Friday, August 23, 2013

Pasari din Romania

Or "Birds from Romania." :) My trip was super awesome! We saw a lot of family who I was able to communicate with decently well using my broken Romanian.  We walked around the cities that my parents grew up in. We rode the metro! I never get to ride the metro. And Romanian food is so delicious, you guys. There were so many food vendors along the streets. Bookstores, too. Also, panhandlers and stray dogs. Romania isn't as clean as America, but it's amazing.

Like I predicted, I didn't have very much time for birding! My only real "birding" experience was staking out my Bunicu's (Grandfather's) garden for an hour one morning. :P Mostly, I focused on my family, and if there happened to be a cool bird nearby, I tried to snap a picture. I didn't have any way to ID these guys until about halfway through the week. As far as I can tell, there are no field guides for Romanian birds!! Thankfully, my dad found this website. It's in Romanian, so I don't know if you'll be able to use it, but at least you can look at it! The Societatea Ornitologică Romană (Romanian Ornithological Society) seems like a pretty cool organization. And here, they have a list of all the Romanian species - with their Romanian names! How awesome is that?

Anyways, here are the pictures I took during my week and a half there!

The very first bird I saw was, surprisingly, Mallards. I hadn't realized exactly how wide-spread their range is!

Next up was a Hooded Crow, or as it's called in Romanian, Cioara grivă. This was a lifer for me! (Of course.) I was actually fairly certain the crows in Bucharest were Hooded Crows on my first day, but I waited until I got a closer look.

The reason I hesitated to make the ID was because when I told my grandparents that it looked like their crows had gray on them, they frowned and said no, definitely not, crows are black. It turns out this was just another case of people not looking too closely! I'm not being critical of my grandparents - lots of people don't look too closely at birds. It was kind of fun to teach my relatives something about their own wildlife. :P

Farther down the path in Titan Park, we came across these guys! There were two of these thrushes scrounging around under a bush not 5 feet away from the path. I quickly snapped some pictures.

You can tell this is a thrush because it has a large body with a proportionally small head, a long bill that's relatively thick, and fairly long wings and tail. Walking around on the ground and digging for critters is also a very thrush-y thing to do. :) Once you know what family a bird belongs to, it becomes way easier to identify them! I didn't have to go through the entire list of birds of Romania - just the thrush section. As far as I can tell, these are all juvenile Eurasian Blackbirds, or Mierle. (Mierle being the plural of Mierla.)

This photo was actually taken in Parkul Herăstrău, but it's the same species! :)

Also in Parkul Titan was this Eurasian Coot, another lifer.

There were House Sparrows all over the place! The Romanian word for sparrow is "vrabie."

There were quite a lot of gulls, too, or "pescăruși." I am not super interested in identifying this gull. :P But if you think this photo is enough for an ID, go for it! Knock yourselves out.

One day we went up to Cluj-Napoca, a city about an hour's plane ride away from Bucharest. We went to a relative's house near the forest, and although I didn't get any good photos of birds, I did get this cool moth!!! One of my relatives pointed it out hanging in the swing because they know I like bugs and birds and stuff.

And while we were in the airport the next morning, I spotted these Rooks on the field. They slowly came closer and closer. Finally, they were right next to the runway! Their beaks were so cool, much longer and thinner than my crows or ravens have. And check out the white base! Wow.

The Romanian word for Rook is Cioară de semănătură. :)

Back in Bucharest, I was hanging out on the balcony of my room when I saw a passerine-ish bird flit up to my Bunicu's grape trestles. I snatched my camera and ran outside, but this was the best photo I could get, hardly good enough for an ID. :/

Thankfully, the very next morning, I saw it again! It was hanging out in the tomato patch. This is a juvenile Red-backed Shrike, or a Sfrâncioc roşiatic. I also saw one of the gray adults hopping around in the prune trees, but it was too hidden for me to get a picture. This bird's call is a short, percussive buzz - quite easy to recognize!

I was also happy to see Eurasian Collared Doves in their natural range! I get them occasionally here (they're much more common in SoCal), but in Romania they are native, and in my opinion, that's a much more special sighting! These guys were very vocal. They're called Guguştiuci to match their call: guu guu ştiuc!

And on the very last day before we left, we went to Parkul Cismigiu. I saw this cutie, which I identified as a Spotted Flycatcher, or Muscar sur.

There are so many nearly identical flycatchers in America that it's impossible to identify them with just a photo. I was worried the Romanian flycatchers would be the same. But they only have four flycatchers, and the other three are very distinctly colored! Thank goodness. This was my last lifer of the trip, bringing the total up to 6. :)

I absolutely want to go back and bird Romania more seriously some time! They have got some GREAT birds. Everyone told me I need to visit the Danube Delta. There are even some really rare pelicans that breed there! Hopefully I'll make it eventually.

This voyage was a great end to my summer! Tomorrow I move into my college dorm, eeeeek! Thank you all for enjoying my summer break with me. I don't know when I'll have time to go birding again... What I do know is that on September 14, I'll be in Delaware to speak at the Mid-Atlantic Young Birder Conference! Are any of you going? I'm so excited!


  1. Sounds like you had a great trip to finish off your summer.

    See you in September!!!

  2. I looove the shrike!!

    Can't wait to see you!!! :D