Meteorological Confusion and Beard’s Birds

Birds and Words can’t get enough of weather-talk. Maybe it’s a sign that I really am an octogenarian living in a 37 year old body, but seriously, folks, have you noticed that the Weather has developed a severe personality disorder of late? It’s November 16 and it feels like spring outside! Yesterday, the sun was shining, I was wearing my (pink!) spring jacket, and happened up a conglomeration of Robins (Turdus migratorius) who seemed utterly confused by the season. They were chirping up a storm, as if it was early May and they were in the midst of hoarding food. (Speaking of Robins, my favorite non-avian who goes by the name of robin, the writer, Robin Spano, is launching her second book in her fun crime series, Death Plays Poker, and though eschews writing about birds, it’s still a great read and you should check it out!)

I also saw the cutest Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens) who looked exactly like this and I thought to myself, “hey, where is that red patch on its head? What happened to the Downy I used to know and love?” And…. lo and behold, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology tells me that it’s a FEMALE (hence, less flashy). Nevertheless, a fabulous woodpecker:

There SHE is! I’m pretty sure dear female Picoides pubescens also thought it was spring-time. She kept looking up at the sky in utter confusion. After all, it was close to FIFTEEN degrees (celcius, my friends) yesterday, which is virtually unheard of in November. Other sightings on my walk included sparrows of all stripes and colors and a murmuration of Starlings.

In other bird news, Rick Wright linked to a fabulous book on his blog (which, if you’re a birder, I’m sure you already know, read and memorize) : Ms. Adelia Belle Beard wrote a tremendous book in 1912 with instructions about how to make life-size, standing birds out of paper with adjustable wings! Just think — you could make your very own American Robin! She even instructs you on the correct coloration of the bird. In  her introduction, Beard emphasizes that the book can be used as a teaching (and mnemonic) tool, for adults and children alike! (No binoculars needed.) Included are endorsements from the Audubon Society and the New York Zoological Park. What would possess anybody to let such a gem go out of print?

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