Thursday, July 31, 2014


Well nerds, here we are. Two years to the day and one hundred posts from the dreary and stumbling beginnings of this blog. To commemorate this milestone, I've got a rare post that tugs at the softer parts of your broken, black hearts as opposed to the usual foul-mouthed curmudgeon-ness of which you've all grown so fond. I would like to say thanks to those of you who follow along in my dysfunctional, hungover avian adventures. This blog has given me the opportunity/motivation to see new shit and meet cool people, so here's to many more years of rambling, rustling, and revelry.

I normally shy away from the good-hearted cutesy type bird stuff, but I came across this Black-necked Stilt family a few weeks ago, and it was pretty awesome. The fledgling, the egg, all that shit were too conducive to crushing to pass up.  

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Bird Bloggers are the Worst

Why are bird bloggers the worst? Well firstly, I've had this post nearly finished for a couple of days and I was just waiting for a final pass before I published it. This post originally held a decent photo of Black Tern. And then yesterday, that goddamned Seagull Steve had to go and post some absolute crushes of Black Tern. Fuck that dude. Secondly, I woke up this morning ready to publish this post and saw that good old Laurence Butler had a new post up that consisted of nothing but two of the exact same individual birds that are in this post. Seriously, he photographed the same birds standing in the same spot at the same park in Corpus Christi as me, just a month or so apart. So, fuck it. I was kind of on the fence about what I had written for this post anyways, so I'll scrap all that and leave you nerds with pictures and my bitching. 

Black-necked Stilts will be getting their own post in the near future.
Yellow-green Vireo. Boom.
Common Gallinule is more attractive than American Coot.
Perhaps that is why these two Coots cornered and attacked this Gallinule. It was gnarly.
I have seen tens of thousands of American Coots, and this is the only one I've ever seen outright fly.
Least Bittern is a good bird. It is also a new addition to the Birds Taking Dumps page of this blog.

Flight shape is a good way to identify distant Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks.
Not always seen on a Great Kiskadee is the yellow crown. Subtle?

Wood Storks are never abundant, at least for me. They are very much appreciated.

Friday, July 18, 2014

These Things Are Not Birds

Sometimes when you're out looking for birds, other interesting shit shows up. Intrepid birders have no fear of non avian creatures. Intrepid birders crush non avian creatures.

Spicebush Swallowtail
Zebra Swallowtail - look at the red antennae.
There is a very fine ratio of angle and light for a Pipevine Swallowtail to glow in this manner.
Luna Moth tried to attacked my buddy, causing much grief and many curse words in the midst of young east Texan children.
Moths are hard. After entering the world of mothing (way hipper than birding), I've learned that this is a Large Maple Spanworm.
The concept of carnivorous plants makes my brain hurt. So many questions. This is a pitcher plant. Insects investigate the opening and slide down, helped by pulsing cilia. Hardcore.
Another carnivorous plant, Sundew I think? You can see the mechanism at work here.
Mushrooms are cool.

Eastern Coachwhip is way darker than the coachwhips I see in central Texas. This is the only one I've ever had sit still.
And it will haunt your dreams. Forever.

Friday, July 11, 2014

(I Am) East Texas

East Texas is kind of horrible. The humidity is oppressive, the ticks and mosquitoes are terrorists, and the people are kind of fucked up. That's a rather broad generalization, but I come from East Texas folk and the shit is true. The one thing east Texas has going for it is the birds. Birds that I don't have here. Good birds. Sexy birds. Southeastern birds. This is why we are here.

Okay, we have Pileated Woodpecker here, but they don't try to nest in parking lots like in east Texas.
Hey, whaddya know? Mississippi Kites. Of course they're fucking everywhere now. The dam has broken.
And another. How delightful.
Swainson's Warbler - There is a quartet of southeastern birds that I always associate with each other: Swainson's Warbler, Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Bachman's Sparrow, and Brown-headed Nuthatch. Much like I can't think of Ernest Givins without thinking of Drew Hill, Haywood Jeffires, and Curtis Duncan (Luv Ya, Blue!), I can't think of one of these birds without envisioning the other three.
Speaking of, Red-cockaded Woodpecker can apparently be somewhat accommodating. I had heard rumors of this.

Brown-headed Nuthatch, on the other hand, does not appreciate being photographed. This causes much grief.
Prairie Warbler is a crippler. I advocate seeing this bird frequently.

Fish Crow is a crow. Fish Crow is reliable in a small suburb with horrible traffic. Look for dumpsters and listen for "Uh-huh!"

Monday, July 7, 2014

Check it out, kids! Swallow-tailed Kite!

Hey folks! Nate McGowan from TMWB here, and I want to talk to you about a revolutionary and exciting new experience. Are you suffering from the summertime blues, struggling to find your motivation through weeks and weeks of Northern Cardinals and Turkey Vultures? Don't you wish there was an easier way? Well, there is and I'm hear to tell you about it. It's called Swallow-tailed Kite, and it will turn your summer from a bummer to a stunner!

Swallow-tailed Kite is so easy, a kid can do it, and the timing has never been better. All you have to do is make your way to the right part of the country and Swallow-tailed Kite will do the rest!

 Swallow-tailed Kite has long been known as a natural cure for:
     - depression
     - anxiety
     - insomnia
     - ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder)

Swallow-tailed Kite works just as easily in the air as it does on a perch. It's versatility will impress your friends, and make you the talk of the party!

But wait, there's more! Act now, and you'll be able to take advantage of this limited time offer to see not one, but two Swallow-tailed Kites!

To make sure Swallow-tailed Kite is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have a history of seizures or epilepsy, any history of a heart condition, or if you have ever experimented with hallucinogenic drugs. If Swallow-tailed Kite leaves you with an erection lasting longer than 4 hours, you're a fucking weirdo and you need psychological help.

So, what are you waiting for? Act now!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014


Violetear of the Green persuasion is a remarkable looking bird that is quickly becoming a near annual vagrant to central Texas. The first ABA record was in 1961, and as of last count, there are now 73 records for Texas. They seem to follow a pattern of post-breeding northward misoriented migration, and they are usually found in the summer. The whole deal is kind of a trip.

On a side note, this bird is seriously fucking crippling.
So here's where shit gets kind of tricky. When you see a bird, especially something good like this bird, you want to make sure you've got the ID correct. More than that, you want to just look at the bird, study it, really try and understand the bird. I mean, who knows how long it'll be until you see this bird again, right? There's a great story in Kingbird Highway about a shitload of nerds chasing and ticking a Spotted Redshank, only for some dude to later realize it was an oiled Greater Yellowlegs. So yeah. After checking out this bird, I was reading up on it in the new Rare Birds of North America book by Steve Howell when one little paragraph kind of stood out to me:

"Slightly larger Sparkling Violetear Colibri coruscans, native to S. America, may be kept in captivity in N. American aviaries, and escapes would likely be passed off as Green Violetear. Sparkling Violetear has violet from its auriculars extending forward in a band under its eyes to the chin, unlike the simple auricular patch of Green Violetear."

While this is a wholly impressive bird, check out the violet-blue under the eyes and continuing under the chin.
Wait, didn't the bird I see have violet under the eyes to the chin? Sure as shit, the photos show that bluish ear patch extending under the chin. Image searches of Green Violetear show mostly birds like I'd expect, with the violet isolated to the ear patches with green cheeks and a green chin. They also show a solid green breast, nothing like the bright blue chest spot of the bird I saw. Weird.

So what the fuck is Green Violetear supposed to look like? Well, it depends. It turns out there are 4 recognized subspecies and while three of them show limited violet in the ear patches and lack of a blue chest spot, the northern Mexican population, Colibri thalassinus thalassinus, looks exactly like the bird I saw. Confusing. But in the end, fair enough. Look, I wasn't trying to string a Sparkling Violetear, I was just trying to make sure I didn't string a Green Violetear.