Monday, March 2, 2009

Trading Bins for a Pager

House Sparrows paired up in a tree near my house.

I am in the midst of the exciting time known as pager week amongst myself and my coworkers. While it is not bad in and of itself it does keep everything close to home so the long hikes and trips to regional hotspots are out.

Despite not actually heading out to look for birds I did have a few bird experiences. On Friday morning while driving through the neighborhood I was surprised to see a Great Horned Owl flying low up the street. I slowed as it approached and hoped that he would stop to perch on a lamp post along the side of the road. He did not, but it was a good way to start the day anyway.

On Saturday I was watching a bit of the WBC Match Play Championship coverage on television while I did routine around the house busy work. Since the golfers had been cut down to four semi-finalists at that point there was plenty of fluff time for the announcers to fill. Some law of physics dictates that after four hours you can no longer speak about Tiger Woods, so the announcers turned to fill topic number two - the desert. The matches were being played on a course outside of Tuscon. At one point I looked up when I heard the announcer say with conviction that the Cactus Wren should be careful about where he chose to sit on top of a saguaro cactus. I wasn't familiar with the Cactus Wren and wanted to get a look while they had it on camera. It was a bit perplexing that the back of the bird did not look anything like the wrens I have seen. It seemed large, and did not have the upright tail angle typical of most wrens I have seen. It turned its head and I immediately yelled - "That's no wren, its a Northern Flicker!".

I may be in trouble, I am now calling out TV hosts for misidentifying birds. I did some reading on the Cactus Wren and learned that it is the largest species of wren in North America, so I guess that made it more possible, but still they don't look much alike.

The silver lining to this is that through watching golf I was introduced to a species that is not found in my area, and one that I wouldn't have otherwise been introduced to. Thanks Northern Flicker!

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