Friday, November 29, 2013

black turnstone and surfbird ~ 11/29/13 ~ Coast Guard Pier

black turnstone (left) and surfbird (right)

The problem with self-study, like I do here on Nature ID, is that it's challenging to catch my own mistakes.  Fellow blogger John Rakestraw's recent post made me do a double-take of his last picture of two birds.  Hmm, the black turnstone and surfbird sure look a lot alike!  Have I been able to tell them apart before?  Based on my only confirmed sighting of surfbirds down in Morro Bay, I remembered them having yellow legs and being significantly heaftier than black turnstones.  Nope, they're only slightly larger.  It just so happened that as we were enjoying a post-holiday walk, we saw the two birds hanging out together along the Coast Guard Pier (apologies for the distance shot, but ever since they put up the fence on the Pier, good close-ups are hard to come by).  I really loved how different they look when they take flight, as Monika Wieland captured so well on her blog Orca Watcher - the black turnstone has the more striking white center strip down its back ending in a bold black spot, and the surfbird has a solid grey back.  As I was looking at my blog records, sure enough my only previous black turnstone post also shows the surfbird.  Right?  I made corrections.


ryan said...

I have a question. As you learn birds the way you're doing, do you find the latin names useful the way they are for plants. I only use latin for plants, but I don't know a single one for birds, wondered if it was at all useful.

Katie (Nature ID) said...

I probably should look into the root names more (bird, plant, otherwise), but I don't. I only have one friend who can rattle off scientific names like nobody's business, and she regularly loses me in conversation because I don't know what's she's talking about. Sometimes I think she just makes up names, knowing full well no one is going to question her. I tend to go for the common names, because I find it easier to talk about with my mostly non-nature friends. If they can kinda understand, then their eyes don't glaze over. Does that make sense? However, some names do stick with me, like Zalophus californianus, aka California big head, for our sea lions.