Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Laughing at Summer

Summer can be slow birding times.  At least they have been for me this summer.  Between School and daughter-father time, I haven't carved out much birding time.  We did managed to make it to the coast a few weeks ago and I really enjoying seeing a lot of variation among the the Laughing Gulls. 

I've post some of my pictures below.  Laughing Gulls are definitely an interesting gull to look and I love seeing different aged birds side by side.  Laughing Gulls on the Georgia Coast definitely allowed time for that.  What do you think of my mini photo essay?  How is summer birding treating you? 

Laughing Gulls - Link here

Wild Bird Wednesday - Link here

Tuesday, June 30, 2015


Given my summer schedule, birding has become harder and harder.  I have managed to sneak out a few times and even got a couples of lifers! The one i'll talk about today is the Mississippi Kite.  The MIKI was a bird has shown up in CT but I always managed to miss.  Finding in Georgia was just as sweet though!  This particular MIKI was flying and trying out some acrobatics in the morning with a partner.  What a great way to start the morning.  These birds had some insects for breakfast and I was treated to show!  

Until the next, get out and go birding!

Mississippi Kite Flying

Sitting and Waiting

Turning its back on me

Wild Bird Wednesday - Link here

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

A little New England...

I recently made a stop back in CT to see some friends and family, and get my daughter baptized!  The trip also provided an opportunity to catch up with some CT birds.  I visited some great sites including The Bent of the River, Mondo Pond and Milford Point.  It was a great opportunity to catch up with some CT birders and birding.  Some of the highlights are below.
Barred Owl on a nest

Piping Plover in a Marsh

Seeing these familiar sites was awesome.  It was like visiting old friends.  They had great treasures and awesome sights to share in once again.  Seeing the Piping Plovers in the marsh, warblers in the field, and gulls were happy sights!  What are some of your favorite old sites to visit?

Wild Bird Wednesday - Link here

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Near Misses

Here are some of my pictures that haven't made it to the front page!  Here are some of my misses from this past migration!  So instead of saying it was my bad photography, i've made up some new Warblers!

A Louisiana Waterthrush
This bird is the " Leaf Warbler" (LEAF).  Hiding behind limbs and branches like a leaf, the "leaf warbler" has filled many SD cards and fueled the frustration of many a birder/photographer.  The Leaf Warbler becomes virtually ubiquitous by June.

A Kentucky Warbler
The "Blurry Warbler" (BLUW) is exhibited here.  Despite close proximity the Blurry Warbler has the ability the fool even the best of cameras and photographers.  A defense mechanism developed due to super attuned senses and reflexes.  Without any warning, a Blurry Warbler can sneak up into your frame of reference and disturb your photos.

Prothonotary Warbler
The "Out of Focus Warbler" is seen in the distance.  This warbler remains off in the distance in order to fill your camera.  The Out of Focus Warbler (OOFW) can distinguish between binoculars and camera.  They will appear perfectly well in our binoculars but will immediately distort itself at the very sight of a camera.  

Common Yellowthroat
This is a bird butt.  Sometimes this is the best any of us can do. 

Wild Bird Wednesday - Link here

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Mandatory Post on Warblers

Here's Birder mandated post on warblers.  Those tiny jewels of the trees have been moving across North America.  They are great reminders of how amazing and beautiful our feathered friends are and how much they can accomplish on their own.  They find great habitats and amazing places to live and stopover.  But that doesn't mean that our efforts have ended.

Visit the American Bird Conservancy ( and your local bird clubs to learn about the different efforts that are occurring across the nation.  What is your favorite warbler to see?

Yellow Warbler

Louisiana Waterthrush

Blue-Winged Warbler


Wild Bird Wednesday - Link here

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Pledge to Fledge

Finding new birds is always fun.  But it can be amazing to find fledgling birds.  They are literally new birds!  They are also the new hope for birds across the world.  Many birds are struggling and populations for most birds are declining.  Seeing new birds and young birds presents exciting and new opportunities for species as well as many dangers.  New birds are especially susceptible to dangers like disease and predation.  As I snapped the picture below of the tufted titmice, blue jays were stalking overhead and were waiting for their opportunity to pounce.

What new birds have you seen?

Tufted Titmouse, Adult and Newbie

Flegdgling Downy Woodpecker

A New Carolina Wren

Wild Bird Wednesday - Link here

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

April Showers bring May Migrants

Today's featured bird was one that got lost a few miles from Atlanta's Airport.  A Black-Necked Stilt showed up in a swallow pond at the Huie Ponds.  I'd seen them before in Texas and Delaware, but Black Neck Stilts are awesome birds so I didn't want to miss the chance to see one.  This one was gorgeous and hung out with some meadow flowers.  Not typically a breeding area for them, this one probably overshot his flight or managed to find a new stopover somewhere.  Its hard to say what brought him here, but as with most migrants, the important thing is to enjoy it before returns home!

What's your favorite migrant of the year?

Black-Necked Silt @ All About Birds - Link here

Wild Bird Wednesday - Link here

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Contrast Contrast

Having heard the Warbler Guide authors speak at the Connecticut Ornithological Association Annual Meeting, I was curious about how contrast works for our feathered friends.  I was struck how even birds with similar colors might have very different looks.  Think about a Black-and-White Warbler and compare it to an Eastern Kingbird.  Both have the same color scheme yet, both use those colors in different ways.  Looking at things like contrast can help us see our feathered friends in a better light.  For the birds, Contrast can help them blend in or stand out for a mate.  For the Black-and-White, contrast helps it blend in with the bark that it likes to shadow.  For the Kingbird, the contrast might help shield it in the fields and ponds that it haunts. For added measures, the Yellow-Throated Warbler shows a great deal of contrast with three colors.  Clearly an effort to impress other warblers with its colors. 

Here are two black and white birds side by side.  Can you see the difference in contrast between the two birds?

Another warbler for added contrast

How are you seeing contrast in your birds?  What's your favorite?

The Warbler Guide - Link here

Wild Bird Wednesday - Link here

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

ABA Bird of the Year: Green Heron

The Green Heron is this year's ABA Bird of the Year and was announced in both English and Spanish posts by the ABA.  To me, the bird chosen was a homerun, Green Heron's are beautiful and smart birds that fun to watch and observe.  The fact that the announcement was in Spanish meant a lot to me as well on a variety of levels.

Any attempt to reach out to underrepresented groups means a lot to me and when its my own group, I have a strong investment in those efforts.  Reaching out to Latino communities can really provide a lot to the birding community across North America.  If for no other reason that our beloved birds need help with conservation across Latin America and having a strong Latino community in the US will help those efforts.  Another blogger/birder post about the rules for the Black Birder has made quite a stir in some birding circles and has been ignored in others.  Its hard to see how our social issues affect our feathered friends, but its clear to me that if we don't reach out to new groups and new birders, our society will be poorer for it and our birds will lose human defenders.  For these reasons, I hope we can all agree that while a good birder is a good birder, we'll all be better birders if there are more of us around.  Until the next time... get out and go birding!

A Green Heron on a muddy bank

He was hoping I didn't see him

Wild Bird Wednesday - Link here

Green Heron @ All About Birds - Link here

2015 Bird of the Year - Link here

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

She sells Shorebirds

If you love shorebirds, the above picture can be very exciting to you!

Like most birders, I've been working on learning more and more about the different ways to distinguish shorebirds.  Going to the Georgia coast is a great opportunity to study shorebirds and other coastal birds.  Along with some great views of birds, I got a life bird and a life subspecies.

Western Willet (subspecies)

While the Willet currently remains as one species, there is evidences that there is very little overlap between the Eastern and Western Populations and they do live in very different habitants and regions throughout their life cycle.  Eastern Willets winters in South America and breeds on the Atlantic Coast.  The Western Willets, seen above, winter on the Gulf Coast and some on the south North Atlantic coasts and Breed in the plains of the West.  This makes these two subspecies very different from each other.  

The Willet @ All About Birds - Link here

Comparing the Songs of the Willet Subspecies @ Sibley Guides - Link here

Whimbrel - a Lifer for me

This Whimbrel was a life bird for me.  I seemed to always dip out on these guys in Connecticut, but at the Bloody Marsh in St. Simon's Georiga, I got lucky!  This guy was very affable and was even hunting around and eating a bunch while I watched him.  His distinctive beak made him easy to spot out along with the fact that the other birds there were Least Sandpipers and Killdeer.  He stuck out like a sore thumb!

The Whimbrel @ All About Birds - Link here

wWild Bird Wednesday - link here

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

LIL Birding

When a Little Gull (LIGU) showed up on Lake Lanier, I couldn't help myself and I when to chase the bird.  Not that this was a life bird for me, it would've been a great state bird.  While Georgia has no natural lakes, there are great number of man-made lakes from a number of dams across the state.  Recently, due to the work and observation of a many birders across the states, there have been many birds found that probably would be expected at the shore but not an inland lake.  But these lakes are huge and some call it "inland sea effect" like what occurs on the Great Lakes.

The birds see these large lakes and find some similarity with their traditional habitats.  Since we are fairly far the coast, some birds might appreciate the benefits of the large inland lake.  The Bonaparte's Gulls, Horned Grebes, and even some Common Loons, are great evidence of this.

What are some unexpected places you like to find birds?

Horned Grebe

Bonaparte's Gull

...with a fish!

Bonaparte's Gull - Link here

Horned Grebe - Link here

Wild Bird Wednesday - Link here

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Tufted Duck

Whenever I get an ABA Rarity pops up, there's an itch that comes across every birder.  Can I fly to <wherever> to get <rarebird>? Do I have the time/resources/ability?  I was lucky that when I planned to return to Connecticut for the COA Annual Meetings ( I hoped that a Tufted Duck that showed up in Bridgeport would stick around.  Happily, it did!

For me, the Tufted Duck was a life bird and one that while very common in the UK and other parts of the world, is not very common in the US.  Every year a few manage to show up across the Northeast and the Canadian Maritimes.  One had not been in CT for about 15 years so add this bird to my CT List was a great addition.  Finding rarities like this would not be possible without dedicate birders, ebird, and more dedicated birders who work at checking in on the bird and reporting its presence or not.  I know that I have to get better about reporting success and failures beyond ebird (

A Female Tufted Duck

Info on the Tufted Duck

Wild Bird Wednesday - Link here

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Duck Duck Goose

Moving to the south, I thought that I would be missing out on a lot of the goose that usually occur up North.  I am to report that Georgia has had all but one of the geese I got last year, the Barnacle Goose.  For many years, the barnie was my nemesis and evaded me and every corner.  But this year, I evaded it.  I also traded Barnie for a Ross's Goose.  Ross's was new for me last year and is definitely a welcome addition to my goose repertoire.  Barnie and the elusive Pink-footed goose might be long shots down here in the South, but you never know.

Canada Geese and some Cackling Geese

A Canada Goose and a Snow Goose

A Canada Goose and a Greater White Fronted Goose

Wild Bird Wednesday - Link here

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Birding: The Next Generation

My daughter is still new, but she's opening my eyes to a whole new world.  She's already got some descent birding skills.  She's already found a bird before me and she's got really sharp ears.  She's already found a few birds before me and I can't wait to see how she develops as a birder/naturalist/learner.

I've posted some pictures that we've taken together.  She looks to watch birds at the feeder and tries to talk to them.  We'll work on that though.  I've always enjoyed sharing birding with new people but I suspect that sharing the field and the art of birding with my daughter for the rest of our lives will be one of the most enjoyable things.

Enjoy some of the pictures we've taken together!

Yellow-Rumped Warbler or as she calls them.... oooohhahahhh

Hermit Thrush or ppphhhhh!

Downy Woodpecker or AAK! AAK! AAK!

Wild Bird Wednesday - Link here

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Wetlands, Good Lands

Wetlands are important habitats for birds and many other animals.  Well cared for wetlands can be particularly valuable for animals especially in the winter months.  I toured some well maintained wetlands recently and it was a real joy.  The wetlands play host to a wide variety of animals and some gorgeous birds.  The Rails and waterfowl were particularly plentiful.  We got some great looks at Common Gallinules, a life bird for me, Sora, and others!  We heard a Virginia Waterfowl but we did not see it.

Taking care of wetlands is important and very hard to do.  From our earliest agricultural experiences, people are used to seeing wetlands as potential farms or other developments and that continues today.  There is also some controversy as to what constitutes and what doesn't a wetland.  These are important places and spaces for all animals and protecting them needs to be important.  I can't wait to get out and see some more birds and rails at the Wetlands across the southeast!  Until the next time!

What are your favorite wetlands to visit?

Common Gallinule

Pied-Billed Grebe


Wild Bird Wednesday - Link here

Info on Wetlands on the EPA - Link here

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

A New State Bird

Moving to a new place means many things but it also means a new state bird.  For us in Georgia, that's the Brown Thrasher.  while Brown Thrashers are common here in Georgia, I really struggled finding them in Connecticut.  I could find other much rarer birds, but I have 1 Brown Thrasher on my CT list.  Yet, down here in Georgia, they are fairly common.  I had found one recently that had some feathers out of place.  You can see in the pictures below that the feathers are easy to see and stand out against his white breast.

Thrashers are awesome birds with some awesome adaptations.  They can mimic calls and are fairly tough birds.  The one I pictured with the ruffled breast feathers was still bossing other birds around the little patch where I found them.  The ability to mimic other birds shows an incredible amount of intelligence and capacity.  Makes you wonder where the idea of "bird brain" being a bad thing ever came from?

What's your state bird?  do you like it? what would change it to if you could?

Wild Bird Wednesday - Link here

Brown Thrasher Info at All About Birds - Link here

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Hybrids! Hybirds!

Last week, I discussed a genetic mutation that can change migrations and allow some birds to help them colonize new regions of the world.  I thought that this week, we would discuss how mutations can change the nature of animals themselves.  I've included three pictures of bird hybrids that I've been lucky enough to see.  These animals exhibit interesting mixes of behavior.  For instance, the Domestic X Canada Hybrid I found at Lake Henderson acted like a Domestic Goose even if they were bigger and very differently colored that the other Domestic Gooses in their flock.

In some cases hybridization can be dangerous.  In the case of the American Black Duck X Mallard Hybrid, many people believe that hybridizations like this are putting serious pressures on the American Black Duck population that is currently experiencing some big drops.  Hybrids are essentially a waste an opportunity to add productive members back to the population.  This is also occurring with Golden-Winged and Blue-Winged Warblers and some speculate that hybridization with Bachman's Warblers added serious and significant pressure to that species decline.

What hybrids have you guys seen?

Domestic X Canada hybrid

Tricolored X Little Blue Hybrid

American Black Duck X Mallard Hybrid

Wild Bird Wednesday - Link Here

Cornell Lab of Ornithology Article on Hybrid Geese - Link here

Was the Labrador Duck a Hybrid? - Link here