Friday, March 2, 2012

Brilliance Borders On Nonsense

This past week BB&B has pulled stakes from the bay area and has been encamped in my old haunts of Arcata, California. Unfortunately, the weather has been miserable all week so I don't have much to show for it, at least in terms of photography. As a result, you will be getting an eyeful of other winter birds that I've gotten to lay optic nerves on over the past couple months.

I'm not sure if you've noticed or not, but my short attention span requires me to generally not post more than one photo of a species at a time. In an exercise of tranquility and mellowness, you are going to get DOUBLE the number today.

Our first bird is no other than one of the Wood Ducks that wintered at Golden Gate Park, in San Francisco. They mostly sat around in the shade under some trees and didn't come out much, so most people had their eyes glued to the Hooded Mergansers that lived in the same pond. Obviously, a Wood Duck is a completely facemelting bird. They're brilliance borders on nonsense. I can't imagine life without seeing these birds once in a while.

That's right....right when you thought the Birdosphere was done with Snowy Owls, I'm bringing one back! This is the infamous Barfing Owl from Damon Point, Washington. I have a vast quantity of pictures of it relentlessly gagging. I've never seen a creature so devoted to trying to vomit.

Look at that face. Know it. Then love it. How could you not? Do you not? WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU???

Here is a Ferruginous Hawk surveying its grassy domain. It may be thinking about squirrels and kangaroo rats and how it's going to break their little necks and eat them. Or maybe its admiring the view. Or maybe it just realized it needs to poop. Who knows?

Here is a different bird. Can you imagine seeing one of these, back in the day, flying around with frakking buffalo bones to include in their nest? Maybe one day they will again, provided there are enough buffalo. These Ferrugs were photographed on California's Carrizo Plain.

Black Oystercatcher is a west coast specialty. I pity all regions of the country that are not blessed with an oystercatcher of some sort. Of course, you probably pity me because I don't have things like Prairie-Chickens or Golden-cheeked Warblers or Spectacled Eiders or Mangrove Cuckoos...touche, reader, touche.

Although they can be migratory, Black Oystercatchers have very strong site fidelity at nesting sites and do not share their stretch of coast with other individuals. The same pair of birds can occupy the same territory for many years.

Unlike oystercatchers, most of us readily have access to Black-crowned Night-Herons, an extremely appropriately named bird. Not to mention good-looking.

Immature Black-crowned Night-Herons, on the other hand, do not live up to their name very well. They are also not very good looking. Awkward. These birds were photographed at Lake Merrit.

Common Goldeneyes all around the country are going full swing into courtship displays, whistling, farting, splashing, and yes....BELLOWING. These birds were getting kinky on Lake Merritt, in Oakland, CA.

This bird was a bit more subdued, feeding by himself. Either he has a lot of confidence or is not very attractive by female Common Goldeneye standards.

Enjoy your Friday, for freedom will soon be upon you. Rage.


  1. Woah, those immature BCNH eyeballs sent me into another dimension...I think I might be legally insane now.

    1. They're huge! Big eyes make for uncanny abilities to kill things at night.

  2. Nice post there Seagull. My favorite thing is how you show pictures of birds and talk about birds.

    Those Wood Ducks are spectacular--somehow I've managed to stay alive without seeing them in person. I only look at pictures of them online, which makes me sort of a creepy Wood Duck stalker I guess. I never noticed the pronounced bifurcation of the beak as it leads up to the forehead, it's gives them a serious widow's peak. Brilliant plumage.

    You seem to read the bird's minds pretty well, almost as if you can sympathize with the Ferruginous Hawk from experience. Have you been simultaneously thinking about the vast prairie, sucking rodent spine juices, and pooping? Anyway it seemed very tangible, you totally took me there.

    Your Juvenile Black-Crowned Heron seems to confirm the widely believed scientific fact that the young Night Herons do not produce a cogent thought until they're reached 2 years of age, the time before being spent in a dazed stupor of instinct and sense experience, much like American college life (which also has some uncanny parallels to the "creatures devoted to vomit" comment with the Snow Owl).

    That farthest left male Goldeneye in the 2nd to last photo...I have no idea what's going on there, but it seems to be awesome. So is this post. Nice work, thanks for sharing.

    1. No Wood Duck yet??? Ah, the downfalls of the desert. You are on the money with the hawk thing....I pretty much am a Ferruginous Hawk at heart.

      I think you summed up the college experience quite well...

  3. Great compilation of photos! Double Wood Ducks, you shouldn't have, but thanks.

    1. Thanks Tammy! The Woodies are a crowd please for sure.

  4. =) Yes, wood ducks are blandly named, and obscenely SPECTACULAR. Embarrassment of riches.

    The imm. black crowned night heron makes me think of:

    brilliant & v. sincere but distractingly goofy professor, where you HATE yourself but in class you stifle giggles, and it's all at your expense, 'cause he's genius and you're a DORK for staring as his curly hair bounces on his head with each syllable he speaks vs. taking in the intellectual gold that is spilling from his mouth.

    Painful and charming. LOVE that photo.

    One of the best things about black oystercatchers is their SCREAM. =) AWESOME birds.

    Lovely post. Sorry weather sucks 4 u. Come back home--it's SUNNY and warming, here. Oh, and check out my photo-quiz--YOU may get it since you're a Bay guy. TELL me if it's impossibly hard, pls. If it is for you, I know it's NUTS.

    1. Heh, I don't think any gold will ever spill from that heron's mouth, just a bunch of WOKs!

      As for your quiz....I have a guess about the answer, but feel very unconfident about it. Brutal!

  5. Birds so nice you posted them twice. I didn't know about Ferruginous Hawk using bison bones, but that seems like the type of bad-assery that's normally reserved for mythological creatures or Chuck Norris... Now I REALLY need to see one. Great set, as always!

    1. Ferruginous is a classy bird, no doubt...much respect to the Buffalo Eagle.