Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Blue Birds [Unexpectations]

George Carlin famously asked, "Where is the blue food?" something that has nagged at me for years. Blueberries? "Blue on the vine," he points out, "purple on the plate."

Blue birds, however, are easy to come by: here in the eastern U.S. we've got our Eastern Bluebirds, Indigo Buntings, Blue Grosbeaks, Cerulean Warblers, and Blue Jays to name a few. Other regions around the world have their share as well. You'll find Pinyon and Stellar's Jays in the western U.S., Red-legged Honeycreepers in the neotropics, House Martins in Europe and tropical Africa, the Common Peafowl from the Indian subcontinent and aviary collections everywhere; the point being blue isn't uncommon in the bird world.

But what you don't find are Blue Storks, because generally you don't find storks that are blue in the wild.

Until now.

The BBC reports here on an oddly colored stork that appeared in a small town in Germany, one that is attracting quite a bit of attention and, in turn, tourism. Not to mention speculation, what turned this bird blue?

Bonus link: watch Carlin's "Blue Food" routine on Youtube.



nishiki_85 said...

Glad you're back. I was hoping for some T & T images.

Thanks for sharing the links.

My favourite blue bird seen so far, Mountain Bluebird.


noflickster said...

Hi Bob,

I'm somewhat back! Migration is the crazy time of year, but I'm hoping to manage my time reasonably. Lots of things to share . . . like old trips like T&T and Puerto Rico.

Hope migration is treating you well "up north," the floodgates opened last night around here. Good stuff on the way!

Jochen said...

Most people suspect the storks (there are two now in Germany) were shot at with paint balls somewhere along their migration route.
Yupp, the strange games people play.
Well, better paint balls than training your handling of anti-aircraft guns on soaring flocks, as is/was frequently/sometimes done in the Middle East.

noflickster said...

Hi Jochen,

Paintball - I can't say that would surprise me. In fact, now that I think about it, I'm surprised we don't see it happening more!

I hear another theory is it (or they) may have rested in a pond dyed with blue.

Regardless, I suppose we'll see what happens when the bird molts.

(I just had a thought: if seeing the bird is such a huge attraction, imagine what you could get for selling a molted blue feather! Do you have access to a white goose and some blue dye?)

Jochen said...

Well, I don't quite buy the bath hypothesis as this would lead to a more uniform blue dying whereas at least one of the storks clearly has big fat blue spots on it - much more like areas hit by a painball.

Oh sadly I live in an urban area with a short supply of goose feathers, but maybe we can dye some storks in rainbow colours, or paint comic figures on them to increase their attractiveness to tourists?
This would be a huge boost to stork conservation as each and every village would want a stork pair to attract tourists.
Certain patterns - you know, like the face of Brad Pitt, Mickey Mouse or George W. Bush (remember him?) - could be "sold" at auctions to interested communities and all the profits would go to Birdlife International.
Oh, the possibilities!
Think that'd work with Spoon-billed Sandpipers as well?


noflickster said...


One of the images I saw did look "splotchy" vs. uniform, which I'm sure would allow any of the forensic scientists on any number of TV crime shows to identify the cause. And the make, model, and color of weapon, where the paint was manufactured and sold, where the shooter stood, along with the angle, direction, and distance the paintball traveled, etc etc.

I'm afraid we'll Hercule Poirot to come up with motive. All I can think is, "because it was there, and I was holding a paintball gun" - it couldn't be that simple, could it? I mean, in the States, yeah, but the Old World? Do you guys do that, too?

I like the rainbow- and pattern-dyed idea: it's a gold mine! With the right marketing on some of the popular entertainment sites . . . wow! Spoon-billed Sandpiper, I'm not sure. That spatulate bill would likely seem "weird" to the "regular folk." A different marketing strategy, though, should work, I just don't know what it is (curse my biological background!).

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