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An open conversation about the birds in your back yard and beyond

A field guide to Mesozoic birds and other winged dinosaurs


Here is a bird identification book that is pretty much useless.


It’s well done, informative, with amazing illustrations (considering).


It’s a “Field Guide to Mesozoic Birds and Other Winged Dinosaurs.”


Who would’ve thought!


Author and artist Matthew P. Martyniuk writes in the book’s beginning:


“While Mesozoic birds and other ancient dinosaurs are extinct, it is possible to illustrate them within a reasonable margin of error by combining fossil evidence with principles gleaned from observing modern species and good modern analogues.”


In many cases his renditions of particular avian species closely resemble some of today’s songbird species, raptors, shorebirds, and waterfowl. Avians, the author explains, are “modern” birds. They represent “descendants of the most recent common ancestor of all birds alive today.”


Scant fossil evidence tends to be the rule. Creatures as fragile as birds do not make good fossils.


Martyniuk writes that it is likely that members of several modern bird orders existed before what is known as the K-Pg boundary. That is the arrival 66 million years ago of the massive astroid that landed in today’s Mexico, changing air quality and weather that brought extinction to three-quarters of all plant and animal life on earth.


Many birds and other small creatures survived. With less competition for resources and fewer predators, they evolved into today’s animal species.


Some of today’s birds, as seen in Martyniuk’s artistic interpretations, have changed little in 66 million years. On a field trip at the end of the Cretaceous period, which came at the end of the Mesozoic era, you could almost get along with your current edition of Sibley. 


In addition to the illustrations, Martyniuk writes about the evolution of feathers and birds. He also provides extensive explanations of the biology of these creatures, and what fossil evidence he used to make his artistic decisions.


The book was published in 2012 by Pan Aves of Vernon, N.J. It is available from the Hennepin County library.


Eagles and other nesting birds on video feeds

Once again there will be baby Bald Eagles to be watched thanks to the Minnesota DNR. Its camera offers live feeds of eagle activity. 


Go to


There is a new camera this season with infrared lighting and sound. The microphone is f not currently operational, but the infrared allows viewers to watch nighttime activity in the nest, without disturbing the birds or the white-footed mice that are using the nest and nesting materials to make a living. The microphone will be replaced next time we can visit the nest.


The DNR offers the Alternative Viewing Options link that it had last year.

Rewind video for instant replay: Click anywhere on the red timeline bar below the image to go back up to 4 hours. Click on the "LIVE" button to return to the live feed. Make the video full screen by pressing the double arrow in the lower right. To escape from full screen, press the ESC key, or tap "Done" on your mobile device. Click here to Watch the feeding video clip! 


There are many bird cams in action throughout the U.S. and around the world. Here are some of the addresses (a Google search finds many).


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