Welcome to issue #122 of I and the Bird. Today we’re going to visit with a number of birders and get a glimpse into the birds that they are keeping an eye on, from yellow-billed loons that make you twitch to sandhill cranes in your backyard to the birds that remind us that spring is here and that nesting season (and the joyous cacaphony of life that brings) is firing up.
Don’t forget to look out for the next issue of I and the Bird, coming to you April 15 thanks to the kind endeavours of the Idaho Birding Blog. If you didn’t contribute to this edition, you really should write up one of your birding adventures and share it with us through them!
But first, a quick editorial…. If it’s spring, it’s nesting season. If it’s nesting season, it’s a good time for all of us to remember the potential impact our hobby can have on the birds and that we should be very sensitive to approaching a nest. Birds can abandon a nest if they feel threatened and we can significantly hinder their ability to successfully hatch and raise their young if we aren’t very careful about how we interact with the birds, we can cause the nest to fail.
Keep your distance, and don’t push it just to “get that shot”. If the bird has acknowledged you, you’re too close. If you flush a bird, you’re way too damn close and you really should just get out of there and leave them alone. Their successful nesting is more important than that photograph, and we as birders and bird photographers need to take our stewardship of the birds seriously. If you aren’t absolutely sure you aren’t too close, move back and give them more room. (no nests were annoyed in the creation of these photos…)
Now, onward and forward to I and the Bird!
My entry for I and the Bird is The Bird(ing) and Me. I never intended to become a birder. It just happened. You don’t need to be a birder to look at birds. You aren’t a birder because you carry binoculars. Birding is — ultimately — all about birds, but has nothing to do with birds. Birding is the community that surrounds looking at birds, not the activity of watching them.
Neil Gilbert at OCBirding.com talks about one of the classic challenges of the birder: To Twitch…Or Not? Neil got his bird, a Yellow-Billed Loon. I normally don’t twitch — but I considered going after the same bird, but didn’t, so I’m still waiting for my time with that loon.
Corey at 10,000 birds goes birding at Jamaica Bay with a few of his friends — and takes us along to enjoy it with him.
Andy Gibb attalks about the recent changes to the IOC world list, and notes that his life list grew without his ever leaving his chair.
Speaking of lists, Nate at the Drinking Bird Blog does a nice piece in defense of the lister.
Melissa Cooper at Out Walking the Dog has been thinking about the impact and implications of feeding our wild (and urban “wild”) animals, and some of the issues it raises. Very interesting thinking and something to consider.
Dale Forbes, who happens to work for Swarovski in Austria, talks about the technical details of digiscoping and his digiscoping adventures in a trip to Africa and some of the birds and animals he saw there.
Rebecca of Rebecca in the Woods has a bit of an challenge. The good news is spring is back and the birds are nesting. The bad news is — the Carolina Wrens are nesting THERE?
Dave Alcock of DaveA’s Birding Blog brings us some gorgeous photos he took during an unexpected meeting with a Merlin.
Amber Coakley at Birder’s Lounge writes about the Great-Tailed Grackle in A Little Respect. I agree with her, they’re pretty birds that I enjoy watching — but bring earplugs.
Speaking of bringing earplugs, Puca at Anyone Seen My Focus brings us some nice images of one of my favorite birds, the Northern Mockingbird. And it must be spring, because the neighborhood mockingbirds have returned for another breeding season and kicked all of the Scrub Jays out of the area — that’s a turf way that’s been going on as long as we’ve lived here, and the Mockingbirds always seem to win. Our favorite mockingbird is back for another summer as well, the one we lovingly refer to as “Car Alarm”. Laurie says she’s heard one she swears is trying for “Anna’s Hummingbird”, but it’s not working. We’re worried it’s going to sprain it’s throat trying…
And it must be spring, when the birder’s thoughts turn to — the American Robin. Moe at Iowavoice.com brings us some nice images of this harbinger of spring for so many of us.
Tai Haku at Earth Wind and Water has a different sort of bird — some really amazing photos of a Snowy Owl, taken near him home — on an island in the Caribbean. When I saw “snowy”, for some reason I was thinking egret…
Jill Wussow at Count Your Chicken! We’re Taking Over! has some fun shots of what they think is a Glaucous-Winged x Herring gull hybrid who’s appetite is larger than it’s mouth as it attempts to swallow a starfish that doesn’t seem to want to be swallowed. Yes, it looks about as funny as you might expect. (and thank you, Jill, for admitting that I’m not the only person in the universe who looks at a flock of gulls and thinks to himself “I really should check it for rarities” but just can’t find huge amounts of enthusiasm over the idea….)
Joy at The Little House in the Not-So-Big Woods brings us this former-city-dwellers first vist by a barred own in Surrender Dorothy! There are Flying Monkeys Out There! I bet most of us have one of these WHAT THE HECK WHAT THAT? moments in our background…
Kay Baughman of the Arroyo Colorado Riverblog goes out birding and tells us to Go Fly a Kite. Or watch them…
Wren at Wrenaissance Reflections brings us a few pictures of some of her backyard birds, which just happen to be cranes. I’d kill for that view.
Larry Jordan at The Birder’s Report brings us close and personal with a pair of ospreys and their nest.
John Beetham at DC Birding Blog does a very nice review of the book Birds of Europe, 2nd Edition. I need to put that one on my wish list…
Don’t forget, when you bird, you can help the scientists studying birds to help us all understand them better. If you run into a banded bird, your sighting can help those studying those birds, so please consider reporting it. There’s a centralized banded bird reporting site available to make this easier, hosted by the USGS.
And finally, a free plug: when I visit Southern Cal to see my family, one of my favorite birding places is Bolsa Chica. they’ve just released the latest issue of their newsletter, the Tern Tide, which among other things talks about their new access bridge and urban coyotes. Well worth a read (and a visit!) (pointer via Amy at Wildbird on the Fly)