Apr 10 2008
Every year in April I attend the PBS Technology Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. To me it is slightly bizarre that a public broadcasting meeting is held in Las Vegas but it’s planned to coincide with the National Association of Broadcasters convention which is always held in Las Vegas in April.
So here I am. For several days we sit in the dark watching Powerpoint. I must say that my favorite presentations are the HD TV segments from nature shows. Even so, when I’m not in the meetings I just want to see birds.
There are plenty of birds at the Las Vegas Strip but most of them are “junk birds” so common and prolific that it just doesn’t make your heart go pitta-pat to see them.
The great-tailed grackles are the ones who stand out. They are incredibly common and in spring they’re obnoxious. This is part of courtship. The males chase the females and each other. They swagger down the sidewalk. They perch on palm trees and buildings and call loudly (click here on the Sound link!) They expand their throat feathers and tails and point their bills at the sky. They have bill-pointing contests to see whose bill is tallest. They are so … Las Vegas.
They are also expanding their range. The photo above was taken by Chuck Tague in Belize. He’s also seen them in Arizona and I hear you can find them in Iowa now.
Maybe they’re following the casinos. 😉
p.s. My favorite place for birding near Las Vegas is Henderson Bird Preserve. Also see the comments below for more birding hotspots near Las Vegas.