Here is my weekly Feathers on Friday post for October 31, 2014. This week's Feathers on Friday bird is a White-winged Dove in our apple tree with the junipers in the background. By the way...
Remember, never feed your cat, dog, or other pet sweets, especially chocolate. It can kill them.
Today is National Cat Day! Cats really have it all, what with World Cat Day on August 8 and then National Cat Day on October 29. In honor of the occasion, Luna & Brownie are having a conversation about National Cat Day below.
Brownie: I feel so honored today.
Luna: I don't. Should I?
Brownie: Yes! It's National Cat Day, silly! Today humans around the country are celebrating and honoring us, so we should feel honored, right? Makes sense.
Luna: Yes, but I feel more honored on World Cat Day, when humans around the world celebrate and honor us and think about how wonderful we (especially me) really are.
Brownie: Well...yes, but we can celebrate World Cat Day next year. You know, they should switch it around. World Cat Day is on August 8, which means its really hot and no smart cat wants to move from his bed, so he's not going to be a good example of how amazing cats are (except if you count the fact that he's been sleeping since 10 AM and it's now 3:30 in the afternoon). National Cat Day is on October 29, which means it's nice and cool and a cat wants to be active and show off how amazing he is.
Luna: You know, that's true! Where's the telly-phone? I need to call the humans who thought up World Cat Day and National Cat Day and tell them to switch around the dates. Brownie, where's the telly-phone?
Brownie: Haven't got a clue. Ask our owner.
Luna: Right. Hey, owner, where's the telly-phone?
Luna and Brownie's owner: Luna, stop yowling! It's annoying.
Luna: Hey, that's rude! I'm talking to you, not yowling!
Luna and Brownie's owner: Stop it!
Luna: Humph! Humans are hopeless. Oh, wait, there's the telly-phone! But how to get it? Hm...okay, I know, I'll jump on the desk, knock it off, and start talking before our owner can get it back.
Brownie: Good plan, with just one little flaw...you don't know the telly-phone number to call the humans who made up the holidays.
This month, warblers are starting to appear across the U.S. and Canada as they pass through on their fall migration. These birds can be very confusing to identify, so I've decided to post this in the hope it will help you identify warblers around you. Please let me know your thoughts in the comments, and if you have your own warbler identification tips, please tell me and I'll add them to this post.
The WFTU system - The WFTU system is a helpful way to identify fall warblers. WFTU, which stands for Wings, Face, Throat, and Undertail, helps you remember what to look at when seeing a new bird. For example, say you see a yellow bird with greenish wings, yellow throat, and a gray head but aren't sure if it is a Nashville or Connecticut warbler. Nashville and Connecticut warblers are very similar, but can be told apart by using the WFTU system. For the Wings part, Nashville warblers have slightly darker wings than Connecticut, although this does vary. For the Face part, Connecticut warblers have lighter gray faces and also, the gray is more like a hood. For the Throat part, Nashville warblers have a yellow throat, and since the Connecticut warbler's gray head is more like a hood, their throat is gray. For the Undertail part, Nashville's is yellow-green and Connecticut's is a dull yellow. Now you can confidently identify your bird as a Nashville Warbler.
Know the local birds - It is important that you know what birds are likely to be found in your area and what aren't. Of course, there is the occasional rarity, but most likely you'll be seeing birds commonly found where you live. In New Mexico, these include the Yellow Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, and Orange-crowned Warbler, plus others that aren't as common. So do some research and know what birds are likely to be found where you live. This can help immensely when flipping through page after page of warblers in a field guide so you can narrow it down to birds found in your area. However, if you're absolutely sure you've seen a rare bird, click on this link to see a list of rare bird telephone numbers you can call to report your bird.
Take as many photos as you can - If you happen to have your camera with you when you observe a bird and aren't sure what it is, snap as many photos as you can. Don't spend your precious time seeing the bird writing in a notebook or flipping through a field guide. This can be done after the bird flies away. You'll regret it if you observe a bird but barely get to actually see it because you're busy writing in a notebook or flipping through a field guide. If the bird is a rare bird, photos can come in extremely handy if you need proof to show that you actually saw the bird when reporting it to one of the telephone numbers listed on the link above.
Learn as much as you can - Learn as much as you can about all warbler species, not just the ones specifically found in your area. This will help you identify warblers even if you're traveling. Learn everything, including description (remember, tiny details matter!), voice (sometimes this may be the only way to tell one bird species from the other...pay close attention!), behavior (this can be useful too, as some birds will do one thing that another bird would never do), habitat (if you are looking for a particular bird species, this can be helpful as you'll know where to look for that bird), and range (this is extremely helpful if you see a bird that looks very much like another bird, such as Connecticut and MacGillivray's warblers, but know you can't be seeing a Connecticut Warbler because you live in California).
Blackpoll vs. Bay-breasted - These two warblers are extremely similar and if an individual cannot be identified, it is simply called a 'Baypoll'. In their fall plumage, they are almost identical. If yellow is seen at all on the legs, feet, or toe pads, then it can be identified as a Blackpoll. If there is blurry, dusky streaking on the upper breast and sides, it can also be identified as a Blackpoll. However, if there is a strong blush of bay color on the flanks, it can be identified as a Bay-breasted. The head of both birds is green, but in the Bay-breasted it is more olive, whereas in the Blackpoll it is brighter and lighter.
Orange-crowned vs. Tennessee - These two warblers, like the Blackpoll and Bay-breasted, are also extremely hard to identify in their fall plumage. Orange-crowned are usually more yellow than Tennessee warblers, unless the Tennessee warbler is a first-year bird. So really the problem arises when the Tennessee warbler is a young bird. The Orange-crowned has blurry streaking on the sides and grayer upperparts. They also have a longer tail and stay closer to the ground than Tennessee. Tennessee warblers usually feed by foraging in the live leaves while Orange-crowned warblers feed by getting bugs out of dead leaf clusters.
I hope this has helped you in identifying confusing fall warblers. Please let me know how it has or hasn't in the comments below. Happy Birding!
Luna: What do you make of this whole 'Halloween' thing? It sounds absolutely ridiculous.
Brownie: It should be called 'Scare Your Cat Day'. Look! Right there, across the street! That huge black cat is swaying! It sees me! It's getting ready to pounce!
Luna: I shouldn't have said Halloween is ridiculous. You're ridiculous. That's the neighbor's decoration!
Brownie: Where are you getting all these fancy words? Halloween, absolutely, ridiculous, neighbor, decoration...By the way, what is a decoration?
Luna: Hm, let me see. 'Something used for decorating, adornment, embellishment'.
Luna: That's according to the thing you look up words in. Dic-o-nary or something of the sort. A silly thing humans made so we can look up words. Actually quite helpful, though, even if they do explain things extremely badly. Hold on, let me look up 'adornment' and 'embellishment'. Okay, here we go. Adornment means 'Something that adds attractiveness; ornament, accessory'. Embellishment means 'An ornament or decoration'. So there you go.
Brownie: Let's forget the Dic-o-nary and continue about Happyween.
Brownie: Sorry, Halloween!
Luna: What would you do if you were named Pumpkin? I'd run away.
Brownie: What's a pumpkin?
Luna: I won't consult the Dic-o-nary this time, just give you the true facts. A pumpkin is an orange vegetable that humans carve faces into using sharp knives on Halloween and then put candles inside.
Brownie: And they call us silly.
Here is my weekly Feathers on Friday post for October 24, 2014. This week's Feathers on Friday bird is a female immature 'Myrtle' Yellow-rumped Warbler on the fountain in the backyard. It sat there for quite a while. It obviously can't go in the fountain, but it took a bath anyway by dipping its head in and then splashing around on the edge where the water flows down. You can watch a video of it bathing here.
Shadow has won the Cat of the Week photo contest on moderncat.com with 9,928 votes! Shadow is a 2 1/2 year old Persian-mix cat who lives with Janice Hong Chain Yin in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He is always mistaken as a she because of his long, white fur and beautiful eyes. Shadow likes balls, feathers, and anything that moves and dislikes human food and loud noises. He also goes by the name of Meow Meow and his favorite foods are Royal Canin and Fancy Feast Royale Broths. His favorite pastimes include sleeping, watching birds by the window, and hiding behind curtains. Congratulations on becoming Cat of the Week, Shadow!
This past week we also visited the ABQ BioPark Botanic Gardens, as like I said in the Albuquerque Aquarium post you can get one ticket that gives you admission to both places. We saw birds, including Wood Ducks, a Canada Goose, House Sparrows, and even a Paradise Whyda in the butterfly pavilion, although I don't have any pictures of the birds because my camera battery was running low, butterflies, including Blue Morphos, Owl Butterflies, Zebra Longwings, Viceroys, and more, a miniature train garden with three trains, not including Thomas and Percy, suspension bridges, both real and fake water, and two tunnels, water sources, including a lake, a decorative pond, and a decorative stream with lots of rocks and very cold water, lots of flowers, and more. Check out this slideshow of some of the pictures I took at the Botanic Gardens.
Luna: Hey, Brownie!
Luna: Your bouncy ball is out!
Brownie: What?! I must catch it. Here I go, bouncing along...ouch! I bumped the wall. Luna, can you give me a paw?
Luna: No, I really don't want to part with any of my paws.
Brownie: Come on, its an expression! Stop pretending you don't know that, because I know you do.
Luna: Oh fine, you're right. But I don't think I'm strong enough to pull you up.
Brownie: Okay, you're probably right. I can get up on my own.
Luna & Brownie's owner: Come on, Browns, chase your ball! Don't be lazy!
Luna: He's not being lazy, he's talking to me!
Brownie: Thank you, Luna. She's right, owner!
Luna & Brownie's owner: Go get it, Browns!
Luna: I will be his substitute! Oh dear, this is really hard to catch. Oof! Did I do it?
Brownie: No, you just kicked it under the sofa.
Diane Hoeptner is an artist...an artist who paints cats. It wasn't until a year ago that Diane began taking cats seriously. Before this, she only painted her cats as a break from what she normally painted: floral still life. Using a combination of colored pencil and watercolor, her award-winning still lifes have been featured in public collections and reproduced as posters and cards for Editions Limited and American Greetings.
What made her change her focus from still lifes to cats? In the midst of painting her cats in between the usual floral arrangements, she began to notice that she could capture her cats' personalities. Intrigued by this 'new dimension' in her paintings, she began painting cats in earnest. She says that for her, her cats are like 'animated sculptures'.
Diane's creative process usually begins by searching through her photos until she finds the one that she describes as 'begging to be painted'. She then designs her painting around this photo.
You can see her paintings on her blog, where she posts new paintings almost daily.
Here is my weekly Feathers on Friday post for October 17, 2014. This week's Feathers on Friday bird is a 'Pink-sided' Dark-eyed Junco on the fountain in our backyard.
Here is Bird Boy's Feathers on Friday post.
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I'm a homeschooler who really enjoys both wild birds and cats. But don't worry, I keep them separate! Read more about me here!
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