05 August 2010

I and the Bird: Back to School Edition

August signals the end of summer here in the Northern Hemisphere. For many students, teachers, and families this means the return of the school year. For this edition of I and the Bird please join me for what I imagine a typical first day of school must be like in South Florida where I live but with the help from some very talented bird bloggers along the way.

I wake up in my patch, I mean house and get ready for an early morning. If only I was waking up to a flock of Redshanks like the fellow at Counting Coots. Instead I wake up to the cooing of Eurasian-collared Doves outside my window.

As I walk through my urban landscape to the bus stop I dream of native birds like Duncan describes at his blog Ben Cruachan - Natural History. The idea of Magpie-larks and Pied Currawings sounds fabulous but mostly I see Rock Pigeons and Monk Parakeets here in South Florida on my walk down the street.

Once on the school bus I try some out some window birding. I spot a Limpkin on the canal and a Northern Mockingbird on the wire but I long to see things like Hoffmann's Woodpecker and Clay-colored Robins or even a Blue-crowned Motmot. I guess I would need to be riding the bus with Pat at Costa Rica Living and Birding in order for this dream to come true. Pat calls it poor background birding with these birds from the bus window but I would call it a very exciting commute.

Some would probably say a Limpkin on the commute is exciting too.

Finally at school I pick up my schedule and head to my first class. The teacher asks us to do a presentation on our summer vacation. I mostly worked this summer at the Green Cay Nature Center but at least I saw some cool birds. Dawn shared some stories from Green Cay as well over at Dawn's Bloggy Blog. Of course Mike gave us a great overview of his recent family trip to Sandbridge, VA over at 10,000 Birds. You must read about his great bird finds at the Great Dismal Swamp. I would trade a few heron sightings in for a Prothonotary Warbler or Ovenbird any day!

At my next class we talk about statistics and math. I start thinking about statisical outliers such as vagrant birds and it reminds me of Nate's post at The Drinking Bird. He gives an interesting bullet point outline on his thoughts about vagrant tropical Turdids.

After a full morning of classes I shuffle down to the cafeteria to see what's in the old lunchbox. It seems my packed lunch is very similiar to that of a Mousebird. If you're not familiar with the species then go check out Lynda's post at Mainly Mongoose. I never knew this bird existed but now I know we both eat foilage tthanks to Lynda.

I settle down to eat my packed salad when I observe a few students flirting. It reminds me of a recent blog post by YC over at the Bird Ecology Study Group. YC gives a great description of Spotted Doves sharing in some mating rituals. Courtship feeding happens with all types of animals, including humans.

In my next class I don't remember much because I'm end up staring out the window at a Red-bellied Woodpecker that has taken residence on the school grounds but my ears perk up at the mention of possible field trips this semester. I hope we have a chance to go somewhere cool like O.W.L. where Wanderin' Weeta recently visited. The idea of seeing rehabbed birds like Rough-legged Hawks and Short-eared Owls beats sitting in a classroom any day! Another great rehab facility I would like to visit would be the Shasta Wildlife Center. Larry has a great write up about the work there at The Birder's Report. I must suggest this to my teacher.

One of the neighborhood Red-bellied Woodpeckers on a Cabbage Palm.

In Journalism class my teacher gives us a few cameras and sends us outside to practice for the upcoming year. Most of the students start taking candid photos but I head out the back door and start taking photos of wildlife. Some of my classmates eye me warily, I guess taking photos of birds and flowers can be odd. Stephanie had a similiar experience over at Information Central Photographs.

For the last class of the day our teacher assigns us books to read over the course of the semester. I'm really excited about checking out Molt in North America Birds by Steve N.G. Howell. John has a great review of this book at his A DC Birding Blog.

On the way home from school I take a stop at the beach and check out the local shorebirds. Lake Worth, Florida has a nice beachfront and I'm lucky to spot a Magnificent Frigatebird and some Ruddy Turnstones. Of course my mind strays to other coastal destinations like Iceland. Matthew has a great post on Fulmars at Backyard and Beyond. I don't think any Fulmars are going to show up so I head home.

Finally I'm back from a busy first day of school. At least I don't have to worry about my nest, I mean home, being flooded like the nests of the Great-crested Grebes in Lucerne, Switzerland. dream falcon has all the details of the poor nest site chosen by a pair of grebes on an old steamboat. My home is much more stable unless of course a hurricane blows through. I can't wait until hurricane season is over!

Speaking of a stable home life, I'm also lucky that my parents don't have the soap opera lifestyle of an Eastern Phoebe. Learn all about that at Anybody seen my focus?

For homework tonight my only assignment is to think up a new blog entry for the next I and the Bird on August 19th. It will be hosted at Great Auk - or Greatest Auk. I hope you've enjoyed the Back to School Edition. With such great bird blog entries the day passed by quickly. Now I'm off to dream of birds like the Brown Booby that Andy and I recently found at the Fort Pierce Jetty.

My lifer Brown Booby pictured above, found at the St. Augustine Pier, is a juvenile just like the one at the Fort Pierce Jetty. More details of this bird coming up this week at The Flying Mullet.


Larry said...

Great edition for all of us bird students Eva! Learning of bird behavior and new birds we have yet to encounter is always exciting.

I'm looking forward to my back to school homework... reading all of these blog posts.

Pat O'Donnell said...

Nice edition of I and the Bird. Reading these always makes me feel somehow connected to other birders around the globe- I like that. I would also love to see a Limpkin from the bus- I would trade you a motmot and three Hoffmann's Woodpeckers for one of those!

Duncan said...

Well done Eva!

Matthew said...

O, jeez, is summer over already? 97 something here in the Stewing Apple, not counting the heavy wool blanket of humidity. Better start my school shopping. And reading. This looks like an awesome line-up. Sure beats having to hand in that paper on To The Lighthouse.

Eva Matthews said...

Glad everyone enjoyed this IATB edition. It was fun reading all these great blog entries!

Stephanie Suesan Smith, Ph.D. said...

Nicely put together. Thank you for including me.

Susannah Anderson said...

Good post! Although I didn't need a reminder that summer's almost over; it's barely started here.

Oh, well; our fall birding is spectacular. And meantime, I've got a lot of posts to read!