33 unusual bird nests

This video says about itself:

25 Unusual Bird Nests Built In The Weirdest Places

15 June 2015

These remarkable nesting locations show how birds can adapt to their environment. Although not all birds nest, they all build or look to find a safe place to lay and hatch their eggs. Until recently it was believed that nest building was an inherent skill, but recent studies suggest that birds can learn to improve.

Man-made birdhouses have existed at least since the 15th-16th century. As agriculture and urbanization altered the environment through deforestation, the number of natural nesting cavities decreased. Birdhouses, or creating nesting spots like those shown here, are a solution and response to this problem.

From BirdLife:

14 Jul 2017

8 incredible bird nests from around the world

When thinking about bird nests, most people may imagine the regular bowl-shaped receptacle of twigs and leaves, but birds’ nesting behaviours are as diverse as their courting rituals

By Irene Lorenzo

Birds go to incredible lengths to build nests that keep their chicks safe from harm. From the desert-dwelling woodpecker who spends months patiently hollowing-out a cactus, to the aptly-named ‘ovenbird’, which leaves its mud nest to bake and harden in the sun, these amazing designs are a testament to the genius and resourcefulness of birds. Here are eight of our favourite nesting styles from around the world.


Baya Weaver, Ploceus philippinus

This video is called Baya weaver nest construction.

The weaver family get their name after their ability to weave elaborate nests, which vary in size, shape and material depending on the species. The Baya Weaver chooses branches of thorny trees or palm trees above the water to weave grass leaves into their gourd-shaped nests, which can be as big as a football. As they’re a social species, they don’t like to nest alone – with up to 60 pairs nesting together in a single tree and more than 200 in some colonies. Found across Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent, their breeding season coincides with the monsoons so researchers believe their nests are often located on the eastern side of the tree because it offers protection against the heavy rains.


Anna’s Hummingbird, Calypte anna

This video says about itself:

A female Anna’s hummingbird builds a nest constructed of plant fibers and spiderwebs. Just the right size for her tiny eggs.

The BirdLife article continues:

This North American hummingbird builds tiny luxurious nests in trees or shrubs, mostly using plant fibers, downy feathers and animal hair, bound together by spider silk. They finish it off camouflaging the exterior with plant debris, moss or bits of lichen. The nest size ranges from 3.8 to 5.1 cm in diameter, about the size of a small espresso cup, laying two eggs the size of a coffee bean.


White Tern, Gygis alba

This video from Midway island is called White tern and chick.

Collecting grass, twigs, mud? Too much like hard work. Why bother building a nest when you can just lay your eggs on top of any branch? The White Tern’s minimalist nest consists of… literally nothing. A knot or crook on a tree branch is all it needs to incubate its single egg. Scientists speculate that they have evolved this behaviour as a result of nest parasites, found to be less common if there’s no nest in the first place.


Rufous Hornero, Furnarius rufus

This video is called Bird Engineering, Rufous Hornero, bird building its nest, Furnarius rufus.

Also known as the “ovenbird” because of its nesting habits, this South American bird collects mud and manure to pile it on top of a tree branch while letting the sun slowly dry it. It then patiently builds its characteristic dome-shaped structure that resembles an old wood-fired oven.


Hamerkop, Scopus umbretta

This video is called Hamerkop nest building.

This African bird builds three to five unusually huge nests every year, which take months to construct, regardless of whether they are breeding or not. Their nests can measure up to two metres in diameter and depth, and weigh up to 50 kg.


Great Horned Owl, Bubo virginianus

This video is called Great Horned Owl Nest: Curious Owlets.

Many species of owl appreciate a good old vintage house. The Great Horned Owl, a common bird found throughout the Americas, repurposes old nests from a variety of animals – hawks, ravens, and even squirrels. Yes to recycling!


African Jacana, Actophilornis africanus

This is an African jacana video.

This sub-Saharan waterbird builds several nests per season and chooses only one for laying, leaving the rest as back-up. Their nests are floating mounds of damp plant stems, and eggs are often laid so close to the water that they end up sinking. Luckily, their eggs are waterproof and they can just move them to their next rickety construction.


Gila Woodpecker, Melanerpes uropygialis

This video from the USA says about itself:

A pair of gila woodpeckers (the male has a red crown) are taking turns in tending to the nest inside a saguaro cactus in Saguaro National Park, Tucson, AZ. Gila woodpeckers drill out a cavity (called a boot) in the cactus for a nest to raise their chicks. The nest is used only once.

The article continues:

Nesting requires some planning for this North American bird, as it excavates a hole in a cactus several months ahead of its breeding time, waiting for it to dry out before moving in. The cavity inside the cactus, called a “boot”, keeps the eggs safe and cool until they’re ready to hatch.

BirdLife and its Partners are fighting to protect crucial breeding grounds from the urgent threats they face. With your support, we can use our skills and expertise to keep breeding grounds safe, so today’s babies can grow to raise families of their own in years to come.


Cuckoos in British, United States culture

This video is about the cuckoo (Cuculus canorus).

By Peter Frost in Britain:

The beauty and the beast

Friday 14th July 2017

Enchanted by the cuckoo’s singing PETER FROST looks into this unique bird’s lifestyle and how it has impacted on our folklore and beliefs

THERE is not a finer sound on a summer’s day than the distinctive call of a cuckoo. I have heard scores of them but I have actually seen very few. Like another favourite waterside bird of mine the booming bittern, the cuckoo is much more likely to be heard than seen.

This elusiveness certainly adds to the character of this bird so beloved in song and story.

The cuckoo song, popular on both sides of the Atlantic goes back centuries. A common version goes: “The cuckoo’s a pretty bird, she sings as she flies./ She brings us good tidings, tells us no lies./ She sucks the little birds’ eggs to keep her voice clear,/ And when she sings ‘cuckoo’ the summer draws near.”

There is a copy in the Bodleian library Oxford from the early Middle Ages — it is in Chaucerian Middle English and believed to be the first English folk song to be written down and recorded.

Along with many English ballads this song was taken to the US by English settlers where it became a standard part of the repertoire of many country, folk and other US singers including, of course, Bob Dylan.

This 1962 music video from the USA is called Bob Dylan – The cuckoo is a pretty bird.

In the US the song wasn’t altered much but did manage to slip in patriotic last line “and it never sings cuckoo till the fourth day of July” — Donald Trump says it was obviously Made in US.

As well as the common cuckoo, the same one we have in Britain (Cuculus canorus),

which breeds only in Europe, Asia and north Africa, wintering in Africa

the US has about 17 other species of cuckoo — some with amazing names.

These include Bay-breasted, Black-billed, Chestnut-bellied, Cocos, Dark-billed, Dwarf, Gray-capped, Great Lizard, Hispaniolan Lizard, Lesser Ground, Mangrove, Oriental Pearly-breasted, Pheasant, Puerto Rican Lizard, Squirrel, Striped and Yellow-billed cuckoos. That’s a lot of cuckoos.

We have just one, well actually about 16,000 breeding pairs of just one species, the common cuckoo.

Cuckoos can be seen throughout Britain, but are especially numerous in southern and central England.

They are a dove-sized bird with blue grey upper parts, head and chest with dark barred white under parts. With their sleek body, long tail and pointed wings they are not unlike kestrels or sparrowhawks. They eat insects and are especially fond of hairy caterpillars.

Since 2011 the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) has been running a project tracking cuckoos by satellite to find out why we have lost over half of their population over the last 20 years.

The Broads National Park is one of many partners in this project and some Broads cuckoos have been tagged and tracked by satellite. National Park rangers report on where the birds are calling and then skilled scientists and BTO volunteers — with permission from landowners — use mist nets to catch the birds and attach the satellite tracking devices.

From this tracking the BTO has garnered vital information about the routes cuckoos take and some of the difficulties they face during migration, including those caused by changing climate.

This year cuckoos at Carlton Marshes in the Broads were tagged. Both a male and, for the first time, a female, were fitted with the super lightweight tags.

The male cuckoo was named Carlton and you can follow Carlton’s progress along with the others at the BTO website www.bto.org/science/migration/tracking-studies/cuckoo-tracking.

Cuckoos arrive in Britain in the spring to breed. In early June the adults begin to leave and the young birds head south later too in search of insects to feed on.

There are two routes south which most of the cuckoos follow on their 4,000-mile journey to the Democratic Republic of Congo in Africa, where they spend the winter.

Some fly over Spain and Morocco, others go east over Italy and the Balkan countries. On the way to the European breeding grounds in the spring all the tracked cuckoos take the same route across West Africa.

This is probably to take advantage of food available there at that time due to the heavy rainfall and insects breeding.

There is extensive folklore concerning the cuckoo like for instance “on hearing the first cuckoo in spring to ensure good luck one must run three times in a circle.”

In folklore the cuckoo’s nest is a euphemism for the female sexual organ and the word cuckold is used for a man whose sexual partner, often his wife, has been unfaithful.

An alternative meaning for cuckoo’s nest is a mental institution. This has become the commonest meaning since the Ken Kesey novel published in 1962 and the 1975 Milos Forman film based on it, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

The nymphs of the Frog Hopper insect surround themselves in a white foam on stems of grass known as cuckoo spit.

Best known fact about the cuckoo is of course the laying its eggs in other bird’s nests so that they will bring up the young cuckoos who throw the host birds’ own young out of their own nests.

Ornithologists call them brood parasites — the females choose the nests of other birds especially meadow pipits, dunnocks and reed warblers. A single cuckoo can lay up to 25 eggs in a season.

This unprincipled behaviour is only found rarely in other wild creatures but one recent case involves Tory MP Michael Gove.

Just two hours before Boris Johnson was preparing to make his Tory Party leadership bid Mr Gove, the man who was supposed to be making up the dream ticket with him stabbed him in the back.

Lynton Crosby, the Tory election strategist, and most of his called Gove’s move a “cuckoo nest plot.” Bit harsh on the cuckoo I reckon.

Might I suggest the Tories set off to fly away to the Congo at the end of every summer. Or would that be too cuckoo an idea?

A bit harsh on Congo, where people have suffered so much from British Unilever corporation.

Trump’s Islamophobia in the USA

This video from the USA says about itself:

Muslims Debate Donald Trump, Immigration Ban and Islamophobia in Republican Party

22 July 2016

For months Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has been calling for a ban on Muslims entering the United States. Since he has risen to prominence, civil rights groups have cited increasing attacks and threats against Muslims in America, often against women wearing headscarves. Muslim groups are now campaigning to register a million new voters in a bid to keep Trump out of the White House. But some American Muslims will vote for Trump. According to a survey conducted by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, 11 percent of Muslims in the U.S. are Trump supporters. We’re joined now by two guests. Saba Ahmed is president of the Republican Muslim Coalition and a Donald Trump supporter. She recently met with Trump and his vice-presidential pick, Mike Pence, here at the Republican National Convention. We also speak with Aisha Samad, who is CAIR-Cleveland’s board secretary and a longtime activist in the Muslim community in Cleveland.

By Ramzy Baroud in the USA:

Muslims are not the enemy – conformity is

Friday 14th July 2017

Barring citizens of Muslim countries from travelling to the US is an act of immorality and injustice. Sadly, many in the US say that such discriminatory laws already make them feel safe, writes Ramzy Baroud

TWO officers sought me from within a crowd at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. They seemed to know who I was. They asked me to follow them and I obliged. Being of Arab background often renders one’s citizenship almost irrelevant.

In a back room, where other foreigners — mainly Muslims — were holed for “added security,” I was asked numerous questions about my politics, ideas, writing, children, friends and my late Palestinian parents.

Meanwhile, an officer took my bag and all of my papers, including receipts, business cards and more. I did not protest. I am so used to this treatment and endless questioning that I simply go through the motions and answer the questions the best way I know how.

My first questioning commenced soon after September 11 2001, when all Muslims and Arabs became, and remain, suspect. “Why do you hate our president,” I was asked then, in reference to George W Bush.

On a different occasion, I was held in a room for hours at John F Kennedy International Airport because I had a receipt that revealed the immortal sin of eating at a London restaurant that served Halal meat.

I was also interrogated at a US border facility in Canada and was asked to fill several documents about my trip to Turkey, where I gave a talk at a conference and conducted several media interviews.

A question I am often asked is: “What is the purpose of your visit to this country?”

The fact that I am a US citizen, who acquired high education, bought a home, raised a family, paid my taxes, obeyed the law and contributed to society in myriad ways is not an adequate answer.

I remain an Arab, a Muslim and a dissident, all unforgivable sins in the new, rapidly changing United States.

Truthfully, I never had any illusions regarding the supposed moral superiority of my adopted country. I grew up in a Palestinian refugee camp in Gaza and have witnessed, first hand, the untold harm inflicted upon my people as a result of US military and political support of Israel.

Within the larger Arab context, US foreign policy was felt on a larger scale. The invasion and destruction of Iraq in 2003 was but the culmination of decades of corrupt, violent US policies in the Arab world.

But when I arrived in the US in 1994 I also found another country, far kinder and more accepting than the one represented — or misrepresented — in US foreign policy. While constantly embracing my Palestinian Arab roots, I have lived and interacted with a fairly wide margin of like-minded people in my new home.

While I was greatly influenced by my Arab heritage, my current political thoughts and the very dialectics through which I understand and communicate with the world — and my understanding of it — are vastly shaped by US scholars, intellectual dissidents and political rebels. It is no exaggeration to say that I became part of the same cultural zeitgeist that many US intellectuals subscribe to.

Certainly, anti-Arab and Muslim sentiments in the US have been around for generations, but they have risen sharply in the last two decades. Arabs and Muslims have become an easy scapegoat for all of the country’s failed wars and counter-violence.

Terrorist threats have been exaggerated beyond belief to manipulate a frightened, but also a growingly impoverished population.

The threat level was assigned colours and each time the colour vacillated towards the red, the nation drops all of its grievances, all its fights for equality, jobs and healthcare and unites in hating Muslims, people they never met.

“Terrorism” has morphed from being a violent phenomenon requiring national debate, and sensible policies to combat it, into a bogeyman that forces everyone into conformity and divides people between being docile and obedient on the one hand, and “radical” and suspect on the other.

But blaming Muslims for the decline of the US empire is as ineffective as it is dishonest.

The Economist Intelligence Unit had recently downgraded the US from a “full democracy” to a “flawed democracy”. Neither Muslims nor Islam played any role in that.

The size of the Chinese economy is soon to surpass that of the US, and the powerful East Asian country is already roaring, expanding its influence in the Pacific and beyond. Muslims are hardly the culprits there, either.

Nor are Arabs responsible for the death of the “American dream,” if one truly existed in the first place; nor the election of Donald Trump; nor the utter corruption and mafia-like practices of the country’s ruling elites and political parties.

It was not the Arabs and Muslims who duped the US into invading Iraq, where millions of Arabs and Muslims lost their lives as a result of the unchecked military adventurism.

In fact, Arabs and Muslims are by far the greatest victims of terrorism, whether state-sponsored terror or that of desperate, vile groups like Isis and al-Qaida.

US citizens should know that Muslims are not the enemy. They never have been. Conformity is.

“In this age, the mere example of non-conformity, the mere refusal to bend the knee to custom, is itself a service,” wrote John Stuart Mill in On Liberty. The English philosopher had a tremendous impact on US liberalism.

I read his famous book soon after I arrived in the US. It took me a while to realise that what we learn in books often sharply contradicts reality.

Instead, we now live in the “age of impunity,” according to Tom Engelhardt. In a 2014 article, published in the Huffington Post, he wrote: “For America’s national security state, this is the age of impunity. Nothing it does — torture, kidnapping, assassination, illegal surveillance, you name it — will ever be brought to court.”

Those who are “held accountable” are whistleblowers and political dissidents who dare question the government and educate their fellow men and women on the undemocratic nature of such oppressive practices.

Staying silent is not an option. It is a form of defeatism that should be outed as equally destructive as the muzzling of democracy.
“One has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws,” wrote Martin Luther King Jr.

Barring citizens of Muslim countries from travelling to the US is a great act of immorality and injustice. Sadly, many in the US report that such discriminatory laws already make them feel safe, which itself is an indication of how the government and media manipulate consent in this country to produce the desirable results.

As a big fan of hating Edward Bernays’ work, yet appreciating his honesty, I realise the question is not that of Trump alone. Bernays, whose writing on propaganda influenced successive governments and inspired various military coups, was versed on manipulating popular consent of US citizens nearly a century ago. He perceived the masses as unruly and a burden on democracy, which he believed could only be conducted by the intelligent few.

The outcome of his ideas, which influenced generations of conformist intellectuals, is on full display today.

The US is changing fast, and is certainly not heading in the right direction. Shelving all pressing problems and putting the focus on chasing after, demonising and humiliating brown-skinned men and women is certainly not the way out of the economic, political and foreign policy quagmires which US ruling elites have invited upon their country.

“If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they don’t want to hear,” wrote George Orwell.

No matter the cost, we must adhere to this Orwellian wisdom, even if the number of people who refuse to hear has grown exponentially and the margins for dissent have shrunk like never before.

Dr Ramzy Baroud has been writing about the Middle East for more than 20 years. He is author of several books and the founder of PalestineChronicle.com.

Minnesota Governor Calls Mosque Bombing An Act Of Terrorism: here.

Birds in the USA, video

This video from the USA says about itself:

13 July 2017

Backyard bird behavior: compilation of recent short clips and out-takes. A nice pair of House Finches, Northern Flicker parent and youngster, a male cardinal beginning to molt, a young female Eastern Towhee, a Mockingbird showing off some personality, chipping sparrows and more.