Posted in Birding, Passeriformes, Starlings

European Starling

We had finished our journey at the duck pond and we were freezing our hands off. We shivered our way into the car. Beaker especially was having difficulties. As we stopped at a light near CVS Pharmacy, he was the first to say quite quickly, “Well let’s go home! Enough birds and…”

“Hey look,” I said, “European Starlings.”

Everyone looked around. “Where?”

“Over there on the power lines near CVS”

“I don’t think we should stop for ugly black birds,” Beaker said. Beaker usually has a dislike for black, bald or boring birds.

“But Beaker,” I said, “European Starlings are very colorful and sparkly in the sunlight.”

“Yes, but…”

“And they were introduced here because of their occurrence in Shakespeare .”

“Um… Yes.”

“And it’s a new bird.”

“Oh, okay,” he said. Beaker pulled into the CVS Pharmacy parking lot and parked.

Hawkeye shook her head. “You crazy man.” She couldn’t believe we were going out in the cold to get a closer look at ‘ugly birds’.

Beaker and I got out and Beaker started trying to get pictures. A scowl began to form on his face. “What’s the matter, Beaker? This cold bothering you?”

Back-lit Starlings
Back-lit Starlings

“No.” He answered. “There’s too much back-light.”

I thought about that for a while. “If we went into the road there would be no back-light.”

“Yes,” Beaker said, “but that would be the last picture we would take!”

Okay, so we didn’t get he best pictures, but it was still cool to see the Shakespeare bird.

Posted in Anseriformes, Birding, Geese

Egyptian Goose

Once around the pond was more than enough. We hurried back into the car, started the engine and turned up the heat. Our shivers lessened. The windshield and our noses slowly began to defrost. We felt the coziness of cloth seats as warm air blew above and below us. I started to feel my fingertips once more. “Well that was fun.” It wasn’t going to be easy to get me to go back out there in that cold wet air. “Maybe we can drive around a bit and see what other birds we can see…”

“From the car!” Hawkeye knew my words and my sentiment.

“Exactly.”

We discussed where we could go next. Home wasn’t an option. Perhaps there was another way to park and see birds on the opposite side of the pond. “Where does that road go? Turn right here.”

“Which way?” Hawkeye asked.

I smiled and clarified my statement. “Turn right, ‘right’ here, please. I think we might find the backside of the pond this way.”

I was wrong. The only way around the pond was by foot and these two little feet of mine were only now beginning to thaw. It would be awhile before I would ‘warm up to the idea’ of getting back out. For now we’d do some bird watching from our car.

As we turned down a street in the neighborhood behind the duck pond a shout came form the backseat. “Look!” This shout I heard. Hawkeye heard it too and safely slowed the car.

Egyptian Goose or Flamingo?
Egyptian Goose or Flamingo?

Fifty feet off to the left, in the front yard of a mid-century garden home, stood what looked to me like two faded lawn decorations of short and squatty flamingos. Did they loose their legs? These things happen overtime you know.

“What are they?”

Of course there’s always those neighborhood hoodlums that run around ruining everything. Taking bats to mailboxes wasn’t enough for these goons, now they were attacking lawn decor!

As I was lost in my thoughts, a positive identification was made.”Those are Egyptian Geese! Wow! What in the world are they doing here?”

This ain’t Egypt, I said to myself, ready to give my standard ‘are they lost’ reply. I’d been there, done that, so instead I said, “That is unusual. Isn’t it, Mimic?” As it turned out I was glad I held back the humor.

“Very.” Mimic said, his face shining like the sun on a summer day.

Just like his mother’s always has, now his smile had the warming effect. I wasn’t cold anymore. I learned something, sitting in silence, staring at a rare goose with my wife, daughter and son. No matter how bitter life in this old world becomes, it’s family that keeps us from freezing.

Posted in Birding

Egyptian Geese

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After driving through the famous water crossing in our city’s largest park we decided to stop at the cobblestone lined banks of the downtown river. We had hoped we could spot something new.

Mallards were an obvious observation as were the whistling ducks as they whizzed by and out of camera shot. A lone American coot careened near an open culvert (or below the hole in the wall). Finding a few blue-winged teal scattered about the emerald waterway (also not in frame) was a favored first. The gadwall we saw later that day was another nice new edition.

Still the waterfowl that ‘pecked’ our curiosity most and grabbed the attention of a passerby who asked, ‘which one is it?’, was a bird that once flocked exclusively on the other side of the world, the Egyptian goose.

Many exotic birds have been introduced into the wild in this country and some like these geese from North Africa have found their way to Texas. The Egyptian Geese that you see lining the wall of the San Antonio river – ain’t originally from around these-here parts – but we are happy to welcome these beautiful birds to this picturesque downtown park!