Rain, rain....rain....and more rain. That is what haunted me all day, the following day. I felt like I was in Guango Lodge or Mindo in Ecuador as the rain just battered down and never let up. The wipers on the car were on 'high'....
I fought traffic this fine day, and my intent was to follow the advice of the weather man who stated that no rain was coming today. So I did...and the morning traffic was terrible as I retraced my drive back to Matheson Hammock Park. I wanted to see my target birds of a few more warblers and four parakeets. Now, from what I understand, there are no parakeet species endemic to the US and that includes Florida. So given that, why does the ABA recognize 4 of the 75 species of parrots and parakeets in Florida as official birds to 'count' within a big year" ...why?
To place that in perspective....California Condors were killed by the thousands due to the use of DDT in the 60's and really even now, since DDT is still present as areas in the world still use it, or...lead is used in ammunition etc... All harmful to condor eggs. The California Condor was down to 27 birds in 1987...27 birds! Those were carefully taken care of and bred in the San Diego Zoo and I believe the LA Zoo too if I recall. Today the numbers have grown to the mid 400's... (in captivity and in the wild). But not until 2014, did the ABA allow this bird to be countable since it was a recovery bird. Such tight standards and yet, why so 'untight' on parrots and parakeets? I have no idea.....
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, due to the rain, it made my birding day a bust.... Even when I went to the weather forecast on my phone, it would say, 'no rain'....but what the heck batman....what is this stuff that has been falling for hours and has soaked me? No rain???? So nice it must be to be a weatherman or woman and not be accountable for what the weather is like either this 'very minute' let a lone a few hours from now. Is that a real job? Really?
I made a command decision and headed to the Keys..... My intent was to find two birds that were lifers to me. One is the Florida White Heron, which is a 'white version' of the Blue Heron but considered a different species. This bird is endemic to only the Florida Keys and one must travel to Big Pine (about two hours of car travel and 80 miles of 'bird travel') into the Keys. There you will find the Great White Heron National Refuge which is almost entirely located in sea water as the Keys themselves, have little land to share. The second bird I wanted to see was the Magnificent Frigatebird'...one I have never seen here in the states and since I have never as of yet been on a 'vomit boat' or...a Pelagic Tour in the states, I haven't seen this sea bird. And Florida Keys is an excellent locale to spot them over land. Or, count them by the dozens in South America coast etc...
Now....in both cases I was successful....I saw a few Florida White Herons and must have seen a dozen+ Frigates. But in order to do so, I needed to travel 80 miles / two hours on a two lane road going 40 mph at most.... or so. I officially found myself in good company, those of 'insane birders' who go long distances and spend great time and money to find one bird, or in this case two. A non-birder would say....you did what? I on the other hand, can proudly say I traveled a few hours and miles in hopes of finding a bird. Success.... I found success.... and I even had a few more Largo Ales in that beach bar on the stop home. Of course, being a rough and tumble beach bar, I couldn't exactly talk about my exalted conquests in front of this biker bar bunch of guys....so I pretended I rode my Harley down the keys.... fighting off women who were only after guys in leather. The beer flowed, times were good....motorcycle talk, women talk...you know, tough guy I am.
The issue is insanity by birding so...I decided to make it rub off on you....so twist your head and watch the video.... No birds but really, just as good. In fact, couldn't get any better. The insanity is slowly drawn out.
So...a few more days of the Everglades. My first full day in the Everglades had me push deep in, all the way to Flamingo Visitor Center. This is 38 miles inland from the Royal Palm Visitor Center as you enter the park on the east side. The Visitor Center is all pink and light green. Go figure...must have been a 60's child. As I wandered the place around the center and around Eco-pond, I found some wood storks, lots of osprey, all types of herons again and they gather in flocks which reside in the marsh/woods. Stay in the car and they shall stay young man; leave the car and they spook.
But what was missing were Flamingos and Roseate Spoonbils. So I asked the ranger and she told me that Flamingos have essentially been missing from the park for 100 years. So...if I see one, and one was sighted this week someplace, I have to feel lucky. It isn't that they are not around, just not in great numbers and due to the record rains the Everglades have been having, all of the larger waterfowl are scattered, far far away from humans. They know better.
She suggested I backtrack a bit and hike Snake Bight Trail. The name sounds bad, but really isn't... A 'bight' is technically a 'bay within a bay'.... So my hopes were high that the bay within a bay and far from humans might be a place for Flamingos. A warning she gave me....Mosquitoes....be prepared.
Off I went and at the trail head of this 1.8 mile trail, I met up with Ernie. Now Ernie is an 60'ish jeweler who has a shop on Seattle's Pike's Market and leaves the winter dulls of Seattle and camps out in the Everglades for two months. We walked the trail.... not a bad walk, again, with lots of herons on either side. The mosquitos were bad and "I"....well "I" was smart and purchased a mosquito netting ($15) that covered my hands, arms, torso, neck and I had a hat on, so it just lapped over me. I looked strange but no mosquitos. Well, no...there were as Ernie lathered up on Deet the entire trip and others came down the trail with nothing. I saw perhaps 6 people both young and old, in shorts and short sleeves daring the trail...Are you stupid ...really? Are you stupid.... YES....
So Ernie and I walked to the end of the trail and found ourselves the only humans there. We chatted for 30 minutes, drank water....ate peanuts and saw the birds come out once they grew accustomed to us. Lots of Roseate Spoonbills came out from within trees. How does that bright of a bird get lost in green trees? I have no idea but other than them squawking out now and then, one wouldn't visually see them. Lots of white Ibis of all plumages depending on their age.... kingbirds, herons and more herons including a Tri-colored heron but no...no Least Bittern, which I was hoping to see, No limpkin either although I eventually saw one on the north end of the park. And no Flamingos but luckily I have seen them in a prior visit to Florida near Merritt Island and Cape Canaveral.
We hiked back..... Ernie was telling me all along that he needed a mosquito net like I have but he was also telling me that my netting was covered with mosquitos and to shake up and down and jib and jag to get them off of me prior to when I take off my netting. So I did, once we were back at the car. And wow, did I find myself bitten in some areas. Where I had my water bottle draped over my shoulder, the strap held the netting close to my left shoulder, elbow area was tight and upper left neck. I was bit....in fact, have you ever watched that show Naked and Afraid and the bites they receive? Well, I had em... But Ernie had bites all over and was in bad shape. Anyone going in, including all of those folks with no spray or netting, wow....I pity them. We would see them running down the trail to get back as we hiked up. They ran to be a jump ahead of the bugs!....
So....hike done...put in my 4 miles or so and now what? ..... I had a few hours and have seen this part of the park so decided to make my way down to the Florida Keys. Hence, the video....
This was a good part of the journey for in Key Largo I found this nice little beach bar that served Largo Ale. I had a few of them and talked to the natives like I was a native. We chatted about motorcycles, living in shacks, motor home establishments, etc etc... Pure guy talk but a nice way to end my day. A beer on the beach. As I stated earlier to my family, life doesn't get any better than this but I could have done away with that persistent 'itch' I had on my left side. I failed to see remnants of Ernest Hemingway but I did hear some 'bell toll' out in the distance.
I was to return to the Keys later on in my Florida adventure! .....
All right, I admit...I played Hooky from our Audubon meeting last Wednesday the 27th. Was 'I was not sick', rather, I was in Florida birding the Everglades. I just had to do it...the snow was shoveled, the cold was still around, but I filled up the feeders and left via AC and Spirit Airlines down to Fort Lauderdale.
After landing and renting my car, I spent the early afternoon that first day birding south Miami area, ....where all the mansions are. "I can afford that one over" there I can remember myself saying....the unfinished one, the one still showing cinderblocks only, no plumbing, no rooms etc. Just the land and blocks.... Oh well, no one said birding makes you rich. So in South Miami I spent time in Matheson Hammock Park on the south east side of Miami, down...down from the city.
Upon arrival I was greeted by a few warblers, who most likely spend some of their time in our state during warmer hours. Yellow-rumped (of course), prairie, black and white, yellow throated and palms were abundant but so were a flock of American Pipits, grackles, broad-winged hawks, eastern Phoebes, ....so not bad for getting fresh off the boat.
Onto the Everglades as I wanted to bird a bit before sunset. Arriving on the east end my thinking was to bird from 'out to in' , considered I wanted to do birding first and driving second. The heart of the Everglades would be for tomorrow. So at Anahinga trail, I found,....Anahingas. I also picked up a few Purple Gallinules. Such graceful little birds that must not weigh anything, as they they tiptoe from lily to lily. Gorgeous birds dressed in deep dark purple, with a greenish tint to the upper parts, bright yellow legs and a reddish beak with yellow on the tip. It is just yelling out to everyone out there...look at me, look at me, I am sooooo beautiful. I do little if nothing other than to be beautiful. the Kardashians of the bird world. The Gallinule was a 'lifer' for me....kerrrching!
But there were other cool birds that first day including Green Herons, Blue Herons, egrets (any and all types)...... and of course some alligators. I managed to not get my leg bit. I can remember a friend of mine who was a park ranger when I was one years and years ago. He was stationed in the Everglades and had this nasty old lady scold him out for him telling her to keep the dog in the car. Well, she didn't..... and a gator had a nice little hamburger wrapped up for him in poodle like fashion. ...ha!...well....keep the dogs inside folks.
Now....along the side of the road leading in were loggerhead shrikes, tons of them, as well as Kestrals, Red-shouldered Hawks, Harriers, Short-tailed Hawks, Bald Eagles and two of my favorite views I had----a pair of Swainsons'. I looked 'up' frequently for Kites (swallow-tailed and snail) but not in my time did I distinguish one from the massive amounts of Black Vultures. Shucks....one of my target birds. So, that means I have to play hooky again one day....hmmmm.
So day one.....was: a successful landing by Spirit Airlines and, 'on-time'. That alone should have made my birding day, but....the highlight was the Purple Gallinule and of course those Swainsons. .... It was cloudy all day, but who cares?....it was 80 degrees. More to come....
I wondered why my bird feeders were all of a sudden real quiet..... see below as my 'old friend' is back. If you are squirmish, you might not watch... This was shot in my back yard near my feeders. No matter how hard one tries to put them in sheltered areas, predators will find. Besides, larger birds have to eat too and this is just 'the law of nature'....I believe the 'kill' was a junco. Now, the 'video quality' is out of focus but I just grabbed my digiscoping equipment and didn't have time to really set up correctly. But then again, at least my video is better than any 'Bigfoot' video.
Today is the day 'after' my Motts Landing adventure.....but no Yards on the table for me today, only some rather interesting outside weather.
The weather was simply frigid, do I need to say anything more? Crisp clear skies, with snow on the sidelines and the wind , oh the wind.... . Did I really want to go to Barnegat Beach and seek out Snow Buntings? Nah, I will save that for a less frozen time, or perhaps still frozen but not with the wind. Not sure that might happen at Barnegat though. None the less, I changed my plans at the last minute and forestalled my adventure on the dunes for a lazy day of car birding.
I checked out 'ebird' (http://ebird.org/content/ebird/) and there have been prior Snow Bunting sightings at Forsythe, but I am not too sure exactly where those might occur. You see, I envisioned 'dunes' and flocks of buntings or larks frolicking around at Barnegat but at Forsythe I can't recall mountains of dunes.
So, I did like I do and just shove off. At the refuge I promptly clicked my seatbelt 'out' and then pulled it behind me and clicked it 'in'. This prevents that constant 'binging' from occurring while 'in and out of the car' and traveling at low speeds.
Down Gull drive.... I encountered two frozen individuals taking pictures of something on the left hand fir trees. I stopped, not wanting to scare any critter they were taking images of and walked up to them. There appeared to be a boatload of very nice specimens of Audubon or Yellow-rumped Warblers. The males were particularity distinctive in color with their fashionable yellow dress, simply striking. Maybe yellow is the new black for 2016... And above them, was a small flock of Bluebirds and yes, they were frolicking, from what I could tell, so I can at least say I saw some 'frolicking birds' today although not Snow Buntings. But like the Yellow-rumped Warblers, these Bluebirds were equally striking against the snow sprinkled among the green fir trees. An awesome site as they sat upon the top of the trees and were totally mindless to the frigid nature of the weather. The gentleman taking shots told me there was a nice catbird down Gull drive just a bit so I thought, why not? I was freezing in the wind at this point and an opportunity to re-enter my car and drive down 100 yards sounded enticing to me. This gentleman was a new birder but he was pretty sure it was a catbird down the way.
Now, cat birds are interesting birds. For some reason they are taken for granted or perhaps they are just always considered one of those nuisance birds, those Mimid's (Thrashers, Mockingbirds etc). So sad for they are really pretty birds. Take a look at them the next time you find them and you see a bird unlike some others we seem to hold in higher esteem. They are usually low to the ground in the scrub and always picking around for berries and arthropods, much like the one in front of me here. Their long legs give them the ability to 'jump' ...like a frog it seems but within the scrub and twigs. Their grayish feathers are highlighted by a brown cap although the cap itself seems reddish. In fact when I view a catbird, my impression is that I just saw something rusty. Their long beak is curved downward like many thrashers and they usually are holding their tail upwards like a wren.
A truly unique bird and to top it off, they are usually very people friendly. They simply do not spook too easy so if you want to practice photography, this is a great bird to begin with as they will often just sit and pose for you.
So ...down gull drive and I have found three great specimens in 'NBC" Living Color. Nothing out of the ordinary but unique and a pleasure to see, in or out of the car. The remaining portion of the drive was likewise frozen and little to see but gulls of various ages and plumage. But luckily on the far side, I had the pleasure of seeing this white bird from below, and black wingtips, soaring above my car. A beautiful gray ghost...... a male Northern Harrier. It hovered in the wind just a second and then caught a thermal, for it just disappeared. In fact I had to wonder, was that a Peregrine Falcon? The speed of that thermal must have been immense and this gray ghost must have felt a thrill as we do on roller coaster rides. Here today.....way over there today too, but just a few seconds in terms of 'today'.
A nice day at Forsythe with the heat on in the car. In fact, I 'heated myself out' to the point where I had to open up the windows and let the heat out. I was hoping by doing so, I would attract birds to my moving warm car, much like Linus does in Charlie Brown with his blanket full of dust clouds, but to no avail in my case as I traveled down the drive in my bursting heat shield. Birds just ignored me. Yet a solid birding day, and another day of memories and sights. Birding isn't always about finding that 'one bird' but rather, building memories and stories. Yes, years from now, I will tell my grandkids of the day I clocked a Gray Ghost zooming past my car as I drove 75 miles per hour on Wildlife Drive as the Hurricane ripped thru the east coast and I saved the wildlife at the Refuge by spooking them to seek out ground cover. You see, no one says that 'birding stories' cannot be akin to 'fishing stories'.
'Well, a couple of snow days and I am thinking my 'target' birds are taking the day off or just have had 'birdy snow days'.....
Sunday evening Deb and I ventured to Motts Landing. Cold, snow...somewhat sleety and it was building up on the piers and docks. We huddled inside and I ordered a Yards Pale Ale and Deb ordered some Chardonnay which she wasn't too fond of. But my Yards was good.
We were on the far side of the bar but facing outward so we could scan the marshland looking for Short-eared owls. The funny thing about these owls are that they are easily taken for Northern Harriers as both hunt the marshlands low, hover.....and while the owl is a bit smaller, from a distance they are difficult to pick out. The owl essentially has no tail, while the Harrier does and the colorations are close.
Now, I left the bins in the car and so we were eye-balling it but other than a few gulls, there was little to eye-ball. While at the bar easing myself in the Yards, a man came on the outside deck with his scope and bins and starting scanning for owls as well. The snow was still blustery and I could tell he wasn't enjoying himself being outside-like.
A solid 10 minutes passed and the gentleman passed,...or I should say he left. No owls for him. It turned out that there were no owls for us either so in that regards, we were 'even'. But looking at it another way. He was outside in the snow and sleet coming up with no owls, and I was sitting down having a Yards. So while no 'target' bird in sight, I had a good time.....
So....a new place to "bird" as well as to be a "birdy"...and hopefully the two will go together. This new place is the Egg Harbor Township Reserve and is located on Zion Road with the cross street of Schoolhouse Avenue in Egg Harbor Township. I would say it is close to a 1 1/2 miles in terms of walking time around this man-made lake. From what I understand, this lake was created by some 'interesting' contractor as they wanted fill dirt for Egg Harbor High School. Before they found out about this contractor, this entire hole was already dug and emptied of dirt.
So...what to do, oh what to do? Well Egg Harbor Township had a great idea and that was to turn this 'hole' into a man made lake and refuge area where water foul could congregate and hold service, as well as migrating birds of all types could use the area around the lake. In addition, next door is an arboretum, which quite frankly is floundering but still, the guts of it are in place. Also, is a Monarch Butterfly nesting area, which will be something to take a look at as this coming year evolves into Monarch nesting territory. Lots to do here as a birder, so figure out a way to get here and see what is around.
It is 'new'.....there is a bike path around and about and walkers use the trail, but so do birders. Give it a try.
I was here just today....cold and blustery and with my gloves with only the tips showing, I managed to see a few wintery type birds we find here. This might be a good place to find crossbills due to the abundance of pine trees and of course the large lake. I will have to research this more though.
As I walked around this lake and froze....a thought occurred to me as my thoughts usually do, they just pop in my head. I have been birding for many years and my count here in the US is in the mid to upper 500's while my international 'tick' is much much larger. But, when I bird, I am not always the first birder to 'name that bird'. I know the bird and can name it, and many times can hear the sound and ID it but my 'processing' time is not as quick as others. Why is that? Being an educator all of my life, I am aware of processing time as many days I would see young kids who would 'have it up in the head' but not be able to have it 'flow out of their mouth' .That my dearies is simply due to processing time.
All of us process information and data differently, be they visuals or words or sounds or smells etc...data is data, right? And some data we process more quickly than others. All of us have our own unique blend of processing skills. As I bird, I process....but not maybe as fast as others who process the same view of a bird. We are looking at the same thing, right? A bird...up there in a tree. Some people will never be able to develop skills to process the bird via sound, silhouette, habitat, mannerisms etc...All of that 'data' goes into play when processing or ID'ing a bird. While some may never get it, others pick up on it real quickly and are usually the first to spurt it out. That is a Blue-barred wing pigeon, or well...whatever. So next time you are out birding, notice those who process quickly.
Then, notice those who process slowly. They take in the same data...hear the sound, know the habitat and mannerisms of birds but just don't blurt out the information in time to be the first one. But the knowledge is there, right? Additionally it might also depend on familiarity with the land. Those who have been birding the same relative patch for ions, will know what is out there in the first place so part of the processing has is already in place.
Others....well...others no matter how hard a person might try to tutor them are just not 'naturalistic' and will never be able to process all the data, it is simply too much. Akin to a musician, where many instruments might be playing at once and beats, a true musician can pick up on sounds that others can not. Or, like a culinary expert who can grab a taste of any dish and be able to tell you the ingredients. So you see, a naturalist is just the same. The ingredients or beats are the habitats, the mannerisms, the sounds, the silhouettes, the colors etc of that particular bird. If you are a birder, you have that ability to pick up on those ingredients but the processing time itself might be fast or slow. It makes no difference.
Just some thoughts......
First blog of 2016.....I spent the morning in Forsythe and the very first thing I did was to 're-up' my refuge park pass. It is well worth the $12 so 'do it' if you haven't already. And re-upping is totally different than re-upping in the army, so don't get the two confused as you don't need a weekend pass to visit Forsythe. Come anytime.....
Now, when I go on my little birding adventures, far or away....I usually have a plan of my target birds. Age and experience has taught me to do my homework. By knowing what I am looking for and the clues of distinguishment, I have a far far far better chance of finding my target bird. It is simply a matter of knowing what to look for. Even when I am in real busy areas with a multitude of new birds, the more I visually am aware of what to look for, the more I find. In some cases it is just a matter of perusing the field guide so you have some idea of what you will find. So in a few weeks when I visit the Everglades, I already have my target birds in mind, my homework.
So....the target bird for today was a Ross's Goose...and yes to steer away any anticipation you might have building up inside of you about whether I had success or not, yes, I ID'd one or two of them. Yet, no photos since they were fairly far away and I was 'scoping' it but I am putting it in the books as a Ross's or two. If I was doing a Big Year, in today's world, perhaps I would need an image to ID it, but you know what? I am not doing a Big Year so my 'guess' is good enough.
As I drove up Wildlife Drive I found humor in a small Canada Goose flock that first came to my attention. They were on ice, as the temperature was still hovering around 32. As one goose walked to the other, they slid on the ice. One step, a small slide....bring up the other web foot and take another step and slide an inch or two. Funny...almost cartoonish.
Just prior to the tower there were hundreds if not a thousand of Snow Goose near 150 yards or more away from my car. My challenge was set...as they were just out there, patiently awaiting my arrival as they managed to form a front-line of easily 100 yards, spread not too thinly. Since nature was being a bit on the freezing side, I swapped out of my fleece and into what I used to call my 'outside recess jacket' when I was still teaching grade school. I grabbed my scope and used my car as partial shelter although little wind was blowing today. Did I really say that? Really...no wind?
Slowly I worked my way thru the front row of geese as they lined up in army trench warfare fashion. As I observed I Ticked off each goose and placed them into these categories; (a) being an obvious Snow Goose, (b) many that were classified as I can't tell since they have their heads buried in their feathers to (c) probable, I slowly ID'd at least one if not two. That isn't bad since I was only looking at the outer edges.
My 'homework' told me a few things....first and according to the bible, (Sibley) stated the size of a Snow Goose is between 28-32 inches while the length of a Ross's is 22-24, so quite a difference. In addition, Ross's usually do not have a 'dark phase' and their plumage usually will not get rusty near the head/neck caused by water and algae. Usually, the juvenile Snow Goose will have dusky plumage around the head and on the back as well. It is highly important to note the word 'usually'....as I hear that often when looking at differences between the two species. Usually....usually, and usually.....and that is not to even mention the 'hybrid' brand out there. So generically speaking, or is that genetically speaking? ...regardless, I had a few things to go on.
Since I wasn't close enough even with my scope (not being a $8,000 Swaro), I couldn't pick up on whether the sleezy little grin that Snow Geese have was present, or I should say, the wide bevelled gap between mandibles was something I could not view well, nor was the fact that some juvenile Ross's have a black eyeliner in back of their eye. So that bit of homework, although essential, was not put into play on my little adventure today.
Okay, so given all of that...what did I find? I found smaller geese, and in fact much smaller geese, with no dark plumage on head or back.....and with what appeared to be smaller bills. But the important aspect was simply their size. Yes Batman, the size. Out at Forsythe today, there was this 'partial ice/water' thing going on so most of the geese were actually on top of the ice. Even at my distance I could easily distinguish out a few good geese that were measurable shorter, squatty almost...... as they moved about. One was really obvious as it wattled next to several other large-size geese and I tagged that one as my Ross's. Sometimes, you just make the call.
So with success, my idea was to drive on the flip-side of the drive where I could already tell was being invaded by a thousand or more Snow Goose and perhaps they might even be closer to my car. But, no such luck. Just as I was driving past the tower, the entire flocks of birds took off.
What a site and what a sound. I just stopped my car and observed them fly over me. It seemed that initially there was one leader, the king goose or perhaps the emperor's goose. Either way, the flock was led by that goose and they essentially ended up following the drive east in perfect direction. There were hundreds of smaller "v' formations forming. Some had as little as 5-6 geese while others had 20 or more. How does that happen? How do birds know to which 'v' they belong to and does it make a difference? Are they family orientated or friend orientated or gender, or age related or? I have no idea and I am thinking that no one else knows either. But those questions are pondered. In fact, we should all take the time to ponder those types of questions and push ourselves into becoming 'nature scholars.' You see, the minute you stop asking questions is the minute you stop learning, right? And a scholar will continuously ask questions, so think about it and practice that self-questioning art.
So I asked questions and just looked at this immense flock of geese stretching along the drive for a hundred yards min on each side of the road. Then, they split into two main segments with one heading for Atlantic City while the other veered off heading northeast. Hmmm...why? I thought initially that the ones heading north were migrating back to the 55+ community up near Little Egg Harbor Township and Tuckerton and thought that that flock must have been the 'older set'. But no, that can't be ....for the older set usually migrates to Atlantic City to gamble on the slots. So my idea of the flocks being split by 'age' wasn't a go.....
I had no idea if the two flocks were split by 'gender'....for even if I saw a goose upclose as in 'roadkill' could I ID gender. So I didn't give that a thought. Family orientation could be a possibility but then again, as the two flocks split, with each going there own way....there were quite a number of birds who changed sides, sort of speaking.....Changing sides, as in sexual orientation....no, that can't be either and besides, that is 'way too Seinfieldish in thought'. Hmmm....so essentially I stumped myself and had no answer as to why the birds split up into two separate flocks and why, or how birds meet up in flight to form their 'v' formations. My two main questions that I asked myself as they 'took off' are still left unanswered but I do regard myself as a nature scholar for the mere act of asking myself those questions. So good to know that I am a nature scholar. I ask questions.....I look up information.
Now, remember that next time you go birding...force yourself to be that nature scholar. Put yourself in their 'claws' and 'web feet' and think like a bird. What is going on in that bird-brain and what drives their behavior?