Ornithology 2 Summary (Spring 2016)

If you miss a class, please check this page and study the listed topics in your field guide. Click here for last semester's calendar.

Note: Please park in the Hayes Street Parking lot. All spaces are available except disabled and reserved drop off for the child care center. If the lot is full and you park in the Grove Street lot you will likely get a parking ticket unless you display the temporary parking passes which are available to all registered students. These passes must be stamped by the John Adams office which closes at 7:30pm!

Class notes by Elisabeth Koster are here. (Plumage and molt terminology here. )
Please register at
eBird and email me your eBird ID. I can then offer to share field trip lists with you.

Click here for a summary of bird name changes from the 56th AOU supplement.
Click here for a summary of bird name changes from the 55th AOU supplement.
Click here for a summary of bird name changes from the 54th AOU supplement.
Australia Dogs and Beaches brochure.
An online version of Ridgway's Color Standards and nomenclature is available here.
My bird and wildlife photos from Cuba are here

Replacement Sibley 2nd edition first printing
To get a replacement copy, cut the barcode off the back cover of your second edition, first printing and mail it to:
Penguin Random House
Attn: Consumer Services/DMS
400 Hahn Road
Westminster, MD 21157


May 4, 2016

We plan to complete and review the shorebirds on page 172.

American Oystercatcher photo from Chile. Click here for a synopsis of color characteristics in oystercatchers. Click here for a photo of an apparent hybrid Black X American Oystercatcher.
Black Oystercatcher in San Francisco is here. Documentation photos for the California Black Oystercatcher survey are here. Black Oystercatcher in Daly City is here.
Black-necked Stilt photo from Uruguay. Black-necked Stilt photos are here, here and here.
American Avocet photos are here and here.
Click here for an article I coauthored on hybridization between the American Avocet and the Black-necked Stilt.


April 28, 2016

We completed and reviewed the shorebirds on page 170.

Click here for a photo of a Mountain Plover in California.
Click here for photos of a Eurasian Dotterel in Washington State and here for photos of a Eurasian Dotterel in Baja, Mexico.
Northern Jacana photos and notes from Belize and a juvenile from Costa Rica.


April 27, 2016

We plan to reschedule and meet on THURSDAY, APRIL 28TH because of a labor dispute. The building will be closed on Wednesday 4/27.


April 20, 2016

We completed and reviewed the plovers on page 168

Click Common Ringed Plover for my photos and notes on a Common Ringed Plover at Davis.  
Click here for my photo of a Semipalmated Plover at Abbott's Lagoon and here for my photo of a Semipalmated Plover in Ohio.
Piping Plover photos from Cuba. Click here for my photo of a Piping Plover in Texas and here for two photos of a Piping Plover at the Salton Sea. 
Snowy Plover at Half Moon Bay here & here. Click here for my photo of a Snowy Plover with chick at Half Moon Bay and here for my recent photos of Snowy Plovers at Watsonville. .


April 13, 2016

We plan to complete and review the plovers on page 166.

My Little Ringed Plover image from India.
My Lesser Sand-Plover photos from Thailand (also here) and Australia (with Greater Sand-Plovers for comparison). Click here, here, here and here for photos of a Lesser Sand-Plovers in California, and here for my notes on a Lesser Sand-Plover in Humboldt County.
Click here for photos, video, notes and discussion on the identification of a Greater Sand-Plover at Bolinas Lagoon. My Greater Sand-Plover photo and notes from Australia.
Click here, here and here for Killdeer photos from our trips to Coyote Point.  
Wilson's Plover images are here, here, here, here and here.


April 6, 2016

We completed and reviewed the plovers on page 164.

My Black-bellied Plover photos with notes on molt. Click here for a photo and discussion of the identification of a juvenile Black-bellied Plover.
Click here for my photos and description of a juvenile American Golden-Plover. Click here, here, here, here and here for photos of juvenile American Golden-Plover and here for a photo of a breeding male American Golden-Plover.
My Pacific Golden-Plover photos in Australia with notes. Click here for comparative photos of juvenile American and Pacific golden-plovers together. Click here for a photo of a breeding plumage Pacific Golden-Plover in Alaska. Click here for photos and discussion of the identification of three molting adult golden-plovers in California. I now believe all three are Pacific Golden-Plovers.

Additional references:

Dunn, J.L., J. Morlan and C.P. Wilds. 1987. Field identification of forms of Lesser Golden-Plover. International Bird Identification - Proceedings of the 4th International Identification Meeting Eilat 1st-8th November 1986. (Click here for a pdf of this paper.)

Johnson, O. W., and Johnson, P.M. 2004. Morphometric features of Pacific and American Golden-Plovers with comments on field identification.Wader Study Group Bull. 103:42-49. (Click here for pdf).

Jarmillo, A. 2004. Featured Photo: Identification of adult Pacific and American Golden-Plovers in their southbound migration. Western Birds 35:120-124. (Click here for pdf.)


March 30, 2016

No Class!! Spring break.


March 23, 2016

We completed and reviewed the cranes on page 162 and reviewed the rails, gallinules and coots on pages 158 & 160.

I added a photo of a Eurasian Moorhen from India here.


March 16, 2016
We completed the coots and gallinules on page 160.

Click here for photos of the Purple Gallinule at Death Valley. Images of a Purple Gallinule in Los Angeles are here. My Purple Gallinule photo from Florida.
Click here for my photo of a Purple Swamphen in Florida. Clements and eBird split this species into six species. The one established and introduced in Florida is the Gray-headed Swamphen (Porphyrio poliocephalus). A vagrant African Swamphen (Porphyrio madagascariensis) has also appeared on Bermuda. My Australasian Swamphen (Porphyrio melanotus) photo.
Click here for my photo and notes on a Common Gallinule. A Common Gallinule photo from our recent field trip to Point Reyes is here and my photos of Common Gallinules in Florida, and Argentina. David Sibley has an essay on distinguishing Common Moorhen from Common Gallinule here.
Juvenile American Coot.

The "Birds of North America" account for Common Gallinule mentions, "Chick has a 1- to 1.5-mm-long spur on alula (wing) that permits grasping when chick climbs emergent vegetation, enters nest, or clings to submerged vegetation when swimming underwater (Bent 1926, Miller 1946, Wood 1974, Greij 1994)." This may be what appeared to be an external wing-claw in one photo.

Further analysis from Elisabeth Köster

"I have now come to the conclusion that the wing-thing on the gallinule chicks are not anything ON the wings, they ARE the wings. More specific, they are the outer portion (thumb and hand) of the still unfeathered wing, which has yellow skin, so it is very obviously contrasting against the otherwise black bird. It is pretty obvious in this film. Birds do have both radius and ulna! (In albatrosses they seem to be almost fused as shown here). Looking for a hands-on project in class? Here is an idea ;-) Here is an article about spurs, claws etc. Even very young coot have similar wings, though far less prominent. My interpretation of all this is at this point the following: I do no longer think that the gallinule chick wings are anatomically very different from other chick wings. They do have a contrasting skin color which is one thing that makes them more visible. I guess that they must have some signalling function in order for this contrast to have evolved. Also, they seem use them quite a lot for support which seems to have led to them being extra long and sturdy and having the spur on the alula mentioned by your source. I guess that spur is probably what to me looks like a claw at the tip of the alula. The almost constant wing-flapping by the chick in the video suggests to me that they use their wings for support as soon as they are on their feet. They probably climb quite a lot through the vegetation, which we never see, while coot chicks probably swim more, having those nice toe flaps.....

"I also looked a little into the white flank stripe. It really fascinated me that I could find not a single photo where it was completely hidden by the wing! It seems to me that the flank feathers of gallinules are very out-standing, fluffy, or whatever a better word might be, so that the wing is covered by them as soon as it is not fully spread for flight. I found a picture of a bird stretching its wing, and even here the bend of the wing is still under body feathers."


March 9, 2016
We plan to complete and review the rails on page 158.
Details on the Clapper Rail split.
Click here for my photo of a Clapper Rail in Louisiana.
Click here, here and here for my Ridgway's (formerly Clapper) Rail photos from California.
Click here for my photos of a Virginia Rail with chicks.

March 2, 2016
We completed the limpkin and rails on pages 156.
My Limpkin photos and notes from Florida, Brazil, Argentina.
Yellow Rail photos from San Leandro Bay here, here and here.
Click here, here, here and here for my photos of Sora.
Click here for photos of a Black Rail at Pt. Reyes.