Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Beloved canids

Possibly as a result of imprinting on my first dog, Lisa, I have a particularly soft spot for foxes.

Lisa wasn't quite as athletic as a fox, so I have no Muybridge-inspired photos of her hunting. Here are some real foxes instead:

And some foxy-doggy paintings in aid of the earthquake in Japan: 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Convergence and common names

Confusingly, "ovenbird" can refer to two unrelated bird lineages because they both construct rounded nests that resemble wood-fired ovens. It all comes of trusting common names and convergent evolution.

The ovenbird (Seiurus aurocapillus) that breeds in North America is really a New World warbler in the family Parulidae.

The South American ovenbirds or horneros, in the family Furnariidae, build clay nests that look considerably more convincing as ovens. Here is a rufous hornero (Furnarius rufus) at work:
And enjoying the finished product:

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Sibling rivalry, grackles and Catharus thrushes

Great blue heron chicks

Common grackles looking grumpy

Left to right: Hermit thrush, Grey-cheeked thrush, Swainson's thrush