Thursday, May 19, 2016

Birdie Beauty Contest

 I took a lot of bird photos over the last week and didn't know what to do with them so I thought I'd have a bird beauty contest. My favorite for this week was this Cedar Waxwing so I'm giving it first place.
 I thought these baby Canada Geese were kind of cute. They remind me of those little marshmallow chicks that kids used to get in Easter Baskets.
Owls are so beautiful that I purposely took a photo of a Barred Owl hiding behind branches just to make it fair-(If you believe that I've got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you!) .
Okay, so beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I will say that Black Vultures have lots of personality and they save us town tax money by cleaning up the road kill! 

What's your pick for the winner of the birdie beauty contest?

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Birding By Ear Saves Time And Your Neck

 For the first few years that I went birding during spring migration I would get a condition known as warbler neck. This is when muscles in the upper shoulders and neck stiffen up from looking up in the trees with binoculars trying to find warblers and other returning migrant birds. It's no joke. My fingers actually started to go numb one year from a pinched nerve. That's when I decided to rely more on my ears to find birds. 

I'm now more selective about which birds I search for with binoculars. For example, I know you can get nice views of Ovenbirds (photo) without having to look in the tops of  trees since they stay closer to the ground. 
 It also helps when you know the songs of some birds so you can zero in on birds that you may be eager to see like an Indigo Bunting.
Birding by ear is more efficient because you don't have to chase down every bird to know what it is. I probably heard a dozen Louisianna Waterthrushes before I actually got a good look at one. Instead of chasing after waterthrushes I spent time searching for other species which I had not yet seen.

I had some time off in May so I tried my best to find as many as the incoming migrants that I could as quickly as possible and was able to find most of  what I was looking for. Now I can do my birding at a more relaxing pace. There will be plenty time to take photos, check out different places, and take in the beauty without the urgency of trying to find species I haven't seen yet.
 (county list is at 165).

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Like Pieces Of A Puzzle Falling From The Sky

For most of the month of April spring migration was moving along  gradually as swallows, phoebes, and early warblers started to arrive.
While  others like Dark-eyed Juncos began heading north.
 Saturday was a sunny day so I got an early start by checking the area surrounding our local reservoir. The woods were finally starting to come alive with the sounds of warblers,thrushes tanagers, and vireos.
I searched areas in and around the meadows as well and was surprised....
to find that I didn't need to drive to the shoreline to find yellowlegs after all.
 Sunday was cloudy and rained most of the day but that did not  slow the arrival of new migrant species. Warblers were everywhere. I found several Prairie and Blue-winged Warblers at the powerlines. 
 The woods were packed with American Redstarts,Ovenbirds, Black and White, and Black-throated Green Warblers. All together, I tallied 13 different warbler species this weekend right in town.
 I looked out my kitchen window this afternoon and there was an Orchard Oriole picking through the blossoms on the crabapple tree in my back yard.

I tried to take my birding in moderation as it is only the first day of May but the migrants were falling from the sky like pieces of a puzzle. I felt compelled to see as many of the new arrivals as quickly as possible. If I'm able fill in some of the easier pieces of the migration puzzle early in the month then I'll be able to focus my search on some of the more difficult to find species during the rest of the month. This will mean I'll be able to bird at a more relaxed pace which will help minimize warbler neck. I'll also have plenty of  time to do things like take pictures or just have nice long views of those colorful warblers.