RSS Feed (xml)

Powered By

Skin Design:
Free Blogger Skins

Powered by Blogger

Friday, February 27, 2009

Aplomado Falcon chase in New Mexico

Saw this beauty today in Hermanas, New Mexico twenty miles west of Columbus on the New Mexico/Mexico border. This unbanded Aplomado Falcon has been seen off and on for about a month, so when I landed in El Paso this afternoon I drove 70 miles along the border over some gorgeous grasslands. Thanks to Dylan Radin and Scott Schuette from Tucson for spotting the falcon on a corral. At one point we had the falcon and five pronghorn in the scope at the same time. I was able to digiscope this so-so shot through my scope.

Saw some other great birds today--Baird's Sparrow, Sprague's Pipit, Chestnut-collared Longspur, Lark Bunting. Gotta love New Mexico birding!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Kamikaze Grouse

A friend of mine snapped this photo with her camera phone. She had arrived at her home in the Catskills last week to find this Ruffed Grouse dead on her coffee table. It had crashed through two panes of glass before dying next to this bird book. Bird breaking and entry, what's next?

Photo: Suzanne Pelletier

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Twitter Birds

Nice collection of Twitter update bird images here. Love that Twitter is so birdy!

Crazy Travel Schedule

OK, I'm gonna be on the road a lot coming up here shortly.

This weekend I'm off to Las Cruces, NM to give a couple talks to the statewide organic farmers conference.

Week after downtown Philadelphia all weekend for a Landmark Education course.

Following week a couple days out at Asilomar for the Audubon California chapter assembly.

Two weeks later down to Florida for the Audubon Florida Academy.

Then off to Germany for a month with the kids.

Back to the States in late April and then down to Austin in May for commencement.

Then in early June off to Alaska for an Audubon Odyssey cruise of the inland passage.

That's as far out as I've booked so far, but looking at July trip to Utah and who knows what else!

So, if you're out where I'm gonna be, give me a holler and maybe we can connect for some birding! And if you have a little extra sanity you could spare, send it my way. Its gonna be crazy!

Wild Turkey at Work

No, not THAT Wild Turkey. The real deal. Four walked through our feeding station at the Audubon Science Office in Pennsylvania this morning. Looking for goodies.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The View out my Window

When I'm in my office I live for the activity here at my feeder. Hard to take a good shot through 100 year old window glass AND the storm windows. Next stop, open the windows.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Friday, February 20, 2009

Birdchaser quoted in Tampa paper

See here for article on the huge American Robin flock in Florida this year.

Whooper Swan Chase in Idaho

After my meeting in American Falls on Wednesday, I figured I had about two hours of daylight to try and shoot over to Hagerman, Idaho to look for the Whooper Swan from Asia that has been wintering there on the Snake River. I had some basic directions, and was able to find the area near the dam easily, and right there were several swans with all the ducks, including this yellow-nosed beauty!

This is my fist digiscoping effort with my old Bausch & Lomb Discoverer on a window mount of my trusty steed (a rented Ford Mustang convertible)

Does chasing after rare birds make me happy? You be the judge!

Snake River Eagle Nest

So earlier this week I flew out to Idaho to consult on a new transmission line project that was being proposed next to an active Bald Eagle nest near American Falls on the Snake River. Spent a day walking the fields and seeing the nest, including watching a pair of eagles bringing in nesting material.

There were also thousands of ducks and geese on the river, including a drake Red-breasted Merganser (locally scarce here).

And it was very cold and windy. But a beautiful area.

Good news is that the power company needs to keep the line at least half a mile from the nest, so after a public meeting where we brought this up on Wednesday, looks like the route of the line will have to move to keep it farther away from the nest.

Score one for the eagles!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Magpie's Revenge!

Once upon a time (early 2001 to be exact), the very first Eurasian Collared-Doves to be found in Idaho showed up in a little place called Neely in American Falls. These birds have expanded rapidly across the country over the past decade and there are still several dozen of these birds in Neely. This morning I saw several in the trees there and then a couple Black-billed Magpies feasting on a dead dove in the snow. Wild, eh?

GBBC on the road to Idaho

Driving up to Idaho through Northern Utah, I love these mountains! My grandfather was born and grew up in this area, maybe I have it in my genes. Nice to see Rough-legged Hawks, Golden Eagles, and Prairie Falcons in the snow. And now I have until the end of the month to report them online for the Great Backyard Bird Count.

GBBC with the Dough Dude

I stopped by My Dough Girl in Salt Lake to pick up some gourmet cookies and frozen cookie dough on my way up to Idaho. Got to hang out with my old college buddy, Dough Dude Rick.

Good to catch up, eat some great cookies, and get in a bird count from downtown Salt Lake City.

Can you see the only birds I saw from this temporary GBBC command post (photo below)?

Hint, look on the sign!

Amazing what you can capture from across the street with a 7.1 Megapixel Canon Power Shot!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Birdchaser in the News

It isn't the New York Times this time, but here I'm quoted in the Lebanon Daily News.

Celestron VistaPix IS70

I posted this as a response to a query on Birdchat.

I have the Celestron VistaPix IS70, which is a 70mm spotting scope and 3.1MP camera. I need to play with it some more before I put up a full review, but here are a couple quick points:

1) Cost. Much cheaper than the bigger scopes (something like $500)
2) Magnification. Biggest drawback may be this...maxes out at 14X which is not as much magnification as you might want to make this your regular scope.
3) Focusing. I've had some trouble making sure that the eyepiece focus and camera focus are in sync.
4) Ease of use. If you have the eyepiece and the camera focus in sync, all you have to do is click a button and you've got a nice shot. Its pretty easy.

If this was a full 20x scope, and I can make sure I get the eyepiece and camera focus in sync (again, I need to play around with this some more), this could be a great scope for most use. Because of the 14x magnification, it is probably best for backyard birders who want to get great shots of birds at their feeders, or others who don't really need the full 20x or more to scope out distant waterfowl, shorebirds, etc.

Hope that helps. When I finish playing around with this scope I'll put up a more full review and some photos.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

2009 GBBC Update--Day 2

Another feverish day of posting to email listservs, Twittering, reviewing photos for the photo contest, blogging...doing anything I can think of to continue getting the word out about the GBBC.

The result? We're almost exactly on track with the submissions at this time last year. We haven't hit the tipping point pushing us up to a whole new level yet. But we're holding our own, Valentines Day or no.

Looking for more fun tomorrow. Meanwhile, I'm hashed.

Stepping AWAY from the computer!


I'm like a freaking teletype on Twitter this afternoon, posting the latest GBBC results from around the country. How's your town doing so far?

Naked and Exposed

If you are a bird or nature blogger, and want to put yourself totally out there, join the Nature Blog Network and you and everyone else can see exactly how popular your blog really is. Its good and humbling! Go for it. Personally, I'm doing good right now just to bounce in and out of the Top 10 bird blogs.

GBBC from the White House?

(Note bins and window feeder at lower left?)

Not sure what to make of this Great Backyard Bird Count report from a email...

Location: 20006, Washington, D.C.
Observation Date: 14 February 2009
Number of Species: 5

Lovebirds 2
Little Sweeties 2
Deficit Hawks 5
Peace Doves 25
Jailbirds 0

OK, maybe President Obama is too busy trying to fix the economy to do the Great Backyard Bird Count. But what's your excuse?

Go to the window right now. Note the birds you see for the next 15 minutes. Go to and report them. Easy as pie. Even if all you can see is a crow or a pigeon, you can report that, and in doing so, be entered to win some of our great prizes.

And if you are really ambitious, put on your coat and go outside for a nice walk with your friends, family, or valentine. Note the birds that you see. Report at

Have fun out there. And President Obama, you and your kids are welcome to join us for the count anytime!

Jefferson, Roosevelt (both), and Carter were all birders. When will we get our first real GBBC bird count from the White House?

Friday, February 13, 2009

GBBC--Day 1

Spent most of the day on computer...putting up ads online for the GBBC, reviewing photos, blogging on the GBBC blog, checking the latest stats. We're a bit behind where we were last year as far as submissions go--the first time we've seen a drop in the past 5 years. Not sure what to make of all that. Hopefully we'll find a way through that!

Fun to see the photos that are coming in, we'll have a bunch more uploaded onto the photo gallery tomorrow. I haven't checked yet to see what birds we are missing, since its still pretty early in the count.

This afternoon I took my kids out to do a count at Peace Valley. We had a great time. The best time we've had together in months. You can't buy that kind of family time!

Praying for this thing to go viral and to really see a bump in participation. Looking at the participant survey results we've got so far, seems like lots of new participants. But I'm gonna go crazy tonight trying to figure out what's up with the drop in participation!

So, the short of it is, tell everyone you know about the Great Backyard Bird Count. Now more than ever we need folks to count the birds in their yards and local parks!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Google Celebrates Darwin...with Birds

Pretty cool Google logo for Darwin's birthday, eh? To show your support, use Google today. OK, you probably already did that!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Free Book for Nunavut Birders

Anyone in Nunavut who participates in the Great Backyard Bird Count this weekend is eligible to win a great prize.

More details on Clare's Blog The House and Other Arctic Musings.

If you are up there and can manage to get out and look for birds, it could be the easiest book you ever win!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

GBBC Countdown!

I can't believe the Great Backyard Bird Count is only 49 hours away! Hoping for record-breaking participation this year, so looking forward to seeing those first numbers start rolling in Friday morning. Will there be a significant uptick in count submissions early on, or will we have to hit it hard all through the weekend?

As an aside, we always have a tough time getting all the prairie and sage grouse. So if you live in sage grouse or prairie chicken country...go find us some of those guys this weekend!

And if you are in Hawaii, climb a volcano and get us some good native Hawaiian forest birds!

Birds and Climate Change

This brand new report from Audubon finds that 58 percent of the species studied have shifted their winter ranges north and some have traveled hundreds of miles beyond their traditional boundaries.

Purple Finches have moved 433 miles north
Ring-billed Gulls have moved 355 miles north
Spruce Grouse have moved 316 miles north

Other birds have nowhere to go as their habitat shrinks, including Burrowing Owl, meadowlarks, and Vesper Sparrows.

The world is changing...can we change enough to help those birds that will be disadvantaged by our new warmer world order?

Monday, February 09, 2009

Urban Bird Sounds project

Check out what some students in Boston put online urban bird sounds project. You can listen to the birds and info about them. But best just to see a bunch of students so engaged with birds. Fun, eh?

Help with Great Backyard Bird Count Promotion?

So, this year we've added Facebook, Twitter, and Craigslist (have you posted it as an event on your local Craigslist yet?) to our strategy for online promotion of the Great Backyard Bird Count. If you've got other ideas for how to get the word out, let us know!

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Birdchaser Top 10 on

What do I have in common with Marc Andreessen of Netscape and Craig Newmark of Craig's List?

We've all been invited as guests to post our Top 10 favorite blogs at

Check out my list of best bird and birding blogs on

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

New Eagle Eyes Game Online

If you enjoyed last year's Great Backyard Bird Count game (Eagle Eyes), now you can try out Eagle Eyes 2!


Photo: Susan Hill

The Great Backyard Bird Count is coming up in two weeks (Feb 13-16). That means I'm blogging from behind the scenes at the GBBC Blog. Check it out.

Join me at the Philly Zoo

This Saturday at the Philly Zoo from 11am-12 noon I'll be giving a presentation on how to do the Great Backyard Bird Count. If you're around, come and join for a bit of fun.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Lame Arizona Cardinals

OK, maybe not lame for the reasons others are saying today. But seriously, is anyone else annoyed by the yellow beaks on these birds? Real cardinals do not have yellow beaks!

Note to NFL: For $50K I can get you a set up with a biologically appropriate cardinal mascot!

First Sign of Spring: Tufted Titmouse

Photo: purza7

No matter what the groundhog says today, the Tufted Titmice in my neighborhood are starting to sing, which means, it's mating season! Spring is coming. Soon these birds will be making their nests in tree cavities. Owls are already on nests, and the Downy Woodpeckers and Carolina Chickadees are starting to sing and drum as well. Its official. Its (almost) Spring!

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Pine Siskins

Photo: wsweet321

There's been a huge influx of Pine Siskins into Pennsylvania this year, since the spruce cone crop in Canada's boreal forest was poor this year. This morning I had at least 60 on my neighbor's birdfeeders, and more down along Perkiomen Creek.

Little known siskin fact: Siskins in Europe (closely related to our Pine Siskins) can sense changes in barometric pressure that would equate to changes in only 10 meters of altitude.

Morning Birdwalk 1 Feb 2009 (Perkasie, PA)

3 miles, 90 minutes, 21 bird species, including a nice female Cooper's Hawk and 60 Pine Siskins. Ice on Perkiomen Creek open in only a couple spots for the Mallards.
Nature Blog Network Fatbirder's Top 1000 Birding Websites