In the past week, we have taken every opportunity to decompress following the mad rushes and surging ulcers. Jen needed help and we all needed mindless activities, so the Swallow Tailed Kite monitoring project mailers got labeled, stamped, folded, stuffed, mis-labeled, sealed, alphabetized to locate the mis-labeled (all 500 of them) and finally dropped in the mail. Thats what we get for trying to help.
|photo from wikipedia of Sturnella magna|
|Audubon's Take on the Ruddy Duck|
While we can't count on being surrounded by thousands of snow geese in Awendaw any time soon, we have observed five or six duck or duck like species in the ponds around the Center over the last week. The most prevalent are the ruddy ducks (Oxyura = sharp or pointed tail jamaicensis). Others viewing them this week referred to them as "so cute." Those words didn't come out of my mouth. They are cool little birds with tails pointing up at a 45 degree angle and we have tons despite all the shooting. The male's beak changes color to a sky blue in the breeding season. Like coots (Fulicka = Latin for coot! americana), the ruddy ducks are not strong in the "take off department" and therefore dive to avoid predatory attacks. Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus = salt eagle leucocephalus = white headed) love to eat them and we have had several great opportunities to watch the game unfold as it does on hundreds of ponds in South Carolina all winter. Of course I didn't get any photos or video of the events.
I will leave you this time with some video (really poor video taken with my smart phone) of one of our newer demonstration birds. This is a hybrid of two species of falcon found in the US. Gyrfalcons (Falco rusticolus = Latin for a "rustic countryman") are a holarctic species (which means found in the "wholearctic") are prized for their size but not their tolerance for heat and humidity. Prairie falcons (Falco mexicanus) pursue in the open spaces in a variety of meteorological situations including hot and humid. Mix one part each and enjoy the combination.