Beak of the Week: Saqr Falcon (Saker Falcon)

The Falcon, a symbol of force and courage, is the national bird of the UAE.

Portrait of a Saker Falcon

Common Name: Saker Falcon or Saqr Falcon

Latin Name: Falco cherrug

Range:  Very large Distribution. Found from Eastern Europe to China, India, the Mediterranean, Middle East and areas of Africa.

Habitat: Arid, open plains

Diet: Mostly small mammals and birds, though, this highly aggressive bird is known to attack prey larger than itself.

Conservation Status: Endangered


A Brief History of Falconry in the UAE…

Originally, falconry was used to acquire food in the arid climate of this region. Birds of prey were captured and trained in early autumn then released promptly after hunting season. Sheiks would also use hunting trips as social opportunities to explore their respective territories and learn about current happenings. However, today, the age-old sport is a very expensive, highly popular, regulated practice in the UAE. It is represented in several ways throughout the culture: images of Falconry can be found on currency; falconry clubs are social hotspots; and, there are healthcare facilities particularly for falcons. Currently, programs are being setup and refined to preserve the success of the sport.  To learn more, click here.

Happy Birding!

Danielle + Michelle

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Beak of the Week: Roseate Spoonbill

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month, we bring you a pink bird!

Pink Beauty!

Common Name: Roseate Spoonbill

Latin Name: Platalea ajaja

Range:  Parts of South America, Gulf Coast of the U.S., and coastal areas of Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean

Habitat: Marshlands, Coastal waters

Diet: Mainly small fish, shrimp, amphibians, and other small aquatic creatures

Conservation Status: Least Concern

Gorgeous in flight!

Interesting Facts about the superb Roseate Spoonbill!

  • The Roseate Spoonbill undoubtedly receives its common name from its uniquely shaped bill. The spooned-shape enables the bird to efficiently sift through mud to find food
  • Like the Flamingo, Roseate Spoonbills get their color from the food they eat, which contains the carotenoid pigment Canthaxanthin.
  • In the mid to late 1800s, the Spoonbill was on the brink of extinction in North America. They were hunted for their beautiful pink feathers used to make women’s accessories, including hats and fans
  • A group of Roseate Spoonbills is called a “bowl”
  • There are six species of Spoonbills in the world. The Roseate Spoonbill is the only one with pink plumage and the only one found on North and South America
Happy Birding!
Danielle + Michelle

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Beak of the Week: Cinnamon Teal

What a perfect specimen of autumnal colors…

Cinnamon Teal

Common Name: Cinnamon Teal

Latin Name: Anas cyanoptera

Range:  Summers in the western United States; winters in parts of Central America, and parts of South America; found year-round along the California coast, southern South America, and parts of Central America.

Habitat: Freshwater wetlands.

Diet: Mainly seeds and aquatic vegetation. Some insects.

Conservation Status: Least Concern

Feels like Autumn!

Interesting facts…

  • “The Cinnamon Teal is the only duck with separate breeding populations in North America and South America.”
  • The male Cinnamon Teal has red eyes.
  • “Young ducklings hide in the vegetation surrounding the water. If the adult senses danger, it performs does a “broken wing” display to lure the predator away before flying off.” (
Check out this YouTube video posted by GroeneLantaarn:

Happy Birding!

Danielle + Michelle

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BOTW: Oak Titmouse

Yosemite National Park was founded on October 1st, 1890—today it celebrates its 122nd year! This area is not only special to Danielle and me because of its natural beauty and the wonderful summers we spent here at camp, but also because it is a great birding hotspot! The Oak Titmouse, a bird commonly found in the national park, is this week’s Beak of the Week! Though plain in appearance, this grey bird can carry quite a tune!

Oak Titmouse

Common Name: Oak Titmouse

Latin Name: Baeolophus inornatus

Range:  Found year-round from southwest Oregon through California to northwestern Baja California.

Habitat: Warm, dry oak and pine forests.

Diet: Seeds and insects.

Conservation Status: Least Concern.

Interesting fact: The Oak Titmouse and the Juniper Titmouse were once considered one species: the Plain Titmouse. However, in 1996, these two birds were officially considered two distinct species by ornithologists because of differing calls, songs, genetics, plumage and range.

Click to listen to the song of the Oak Titmouse and the Juniper Titmouse.

Happy Birding!

Danielle + Michelle

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BOTW: Andean Cock-of-the-rock

Happy “birdie thirty” to one of the best brother-in-laws in the world!

Happy birthday, Eric!

As you enter your third decade on this earth, we thought nothing more appropriate than celebrating an AMAZING PERSON with this SPECTACULAR BIRD!  We know how much you enjoyed your visit to Machu Picchu, so we thought the Peruvian national bird, the Andean Cock-of-the-Rock, would be a great choice!

Andean Cock-of-the-Rock, Rupicola peruvianus (photo from 

Common Name: Andean Cock-of-the-Rock

Latin Name: Rupicola peruvianus

Range:  Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia

Habitat: Cloud forests of the Andes

Diet: Mainly fruit and insects.

Conservation Status: Least Concern

Hey, E, we’d like to know if your birthday dance moves can compete with those of the Cocks-of the-Rock at the lek? Not sure? Keep reading and take a look!

The male Cocks-of-the-Rock partake in a very elaborate display ritual intended to show off their magnificent plumage. These displays take place in communal leks, where males congregate to challenge rivals and beckon the females.

At the lek, male Cocks-of-the-Rock have been observed to break up into pairs, performing “confrontation displays.”  Think of this as the ultimate dance off. Here’s the scenario: two males facing one another while bowing, jumping, snapping their bills, flapping their wings, squawking, and grunting.  Don’t believe us? Check out the video below!

Thanks to the ibirdcollection, we can share with you the Cock-of-the-Rock Lek! video…

Happy Birthday and Happy birding,

Michelle and Danielle


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Beak of the Week: Lincoln’s Sparrow

We are all familiar with the “brown birds.” You know, the seemingly boring ones that may appear slightly different from one another, but are all classified simply as: Sparrows. Well, as lovers of color and art, we completely understand the lack of enthusiasm that some might feel toward these comparatively less stunning creatures. However, with a little more insight, these little brown birds, or “LBB” as some like to call them, become that much more fascinating. Not to mention, distinguishing one from another really tests your eye!

The Lincoln’s Sparrow is an example of an “LBB” that is beautiful in its own right if you pause to appreciate its unique characteristics and song…

The Lincoln’s Sparrow is a member of the genus Melospiza, which is renowned for its singing ability. In fact, Audubon once said “we found more wildness about this species than any other inhabiting the same country” referring to the Labrador expedition on which the Lincoln’s sparrow was discovered. (

Common Name: Lincoln’s Sparrow

Latin Name: Melospiza lincolnii

Range:  Summers throughout Canada. Winters in the Southern United States and Central America. Migrates through the majority of the US.

Diet: Mostly insects during the summer. During the winter, they eat small seeds and invertebrates.

Conservation Status: Least Concern.

Thanks to a YouTube video by , we can listen to the delightful voice of the Lincoln’s Sparrow in Greensboro, Vermont.

Happy Birding!

Danielle + Michelle




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Beak of the Week: Mountain Chickadee

As all birders know, talking birds is easy! However, in a city like Los Angeles, where working in the wild bird feeding industry isn’t exactly common, people become excited and interested when introduced to our world. On a weekly basis, we receive texts, emails, calls, tweets, and the like, asking us to identify a bird that a friend’s mother’s brother’s daughter-in-law spotted. What joy!

The Mountain Chickadee is an example of a recently shared sighting…

A Mountain Chickadee perched on a branch in winter (

Common Name: Mountain Chickadee

Latin Name: Poecile gambeli

Range: Western United States and Canada

Habitat: Evergreen forests of Western mountains.

Diet: Mostly insects. Also eats seeds and nuts when available.

Conservation Status: Least Concern

Don’t forget to put out your feeders–these birds are common at feeders feasting on large seed, suet, and insects!!!


Happy Birding,

Michelle + Danielle

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Beak of the Week: Ruby-throated Hummingbird

If you live in the eastern half of the United States and southern Canada, learning to identify hummingbirds is easy! Only one kind (with very rare exceptions) can be found in this range: the Ruby-throated Hummingbird.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Archilochus colubris (

Common Name: Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Latin Name: Archilochus colubris

Range:  East of the Mississippi River in North America

Habitat: Open woodlands, forest edges, meadows, grasslands, and in parks, gardens and backyards

Diet: Nectar and small insects.

Conservation Status: Least Concern.

Juvenile Ruby-throated Hummingbird (archilochus colubris) in flight with a flower (

Attracting these beauties to your backyard is easy! Simply create an environment that is suitable for hummingbirds by planting native flora, providing a fresh water source, filling and maintaining a clean nectar feeder, and keeping predators, such as house cats and dogs, away.

Happy Birding!

Danielle and Michelle

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Beak of the Week: Hoopoe

Though I saw my true “spark bird” at the young age of six, I must credit the Hoopoe with reinvigorating my passion for birds at an adult age.

Hoopoe, Upupa epops

Common Name: Hoopoe; Upupa

Latin Name: Upupa epops

Range:  Europe, Asia, North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Madagascar.

Habitat: Found in a wide range of ecosystems including heathland, wooded steppes, savannahs, grasslands and forests. Commonly found in olive groves, orchards, vineyards, parklands, and farmlands.

Diet: Mostly insects. Occasionally eats small reptiles, amphibians, seeds and berries.

Hungry, hungry, Hoopoe!!!

Conservation Status: Least Concern.

Hip Hoopoe Happenings!

  • Hoopoes are represented in several mythologies, including Egyptian, Arabic, and Greek.
  • Hoopoes are protected under the law in several countries. Their insect-based diet makes them highly susceptible to the use of pesticides.
  • Hoopoes have foul smelling nests reminiscent of rotting meat. It is believed this is to detour predators as well as attract insects for food.
Eurasian hoopoe, male feeding female in courtship display.

Happy Birding!

Danielle + Michelle


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Pledge to Fledge 2012

GET EXCITED!!! The inaugural P2F kickoff is just a few days away. Events will be going on in over 30 countries around the world. You, too, can be part of this global birding initiative. Let’s get out there and make a difference! To learn more, please visit

To view video, please see below or click here: P2F SUMMER 2012


Pledge to Fledge today!


Happy Fledging!

Danielle, Michelle a & The GBI Team

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