4/19/2008

The U.N of birding?

If noticed that I'm getting more and more international visitors to the blog. When I first put the Feedjit tracker on the site I was getting mostly U.S visitors. Over the last few weeks I have noticed that my U.S visitors are 'down' to around 80% with the rest being made up of international visitors. I am really excited about this as I'd like to have as diverse an audience as possible. I'd like to encourage of all of you to leave comments on relevant topics. In addition, PLEASE introduce yourself. You can copy and paste the questions and then fill in your info below. It literally takes 5 minutes at most and I really get a kick out of reading about you!

A chipping good spring

This spring I've been seeing and hearing Chipping Sparrows all over the place. At first I thought it was just the result of my love for these little guys, but today I managed to capture photographic proof that there are a lot of Chippies in my garden. What I'm not sure about is whether it is a particularly good year for them or whether there are more Chippies in my garden because of my 'new' platform feeder.


4/18/2008

Funny Friday: Russian Idol

I liked the cat video so much that I'm starting a new tradition on my blog: Funny Friday. We all need a good laugh once in awhile so if you come across any funny videos please send me the link and I'll post it on Fridays. I realize that humor is not universal and that some people don't think that Robin Williams is funny. I on the other hand think he's hysterical so I'm posting this pretty sharp segment he did on American idol.
You have something funnier, please share.


Red shouldered hawks

This morning I was on my way to Home Depot to pick up more spackle for the basement (UGH!) and I saw a medium sized hawk flapping across to the left of me. It was about the size of a Red Tailed maybe a tad smaller and something about it looked off i.e. it wasn't a Red Tailed. I thought about letting it go and then decided to make a quick emergency stop to check it out. I took my crappy car bins out and tried to get the hawk in focus while it was still flip flapping across Route 31. I finally got it in focus with my Tasco 10X25's (TERRIBLE for birding) and I could clearly see it was a Red Shouldered Hawk. I watched it for a good 5 minutes as it got up to gliding height checking for prey in an open field in front of me. I was very impressed with myself as I jumped back into the car.

A couple of miles south on Route 31 I spotted 3 Turkey Vultures with several Buteos circling with them. I decided to make another emergency stop (my apologies to the gentleman who was tailgating me) to check these guys out, figuring they were most likely Red Tailed’s. Well to my utter surprise they turned out to all be Red Shouldered Hawks. This is the first time I've seen a knot of Red Shouldered Hawks like this. Yip, a bunch of hawks is called a knot, a boil, a spiraling, a stream or a tower of hawks according to Whatbird.com - so I'm not making this up, I promise.

So that was the start to my day, not too shabby hey?
No pictures from today's sighting as I don't have camera equipment with me in the car but I will point you to this site for nice pics of both hawks in flight.

4/16/2008

Hysterically funny cat video

Came across this video via GrrlScientist's blog and I HAD to share it with you. If this doesn't at the very least bring a smile to your face then I don't know.


Poll CLOSING soon: Hoo in taboo


Just a reminder that this months' poll is nearly over. To date we've had 23 voters and I'd LOVE to hear what you have to say - I'm interested in finding out what you think about revealing owl roost locations. Is it ok to do it and under which circumstances? I'd really appreciate it if you would stop in and vote and also leave me a quick comment here or here.

Worldless Wed: Cormorants

4/15/2008

Update: Limited Bird ID Challenge

Wow, I've had a couple of good responses on the limited bird ID challenge - thanks to all who responded! If you haven't submitted your thoughts please hop to it!

Click here to watch the video and then post the birds you heard int he comments section.

New garden birds: Towhee & Field Sparrow

April has been a good garden birding month for me and I've added two new garden birds to my list. Early April a couple of Field Sparrows popped in and they've been dueling with the very similar looking Chipping Sparrows for seed. Today I went out in the garden and I heard the distinct call of the Rufous-sided Towhee. My heart skipped a beat because I've never had them in my garden before. I slowly edged to the thicket and I managed to get a quick look at the female before she disappeared into the brush.

It’s always awesome to see new birds in your garden, but it's even more rewarding when they come as a result of a gardening strategy. Last year I let the brambles and raspberries take over a lot of my 'wilderness' area to see if I could attract more birds that like this type of habitat. Almost immediately I started noticing more sparrows lurking in the underbrush and this year seems to be a continuation of that trend. I've ordered some berry bushes and a couple of shrubs that will replace some of this wild undergrowth, although I'm planning to leave certain areas wild. I'd also like to put some native grasses that produce seeds for birds down the other side of my fence line. Does anyone know where I could buy native grass seed that will be ideal for birds?

I also have another question for ya. Is the bird I saw officially a Rufous-sided Towhee or an Eastern Towhee? My Peterson ID's it as a Rufous-sided although several of the online sites refer to it as an Eastern. Personally I prefer the descriptive Rufous-sided and I wish they'd stop changing bird names - wassup with that? If you want to see some superb photos of the Towhee that I saw please click here.

4/14/2008

Birding Bucks County

So the Bucks County birding started at the Audubon Society’s building in Bucks on a very foggy morning and ended at Peace Valley Nature Center. Along the way we saw some tremendous birds including spring warblers (Palm, Yellow rumped, Pine) ; Mute swan; Double Crested Cormorant; Kinglets; Hawks (Red tailed, Cooper, Sharp shinned, Red shouldered-maybe); American Kestrel; Pileated woodpecker; Osprey; Bald eagle and more. The day started foggy and it remained pretty overcast and gray which made bird ID’ing very tricky. Much of the early morning birds were identified purely based on shape not color.



Although the day was awesome I didn’t have any lifers and my photos are washed out. Having said that I would rate the day as a roaring success as it was awesome being out with people who love to socialize and bird. We had a newbie on the trip and he had a grin on his face like the cat the swallowed the canary. I made eye contact with him and he said ‘Man it’s nice being out with a whole bunch of bird geeks’. I’ve never really thought of myself as a bird geek, but I have to agree with him that it is nice hanging out with fellow birders.
How was your birding weekend?
BTW, I managed to come across a LEO roost and some great spots for Saw Whet in Bucks County so I’ll be back to check it out in winter.
Incredible photos shared by the Flickr community group - Owls of North America. Click on the play button to begin the slideshow - ENJOY!