there were about 100 terns but I knew they were Common terns even before the sweet Park volunteer told me so and even before I read the 62 signs all over the place that said COMMON TERNS BREED HERE And then I saw a Baltimore Oriole I think it was even more fun to watch my husband discover the Baltimore Oriole through my Zeiss no less he s spoiled for life than to see it myself He thought I was joking when I called the bird s coloring electric orange We found the banding station and watched a kind and generous expert band a Veery a Warbling Vireo a Black and White Warbler and the piece de resistance a Rose Breasted Grosbeak Photo from Wikipedia The Rose breasted Grosbeak wailed at the top of his lungs and proceeded to chomp on the bander s thumb a few times I d been wanting to see this particular bird up close ever since reading Rick Wright s wonderful account of how the Rose Breasted Grosbeak sparked his love of birds The bird certainly had personality and flair and a strong penchant for independent thought and reasoning I could see myself getting on splendidly with the Rose Breasted Grosbeak We left the banding station energized and then I proceeded to find nothing but Yellow Warblers for the next half hour At this point my husband began to doubt my great birding abilities and suggested that I do some more reading and studying before our next outing together And then before I had any time to express great outrage at his last statement we happened upon this Double crested Cormorant nests Photo

    Original URL path: http://coyot.es/birdsandwords/2012/05/ (2015-09-25)
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  • April | 2012 | Birds and Words
    car parts nonetheless discovered the Tenement Museum as you can tell from my fixation with Carl Zeiss and the speed with which he s managed to enter my dreamscape and quotidian vocabulary you won t be surprised to learn that I have a soft spot for day in the life museums and this one was wonderful and the Brooklyn Museum stunning building curious curatorial choices of blending the ultra modern with the somewhat mundane We drank coffee at a Swedish cafe rediscovered the High Line in all its springtime glory roamed through Central Park walked the city until our feet hurt and I can t wait to go back Spring on the High Line Birds in absentia Spring in full swing Zeiss in my backpack A great day Share this More Email Press This Share on Tumblr Like this Like Loading This entry was posted in Uncategorized on April 18 2012 by Julia Zarankin Recent Predators by Julia Zarankin Leave a reply Happy April Festivities dear Birders I m taking a break from apple peeling for my Apple Matzoh Kugel because I realized I hadn t yet recounted my latest encounter with birdful predators Before I started birding somewhat regularly I always thought of birds as cute gentle creatures harbingers of love and all things sweet But let me tell you the real Bird World is nothing like that Last week we headed out to Kipling Spit in search of waterfowl obviously and Snowy owls less obviously saw lots of the former and none of the latter as is expected this time of year and on our way back to the car I spotted a grey bird sitting on a branch staring at me The bird was intrepid its bill slightly hooked and I swore it looked right through me I asked my fearless leader to ID the bird and he immediately said Mockingbird Mimus polyglottus But since I ve been staring at this particular Mockingbird by Roger Tory Peterson for the entire month of March for those of you who are new readers I opted for a Peterson calendar instead of a Sibley this year who knows what sort of adventures next year will bring I knew the bird in question was no mockingbird I couldn t prove it mind you but I justknew The bird had less of a tail on it and it was smaller You know what dearest Avian enthusiasts I was right This was no mockingbird it was actually a NORTHERN SHRIKE Lanius excubitor I think the Northern Shrike is the only predatory songbird Legend has it that he likes to impale his victims on thorns and from the nervous tremor on the robins nearby I take it his victims are numerous I like the sinister black line the extends past his eyes like he s wearing those sleek Ray Ban shades but I wouldn t want to get on his bad side We left Kipling spit thrilled with our sighting and headed for some

    Original URL path: http://coyot.es/birdsandwords/2012/04/ (2015-09-25)
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  • March | 2012 | Birds and Words
    be I m happy to report that both were still there yesterday morning In fact we saw 3 Night Herons possibly four but they all looked quite alike and it turns out I m not so good at counting identical looking birds two of which were perched and one flying above I m glad the lone bird we saw a month ago is clearly alive and thriving The piece de resistance of the day was a Long tailed Duck Clangula hyemalis which I finally managed to ID and remember Its tail is properly exquisite and I saw at least a dozen of them image from Wikipedia It was a splendid Waterfowl day The Long Tailed Ducks hung out with Gadwalls Bufflehead formerly my favorite duck because it was the only one I could recognize apart from a Mallard Greater Scaup or lesser scaup I can t tell the difference and some sort of hybrid Mallard I was too busy staring at the Long Tailed Duck to follow the conversation about the hybrids so I m not quite sure who mated with whom to produce a duck that looked pretty much like every other Mallard save one defining trait that I missed entirely Our illustrious guide Don Burton and other gracious very knowledgeable birders with scopes showed us two plump sleeping Northern Pintail Ducks on a log I missed the Widgeon and there was a whole series of brown ducks that I couldn t tell apart by this point my feet were numb and I could barely feel my fingers There were also mute swans Canada geese and Wild geese flying overhead a Teal of one persuasion or another a White Winged Scoter three Red Breasted Mergansers doing their flirtation dance for a female who swam among them but remained visibly unimpressed Since I m deeply marked by Bird Coiffures you ll understand why I stood before this Red breasted Merganser even as my poor extremities threatened to turn to ice photo by Erik Nielson And then at the end of the morning I saw a rare duck It had an extraordinarily long bill its plumage was variegated it stood remarkably still and when I called another more experienced birder he looked through his binoculars and said Oh it s a log To round out the day we also had Cardinals Grackles Starling a couple chickadees Robins and Redwinged Blackbirds I m going to leave you with a great video from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology about a very different kind of March Madness that has predictably nothing to do with basketball It s not too late to cast your vote for what might turn out to be the winning bird of 2012 Share this More Email Press This Share on Tumblr Like this Like Loading This entry was posted in Uncategorized on March 11 2012 by Julia Zarankin Long tailed duck by Julia Zarankin Leave a reply Share this More Email Press This Share on Tumblr Like this Like Loading

    Original URL path: http://coyot.es/birdsandwords/2012/03/ (2015-09-25)
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  • February | 2012 | Birds and Words
    around to consult Carl Linnaeus or whoever came up with this misnomer Instead all we saw were HUNDREDS of Canada Geese Branta canadensis singing up a storm and flying overhead I m glad the species is thriving and no longer struggling for survival in this toxic world we live in don t get me wrong but do there have to be this many of them Anyhow after the doubly humbling assault of the elements and the flock of Canada Geese we decided to abandon waterfowl for the day and try our luck in Thickson s Woods We walked around the woods some met another fellow birder who I must admit is on the more obsessive birding end of the spectrum Jim Martin has been to Peru at least a dozen times to Borneo a few times and has a life list he s quite proud of He was a perfectly amiable fellow and even let me try his stunning Zeiss Victory FL binoculars new state of the art optic awesomeness so light I could wear them on my neck like a real birder instead of carrying them in my hand like an ingenue and if I had 2000 to spend on binocs these are the ones I d get Hands down Actually I had a dream about Carl Zeiss last night but we ll save that for another blog entry Perhaps And then we saw it My fearless leader hooted a couple times and the Great Horned Owl Bubo virginianus responded in his Chaliapin esque melodious bass And there it was Up in a tree scratching his nose thank you Zeiss I never would have seen the nose scratch with my Bausch and Lomb looking about surveying the world around him It was a monumental sight photo from wikipedia Incidentally I know there is nothing on earth more boring than talk of optics or binoculars comparative shopping but if you had my aging binoculars when you were staring up at a majestic Great Horned Owl you d understand my predicament And the day was worth it The snow pellets rain hail all of it Share this More Email Press This Share on Tumblr Like this Like Loading This entry was posted in Uncategorized on February 20 2012 by Julia Zarankin Search for On the Coyot es Network Some reasons I have been called a radical environmentalist Coyote Crossing Published on September 19 2015 by Chris Clarke My Hit Single Are Warblers Less Important Than Tigers Reconciliation Ecology Published on September 12 2015 by Madhusudan Katti Making Friends With Crows The Corvid Blog Published on August 2 2015 by The Corvid Blog The Heart of Freedom Cecil the Lion Wild Within Published on July 29 2015 by Jennifer Molidor There s Gold in Them Hills Dispersal Range Published on June 28 2015 by Meera Lee Sethi California note 1 Slow Water Movement Published on July 7 2015 by slowwatermovement Joe Eaton calls Fowl A Review Toad In The Hole Published on

    Original URL path: http://coyot.es/birdsandwords/2012/02/ (2015-09-25)
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  • January | 2012 | Birds and Words
    pounds of Brazilian coffee beans ate what literally tasted like a bowl of oatmeal in the shape of a cookie YUM and had a fantastic cup of strong coffee In fact the weather conditions brought us to Birds and Beans twice this morning Once before and after the Mockingbird sighting The coffee shop really is spectacular with close up photos of birds lining the walls I sat under a luminous Indigo Bunting and it made my day Overly caffeinated we set out for our last stop the Humber Arboretum It s a good thing we didn t peter out after the Mockingbird because things really picked up at the Centre for Urban Ecology which not only sports a tremendous bathroom with an elaborate eco friendly flushing system would that all bathrooms were so environmentally savvy but also has a fantastic bird feeder outside We saw scores of chicadees goldfinch house finch a glorious downy and the piece de resistance a Redpoll which I m not 100 sure I actually saw but I know it was there Alas no owls today but we had an unexpected find a few great looks at birds I ve already seen but also had a chance to forget a couple astounding cups of coffee and a great day all in all Share this More Email Press This Share on Tumblr Like this Like Loading This entry was posted in Uncategorized on January 28 2012 by Julia Zarankin 97 honda civic hatchback by Julia Zarankin Leave a reply Share this More Email Press This Share on Tumblr Like this Like Loading This entry was posted in Uncategorized on January 23 2012 by Julia Zarankin On my wall by Julia Zarankin Leave a reply It s the beginning of January and I ve acquired yet another bird calendar This year I opted for Roger Tory Peterson over the usual sensible Sibley calendar I still love Sibley don t get me wrong it was just that the somewhat unsightly idea of having a Canada Goose of all possible birds in the universe grace my birthday month saddened me a little hence the change I m not disappointed in the least since September 2012 will be the month of Northern Flicker Colaptes auratus Not bad Roger Tory Peterson I m delighted to spend 2012 with you Share this More Email Press This Share on Tumblr Like this Like Loading This entry was posted in Uncategorized on January 6 2012 by Julia Zarankin Search for On the Coyot es Network Some reasons I have been called a radical environmentalist Coyote Crossing Published on September 19 2015 by Chris Clarke My Hit Single Are Warblers Less Important Than Tigers Reconciliation Ecology Published on September 12 2015 by Madhusudan Katti Making Friends With Crows The Corvid Blog Published on August 2 2015 by The Corvid Blog The Heart of Freedom Cecil the Lion Wild Within Published on July 29 2015 by Jennifer Molidor There s Gold in Them Hills Dispersal Range Published

    Original URL path: http://coyot.es/birdsandwords/2012/01/ (2015-09-25)
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