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 7

DUSKY AND GRAY AND SLATE-COLORED BIRDS

  • Chimney Swift

  • Kingbird

  • Wood Pewee

  • Phoebe and Say's Phoebe

  • Crested Flycatcher

  • Olive-sided Flycatcher

  • Least Flycatcher

  • Chickadee

  • Tufted Titmouse

  • Canada Jay

  • Catbird

  • Mocking-bird

  • Junco

  • White-breasted Nuthatch

  • Red-breasted Nuthatch

  • Loggerhead Shrike

  • Northern Shrike

  • Bohemian Waxwing

  • Bay-breasted Warbler

  • Chestnut-sided Warbler

  • Golden-winged Warbler

  • Myrtle Warbler

  • Parula Warbler

Black-throated Blue Warbler

See also the Grayish Green and the Grayish Brown Birds, particularly the Cedar Bird, several Swallows, the Acadian and the Yellow-bellied Flycatchers; Alice's and the Olive-backed Thrushes; the Louisiana Water Thrush; the Blue-gray Gnatcatcher; and the Seaside Sparrow.

See also the females of the following birds: Pine Grosbeak; White-winged Red Crossbill; Purple Martin; and the Nashville, the Pine, and the Magnolia Warblers.

DUSKY, GRAY, AND SLATE - COLORED BIRDS

CHIMNEY SWIFT
(Chaetura Pelagica) Swift Family

Called also: CHIMNEY SWALLOW; AMERICAN SWIFT

  • Length - to 5.45 inches. About an inch shorter than the English sparrow. Long wings make its length appear greater.

  • Male and Female - Deep sooty gray; throat of a trifle lighter gray. Wings extend an inch and a half beyond the even tail, which has sharply pointed and very elastic quills, that serve as props. Feet are muscular, and have exceedingly sharp claws.

  • Range - Peculiar to North America east of the Rockies, and from Labrador to Panama.

  • Migrations - April. September or October. Common summer resident.

The chimney swift is, properly speaking, not a swallow at all, though chimney swallow is its more popular name. Rowing towards the roof of your house, as if it used first one wing, then the other, its flight, while swift and powerful, is stiff and mechanical, unlike the swallow's, and its entire aspect suggests a bat. The nighthawk and whippoorwill are its relatives, and it resembles them not a little, especially in its nocturnal habits.

So much fault has been found with the misleading names of many birds, it is pleasant to record the fact that the name of the chimney swift is everything it ought to be.

No other birds can surpass and few can equal it in its powerful flight, sometimes covering a thousand miles in twenty-four hours, it is said, and never resting except in its roosting places (hollow trees or chimneys of dwellings), where it does not perch, but rather clings to the sides with its sharp claws, partly supported by its sharper tail.

Audubon tells of a certain plane tree in Kentucky where he counted over nine thousand of these swifts clinging to the hollow trunk.

Their nest, which is a loosely woven twig lattice, made of twigs of trees, which the birds snap off with their beaks and carry in their beaks, is glued with the bird's saliva or tree-gum into a solid structure, and firmly attached to the inside of chimneys, or hollow trees where there are no houses about. Two broods in a season usually emerge from the pure white, elongated eggs.

What a twittering there is in the chimney that the swifts appropriate after the winter fires have died out! Instead of the hospitable column of smoke curling from the top, a cloud of sooty birds wheels and floats above it.

A sound as of distant thunder fills the chimney as a host of these birds, startled, perhaps, by some indoor noise, whirl their way upward.

Woe betide the happy colony if a sudden cold snap in early summer necessitates the starting of a fire on the hearth by the unsuspecting householder! The glue being melted by the fire, "down comes the cradle, babies and all" into the glowing embers.

A prolonged, heavy rain also causes their nests to loosen their hold and fall with the soot to the bottom.

Thrifty New England housekeepers claim that bedbugs, commonly found on bats, infest the bodies of swifts also, which is one reason why wire netting is stretched across the chimney tops before the birds arrive from the South.

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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