ABOUT BIRDS - ARTICLES

Published by Ken Dunn - Dunway Enterprises

aboutbirds.dunway.com

The origin of birds has been a contentious topic within evolutionary biology for many years, but more recently a scientific consensus has emerged which holds that birds are a group of theropod dinosaurs that evolved during the Mesozoic Era. 

A close relationship between birds and dinosaurs was first proposed in the nineteenth century after the discovery of the primitive bird Archaeopteryx in Germany and has been all but confirmed since the 1960's by comparative anatomy and the cladistic method of analyzing evolutionary relationships.

The ongoing discovery of feathered dinosaur fossils in the Liaoning Province of China has shed new light on the subject for both specialists and the general public. In the phylogenetic sense, birds are dinosaurs.

ALL ABOUT BIRDS - ARTICLES

PHOEBE - DOWNY WOODPECKER - YELLOW-BELLIED WOODPECKER
GREAT-CRESTED FLYCATCHER - BLACKPOLL WARBLER - CHIMNEY SWIFT - KINGBIRD
THE CHEWINK - SNOWFLAKE - ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK - BOBOLINK - WOOD PEWEE

BIRD WATCHING - BASIC INFORMATION

All About Birds [Articles] Identify Birds All About Birds [Articles] Bird Watching All About Birds [Articles] Bird Guide All About Birds [Articles] WildBirds

A Guide To Bird Neighbours - Part 4

Whirling about in the drifting snow to catch the seeds on the tallest stalks that the wind in the open meadows uncovers, the snowflakes suggest a lot of dead leaves being blown through the all-pervading whiteness.

Beautiful soft brown, gray, and predominating black-and-white coloring distinguish these capricious visitors from the slaty junco, the "snowbird" more commonly known. They are, indeed, the only birds we have that are nearly white; and rarely, if ever, do they rise far above the ground their plumage so admirably imitates.

At the far north, travelers have mentioned their inspiriting song, but in the United States we hear only their cheerful twitter. Nansen tells of seeing an occasional snow bunting in that desolation of arctic ice where the Fram drifted so long.

ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK
(Habia Ludoviciana)
Finch Family

  • Length - 7.75 to 8.5 inches. About one-fifth smaller than the robin.

  • Male - Head and upper parts black. Breast has rose-carmine shield-shaped patch, often extending downward to the centre of the abdomen. Underneath, tail quills, and two spots on wings white. Conspicuous yellow, blunt beak.

  • Female - Brownish, with dark streakings, like a sparrow. No rose-color. Light sulphur yellow under wings. Dark brown, heavy beak.

  • Range - Eastern North America, from southern Canada to Panama. Migrations - Early May. September. Summer resident.

A certain ornithologist tells with complacent pride of having shot over fifty-eight rose-breasted grosbeaks in less than three weeks (during the breeding season) to learn what kind of food they had in their crops.

This kind of devotion to science may have quite as much to do with the growing scarcity of this bird in some localities as the demands of the milliners, who, however, receive all of the blame for the slaughter of our beautiful songsters.

The farmers in Pennsylvania, who, with more truth than poetry, call this the potato-bug bird, are taking active measures, however, to protect the neighbor that is more useful to their crop than all the insecticides known. It also eats flies, wasps, and grubs.

Seen upon the ground, the dark bird is scarcely attractive with his clumsy beak overbalancing a head that protrudes with stupid-looking awkwardness; but as he rises into the trees his lovely rose-colored breast and under-wing feathers are seen, and before he has had time to repeat his delicious, rich-voiced warble you are already in love with him.

Vibrating his wings after the manner of the mocking-bird, he pours forth a marvelously sweet, clear, mellow song (with something of the quality of the oriole's, robin's, and thrush's notes), making the day on which you first hear it memorable. This is one of the few birds that sing at night. A soft, sweet, rolling warble, heard when the moon is at its full on a midsummer night, is more than likely to come from the rose-breasted grosbeak.

It is not that his quiet little sparrow-like wife has advanced notions of feminine independence that he takes his turn at sitting upon the nest, but that he is one of the most unselfish and devoted of mates.

With their combined efforts they construct only a coarse, unlovely cradle in a thorn-bush or low tree near an old, overgrown pasture lot. The father may be the poorest of architects, but as he patiently sits brooding over the green, speckled eggs, his beautiful rosy breast just showing above the grassy rim, he is a succulent adornment for any bird's home.

About Birds - Site Index

Bird Neighbors - Part 1 - Bird Neighbors - Part 2
Bird Neighbors - Part 3 - Bird Neighbors - Part 4
Bird Neighbors - Part 5 - Bird Neighbors - Part 6
Bird Neighbors - Part 7 - Bird Neighbors - Part 8
Bird Neighbors - Part 9 - Bird Neighbors - Part 10

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