Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Willow Flycatcher

These are (probably) two different male Willow Flycatchers in two adjacent territories from two successive years at a local grassland preserve. Most of the Willow Flycatchers I encounter are not very friendly, but sometimes you find an especially hormonal one that is perhaps still looking for a mate. The one from 2009 kept shuttling between bush tops proclaiming territory and eventually briefly stopped in a position when I could take a photo. The one from 2010 was a much more assertive bird - in fact at one point I wasn't sure that it wasn't singing at me - and it may or may not be associated with it being in more marginal territory with less cover. The 2010 male has fewer perches and is considerably less shy in singing from them. It's almost certainly unpaired, although I don't monitor breeding success in this location. There are at least two other Willow Flycatcher territories in this general area, and they are by no means a rare bird in the right habitat in NJ.

Thursday, June 3, 2010


Some days I feel the urge to delete the entire list I run (eBirdsNYC) because birders and particular bird photographers are so fond of wandering around stressing birds without apparent thought to the consequences.

Case in point:
This bird is obviously taped in. In an area where the (isolated) population is declining. So much for restraint. But this is so totally in line with my experience of a significant subset of bird photographers.

After posting about this particular thread to JerseyBirds I was sent a couple of links with inflammatory blog post titles:

Reading the blog postings with my science pro hat on I see a lot of talk about "effects" and little about magnitude. Unfortunately despite the fact that I'm prone to agree with the bias of the blogger about the deleterious effects of routine or excessive taping it still falls back on anecdote and opinion and lacks hard data. Of course any bona fide ornithologist is unlikely to get funded much for that sort of study (and even less in generating the sort of publications needed to advance one's career).

Still it's pretty damn obvious that we're not a neutral effect out there, and we should behave accordingly.