Thursday, September 8, 2011

Grey Crowned Crane (Balearica regulorum): the International Crane Foundation

Grey Crowned Crane (Balearica regulorum): at the International Crane Foundation



Grey Crowned Crane (Balearica regulorum): at the International Crane Foundation. The crane is dancing.

Grey Crowned Crane (Balearica regulorum): at the International Crane Foundation

Grey Crowned Crane (Balearica regulorum): at the International Crane Foundation. The crane is dancing.

Grey Crowned Crane (Balearica regulorum): at the International Crane Foundation. Here the crane has its feathers puffed out, I think in an aggressive response to me approaching it. This could also be a part of the crane's dance.

Grey Crowned Crane (Balearica regulorum): at the International Crane Foundation. Here the crane is in the same positon, but with its feathers down.


Grey Crowned Crane (Balearica regulorum): at the International Crane Foundation
This crane was amusing to watch. Not shy, it liked to dance when humans approached, an aggressive behavior. Like the cormorant and the pelican, this crane has a gular sac that it inflates to make its call. This crane is very similar to the black-crowned crane, and has a really pretty combination of cream and brown feathers.

I was able to capture video of this bird dancing. Even though you might want to expand the video to make it larger, it is best viewed at the size that it is posted here.
video


You can read more about the grey-crowned crane here and here.

Blue Crane (Anthropoides paradiseus): the International Crane Foundation

 Blue Crane (Anthropoides paradiseus): at the International Crane Foundation

 Blue Crane (Anthropoides paradiseus): at the International Crane Foundation

 Blue Crane (Anthropoides paradiseus): at the International Crane Foundation

 Blue Crane (Anthropoides paradiseus): at the International Crane Foundation
The blue crane looks pretty cute because it has a thin neck, as compared to the width of its head. There was a lady standing next to me when I was observing this crane, and she mentioned something about it being cute because it was fish-like. I'm not sure what she was getting at with that comment, but I agree that it is cute. The blue crane can be found in southern Africa. Sadly, there were many other cranes with more conspicuous behavior so I don't really have much more to add about the experience of seeing this crane. Given that, you can read more about this crane here and here.

Black-Crowned Crane (Balearica pavonina): International Crane Foundation

I recently had the opportunity to visit the International Crane Foundation in Baraboo, WI, and this is the first of a series of posts featuring cranes. The ICF has all of the species of cranes from around the world, so the black-crowned cranes were in good company.

The black crowned crane is found on the continent of Africa, and this is one of two species of crane that can perch in trees (the other one being the similar grey-crowned crane). Apparently it is also popular to keep these cranes domesticated at houses in Africa. This could explain why I saw this crane (I think it was this species and not the grey-crowned crane...think) respond to a man that walked up to where the bird was being kept. He called it by name and it came running out of a shelter towards him and was very responsive to the presence of this man. The best I could figure is that the man was local and had been coming to the bird's cage interacting with it for quite some time.

Unfortunately, most of my pictures of the cranes at the ICF were taken from behind a chain-linked fence with my iPhone, so the pictures aren't the greatest. You can read more about this crane here and here, and more about the International Crane Foundation here.

Black-Crowned Crane (Balearica pavonina): at the International Crane Foundation

Black-Crowned Crane (Balearica pavonina): at the International Crane Foundation.
The picture has a filter on it from Instagram.

Black-Crowned Crane (Balearica pavonina): at the International Crane Foundation

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Burbot (Lota lota)

Burbot face.

Burbot (Lota lota)

Burbot (Lota lota)


This burbot was seen the week of July 5th, 2011 sometime in the afternoon. This fish, and others, is part of a study being conducted by a fisheries grad student at Colorado State University. I am not sure what the point of the study is, other than it has something to do with monitoring the jumping behavior of the fish. I went to the Foothills Campus with my friend Lauren (yes, I know she has the same name as me, and no I don't just mean myself) so she could do some transfers of the fish from one tank to another. She identified tags on the fish, and then I measured it before transferring it to a tank.



Looking for tags on the underside of the burbot's head.

Me holding a burbot before adding it back into the tank.



Me measuring the length of a burbot.

These fish are common in streams and lakes in North America above 40ÂșN. This was my first time holding any fish, so it was  a learning experience for me.  They are really slippery and hard to hold, more so than other fish. You can read more about them here.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Shirasi Moose (Alces alces shirasi)

Shirasi Moose (Alces alces shirasi) - female
This moose was seen near the Rawah Wilderness in Colorado on the afternoon of July 3rd, 2011. There was a calf present with this cow, but it is not in the picture. Hopefully I can get more of the pictures that were taken and add them here, but for now this is what there is. We were backpacking in the Rawah Wilderness for the holiday weekend when we were met with minimal success- we encountered snow drifts that were impassable even in July. We decided to relocate to another area, and on the way out of the wilderness I saw these moose as we were driving by so of course we stopped to take pictures. This area is where the moose were reintroduced to Colorado in the 1970's, and as such contains the largest population of moose in the state. It is a shame that a male wasn't seen, because their antlers are pretty cool. Apparently the male will drop his antlers after mating season to conserve energy. You can read more about the moose here, more about their reintroduction to Colorado here, and more about the Rawah Wilderness here.

California Purple Sea Urchin (Strongylocentrotus purpuratus)

California Purple Sea Urchin (Strongylocentrotus purpuratus)


Me + California Purple Sea Urchin (Strongylocentrotus purpuratus)
These California purple sea urchins were seen in a tidal pool on Laguna Beach on the afternoon of January 29th around 3:30PM. I had to walk across craggy rocks barefoot in order to get a look at these guys, but it was worth it. Chris Bremer, who took the pictures, was lucky enough to have shoes on.

Here I am shortly after finishing observing the sea urchins, giving my feet a rest before walking back across the craggy rocks. The best I can tell, the surface of the rock was sharp and porous, with a lot of broken shells everywhere.

Sea urchins are really cool, especially when you don't expect to come across them. I'm not sure about the conservation status of these particular sea urchins on Laguna Beach, but there was a guy with a clipboard nearby that was paid by the city to make sure people didn't like pick them up or pee in the tidal pool. He wasn't obvious- he was sitting off to the side on the sand waiting for people to brave the rocks before he approached. In fact, I'm not sure he wasn't a rocky intertidal zone hippie activist.

Anyway, these urchins are only found in the Pacific, and you can read more about them here.

House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)

House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) - male
This house sparrow was seen on the beach at Lincoln Park on the afternoon of June 5th, 2011, near where the snow geese were seen. Collin Moore took this awesome picture without even realizing it. House sparrows aren't related to any of the other sparrows in North America, and they were only introduced to North America in the late 1800's. These sparrows partake in dust bathing to help with grooming. You can read more about dust baths and watch a video of a house sparrow taking dust bath here, and learn more about house sparrows here.

U P D A T E
These female house sparrows were seen in Bothell, Washington on the afternoon of June 5th, 2011. They were involved in an altercation with other birds outside the window.
AHouse Sparrow (Passer domesticus) - female

House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) - female

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Uinta Ground Squirrel (Urocitellus armatus)

Uinta ground squirrel (Urocitellus armatus)
This ground squirrel was seen hanging out on a boulder with some lichens on the Cub Lake Trail in the Rocky Mountain National Park on the afternoon of June 11th. This squirrel was crawling around where the yellow-bellied marmot and the Cassin's finch were located. You can read more about these ground squirrels here.

Least Chipmunk (Neotamias minimus)

Least Chipmunk (Neotamias minimus) 

Least Chipmunk (Neotamias minimus) 
This chipmunk was seen at Cub Lake in the Rocky Mountain National Park, on the afternoon of June 11th. While I was enjoying a lunch of homemade sunflower nut butter and some bread, this chipmunk came right up to me. I didn't notice it until it crawled under my legs and touched my ankle before it proceeded to eat some of my sunflower nut butter off the lid of the container. You can read more about these chipmunks here.

Yellow-bellied Marmot (Marmota flaviventris)

Yellow-bellied Marmot (Marmota flaviventris)

Yellow-bellied Marmot (Marmota flaviventris)

Yellow-bellied Marmot (Marmota flaviventris)
This marmot was seen on the Cub Lake Trail in the Rocky Mountain National Park on the afternoon of June 11th. I was really excited to see this ground squirrel because I have been trying to see once since I moved to Colorado. Even though they are considered a ground squirrel, don't let it fool you- they can get up to 11 pounds. This one was seen engaging in conspicuous behavior, staring me down as seen in the pictures. This is because there were babies also under the boulder. I didn't see them, but my hiking buddy Randi did. She is lucky, I would have loved to have seen them. These marmots are usually only found over 6500 feet, and they also hibernate over the winter. You can read more about them here, and more about hibernation here.

Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep (Ovis canadensis canadensis)

Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep (Ovis canadensis canadensis)

Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep (Ovis canadensis canadensis)

Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep (Ovis canadensis canadensis)
These sheep were seen in the Rocky Mountain National Park in the afternoon of June 11th. There was a herd of these sheep near a lake somewhere in the park. The pictures aren't that great, but neither is the zoom on an iPhone. I've never seen bighorn sheep in the wild- check another one off the list of ungulates only found in the Rocky Mountains (this subspecies anyway). This sheep is the state animal of Colorado, and you can read more about them here.

Rocky Mountain Elk (Cervus canadensis nelsoni)

Rocky Mountain Elk (Cervus canadensis nelsoni)
A herd of elk was spotted in the Rocky Mountain National Park on the afternoon of June 11th. There were several elk in the area, but this is the only picture that turned out decent enough to put on here. Elk in the rocky mountains are interesting because of their issues with chronic wasting disease- a transmissible prion disease. You can read more about elk here, and more about prion diseases here, and more about chronic wasting disease here.

Black-billed Magpie (Pica hudsonia)

Black-billed Magpie (Pica hudsonia) 
This magpie was seen crossing the road in the Rocky Mountain National Park. I love these birds because they are blueish and have really long tails, so they are fun to look at. These birds are only found it the west, and according to wiki, they are only one of four songbirds in North America who's tail makes up half or more of its body length. They construct really large nests, which you can see here. You can also read more about this bird here.

Cassin's Finch (Carpodacus cassinii)

Cassin's Finch (Carpodacus cassinii)

I saw this Cassin's finch in the Rocky Mountain National Park on the weekend of June 11th, sometime in the afternoon. We were hiking the Cub Lake Trail when I heard this bird before it was seen. We had to narrow down where exactly the bird was based off of sound, and that was pretty cool to do. The bird's song was like a house finch's, but modded, and this was what tipped me off to the fact that it was a finch of some sort, I just wasn't sure which one until I found the bird. Even then, I had to whip out the trusty Sibley's Guide to ID this bird because I have never seen a Cassin's finch before. There were several other birds and creatures seen on this hike, so look for more posts. For now, you can listen to the Cassin's finch here, see a short video of Cub lake here, and read more about the near threatened conservation status of this bird here.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Snow Goose (Chen caerulescens)

Snow Goose (Chen caerulescens)

Snow Goose (Chen caerulescens)

Snow Goose (Chen caerulescens)

Snow Goose (Chen caerulescens)
These 2 snow geese were spotted on a beach at Lincoln Park in Seattle, Washington on the afternoon of June 5th, 2011. Snow geese mate for life, and usually they migrate in really large numbers. The snow goose typically breeds from May-August in the extreme north parts of North America. Seattle is on one of the snow goose's migratory paths, so it was not unusual to see these birds there, it was just unusual to see them there at this time of year. Perhaps they are stragglers from last winter's migration. Since there was no other geese in sight, I am assuming that this pair was not where they were supposed to be. There is another explanation that is possible. The female snow goose returns to where they were hatched to breed and nest. Maybe one of these geese is a female, and it is possible she was hatched in the Seattle area. This is more likely given that both of these birds are missing feathers on their wings, and migration is not conducive to this. Also, the female lines her nest with down, so perhaps she took these feathers for the nesting area (even though they aren't down feathers). Either way, it was a nice surprise to see these geese on the beach. You can read more about philopatry, the returning to the hatching area to nest, here, and more learn more about the snow goose here. You can also read more about feathers here. Thanks to Collin Moore for taking awesome pictures.

Pictures with Birds: Me + Snow Goose (Chen caerulescens)

Seattle, Washington, June 5th, 2011.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Bushtit (Psaltriparus minimus)

Bushtit (Psaltriparus minimus)

Bushtit (Psaltriparus minimus)

Bushtit (Psaltriparus minimus)

Bushtit (Psaltriparus minimus)
This bird was seen at Green Lake in Seattle, Washington on the afternoon of May 31st, 2011. These birds are not found in the eastern part of the United States. You can read more about them here.

Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor)

Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor)

Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor)

Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor)

Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor)

Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor)

Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor) and Western Gull (Larus occidentalis)
These swallows were seen at Green Lake in Seattle, Washington on May 31st, 2011. I think that Washington is the land of the swallow- they are seemingly everywhere (like the bald eagle). It is hard to get a picture of these birds since they fly around so quickly. You can read more about these birds and see their brilliant coloring here. Tree swallows exhibit counter shading, which you can read more about here.