Written by an area Landscape Architect and birdwatcher with over 30 years of experience with landscaping in north Texas: what works and what doesn't. Emphasis on attracting birds to north Texas yards, and reducing required yard maintenance. Tips, trivia and proven advice for a natural, low-cost approach for this unique and sensitive part of the country.
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Sunday, December 15, 2013
Calling birds by their right names avoids confusion
The names of birds change
frequently, thanks to the governing organization - American Ornithological
Union. Most of the time the name-change doesn’t concern an amateur birder, but
it can as one gets more into the activity. For instance, the Robin, Cardinal
and Mockingbird were modified several years ago to American Robin, Northern Cardinal
and Northern Mockingbird (in order to avoid confusion with, for example, the
rarely seen Clay-colored Robin – and so on).
Sometimes names have changed to
correct incorrect or outdated customs. Like:the “chicken hawk” is now the American kestrel or Kestrel in everyday
conversation. It really never attacked chickens. In fact, a chicken is larger; the
Kestrel being about the size of a Blue Jay.
The Baltimore Oriole went
away, and then returned. Several years ago it was lumped with the Bullock’s
Oriole as the Northern Oriole. Further DNA testing, however, showed that they
were two distinct species, so the original names were reinstated.
This sort of thing happens
quite a lot, and probably some bird’s name was changed while I was writing this.
But it rarely has much impact on amateur birders.
Bird Count (CBC) is the granddaddy of all birding events – with over 1500
separate events and at least 50,000 participants each year, across the country.
The way the CBC got started, however, is unique.
in 1900 as an alternative to the Sidehunt tradition. At the time, the Sidehunt was
an informal custom involving going outside on Christmas morning for several
hours and shooting (with a gun) every bird and animal encountered (not popular
with neighbors). Frank Chapman, a noted ornithologist of the time, started the
CBC to counter the hunt. He encouraged some friends to go out on Christmas
morning and count, not kill.
It grew from there. The
CBC has not only provided a lot of good, raw research material. It has also
uncovered and created many strong friendships centered on birdwatching.
There is almost certainly a Christmas Bird Count scheduled to take place in
your part of north Texas. All skill levels can participate, and it takes place during
Christmas season (not necessarily hristmas Day). To find one near you, try an
internet search, or contact a local birding organization.
YOST, in addition to being a blogger, is a licensed Landscape Architect
emeritus who has lived and worked in north Texas for over 30 years. He is the
recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award of the Native Plant Society of Texas,
and is a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA),
International Federation of Landscape Architects, National Wildlife Federation
and the Audubon Society. His office is at Yost87@charter.net