Photos: birds who know what they’re doing

The last week has felt very hectic, not just for me but for my whole lab. It seems we’re all prepping for a field season/writing a paper/learning how to solder under a microscope. (Okay, that last one might not apply to all of us.) Not only do I have too much to do, but I can’t seem to decide when I should be doing what. Is it most crucial to be writing the paper revisions that are due soon, or packing dinners for the field? Or wait, isn’t starting the camera batteries charging the first most-important thing? But if I don’t take the car to the mechanic before doing everything else, we won’t even be able to get to the field…

So, to balance out my crazy disorganized brain, here are some birds who are doing exactly what they need to be doing and not second-guessing themselves at all.

White-crowned Sparrow: eating a flower.

White-crowned Sparrow: eating a flower.

Black Phoebe: watching for bugs.

Black Phoebe: watching for bugs.

Eurasian Collared Dove: sitting on her nest.

Eurasian Collared Dove: sitting on her nest.

Continue reading

Field season 2013 moments in photos

I’ve started planning the upcoming field season in a serious way now—deciding on dates, interviewing potential field assistants. It’s made me think a lot about last field season, and about how much I haven’t yet found an opportunity to mention in this blog. So this post is just going to be a selection of memorable things that happened last field season, without any real theme but with lots of photos.

The coolest insect I've ever seen in person. It looked like a piece of enameled jewelry.

The most beautiful insect I’ve ever seen in person. It looked like a piece of enameled jewelry.

This nest had two chicks in it; when we took them out to band them, we found two unhatched eggs. The lighter one is a junco egg; the dark one is a cowbird egg. These juncos were lucky that the cowbird egg didn't hatch!

This nest had two chicks in it; when we took them out to band them, we found two unhatched eggs. The lighter one is a junco egg; the dark one is a cowbird egg. These juncos were lucky that the cowbird egg didn’t hatch!

Continue reading

Photo sequences: vulture vs. rake; flamingo fight

At the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago recently, I got the chance to see some particularly charismatic birds, including a colony of squabbling flamingos, and Sophia the young Cinereous Vulture. Abandoned as an egg, Sophia was raised by humans—with a vulture puppet—until she was old enough to rejoin her parents.

Sophia the Cinereous Vulture, at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago.

Sophia the Cinereous Vulture, at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago.

The morning I saw her was overcast and cold, but she was in high spirits: a man was raking her enclosure, and while her parents mostly ignored him, Sophia was fascinated. She chased the rake; he shooed her away; she stalked it. “I helped to raise her,” the man said; then, rolling his eyes, “It’s impossible to get anything done with her around.” Eventually he dropped the rake, and Sophia got to investigate.

Continue reading

Banding a nest

It’s rare that I have photos of the process of banding a nest, since usually everyone is holding a chick and we don’t have any extra hands for photographic documentation. For a few nests, however, I was lucky enough to have my father with us, and boy does he like to photograph things! Thanks to him I can show you what it looks like when we band a nest.

EDIT: If you click on these (or any photos on this blog) you can see them bigger.

The nest. If you click to expand it and look closely you can see the female sitting on it.

The nest, tucked next to the clump of plants in the center. If you look closely you can see Mom sitting on it.

Me taking the chicks from the nest, with Kyle ready to catch any runners.

Me taking the chicks from the nest, with Kyle ready to catch any runners.
Photo by M. LaBarbera

Often when you approach the nest, the female will flare her tail and run around on the ground to try to draw your attention away from the nest. This is a tail-on view of Mom doing that. Photo by M. LaBarbera

Often when you approach the nest, the female will flare her tail and spread her wings and run around on the ground to try to draw your attention away from the nest. This is a tail-on view of Mom doing that.
Photo by M. LaBarbera

Mom, angrily chipping at us. Photo by M. LaBarbera

Mom, angrily chipping at us.
Photo by M. LaBarbera

Continue reading