March 29, 2014 – American Robin (Turdus migratorius)

Robins live throughout North America, often wintering in their breeding ranges. They eat fruits and earthworms, usually preferring worms in the morning and fruit later in the day. They also eat fruit more often in the fall and winter. When foraging on the ground, they run in short bursts, freezing suddenly, and find worms by staring at the dirt with their head tilted to one side.

This bird was a request from my mom. When I went to college, I watched Robins pulling worms out of the dirt for the first time. Although their range includes Arizona, I definitely don’t remember seeing any in Phoenix. My mom was entertained by how amazed I was at the Robins, since she grew up around them.

March 28, 2014 – Bobolink (Dolichonyx oryzivorus)

Bobolinks are grassland birds of eastern North America that winter in South America. They travel 12,500 miles each year, one of the longest songbird migrations in the Americas. Bobolinks are both polygynous and polyandrous, meaning that males may have multiple mates and also that one clutch of a female’s eggs may have multiple fathers. They often return to the same area to nest each year.

I recently found out about this organization that is trying to save Bobolink, and other grassland bird, nesting areas in the Northeastern U.S. They allow people to put money toward paying farmers not to cut their fields until a certain date.

March 27, 2014 – Smew (Mergellus albellus)

The Smew lives in the boreal forest, or taiga, of Asia and Europe. While related to Mergansers and Goldeneyes, this duck is the only member of the genus Mergellus. Its beak is serrated, with a hooked tip, allowing it to catch fish in the lakes and rivers where it lives. The Smew builds its nest in tree cavities, laying between six and nine eggs.

An Update On Requested Birds

I’m really enjoying all of these requests! People are coming up with some great birds, some I wasn’t even aware existed. Thank you to everyone who has submitted a bird request and feel free to keep them coming, although the list is growing, so it will take some time for me to get through them all. I have several of them drawn and I’m really excited to get them up on the blog, but I also have a few older birds queued up first. I’ve been debating whether to put the requested birds up early. At this point I have a little under a week before the first requested bird goes up, and some cool birds in that week, so I’m thinking I’ll wait until they come up in the schedule. I really appreciate everyone’s patience so far, and just wanted to post an update and assure you that the requests will be up soon. I’m still really excited that people are enjoying my birds and I love hearing about the birds you’re interested in and want to see on the blog.

March 26, 2014 – Temminck’s Tragopan (Tragopan temminckii)

These pheasants are found in parts of India, Vietnam, Tibet, and China. They eat mostly plants, especially grasses and berries. The males have fleshy horns and an expandable red and blue bib of skin under their faces that they can inflate during courtship displays. The name Tragopan comes from “tragus” meaning billy goat and “Pan” the half-man half-goat diety, both in reference to the birds’ horns.

March 25, 2014 – Long-tailed Tit or Long-tailed Bushtit (Aegithalos caudatus)

These, mostly insectivorous, birds are native to Europe and Asia. They build their nests with moss and spider egg cocoons, which work like velcro, as well as lichens and feathers. Pairs who fail at their own nesting often split up and assist male relatives at their nests for the season.

March 24, 2014 – Phainopepla (Phainopepla nitens)

The Phainopepla is native to deserts and woodlands of the southwestern United States and parts of Mexico. They breed twice each year, once in the desert and once in the woodlands. They are much more territorial in their desert habitat, while they nest colonially in the woodlands. Mistletoe berries are one of the Phainopepla’s favorite foods, along with other berries and some insects. When threatened, they may mimic the sounds of other species of birds.