Birds and FDR on a slate colored day


I’ve been reading Douglas Brinkley’s biography of FDR – Rightful Heritage: The Renewal of America and am fascinated by Roosevelt’s childhood obsession with birds.  As a child of privilege, Franklin had acres and acres of private family owned land to explore.  He particularly enjoyed watching, counting, and shooting birds, not for sport, but for study. As he got older, he began to advocate shooting birds with a camera, not a gun.  Roosevelt was a serious ornithologist.

I too enjoy shooting birds with my camera, although do not consider myself worthy of the title of even amateur ornitholgist.  Nor do I consider myself to be a serious photographer, however, from time to time, I surprise myself.  I do have a sharp eye and the bird in the photograph is proof of that as this particular species, Junco hyemalis, is quite shy and flighty.  And the commonly known Dark-eyed Junco sticks with its own kind not caring to associate with other species. The slate colored specimen I captured snoops around for the birdseed that I tossed out ealier in the day.  The Junco seems to favor sunflower seeds and will fight off squirrels who like them too.  They very often hop from place to place digging aggressively for worms, seeds and other forms of winter sustenance.

Nice to see the Dark-eyed Junco on this gray day.  FDR would have concurred.




Thougts on the BP Oil Disaster

The BP oil spill is now the worst environmental disaster in U.S. History,  worse than the Exxon Valdez spill.  And spill doesn’t seem like the right word to use either.  It’s more than a spill, more like a deluge, a flood, an inundation of oil and it’s still not capped despite the “top kill” effort.  It will take months to drill two relief wells to cut the flow off at the source.

Though most of the effort has been to stop the gushing fountains of oil, there has not been much going on by way of cleanup of the oil that has begun to wash up on the gulf shores.  The federal government should mobilize all the resources at its disposal for a massive cleanup effort.  Divert those border troops to the shorelines.  This oil disaster is considerably more urgent than stepping up border patrol.  Arm the troops with gas masks and shovels.  Put prisoners to work.  Enlist the support of environmental groups, concerned citizens, the “drill baby drill” crowd and the Red Cross.

I saw a clip on the news this morning of a team of workers bathing oil soaked birds in soap.  Once clean, though, I wonder what they do with the birds?  It would seem like a bad idea to just release them back into the oil polluted gulf area.  I hope they are relocated to cleaner areas, if any can be found, so the birds have a shot at survival.

Birds in my Backyard

I’ve been birding now for a few months; nothing serious, strictly on the amateur level. To attract some birds, (and other creatures) I’ve set up 5 bird feeders which I fill with seeds once or twice a day. To see them better, I purchased an inexpensive pair of Nikon binoculars. To identify the birds, I bought The Sibley Guide to Birds. So far, here’s what I’ve seen:

What birds have you seen lately?