There are a number of reasons why I decided to take on this project. My first reason has to do with my interest in birds. This began shortly after moving to Victoria ten and a half years ago. With our house backing onto a wooded area, the chirping of birds is a familiar sound all year long. I often glance out the window to see birds of all forms in the yard throughout the day. Frequently I will pull out the Birds of Victoria or Birds of North America reference guides we have on hand. Unfortunately, the drawings in the first aren’t overly helpful for identification and the number of entries in the second is overwhelming. My second reason has to do with a photography course I took a number of years ago. Since that time I have been trying to think of a practical reason to buy a new camera. Taking pictures of birds requires a powerful zoom lens which my previous point-and-shoot camera could not accommodate. Perfect! My final reason was my desire to take on a new project to welcome in 2011. Hence, bird of the day was born.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Brewer's Blackbird

Euphagus cyanocephalus

Long tail
Round head
Sharply pointed beak
Males :
    Glossy black all over
    Iridescent head
    Yellowish-white eyes
    Dull gray-brown
    Dark eyes

Listen to its call.

A couple of questions came to mind when I found out the name of this bird. First, who is Brewer? Second, why is it called cyanocephalus when its head is black and not blue? And finally, why would anyone bake four-and-twenty blackbirds in a pie? I managed to find the answers to the first two questions. First, Audubon named this bird after his friend and fellow ornithologist, Thomas Brewer. Second, the male's head has a bluish-purple sheen to it in sunlight. Finally, although my last question remains unanswered, it reminded me of something very odd (and rather disturbing) I saw years ago at a market in southern France. Let's just say that baking whole birds in pastry isn't just something you read about in nursery rhymes and leave it at that.  No need for all of us to lose our appetites.

Learn more about the Brewer's Blackbird.

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