27 November 2020

Why wag?

Three years ago I was guiding on the west coast of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico.  Among the 200+ species we enjoyed on that tour was this distinctive silhouette of a Turquoise-browed Motmot:

Both male and female motmots habitually wag their racket-shaped tails back and forth like a pendulum.  Do you know why?  

It's been shown that males do this more during the breeding season (which suggests it's a sexual selection trait) but also, and perhaps more interestingly, both sexes do this year-round in the presence of a predator.

This latter reason, a predator-elicited display, is thought to function as a pursuit-deterrent signal.  Basically, the bird is telling a potential predator "I see you already, and so it's a waste of your time to try to ambush me."

21 November 2020

Quiet November

Truth be told, I haven't done much in the way of birding lately.  I did venture up to Lovers Leap, which is a bluff overlooking Hannibal and the Mississippi River, to check things out.  Among a few expected things was this nice NORTHERN HARRIER that flew over:


The view was still nice, with the blues of the river and sky, even though the formerly green trees have shifted into brown skeletal mode with the change of the season:




16 November 2020

On this day...

This COMMON REDPOLL, drenched in late-day winter light, posed for me at Whitefish Point in northern Michigan on this day, a whopping 13 years ago:






13 November 2020

Year ago

A year ago this month, I was exploring forests in Jamaica.  I have to say, I do miss spending time with these little sprites, the Jamaican Tody:





30 October 2020

Another sparrow

This handsome guy is a WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW that was along a field edge near here earlier this month:

We have a short window to enjoy these locally though, I usually only see them during spring and fall migration.  With November almost upon us, winter is on the move as well.