Wednesday, May 14, 2008

bonjour oiseaux - a birdy blog from France

Well, I actually returned from France over a month ago, but hopefully it's not too late to post about it! By the way, "oiseaux" is french for bird (or birds plural?), just don't ask me to pronounce it since I never learned French. Anyway, I did a little casual birding during my visit to Paris and Amboise, France. My family was mostly interested in the fine dining and site-seeing but I wanted to check off a few European birds during my first trip across the Atlantic. Paris was a huge city, and I didn't expect to see a lot of birds besides the infamous Rock Doves (commonly known as pigeons). For the most part I was right except that Paris actually has two very common species of urban doves, Rock Doves and Woodpigeons. They were everywhere. I was also not surprised to see an abundance of House Sparrows, Starlings, some large corvids (Ravens and Carrion Crows) and gulls (I determined they were Black-headed Gulls).

After arriving in the countryside via train, I was finally relieved to see some birds that were a little more uniquely European.

I was surprised to see that my Peterson guide labeled a lot of birds quite plainly. For instance, this bird was just called a "Goldfinch" where I believe it is more accurately titled a European Goldfinch. I need to know the full name!

When you see them, you can just tell they are related to American Goldfinches even though they have some distinct features. Check out the red bull's-eye face! I love it!

This is a Great Tit. It may be unsurprising for me to tell you that tits are related to chickadees, since they have the same cute faces. They are also moving all over the place and quite difficult to get a snapshot of.

Blue Tits were everywhere and even tinier and harder to catch on camera. But they are probably the most adorable birds I have ever seen! This picture is terrible but my camera doesn't perform miracles... This bird was probably 30 feet up in a tree when I got the picture and I couldn't even tell what the bird was until I got home and looked at it on the computer!

This is a Greenfinch. I had a hard time identifying at first because of the poor lighting (let's just say it was dark and stormy almost every day I was in France) but the picture gives me no doubt. He gives a really cute buzzy call that I wish I had recorded.

This is a White Wagtail, and yes, they definitely wag their tails.

Chaffinches were quite abundant and were standing by, waiting for us to drop a piece of baguette nearby the magnificent French Chateaux we were touring.

Ok, this is a drawing I did of a European Robin. The original photo I took is just as cute though. I absolutely loved these birds! By the way, the relation to the American Robin is only superficial. I'm guessing it has something to do with the red breast.

To finish this rather long post I have a couple of (very shaky, somewhat rainy) videos of a European Robin and a Great Tit doing there thing, singing their songs. Time to memorize these songs for your next European vacation since you will be tested later.

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