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With birds as big as an Albatross, Owls, and Turkeys, and as small as Hummingbirds 

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.


A List & Photo Gallery of North American Birds, in 6 Parts

A List & Photo Gallery of North American Mammals

The adult, male Rufous Hummingbird
referred to in the text below,
in Pennsylvania,
previously banded in Louisiana
(photo by Howard Eskin)

The Birdline 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 Newbury, Massachusetts

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 & 24.
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 "bird".    

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 Northeast US:
1 in Virginia in Northampton County, on November 17,
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 GANNETS.

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 Washington DC.

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 health issue.
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, 1999:

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 Eighth.

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 "TURKEY"?

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 and scientific).

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 these.

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 mile.
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 originals.      

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
Past Birdlines and Naturelines can be found at:  http://www.focusonnature.com/Birdline.htm         

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