The flippant answer is “…because they look alike”, and they can be very alike. Most of what you read about yellowlegs will tell you to look at bill length to distinguish the species. The bill of Greater Yellowlegs is actually longer (50 mm or more, compared to Lesser’s 40 mm or less) but birders deal […]
Archives for July 2012
Here are three more songbirds showing some of the variation in legs and feet. With thanks, again, to Brian E. Small for providing the beautiful photos. You can see lots more at his website.
Not really. A recently-published study used high-speed video of hummingbirds hovering in simulated rain to investigate questions of how hard it is to stay airborne while simultaneously getting wet (and heavier) and getting pelted with water drops that must be a significant blow to their 4 gram bodies. The conclusion is that the birds have […]
Thanks to reader Skip Pothier for sending in these photos. They show a Purple Finch with yellow color instead of red. My first thought was to call it a male that didn’t develop the full red pigment (a similar variant due to poor diet and/or poor health is fairly common in male House Finches) but […]
With the annual publication of the supplement to the AOU checklist, here is a listing of the changes to names in the Sibley Guide to Birds. There were a lot of other changes announced to names of neotropical birds, which are not discussed here. There were also some big changes in the sequence of species […]
Here is another quiz showing a bird viewed from behind, with questions about the feather groups that are visible. Notice how the contours of the back define the feather groups.
It turns out that trees not only communicate through fungal networks in their roots, they also pass nutrients around from tree to tree, even between species! The fungi (many species) grow in contact with the roots of the tree, enjoying the steady source of carbohydrates that the tree has produced, and in exchange giving the […]
More examples of the variety of legs and feet – color and structure – that can be found among the small songbirds. With thanks, again, to Brian E. Small for providing the beautiful photos. You can see lots more at his website.
An interesting study published recently found that cowbirds in bright sunlight were slower to detect predators, and cowbirds in shade were quicker. The study concludes that the delay happens because the cowbirds are slightly disabled by the glare of the bright sun. Could this explain why small birds are hard to find in bright sunny […]