Thursday, April 24, 2008

Eagle Eyes birding game

Have you played Eagle Eyes, the observational game hosted by National Audubon Society? You get to see two images side by side, for a number of seconds that you choose before the game begins, and then you click on the images to pinpoint differences.

Each pair differs in five ways, and if you find most of the differences in the five sets, then you've earned the Eagle Eyes rank. I earned 21 of 25 on my second try -- with 30 seconds per pair -- so I get to join the ranks.

How'd you do?


1 out of every 9 ducklings...

humorous pictures

Courtesy of I Can Has Cheezburger


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Bird photo contest deadline

The postmark deadline for this year's content is this Friday, April 25. The entry form and the various prizes per category appear in the March/April and May/June issues. The entry form does not appear online.

Don't delay!

Last year's grand-prize photo of young Great Horned Owls by James F. Cowell of Milwaukee, Wis., earned him a Canon EOS 40D. That camera model will go to this year's grand-prize photographer, too.

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New Peregrine chick in Cleveland

Today's Falcon Flash news bulletin from the Raptors in the City program shows the hatching of a Peregrine Falcon chick on the ledge of a Cleveland skyscraper. Welcome to the world!

You can see up-to-date images via the Falcon Cam. Thanks to Cleveland Museum of Natural History for sponsoring the camera.


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Earth Day

Wishing you the chance today to gaze upon greenery, stand in the shade of a tall tree, stick your hands into some dirt or sand, listen to moving water, watch birds and other wildlife and revel in nature, no matter how small a patch.

080412 OCB 060b

Huntington State Beach in Huntington Beach, Calif., by yours truly


Monday, April 21, 2008

Girly stuff

In need of an iPod case, a tea pot cozy, a coffee cozy or a zippered pouch that shows your affinity for birding? Take a peek at Stitchella's items on You'll find

a sparrow iPod Nano case

an owl tea pot cozy

an owl coffee cozy

and a raven zippered pouch, among other items. Take a peek!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Prairie-Chickens as the new cash cow?

A New York Times article today focuses on the reappearance of "prairie chickens" in Eagleville, Mo. -- north of Kansas City and almost on the Iowa border. Once plentiful in Missouri but now threatened, the Greater Prairie-Chickens lure birders, ornithologists and photographers to a blind on Dunn Ranch, owned by The Nature Conservancy.

Tourism, which had been practically unheard of here, is now a hot topic. A bed and breakfast is about to open and the few remaining old businesses are feeling the pulse of new life for the first time in decades.

“You can see things in pictures, it’s just not the same,” said Jennifer McComb, an antiques dealer from St. Louis, during a recent viewing. “I cried. It’s the whole prairie thing, and the fact that they’re on the edge of not being. There are birds that I would have died to have seen that are long gone. These, they might not make it. They’re tricky. They’re weird. They’re special.”
They’re tricky. They’re weird. They’re special. That applies to many species, doesn't it?

Details about Dunn Ranch appear here.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Do you dragonfly?

Texas Parks & Wildlife Department asserts that "dragonflying is the new birding."

The birding industry has established universal appeal, but birds and butterflies are not the only winged migrants to attract a crowd. Dragonflies and damselflies are gaining popularity among wildlife enthusiasts, and southern Texas is home to 93 species, making it one of the most biologically diverse regions in the United States.

The ninth annual Dragonfly Days weekend is a chance to see why dragonflying is becoming as popular as birding in some places. The event takes place in Weslaco May 15-18 and is sponsored by the Estero Llano Grande State Park World Birding Center site near Weslaco and the Valley Nature Center.

Gray-waisted Skimmer courtesy of Joshua Rose, Ph.D., © Texas Parks and Wildlife Department


Monday, April 14, 2008

10 spring must-see sites

Earlier this month, John Flicker -- president of National Audubon Society -- cited 10 favorite spring birding sites. They don't appear to be ranked in order of preference.

Kern River Preserve in Weldon, Calif.
Francis Beidler Forest Sanctuary in Harleyville, S.C.
Rowe Sanctuary in Gibbon, Neb.
Waunita Lek in Gunnison, Colo.
High Island, Texas
Easter Egg Rock in Muscongus Bay, Maine
Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge in Oak Harbor, Ohio
Central Park in New York City
Souris Loop National Wildlife Refuge in Minot, N.D.
Tara Wildlife in Vicksburg, Miss.

Have you been to any? Do you agree with Flicker's list? What do you consider your top 10 spring sites?


Thursday, April 10, 2008

World Series of Birding in National Geographic

Have you seen the April issue of National Geographic? Mel White penned the tale of the 2007 event.

I predict that even nonlisters will enjoy the delightful read, and I like that the opening photo of the online version shows dreadlocked, tattooed Philadelphia-based Tony Croasdale of Team Bristlehead. Not all birders sport gray hair and wrinkles -- the typical stereotype of those who feed, watch and chase birds.


Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Photo contest tips: current entry form

Every year, WildBird holds a photo contest with multiple categories. Sometimes those categories changes.

Tip: Use the entry form for this year's contest. This ensures that you will submit an image for a category that actually exists in the current contest.

This year, we've received entries for a defunct category. Those folks unfortunately used time, materials and postage on a futile endeavor.

To stay abreast of changes in the contest rules, you can check the March/April and May/June issues. You'll always find details and the entry form in those issues.

BTW, the entry form will not appear online.

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Monday, April 07, 2008

Travel tips for birding festivals

It's (un)official: The festival season has started. My calendar of birding festivals shows a huge increase in events after the first weekend of April.

If you're going to fly to a birding event soon, consider these tips for airplane travel. I've learned, by flying once or twice a month for three or so years, that a little preparation goes a long way toward arriving at my destination in a good mood -- despite whatever challenges arise in the airport or on the plane.

Atchafalaya Experience field trip,
American Birding Association convention in April 2007

• ear plugs for the flight(s) and your hotel room
• eye drops
• snacks: nuts, dried fruit and/or fresh veggies, granola bars, water (purchased after the security checkpoint)
• reading material (including WildBird! I had to say it.)
• note pads and digital camera

Put these items in your carry-on luggage. I prefer to use a backpack large enough to hold my laptop, which slips into a neoprene case for protection. (I'm also one of those dorks who wears a backpack during the festivals' field trips.)

Wear your heaviest shoes onto the plane if you’re taking only carry-on luggage.

Bring an empty duffel for laundry, purchases and printed materials. You never know what treasures you'll find in a festival's vendor area or at a local store.

Keep toiletries, an umbrella and a power strip (for your laptop, cell phone charger and digital camera battery charger) in your suitcase so that you don’t forget them.

Gracefully accept that the airline will not provide free, bountiful food that you like. That's why you bring small snacks in your carry-on.

Speaking of food: Will your hotel room include a mini refrigerator? (That's my upmost criteria.) After arriving at your destination and leaving the airport, look for a grocery store.

Purchase breakfast items, snacks and bottled water so that you can fill your gullet before or while riding that 5 a.m. bus to your first destination during a day-long field trip. With some snacks and water in your backpack, you don't need to wait for lunch to keep up your blood sugar.
If you have lower expectations about airplane travel, then you can relax and deal more calmly with delayed or cancelled flights. They're just part of the adventure!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Bad manners owl...

is which species?

Courtesy of I Can Has Cheezburger


N.J. birding in Philadelphia Inquirer

Still haven't sampled the birding at New Jersey's southernmost tip, Cape May? Perhaps this article in The Philadelphia Inquirer will nudge you to do so.

Experts consider Cape May and the surrounding region the premier migratory flyway of North America - and possibly the world - by accident of geography. The Atlantic flyway funnels mind-boggling numbers of birds along New Jersey's coastline for one of their last stopovers for rest and nourishment before their thousands-of-miles journey to breeding grounds in the Canadian Maritimes and other points north.

And the spectacle can be amazing:

Marshes at the Cape May Meadows filled with so many egrets it looked as though snow was blanketing the reeds. Hundreds of ethereal-looking gannets roosted on a sunken ship at Sunset Beach. The woods at Higbee Beach were alight with flocks of yellow-throated warblers that never seemed to stop their sing-song trill.
I've had the pleasure of visiting Cape May about twice a year for four years. No one at my office hears grumbles about those business trips.

Think the area appeals only to birders? Think again. As a Jersey shore vacation destination, it offers other temptations -- day spas, excellent restaurants, fun shops and, of course, the beach.