Thursday, March 15, 2012

When I Knew To Stop Looking

In an instant this first-year Herring Gull has transformed from a disgusting garbage-eater to a mind-boggling contortionist. Note that the preen gland on it's upper tail is exposed. Lake Merced, San Francisco, CA.

Good Thursday to you nerds. The only loose theme running through all these pictures today are birds doing some interesting poses...I purposefully avoided posting anything too graceful (well, except for the terns) as it would just be too easy to slap a bunch of herons and egrets in here and call it a day. Oh yeah, no flight shots either, them's the rules.

The crystal ball that is seasonal bird work is beginning to destiny grows easier to see by the official migration announcement should happen soon!

A Bobolink takes a break from being Lord Of The Prairie and stretches out. Do you see how sharp it's tail feathers are? They have rapidly evolved in the past few decades to stab bird banders...interestingly, their distress calls given while in the hand sound uncannily like "I'm giving you tons of bird lice right now" and "I'll see you in Hell". Lostwood National Wildlife Refuge, North Dakota.

Since they are so big-bodied, Canvasbacks often appear somewhat stubby-winged. This female is trying to buck the trend...I think she pulls it off. Lake Merritt, Oakland, CA.

Of course, courtship and territorial displays frequently entail some bizarre posturing. These male Great-tailed Grackles are both telling each other "Why don't you come at me bro?". Chavarrillo, Veracruz, MEX.

While appearing superficially gull-like on land (and somewhat confused to be on land in the first place), albatross become entirely different beasts when it comes to dancing. These Black-footed Albatross were seducing each other with their sick moves at Midway Atoll.

White Terns look good, there is no denying it. But when it comes down to making babies, they make it look more like a miracle. I can't tell you how many tears I shed watching this...eventually I ran out of water and cried blood. That's when I knew to stop looking. Midway Atoll.

Going from no-necked to fully extended, a Thick-billed Murre takes a gander at something on the cliff below. In a moment it will return from its moment of quasi-elegance to being fat, squat and cute. Buldir Island, AK.

Other birds aren't blessed with such long necks. This is about as far as a Clay-colored Sparrow can stick it's head out. It still a good-looking bird though (obvi). Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge, ND.

A Double-crested Cormorant throws it's wings out for air brakes and balance as it makes a brilliant landing. Lake Merced, CA.

While many sandpipers are comfortable being cloaca-deep in putrid mud, this Semipalmated Sandpiper is apparently a bit too dainty to get it's feathers dirty. It's wings are out for balance, to keep from sinking in too deep. White Lake, ND.

I know what you are thinking..."Whoa. I am really drawn to this's affecting the shit out of me. It is a thing of beauty. I've never seen anything like it." Yeah, you guessed it, this is absolutely ART. That's why you are feeling so many emotions right now. You may also be feeling some jealousy, since this is actually a Slaty-backed Gull. Buldir Island, AK.

Some birds just aren't cut out for being graceful. This soggy Black-crowned Night-Heron was photographed at Lake Merritt.


  1. I can't even begin to express how much I love your posts. I'm hoping a tiny bit of your bird knowledge will seep through to my brain. Great commentary. Fabulous capture of the white terns!

  2. Yeah the White Terns, man... so awesome. On the list of birds I would like to be, they are number 3. Another sweet BCNH shot- never thought they looked like muppets before but here we are. Black-crowned Muppet-Heron.

    1. The muppet was weird. It was just sitting there. Every couple of minutes it would bathe for about 2-3 seconds, then resume soaking.

  3. I believe these photos qualify as "ill" (the the rapper sense of the word, not in the sense that they make one vomit, though in my case it was joyous vomit, like the kind of vomit that comes from too much jaw-dropping and laughter).

    Despite having one of the sillier names in the animal kingdom, that Bobolink looks like it means business.
    It's too bad there isn't an internet company with that name.

    Beautiful Terns. Thanks for sharing Seagull.

  4. OMG. I want to be that (as Jen put it) BCNH for Halloween. Truly.



    1. Do it! I grant you the intellectual property rights to use this image as a basis of a Halloween costume. Im thinking of being Kim Jong Il myself.

  5. I'm only here for the bird porn. Your terns turn us on.