Showing posts from December, 2012

Whooping Cranes by Kate Crowley

In my last column I wrote about snow geese – large, white, migratory waterfowl that have recovered far beyond anyone’s expectations from a severely depleted population.  Another migratory waterfowl (wader) that replicates the white and black feather patterns of the snow goose is on the other end of the spectrum; struggling to recover from near extinction. Who am I talking about? Whooping cranes; that’s who.   While still considered Endangered, they are gradually, through much human research, breeding and reintroduction programs, on the increase.
At five feet, these magnificent, stately birds are the tallest in the North America. They have a wingspan of 7-8 feet, but only weigh between 11-16 pounds.  Besides their white and black feathers, they also sport a bright red patch on their forehead, a black moustache and legs.  They have a long, sharply pointed beak, typical of all cranes, the better to penetrate the thick marshy vegetation while they search for food.
I have only seen one w…


WINGIN’ IT By Kate Crowley
Until the snowstorm we had a couple weekends ago, we were getting a bit bored by the activity around our bird feeders.  I hate to say it, but with the snowless ground and the general drabness of the landscape the chickadees, nuthatches and blue jays just weren’t lifting our spirits.  Then the snow fell and with it came the common redpolls.  I think it is unfortunate that whomever named these bird’s gave them the title ‘common’, because they are anything but.  They belong to the finch family, which can often be stereoptyped as having dull brown, featureless feathers.  These redpolls do have brown feathers on their backs and streaks of white and brown on their flanks, but they also have a little black ‘goatee’ below their bill and on their heads (poll) they wear a jaunty cranberry colored cap.  And the males go even further, with a flush of pink, verging on red, flowing down their breast and belly - the perfect little splotch of color against a background of sno…