By Fred A. Ryser
Birds have constantly been of willing curiosity to guy, because their good looks, tune and engaging behaviour are conspicuously displayed and will be considered and heard via even the main informal observer. This publication, the results of over thirty years of study, is the main finished ever released at the assorted chook lifetime of the nice Basin.
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Extra info for Birds of the Great Basin: a natural history
Take a close look at Great Basin species such as the Killdeer or the Snowy Plover, and you will see all three features of coloration in one bird: obliterative shading, cryptic coloration, and dark disruptive markings-as complete or partial black breast-rings and dark lines through and between the eyes. It is obvious that color does not always function to render a bird less Page 22 conspicuous. To the contrary, color and color patterns often render a bird more conspicuous. Note the snow-white swans and egrets and the coal-black ravens.
Mountain ranges add a new dimension to environmental diversity-one which goes beyond the diversity conferred by the latitudinal and longitudinal sprawl of the Basin. A bird living in a closed conifer forest on a Great Basin mountain is actually living in a climatic life zone comparable to the taiga or great circumboreal conifer forests of northern North America and Eurasia. By moving a short distance higher up and crossing the upper tree line into the alpine zone on that mountain, the bird enters a climatic life zone comparable to the tundra of arctic North America and Eurasia.
Whether seen or not, numerous kinds of birds frequent these desert shrublands and woodlands. This is magnificent country for raptors, and during the winter eagles, hawks, and falcons often concentrate in such numbers as to apparently defy the limitations imposed by a pyramid of biomass. The pyramid of biomass is a generalization in ecology that the food supply must always greatly outweigh the animals feeding on it. So very much prey is needed to support the energy needs of raptors that these predators of necessity must be few and far between in any viable community of organisms.