Birding the Media

In the Steven Universe episode “Giant Woman”, the Gems explore a location known as the Sky Spire. Listen closely as they arrive, and you’ll hear the distinctive song of the Red-winged Blackbird.

They’re mostly a wetland species. They’re boisterous and showy, puffing themselves up and spreading their wings in a territorial display as they sing. Their song is usually written out as conk-a-reee.

This TurboTax commercial is one of the most densely bird-packed ads I’ve ever seen.

We start off with a Peregrine Falcon.

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Now look at this guy’s living room. That’s a lot of birds.

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A Great Horned Owl painting, several models/statuettes/mounted birds (an oriole?), a skeleton under glass (chicken, probably), another painting (goldfinches, maybe?), and a window where tropical birds stop by.

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A Great Horned Owl skateboard, and the best cable package ever. I’m not sure what that buffy passerine in the shadowbox is. Thoughts?

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And the star of the commercial is a Black-throated Magpie Jay, a Mexican corvid.

They have it making a finch-like noise. Here are some actual recordings of their calls.

It’s an amazing celebration of birding for a tax software commercial.

The Atkins diet is still around, and in this TV spot, Sharon Osbourne hassles a female American Robin about its diet.

It’s an okay representation of a female AMRO. The coloring is about right- females are typically duller overall than males. Those white underarm bars shouldn’t be there, and its white “eye crescents” are full spectacles here.

You can also hear robins in the background of the street scene.

In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Thine Own Self”, Data loses his memory on a pre-industrial planet and accidentally contaminates the populace with radioactive metal fragments.

You can hear what are probably House Finches throughout almost every outdoor scene. But in the quieter, indoor scenes, you can hear Wood Thrushes.

Wood Thrushes are plump, eastern thrushes. They’re reddish-brown on top and white with bold, dark spots underneath. Their song is quite beautiful, often characterized as an “ee-o-lay” sound, followed by a springy noise.

Earth birds evolving on other planets isn’t that unusual for the Trek universe: the idea that planets would develop similarly was deliberately built into the show’s lore as a cost-saving feature.

In this Esurance commercial, a Eurasian Collared Dove tries to line its nest with a dollar bill.

As the name suggests, EUCOs aren’t native to North America. They entered via the Bahamas in the 70s and quickly colonized most of the United States. According to the story posted around online, they originally escaped during a pet shop burglary, after which the owner decided to release about 50 of them. That’s all the detail that’s ever given- if anyone knows more, I’d love to hear about it.

It’s the males that build the nests.

The holidays is when Coca Cola rolls out their Arctic-themed commercials.

This here is an Atlantic Puffin. Puffins and other auks may look like penguins, but that’s just convergent evolution- they’re not closely related.

The one in the ad makes a kind of squawking noise. Real ones apparently sound like a “chainsaw buzzing”.

Stevie Nicks’s 1982 song, Edge of Seventeen, is best known by its lyric:

Just like the White-winged DoveSings a songSounds like she’s singingWhoo… whoo… whoo…

The song of the White-winged Dove is rendered as “Who cooks for you?”, though this is harder to work into lyrics.
"Who cooks for you?" is also the mnemonic for the call of the Barred Owl. Compare their hooting version to the WWDO’s cooing version.

Stevie Nicks’s 1982 song, Edge of Seventeen, is best known by its lyric:

Just like the White-winged Dove
Sings a song
Sounds like she’s singing
Whoo… whoo… whoo…

The song of the White-winged Dove is rendered as “Who cooks for you?”, though this is harder to work into lyrics.

"Who cooks for you?" is also the mnemonic for the call of the Barred Owl. Compare their hooting version to the WWDO’s cooing version.

Doctor Who has been on TV all week in lead-up to the 50th Anniversary.

In “The Waters of Mars”, there are birds kept in the garden of the first human colony on Mars, “to keep the insect population down”. They all die in nuclear explosion.

The one we see is a European Robin, the national bird of the UK.

Study of European Robin eyes have led to discoveries in quantum entanglement, which is very Doctor Who.

Speaking of Regular Show, the baby ducks are probably meant to be Mallards, judging by their mother. The geese that take over the lake are Canada Geese.

One of the enduring  mysteries of Regular Show is what species Margaret is supposed to be. I’ve seen her variously described as a robin or a cardinal- neither of which she resembles. Pure red wings are kind of rare among birds, female birds especially. Margaret might be dyeing herself.