2birdfeature #6

20130812-DSCN1905 One of these things is not like the others. And it doesn't care. Even as a more solitary bird, it seems as if the Double-crested Cormorant might like the company of an entire colony of Glaucous-winged Gulls. I saw a few cormorants during my time on the island but this little character was on the dock the day before I left the island for good. So I remember him fondly.

Most of the time when you see cormorants they are fishing or drying out in the sun in their characteristic horror movie stance. Cormorants lack a uropygial gland. This is the gland that produces the oil that birds preen into their feathers rendering them waterproof. It's odd that a water bird like a cormorant wouldn't have this gland but there you have it. In order to dry after swimming and diving, cormorants generally perch in trees or on rocks where the sunshine is plentiful. But to make the process go a bit faster, they spread their wings and stretch their necks forward.

Imagine an entire tree full of large black birds holding their wings out like a dozen grim reapers. Unsettling.

This fellow was doing something entirely different. He was watching the gulls with great interest and then jumping up and down on the horn cleats of the dock (that metal thing you tie your boat off to). An easily amused bird for an easily amused birder.

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Our second and final bird of the 2birdfeature posts will be this guy:

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The Cassin's Finch is a near threatened bird that lives in western North America. Prior to 1996, this bird was one of the more numerous finch species but it is now estimated that only 2 million remain. Lack in availability of nest sites is one reason for the decline but the species also struggles with male to female ratio. It seems that the natural balance tends to shift toward many more males than females which is problematic for obvious reasons.

If you're looking for Cassin's Finches, look toward the top of conifer trees in montane and subalpine forests. And listen for a call that sounds like "giddy-up". Finches are also famous for mocking other birds' calls so good luck to you there.

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I hope you've enjoyed the 2birdfeatures! Stop by this weekend for Glaucous-winged Gulls. I know what you're thinking. They're just a bunch of seagulls.

Think again.