Thursday, July 21, 2011

Pigeon Milk

We were musing today about why, when we have so many Mourning Doves (Zenaida macroura), we never see babies.  It led me to look up Mourning Doves in one of my favorite books, Kenn Kaufman's, Lives of North American Birds.

And I learned something I never knew before!
One of my favorite things!

Both the male and the female dove feed their babies
pigeon milk.
That's what I said!  Pigeon Milk!

According to Kenn,
"Birds that are mostly vegetarians as adults often feed their young mostly on insects.  But pigeons and doves have another way to give their young protein: by producing "pigeon milk."  This substance is produced in the crop, an enlarged pocket of the upper esophagus.  During the nesting season, the walls of the crop secrete a milky fluid that is rich in fat and protein.  For the first few days after hatching, the young are fed a pure diet of pigeon milk.  Then they begin to receive a mixture that includes some partially digested seeds or fruit, but their diet continues to include some pigeon milk for at least a couple of weeks.  To be fed, the young bird will insert its bill into the corner of the parent's mouth, and the adult will regurgitate the pigeon milk or the mixture for the young to eat."

There you have it!
Pigeon Milk!

No, I didn't figure out why we don't see babies.
All the other nesting species,
I've counted 12,
bring their babies around!
Maybe they are just so large by the time they fledge,
we don't notice?

I think they are so sweet.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Avian Architecture WINNER!

Before I even go to the Random Number Generator, I'd like to thank Carrie for making this fun for me by posting it on her blog.  It gave me an opportunity to explore many new-to-me blogs and I've enjoyed visiting every one of them.  I had to make a separate list in order to insert Carrie's name inbetween commenters.

And now for the drum roll, please......................

   Carrie, You are the winner
   of Avian Architecture !! 
   I am not  surprised in the least! 
   I will forward your address
   to the publisher!!

A very special thank you to everyone who entered.
It was fun to have a new distraction
to help me ride out this terrible
weather system that's hovered
over Cape Breton the past few weeks!!

And a very special thank you to
for sponsoring this give-away!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Avian Architecture: Book Review and Give-away

How Birds Design, Engineer, and Build
by Peter Goodfellow

When Peter Goodfellow was growing up in England, he must have been one of those affectionately annoying little boys that asked a lot of questions, all the time. “How does this work?”, “Why does that happen?”, Where do you imagine that goes?”. And now, as an adult, Peter has taken that need for knowledge, that childlike curiosity, to a whole new level.

It is more than curiosity that drives an author such as Peter to write such a wonderful book. It is that need to know, that desire to connect with nature through knowledge and understanding, and the thrill of sharing it with others.

Avian Architecture: How Birds Design, Engineer, and Build
 AVIAN ARCHITECTURE, How Birds Design, Engineer, and Build, however, is not just about the ‘how’.  The interesting text, the well-drawn illustrations, and the beautiful photographs are cleverly punctuated with facts that also reveal the 'who, what, when, where and why'. The introduction gives a clear and precise accounting of what you can expect to find between the covers. Due to the fact that the focus is on the construction of different types of nests, the book covers every habitat, and how birds adapt, from all over the world. This makes it the perfect book for everyone.   In his own words, Peter's book "celebrates the diverse ingenuity and great dexterity of the finest of avian architects and builders".

While leafing through the book the first time I held it in my hands, I was naturally attracted to the chapter on community nesting because I spend most of my time on the rugged, rocky bound coast along the north Atlantic near terns and herons and the like. Not only does Peter explain about these nesting grounds, he also relates, in an ‘easy-to-read and understand’ way, the advantages and disadvantages of nesting in this manner, as well as, the social dynamics involved.  Now, with this knowledge, when I am observing these nesting grounds, I'll feel like a little more than just a mere 'observer'.

At the end of my busy day, when all was quiet and calm around me and I sat down to devote some serious time to reading , it wasn’t long before I realized that this is a book that made me want MORE. I barely started reading - I was only on pages 12 and 13, as a matter of fact, and I didn’t want to stop. Peter has embedded many interesting little facts throughout the text and I could hardly help myself from calling out to whomever might be nearby, “Hey, listen to this!” For instance, were you aware that the Short-eared Owl (Asia flammeus) builds a scrape nest?

Peter introduces each thematic chapter
with an overview of a specific nest type,

discusses the construction of the nest 
with accompanying blueprint drawings,

and showcases a few of the species of birds
that create such inventiveness
as 'case studies', "providing examples
of how different species adapt the nest type
to their specific habitat and requirements."

And somewhere inbetween these amazing pages
he covers "materials and features' and 'building techniques'.

Like Peter, I am also one of those people who needs to know.   (I just wish I could always remember!!)  I find it so fulfilling to glance up in the sky and be able to appreciate without second thought that the big bird I see is an osprey, not a gull or an eagle.  How I love to be paddling in my kayak and able to hear the birds and recognize the species.  I take great pleasure in hiking a trail, finding sign and being able to comprehend it’s origin.

'Knowing' fosters a sense of familiarity which, for me, breeds, not contempt, but a feeling of profound intimacy with nature. It embodies a purity, a spirit, and an emotion that swells up inside me, and yes, sometimes moves me to tears.

I’ve always wondered about nests, I’ve always wanted to know more about them.  By going beyond that of a guide book, Peter has unraveled this mystery, one of the many marvels of nature, with this first rate book, Avian Architecture.  It will be with great delight that I will now understand and appreciate the 'who, what, when, where, why and how' of the nests that I discover abandoned with the approach of fall, making yet another personal connection with our natural world.

Princeton University Press, is graciously offering a copy of Peter’s new book to one of my readers.  Leave a comment, spread the word, and in one week’s time, I will use the Random Number Generator to pick a winner.  Because this is such a fine book, to increase the odds, I'll give you an additional entry for anyone that stops by and mentions that you sent them! 

This is a must have book for anyone with
a curious mind!
Good Luck,
THANK YOU, Princeton University Press!!

Visit Nature Notes!!

P.S.  I noticed one or two of the commenters are no-reply bloggers!
Be sure to include your e-mail address in your comment
if this applies to you!  Thanks.

*This give-away is now closed.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Small Community Quilt Show

Friday dawned a gloriously sunny and calm day,
 perfect weather for a day trip to Albert Bridge, Nova Scotia.

A quaint little community straddling the Mira River
in the northeastern corner of Cape Breton,
Albert Bridge boasted an overwhelming population
of 159 in 2001.

After a leisurely, scenic, 2 hour ride,
my quilting friend and I
arrived at this quaint little church

to find the doors opened and welcoming us inside.
Built in 1857, the Union Presbyterian Church and Memorial Hall
is the oldest Presbyterian church in all of Cape Breton.

I was especially smitten with the
driftwood adornment in each window!
I was told that they embellish these
during special seasons and events.

Inside, indeed!!  The church was filled with beautiful quilts
tenderly stitched at every skill level.
Although it was just a small church,

the display was overwhelming!

This was my personal favorite!

All of the ladies did an amazing job
and we had the most delightful time!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Pink-edged Sulpher

Pink-edged Sulpher
(Colias interior)

With a meadow full of blueberries,
it's chief larval food,
 it's no surprise to see this
northern butterfly fluttering about.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Hurray for Summer!

YAY!!  Summertime finally arrived!!  Put on a happy face!

Picking up trash from the beach!
You never know what you'll find!