I’m in Halifax County, North Carolina. USA.
First of all, I must make you aware – it is freezing. Literally. Daytime, today, and it’s below freezing outside. Ooh.
The first native species I saw when I arrived last week was a Red-tailed hawk perching on a telegraph pole at the side of the road. It’s actually a type of Buzzard, but they seem to like mixing up wildlife names over here.
For example, what we call the Red deer in GB, here they call it the Elk. And what we call the Elk, here they call the Moose. It’s all rather confusing. And what they call the Robin isn’t a robin at all. It’s a thrush.
The second species I saw was a bright scarlet passerine with a dashing crest on his head. I squealed with delight. I may have even sworn, I was so taken with his beauty. He is the Northern cardinal, and a regular visitor to the bird table. Mrs N cardinal is just as beautiful but with different colours.
Other regulars on the bird table and feeders are White-throated sparrow, Chipping sparrow, Song sparrow, Titmouse, Mourning dove, and Northern mockingbird.
I’ve also seen many European starlings and House sparrows. Both species are not native and were introduced over here in the 1800s. As both species are declining in GB, we could do with shipping them all back!
I’ve got used to Turkey vultures gliding overhead. I regularly see flocks of the American robin. I’ve so far seen three species of woodpecker – Red-headed, Flicker, Yellow-bellied sapsucker. And wow, the Eastern bluebird, with its shimmering blue back and orange chest. A very glamorous member of the thrush family. Ooh and Dark-eyed junco too.
I’ve seen one wee mouse, species unknown, and I met a lovely skink (a type of lizard) with a blue tail.
I’ve learnt a bit about falconry here. Americans are so fond of their hunting, fishing, shooting. To hunt with hawks one must have a license, and complete an apprenticeship period in order to gain this licence. It’s all very strict, thankfully. But this is what I found quite peculiar… They are permitted to catch wild juveniles (not of any rare species obviously). They train them up, get them through their first winter, and then release them back into the wild. The logic is that they are actually helping more hawks to survive, as most juvenile raptors actually die in their first year when they are beginning to fend for themselves and are vulnerable to starvation.
In GB this is forbidden. It is a criminal offence to take any species of raptor from the wild. All falconry birds must be from captive bred stock.
Now I don’t know if any research has been carried out and published on whether or not the American way has helped any of the species here. I shall have to investigate. For now, my jury is out.
Other things that differ? Pronunciations of words. Sometimes it takes me a while to figure out what folk are talking about. They call trousers pants. They call waders (the avian kind, not the rubber boot kind) shorebirds. A trip down the supermarket aisles took me a while as all the food looks familiar but has different names. I don’t see any Fairtrade logos on anything in the local store here, but I have noticed a lack of Palm oil in ingredient lists. So that’s made me happy. Oh and apparently shagging on the beach is a popular dance!!
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