Owls, Christmas birds, New Guinea birds
GREENE CO., MO — A constant trickle of chickadees, titmice, and doves at the tray feeder sparked comments during Christmas dinner this afternoon. Even my mother’s 94-year-old uncle, who has lost most of his sight to macular degeneration, saw and remarked on the quickly moving birds.
It’s not a white Christmas this year; the weather is clear and mild. It was colder and windier on Sunday afternoon, when Charley Burwick and I spent some time birding Greene County. We didn’t find our friend Greg Swick’s Northern Shrike near Fellows Lake, but we did oo and ah over Short-eared Owls hunting late in the afternoon. Watching short-ears is always a highlight of the winter for me, and I hadn’t seen them yet this season.
As evening fell, we spotted a Great Horned Owl silhouetted against the gold and orange sunset. Taping for screech owls was unsuccessful that night, but I did hear two Great Horned Owls, and a pack of coyotes sent up a wild, cackling, collective howl. The full moon was huge and white, almost too bright to look at directly. Mars shone brightly beneath the moon, holding its own against our satellite’s brilliance. I had forgotten how cold 30 degrees can be.
Some of you may remember that I attended a presentation in March about the Foja Mountains expedition in New Guinea. A team returned to the mountains in June of this year, and a report of their trip was recently released (here’s one news story: Two New Mammal Species Discovered In Indonesia’s Wilderness). The BBC has a photo gallery, including three stunning bird photos. I also found this promotional/fundraising video narrated by Dr. Bruce Beehler: The Foja Expedition.
More unfamiliar birds in little-known corners of the world flutter on my horizon. What was under the tree for me this year? Field guides to Southeast Asia, Costa Rica, and Peru — all in anticipation of travel assignments in 2008.
Speaking of field guides, here’s a sneak peak at a project I’ve started working on: World Bird Field Guides.
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!