Saturday, March 14, 2009

Identifying Birds of North America

Last night on our way to dinner at the SchnitzelHaus, we stopped at Borders to pick up a Southern Spain travel book, Insight Guides Southern Spain: Costa Del Sol, Andalucia. Well, we bought the travel book, but stopped at the bargain books display. Hubby began browsing Smithsonian Birds of North America: Life Histories of More Than 930 Species by Fred J. Alsop. I picked up another copy of the five pound, 1000+ page book and began paging through the woodpeckers.

We've been trying to identify a particular bird that has been arriving in pairs to eat the berries at the very tops of the trees out back. Usually this bird will arrive before, after, or sometimes with the pileated woodpeckers. It was thought the bird might be the Downy Woodpecker, but hubby is now convinced that he saw a Northern Flicker, which apparently is a common bird! According to the information online, this bird likes to eat ants. Hmmm, the ones we see like to eat berries -- so can this be the same bird?

This comprehensive reference includes full-page profiles of more than 930 species - all the birds known to breed in the United States or Canada, as well as regular visitors and vagrants to the continent. Birds of North America provides essential identification tips on each species, together with fascinating information on feeding and behavior, breeding, and nesting habits.

The author, Frederick Joseph Alsop, III Ph.D. is an ornithologist and a professor of biological sciences at East Tennessee State University. He received his doctorate in zoology from the University of Tennessee, and specializes in the ecology, distribution, life history, and taxonomy of birds. An avid field biologist and birder, he has identified more than 3,200 species of birds worldwide.
I love bird-watching and have had the opportunity to photograph many a species of birds not only in the United States, but in Costa Rica and Europe. Several years ago, my duck photograph took first prize in a FujiFilm photo competition. I have that picture framed and hanging in my office at work. A couple of fun birds that I have written about are the Puffin -- A Seabird Clown, the Blue-footed Booby -- A Seabird Clown, and lastly, the Turkey Vulture -- A Buzzard which happens to be one bird that doesn't get enough love!

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