Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Have You Heard?


The West Coast has a lot of interesting birds. Back East I could name every bird that flew by without a pause but here I'm clueless. Forced to scour the internet for answers. Many of you probably don't realize just how varied the wildlife is in different places around the country, so I decided to give you a little peek. While these might be common sights to those of us living in California and nearby states, back East all of this is totally foreign.

There are these giant black and white birds with long tails and yellow eyes that  are just really impressive to behold. My best guess is some kind of Magpie, but I actually have no idea.

King of dead grass!
There are also these large blue, gray, and white birds that I see from time to time that I recently discovered were called Scrub-Jays. I'm not sure where they got their name from, but they're quite beautiful birds with a color I'd compare to a clear sky.

King of benches!
I have yet to see any Condors, but here's hoping that one day I will have the opportunity. They aren't very pretty to look at, actually bordering on hideous, but I find them magnificent. As I do most birds of prey. I've seen several Hawk varieties, though we had those back East too. I hear there is a significant population of Golden Eagles and even some Bald Eagles out here, but like the Condor I've yet to witness any myself. There are a good number of Peregrine Falcons though, usually seen on our drives down to L.A. perched on fence posts.

King of fences!
Also, there are lots and lots of Hummingbirds! Such as Anna's Hummingbirds which look a lot like Ruby-throated Hummingbirds back East only the color encompasses their entire head. I see a lot of these around Burbank, sometimes three or four at a time all swarming around a patch of freshly opened flowers.

King of blurry images!
And Calliope Hummingbirds who, again, share a similarity to Ruby-throated Hummingbirds only their throat feathers are much longer giving the appearance of a beard.

King of beards!
Even a couple of Black-chinned Hummingbirds, which have a misleading name. The color is far more purple than it ever is black. Unlike a lot of other Hummingbirds the rest of the plumage is kind of dull rather than the vibrant greens you see on both male and female alike of other types.

King of purple!
One of the things that surprised me was the amount of Swallows in the cities. When I think of Swallows, I imagine Barn Swallows out in the country somewhere away from the busy streets. However, in Sacramento particularly there are flocks of them along the river. Of several varieties.

King of trees!
Of course there are also more common sights, such as Sparrows and Pigeons which can be found everywhere. Same as they are back East. I haven't seen any Chickadees here though. I guess maybe they prefer the colder weather? I also haven't noticed anything such as the Red-Winged Blackbird or Golden Finch either. Though I have seen plenty of Crows and even a massive Raven. Back East you see mostly Blackbirds and Starlings rather than Crows, so it's kind of interesting to see an entire murder of them just hanging out.

Even the Gulls here are more diverse, ranging from sleek aerodynamic birds I've never seen before to the basic Seagull you spot everywhere. I haven't seen any Canadian Geese here, not even flying overhead which is hugely shocking to me. Canadian Geese rule the skies where I'm from and you'd often see numbers upwards of twelve or more at any given time in any given season. Instead they have weird things like the Coot.

Yes, those are its feet.
Disclaimer: I did not take any of these photographs. They are the result of Google Search. While they are fantastic, I claim no rights to them, etc., etc.

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