Thursday, September 24, 2015


Terns are hardcore. Black Terns are hardercore. People who spend copious amounts of time looking at, studying, and photographing terns are birders. Birders are not hardcore. They are nerds. This will never change.

These are Black Terns. A limited amount of narration, I admit, but an amount that should no doubt suffice.

Black Terns. Hardcore.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Swallow Struggle

Swallow congregations are significant at this time of year, and may be a cause of great consternation for over enthusiastic birders. Normally, swallow identification is not that difficult, but right now, juvenile swallows are tripping people up, especially in light of the fact that a Violet-green Swallow was recently photographed amidst the local swallow hordes. Let us learn about swallows together.

What do you think of this bird? It's kind of fucked, right? Pretty drab, looks like it could be a few things. Let's get some perspective.
Does it look the the bird facing us on the left? I think it kind of does. And what do you know, it's hanging out with a bunch of Cave Swallows.
So, yeah. I think it's a safe bet that our mystery bird is a juvenile Cave Swallow, or at the very least a juvenile Petrochelidon (Cliff/Cave). Go back and look at it. You can see a little bit of orange coming in on the forehead, as well as some coloration near the base of the undertail coverts.

This is something that looks more familiar. If only all swallows looked exactly as they're supposed to look.
And this bird, which appears to be molting P6.

Here are a Cave Swallow and a Barn Swallow. I've seen people struggle with this identification, especially with perched birds. Besides the obvious difference in tail shape, look at the extent of the dark cap on the nape, the sheen on the back of the Barn Swallow, and the quantity and quality of white on the undersides.

And another look.
Now here's a juvenile Barn Swallow, for comparison with the Cave Swallows above.
And we finish with a Bank Swallow. People really shouldn't be fucking this up. Fortunately, and to my knowledge, this is not something that happens often.