Natural history

brown creeper

January 6, 2006

in Birds,Natural history

crisp brown leaf, wind-blown flake of bark, falling from tree nope, wrong: brown creeper The diminutive Brown Creeper (Certhia americana) is notorious for being unobtrusive. Even the creeper’s sweet, clear, musical song can be frustratingly difficult to hear due to…

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This past week I participated in one of several Christmas Bird Counts that I do annually. I’ve done counts here in Michigan on sunny, cloudy, snowy, rainy, raw, and balmy days, but never on a day that included all of…

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The Auk is the journal of the American Ornithologists’€™ Union, and it publishes some pretty dense material. The last few years, it has featured an increasing number of papers on phylogeny, taxonomy, and genetics. This stuff tends to sail right…

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On November 7, 1805, the Corps of Discovery reached the estuary of the Columbia River. Mistaking it for their goal, the Pacific Ocean, Corps co-leader William Clark writes in his journal: “Ocian in View! O the joy!” Although November 7…

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Legions of tiny black and white birds are moving south from Canada in droves. Consider these reports (keyed on the map): Banders in Toronto, at Tommy Thompson Park along Lake Ontario (A on map), band over 200 of these birds…

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Hurricane Wilma, a slow-moving category 4 storm, is currently spinning over Cozumel Island off Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. It is expected to remain there for the next 24 to 36 hours. At this point, we are all familiar with the damage…

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Any day now, American Tree Sparrows (Spizella arborea) will arrive to spend the winter. They share honors with Red-bellied Woodpeckers and Ring-necked Ducks in being comically misnamed. American Tree Sparrows (tree sparrows for short, although they should not be confused…

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Large aggregations of insects — a crop of periodical cicadas, overwhelming hatches of mayflies, or the sudden synchronous appearance of many colonies of winged ants — are most often a summertime phenomena. But fall can be an excellent time to…

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This is a Variable Cracker, Hamadryas feronia, a member of a mostly Neotropical genus of about 20 species. Variable Crackers are found from the southern U.S. through Brazil, and are one of several species of Hamadryas that can make an…

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I’ve mentioned before that my field site is a typical urban forest, loaded with invasive species. The primary woody invaders are buckthorns (Rhamnus catartica and frangula). I’ve wondered why the mono-patches of buckthorn usually had no litter layer beneath them….

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