An Appreciation of Killdeer


Because they are so common, WC thinks that Killdeer are under-appreciated. A handsome member of the plover genus Charadius, the Latin root that gives us “charade,” they are an adaptable, ubiquitous, noisy and even entertaining bird species. The species name is vociferus, another Latin root meaning “clamorous or noisy.” Sometimes around the clock. The “charade”…

Public Roads and Private Land


Birders prize backroads, the little-used dirt tracks that wind through environmentally healthy habitat. There are birds close to the road, the absence of traffic makes it easy to stop and glass any birds, and the birds are less likely to be spooked by other cars. But in Idaho, too many of those back roads aren’t…

Field Notes: Thai Raptors


“Raptors” is the imprecise word that WC uses for falcons, hawks, eagles and buzzards. East Asia – or at least Thailand – seems to have a much greater variety of raptors than the New World. Here’s a selection of seven or so that WC photographed in Thailand this year and some brief notes on each.…

Field Notes: Great Egret


The Great Egret lives and breeds on all of the continents save Antarctica. It’s by no means the largest heron, but it’s arguably the most widely distributed. And its recovery from near-extirpation in North America is an example of how bird populations can be saved from human folly. WC has been lucky enough to see…

Field Notes: Hornbills


There are some 59 species of Hornbills, spread across 14 genera, all found exclusively in the Old World, from the East Indies to West Africa. What the family Bucerotidae have in common is an extravagant bill, often capped with a horn structure called a casque. Mind you, not as extravagant as the New World’s Toucans,…

Field Notes: Texas Flycatchers


This post is for WC’s friend, Nils Warnock, a consummate birder. He has forgotten more about birds and birding than WC will ever learn. He has carte blanc to correct all of WC’s errors. To misquote Calvin and Hobbs, there are about a bazillion flycatchers. Among the Tyrannidae, the New World’s Tyrant Flycatchers alone, there…

Return of Bird of the Week: Black-headed Nightingale-Thrush


The Black-headed Nightingale-Thrush is a fairly common, American Robin-sized thrush found in Central America. Birds of the World says that it is found in “Dense dark undergrowth of primary humid evergreen forest (cloudforest).” That’s completely consistent with WC’s experience with the species. When you combine that behavior with the low light performance of Olympus cameras…

Geology and Birds


Anyone who has followed Wickersham’s Conscience for more than a few weeks knows that two of WC’s interests are geology and birds. Those two areas aren’t as unrelated as they might seem; often, geology and geomorphology dictate what birds are where. WC has already written about High Island, where the geologic accident of a salt…