Frankly, my dear, Blue Jays are quite something

None other than the blue jay can be described as bold, brash and beautiful — a feathered Rhett Butler in blue and white. (Who knows that name anymore?) This is a northern bird and often seen here on MDI year-round. It is one that easily rivals in looks any bird found in the tropics. Most of us forget about that. A birding friend visiting me from England brought that to my attention when she first caught sight of a blue jay and said, “Ruth, what was THAT beautiful bird?” I answered, “Oh, that’s just a blue jay.”

By Ruth Grierson

Mother birds do not always choose a good spot for their nest at first try. At my temporary vacation spot, I recently found a wren’s nest that had baby birds in it and I think their chances are slim. It must have been the female’s first try. The babies will be lucky to fly off safely.

My favorite wren on Mount Desert Island is the winter wren. It is the wren we get to see if we’re out and about from mid-April through January. There are five different wrens you might see throughout the year on the island: the winter wren, house wren, Carolina wren, sedge wren and marsh wren.

The winter wren is one of the easier ones to see for its short, cocked–up, stubby tail and barred belly are very eye catching. The bird acts like a feathered ping pong ball constantly in motion. Look for it in brush piles, ravines, woods, tangles and in the roots along the banks of streams. A feathered ping pong ball REALLY does describe it.

None other than the blue jay can be described as bold, brash and beautiful — a feathered Rhett Butler in blue and white. (Who knows that name anymore?) This is a northern bird and often seen here on MDI year-round. It is one that easily rivals in looks any bird found in the tropics. Most of us forget about that. A birding friend visiting me from England brought that to my attention when she first caught sight of a blue jay and said, “Ruth, what was THAT beautiful bird?“ I answered, “Oh, that’s just a blue jay.”

Continue reading

Black bird watching group provides a safe space for people of colour in nature

Flock Together aims to tackle the historic exclusion of people of colour from spaces of nature.

For many Black people and other ethnic minority groups, nature spaces can still feel incredibly hostile. Going to the park alone, traveling in small groups, or bird-watching can cause people to stare at you questioningly, call the police or just outright make you feel ‘out of place’. As a nature-loving person of colour, it can feel as though there is a different set of rules you need to abide by. We see this hostility and discriminatory exclusion happen again and again in spaces of nature and communities dedicated to the natural world. For example, the cropping of Ugandan climate activist Vanessa Nakate out of a group photo with Greta Thunberg and three other white female activists. Or, when Christian Cooper, a Black science writer and long-term bird-watcher (he had been President of the Harvard Orthological Club in the 1980s) had the police called on him by Amy Cooper, a white woman.

Flock Together group

Though the charges against Amy Cooper have since been dropped, the incident led to the creation of #blackbirdersweek, an initiative to showcase Black birders around the world, and to promote diversity within the sector. The long-term benefits humans get from being outside are well documented, but the reality is that people from ethnic minority groups may miss out on the joys of nature because of discrimination, racism and exclusion  [ . . . ]

Flock Together group

Continue at METRO UK: Black bird watching group provides a safe space for people of colour in nature Continue reading

The Wild Blue Turkey That Blew My Mind

TurkeyAppreciating the avian diversity that’s there to astound us—if only we look.

There are only two species of turkey in the world, and we’re all familiar with one: the Wild Turkey. A magnificent bird first domesticated by the Aztecs and later again by Native Americans, its farm-bred form will fill our Thanksgiving plates this November, while wild flocks continue their decades-long recovery from overhunting and habitat loss across the eastern United States.

Let’s first take a minute to appreciate the Wild Turkey’s comeback, or perhaps even savor its sweet revenge as the birds apparently terrorize growing swaths of suburbia.

Continue reading

10 of the best places to spot migratory birds in the UK

Autumn is a brilliant time to see birds arriving and heading off in their thousands. Spectacular movements can be seen all over the UK, but we choose 10 special spots

Spurn Point, East Yorkshire
This narrow thread of land – actually classed as a sand tidal island – facing Grimsby is home to a bird observatory that records prodigious quantities of migrants and rarities. An easterly wind will bring thousands of birds passing through.

Dungeness, Kent

dunge 2017-08-28 16.44.23weird plant and nuclear
 A view across one of the main lakes at Dungeness’s RSPB reserve. Photograph: Adam McCulloch

Given its lighthouses, miniature railway, nuclear power station, curious shacks and shingle, the peninsula is a unique spot even without the vast array of bird and insect life that uses it to launch off over the English Channel. A bird observatory and excellent RSPB reserve keep track of the comings and goings. Continue reading