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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Eastern Phoebe's right at home in north Texas

Eastern Phoebe
Eastern Phoebe
The north Texas area is at the southern extent of the Eastern Phoebe's "summer range", and also at the northern limit of its "winter range".  Which means that the Eastern Phoebe (despite its name) lives here year 'round - many of them anyway. Phoebes are very dependant on human-made structures such as bridges, roof overhangs, sheds and unused birdhouses, where they often roost at night or in bad weather.

Incidentally, the word "eastern" in a bird's name almost always means east of the Rocky Mountains.

Carolina Chickadee

Are you like me - sometimes forgetting where you put the car keys and so on? Maybe we sometimes share a trait with Chickadees. In a study of Black-capped Chickadees, the area of the brain used to process spacial information like where we left things  (the hippocampus) varies in size during a typical year.  It enlarges in the fall and winter, coinciding with the birds' seed-caching and -finding activity.  It shrinks in the spring, when feats of memory are no longer crucial.

By the way, the species of Chickadee found here in north Texas is the Carolina Chickadee.

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