You'd know that since I had to spend most of the weekend inside, the weather would be gorgeous. However, the Home and Garden Show was a treat. I very much enjoyed attending the program, "Uncommon Facts About Common Backyard Birds," by John Schaust, Chief Naturalist for Wild Birds Unlimited. What a job!
Anyway, John took the top 20 feeder birds from this region as reported in Project Feederwatch and gave some interesting information about each. Here are a couple of things I learned I didn't know:
- The change in the starling's plumage from winter spots to summer brown is not due to a molt, but rather is a result of breaking off the white tips of small protrusions on the feathers. He said this is also a reason for male cardinals becoming brighter red in the spring.
- Blue jays (as well as blue birds and indigo buntings) are not blue. They are gray. It is the refraction of the light in the feathers that make them appear blue.
- Flocks of juncos are highly segregated by sex in the winter, with the predominantly female flocks migrating further south than the predominantly male flocks.
- The longest lived wild bird in the US (other than pelagic birds) is the mourning dove at 31 years.
I always enjoy listening to others; it is always a joy to learn new things about these fascinating creatures. I did not have a chance to attend John's other presentation on hummingbirds--I am sure it was just as interesting.