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 9

The wood pewee, like the olive-sided flycatcher, has wings decidedly longer than its tail, and it is by no means a simple matter for the novice to tell these birds apart or separate them distinctly in the mind from the other members of a family whose coloring and habits are most confusingly similar.

This dusky haunter of tall shady trees has not yet learned to be sociable like the phoebe; but while it may not be so much in evidence close to our homes, it is doubtless just as common. The orchard is as near the house as it often cares to come.

An old orchard, where modern insecticides are unknown and neglect allows insects to riot among the decayed bark and fallen fruit, is a happy hunting ground enough; but the bird's real preferences are decidedly for high tree-tops in the woods, where no sunshine touches the feathers on his dusky coat. It is one of the few shade-loving birds.

In deep solitudes, where it surely retreats by nesting time, however neighborly it may be during the migrations, its pensive, pathetic notes, long drawn out, seem like the expression of some hidden sorrow. Pe-a-wee, pe-a-wee, pewee-ah-peer is the burden of its plaintive song, a sound as depressing as it is familiar in every walk through the woods, and the bird's most prominent characteristic.

To see the bird dashing about in his aerial chase for insects, no one would accuse him of melancholia. He keeps an eye on the "main chance," whatever his preying grief may be, and never allows it to affect his appetite. Returning to his perch after a successful sally in pursuit of the passing fly, he repeats his "sweetly solemn thought" over and over again all day long and every day throughout the summer.

The wood pewees show that devotion to each other and to their home, characteristic of their family. Both lovers work on the construction of the flat nest that is saddled on some mossy or lichen-covered limb, and so cleverly do they cover the rounded edge with bits of bark and lichen that sharp eyes only can detect where the cradle lies. Creamy-white eggs, whose larger end is wreathed with brown and lilac spots, are guarded with fierce solicitude.

Trowbridge has celebrated this bird in a beautiful poem.

PHOEBE
(Sayornis Phoebe)
Flycatcher Family

Called also: DUSKY FLYCATCHER; BRIDGE PEWEE; WATER PEWEE;
[EASTERN PHOEBE, AOU 1998]

  • Length - 7 inches. About an inch longer than the English sparrow.

  • Male and Female - Dusky olive - brown above darkest on head, Which is slightly crested. Wings and tail dusky, the outer edges of some tail feathers whitish. Dingy yellowish white underneath. Bill and feet black.

  • Range - North America, from Newfoundland to the South Atlantic States, and westward to the Rockies. Winters south of the Carolinas, into Mexico, Central America, and the West Indies.

  • Migrations - March. October. Common summer resident.

The earliest representative of the flycatcher family to come out of the tropics where insect life fairly swarms and teems, what does the friendly little phoebe find to attract him to the north in March while his prospective dinners must all be still in embryo?

He looks dejected, it is true, as he sits solitary and silent on some projecting bare limb in the garden, awaiting the coming of his tardy mate; nevertheless, the date of his return will not vary by more than a few days in a given locality year after year.

Why birds that are mated for life, as these are said to be, and such devoted lovers, should not travel together on their journey north, is another of the many mysteries of bird-life awaiting solution.

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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