The BIRDLINE, by ARMAS HILL
birds as big as an Albatross, Owls, and Turkeys, and as small as
Armas Hill has presented the "Birdline", originally from
Philadelphia, on the phone and internet for over 3 decades, and on the radio
in Delaware for about 10 years.
List & Photo Gallery of North American Birds, in 6 Parts
List & Photo Gallery of North American Mammals
The adult, male Rufous
referred to in the text below,
previously banded in Louisiana
(photo by Howard Eskin)
for November 25, 2011:
SNOWY OWLS from the Far
North have been making their way south, with the a good number in
the area of the Great Lakes, particularly in Wisconsin
and Michigan, and some in the Northeast US,
as far south as New York and New Jersey.
In New York, on Long Island, actually offshore on Hicks Island, off
Napeague (on November 19), and in New Jersey at the Merrill Creek
Reservoir in the western part of the state (as of at least November 24).
Also there have been recent occurrences in Connecticut
and Rhode Island.
And, in Massachusetts at Plum Island (a traditional
place for SNOWY OWLS), in New Hampshire at
Hampton, and in Maine at Wells Marsh.
A PINK-FOOTED GOOSE, from way up north, has been in Middletown, New
York, as of November 21. A BARNACLE GOOSE has been in West
NORTHERN SHRIKES have been coming south. In Pennsylvania,
this past week, they have been in western PA in Lawrence County and in
Butler County at Lake Arthur. As many as 3 NORTHERN SHRIKES have been
recently in Clearfield County.
In eastern Pennsylvania, there was a NORTHERN SHRIKE in
Northampton County on November 20 at Little Gap.
And in southeastern Pennsylvania, a NORTHERN SHRIKE was seen on November
24 & 25 at Tinicum Refuge near the Philadelphia Airport. Also at
Tinicum, a COMMON TEAL was found today, November 25.
Not coming south (at least not yet) have been WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILLS.
Over 30 were in upstate New York, at Madawaska, on
November 19. What a neat name - Madawaska.
A western species in the East lately has been the LARK SPARROW. One was
seen in Maryland, at Assateague, on November 18 &
In Portland, Maine, a LARK SPARROW has been along the
Eastern Promenade, as of at least November 20.
A species most often in central North America was found this week
in Pennsylvania, a HARRIS' SPARROW, found on November
24, along the Cumberland County Rail Trail, as in "train", not
Another westerner, a BLACK-THROATED GRAY WARBLER was found in
Central Park, in Manhattan, New York City, on November
22. And another BLACK-THROATED GRAY WARBLER was found in Maryland near
Salisbury on November 20. That bird, not seen since.
From the south-central US, a few CAVE SWALLOWS have been in the
1 in Virginia in Northampton County, on November
and 2 in Maryland, at Point Lookout, on November 24.
ASH-THROATED FLYCATCHERS, from the West, have recently been:
in Massachusetts, in Eastham, for a while,
in New York, at the west end of Jones Beach, from
November 21 until at least November 24,
and in New Jersey, at Cape May, from November 18 until
at least November 21.
In one particular county in Pennsylvania, Berks County,
there have been some notable birds lately:
a GREEN-TAILED TOWHEE (from western North America), at the Blue
Marsh, from November 20 thru today, November 24,
a juvenile WHITE IBIS (from the southern US), in Hamburg, at the
Kaercher Creek Park, for about a week, thru today, November 24,
and 2 SANDHILL CRANES at the Blue Marsh on November 23.
Also notable in that county, at Lake Ontelaunee on November 22, there
were 700 RING-NECKED DUCKS at noon. Later, none at 4pm.
Along the seacoast in southern New Jersey, there was a
large flight of RED-THROATED LOONS this week, at Avalon (in the summer
"cooler by a mile" as it juts out that much into the ocean):
16,851 were counted on November 21 (that's a lot of counting), and
almost the same number the next day, November 22: 15,784.
Also those days at Avalon there were large flights of SCOTERS and
Inland, no such number for RED-THROATED LOONS, far from it, with a
single bird, that was notable, in central Pennsylvania
on November 21 on a pond in Franklin County.
In northwest Pennsylvania, by Lake Erie, there have
been large flights, lately, of RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS: with 2,357
counted at Presque Isle, in Erie, on November 20, and 2,220 there on November
21, 1,325 on November 22, and 1,554 on November 23.
A dozen HORNED GREBES were at Lake Parsippany in northern New
Jersey on November 23. But, that same day, 95 HORNED GREBES
were counted on the Potomac River in Maryland, near
An EARED GREBE (from the West) has been with HORNED GREBES lately at the
Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge in New York City.
At one place in Georgia, in Whitfield County, on
November 18, there were: 500 SANDHILL CRANES, 1 WHOOPING CRANE, and 1
AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN.
On the West Coast, in California, recently, a
SHORT-TAILED ALBATROSS was observed near the Farallon Islands for the
first first time in about 125 years! Breeding colonies (2) of
that rare species are only in Japan.
An immature, female BROAD-BILLED HUMMINGBIRD, a bird most of us see in
Arizona, has been recently in Mequon, Wisconsin. The
species has, by the way, occurred further north & east than that, in
New Brunswick, Canada.
A tiny hummingbird from western North America has continued in the East,
a CALLIOPE HUMMINGBIRD, in Maryland, near Easton, as of at least November 22.
But bigger is the news of numerous SELASPHORUS HUMMINGBIRDS from
the West in the East.
In Pennsylvania alone, they have been in the western
part of the state in Allegheny County including an adult female RUFOUS
HUMMINGBIRD in Pittsburgh (on Nov 18) and in Venango County
where there was at least another adult female earlier this month
(maybe others), and in south-central PA in Lebanon County, a first-year
male RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD, as of November 20.
Further east in Pennsylvania, there's been a RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD in
Lehigh County, in Allentown as of at least November 23, and an
incredible 5 different SELASPHORUS HUMMINGBIRDS in
Northampton County in the last two months.
An adult female RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD there, near Walnutport, has been
present since September.
But, most interesting is that the adult male RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD that's
been at the Jacobsburg Environmental Education Center, in Northampton
County, was banded - not now, but early this year, on
January 9, 2011, as an immature bird, in Louisiana.
Thus, that little 3 to 4 inch bird was born in the summer of 2010 west
of the Rocky Mountains, then migrated to coast of the Gulf of
Mexico where it was banded, and then traveled back to
somewhere in the Pacific Northwest (or further), before coming flying
east to Pennsylvania during maybe another migration back south to
the Gulf Coast. That little bird is quite a wanderer!
Not such a far-flung traveler, a GREAT EGRET seen this month at Bombay
Hook Refuge in Delaware was wing-tagged, indicating
that it came from near Collingwood, Ontario, where it
was, earlier this year, a nestling.
Previously this fall, we've referred here to OSPREYS that are being
tracked as they travel, with transmitters.
One, it was noted here recently, abruptly stopped traveling in central
Florida. It was flying high, at about 2,400 feet, so it was not
shot. It may have fallen out of the sky with some catastrophic
Another OSPREY with a transmitter, that was in the Dominican
Republic for a month, began but aborted twice its
continuing migration, crossing the Caribbean. On November 15, he went,
and 2 days later was in its wintering quarters by Lake Maracaibo in Venezuela.
Another juvenile OSPREY spent about a month in the Dominican
Republic by a saline lake that's below sea-level. Then, all of
a sudden, it headed out, to the south, and crossed the Caribbean in
22 hours, arriving in Venezuela.
You can see a map tracking these OSPREY here: http://www.bioweb.uncc.edu/bierregaard/migration11.htm
During the upcoming week, in our Natureline, there
will be another interesting story about an animal, who route was tracked
by a transmitter, the first WOLVERINE known to be in Colorado
in over 90 years! That and more.
Now, here, one last note, and then a special Holiday Feature,
about, you guessed it, the TURKEY.
Earlier this fall, we mentioned that a RED PHALAROPE was found on a
farm in upstate Pennsylvania, weak and unable to fly.
That bird was then taken to the Tristate Bird Rescue in Delaware,
where it it was determined that it was unreleaseable.
But good news, you might say, is that the bird was given a home, at the Monterey
Aquarium in California. It flew there (in a
plane) on November 10, and is now in its new home.
As it is the Thanksgiving
weekend, here's a timely item we noticed this past week:
On November 20, in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, east
of Strasburg, by a TURKEY FARM, as many as 26
BALD EAGLES were counted. The EAGLES were in the trees, in the air,
and on the ground.
A connection between the TURKEY and the BALD EAGLE, other than
both being in that same area in Lancaster County (even though those
TURKEYS were not wild) is that, as you may know, the TURKEY had quite a
prominent supporter, back in Colonial Days, in Benjamin Franklin,
for being the US National Bird instead of the EAGLE.
The BALD EAGLE, as everyone knows, became the symbol, but the story is
in the feature that follows here now - from the Birdline
that I did on the radio back on November 24,
As Thanksgiving has been a uniquely American
holiday, the TURKEY is a uniquely American bird.
We all know that TURKEYS, like CHICKENS, occur in barnyards. And,
they're grown for human consumption. Throughout the world, CHICKENS,
some DUCKS and TURKEYS have become domesticated.
CHICKENS and some of the DUCKS were originally wild in Asia.
The TURKEY, and the MUSCOVY DUCK, however, have existed in the wild, and
continue to, only in the Americas.
TURKEYS were domesticated in the Americas, in Mexico,
by the Aztecs, long before the arrival of the Europeans. So, that's
where the Spanish first found the TURKEY, and brought it back
to Europe in the 16th Century.
Word of a good tasty thing spreads quickly, and so, by 1540, the "TURKIE-FOWL" was
on many European tables, not just in Spain, but even in
England - after it had been served to King Henry the
For a few years after Henry the Eighth ate the first TURKEY in England,
the dish was reserved only for the King. But, in time, many were raised
for consumption, throughout England, and it was birds from that stock,
that the Pilgrims brought with them on the Mayflower for their meals in Massachusetts.
Even though, WILD TURKEYS were abundant around them, in the
forests near Plymouth Rock.
Why would a bird, from America, be called by the Europeans, the
Simply put, confusion - with another bird, also good to eat, from Africa,
known as the GUINEA-FOWL.
Remember, the TURKEY was brought into Europe (from Mexico, by the
Spaniards) into the western Mediterranean.
Northern Europeans, by mistake, thought it came from the Mediterranean
region of the TURKS, brought there from Africa.
Confusion, then, has continued, til now, in the naming (both the common
All of the birds of the world have scientific names, often from the
Latin or Greek language.
That of the TURKEY, MELEAGRIS GALLOPAVO, is a misleading mixture,
referring to GUINEA-FOWL, ROOSTER, and PEACOCK. The TURKEY is not any of
Benjamin Franklin wanted the TURKEY, not the EAGLE, to be the US
National Bird. Imagine, our money and stamps could have had TURKEYS on
them. Instead, the TURKEY has been on our plates, especially at
Thanksgiving, for years.
Truly "WILD' TURKEYS in the American woods were WARY: large
bronze-colored birds in the woods that could be very shy and elusive.
Their flight, through the trees, was quick, and strong.
After clearing the treetops, they could sail. with little effort, for a
They were hard for hunters to shoot. But they did. The last WILD TURKEY
was shot in Massachusetts, for example, in 1851. Today,
WILD TURKEYS have been re-stocked there, and, of course, elsewhere.
Wild, yes, but not as wary as the
Armas Hill has presented the Birdline, originally from
Philadelphia, on the phone and internet for decades (3), and on the
radio in Delaware for years (10).
The Birdline (and the Natureline) are
affiliates of Focus On Nature Tours.
Earlier, here, mention was made of a saline lake, that's below sea-level
in the Dominican Republic. That lake is Lago Enriquillo,
and we will visit it during the FONT tour in the Dominican
Republic, January 28-February 4, 2012. It's a great tour for
Caribbean endemic birds. Information about it, and other upcoming
FONT tours, is in the website: www.focusonnature.com