Thursday, April 3, 2008

Iandthebird #72

Its April and here in Minnesota the long winter has finally come to an end. The days are getting longer and warmer and most of the snow has melted. April is an exciting time to be a birder because it is the beginning of the spring migration. With millions of birds crossing the planet on a journey to their summer breeding grounds you never know just what you will see. If you are lucky maybe you will get to see a rare migrant as it makes its way north or perhaps a large storm may blow in an exotic bird from another part of the world. Anything is possible.

This months I and the Birds is just like the spring migration. It is full of variety with unique posts, rare pics and fun surprises. So I hope that you will all have fun as we begin our virtual spring migration birding trip.

Our first submission for this migration edition of IandtheBirds comes from Rick Wright over at Aimophila Adventures, The Experience of Birding. Rick took a birding trip down to Guatemala where he got some pictures of birds that many of us just dream about, like gray silky-flycatchers, ringed kingfishers, rufous-naped wrens and many more. Check out his post here and watch out for the howler monkey.

James Alan Wolstencroft at Birdman tells us a wonderful story about the avian magic carpet called migration. With some special personal moments, such as having a passerine drop into his lap as he crossed the Biscay as a child and his mother trying to revive it with cognac, James tells us about the plight of the lesser kestrel, who migrate past his home in Tanzania, and like too many birds that share our world, are now vulnerable to extinction.

Duncan Fraser over at Ben Cruachan Blog tells us about the adventures of the monthly outing of the Heyfield Birders. Duncan and his Heyfield mates saw quite a few interesting birds including a pair of sacred kingfishers with plumage that was nearly black. Was this some kind of a joke? Well you will need to read Duncan's post to find out what happened and to see an awesome goanna pic.

Now I have taken a few owl pics in my days but none quite like the one that Terrell Shaw over at Alone on a Limb took at an EEA conference in Georgia. I am not sure that we have this type of owl in Minnesota but if we do I have never seen one.

Speaking of owls, Owl, over at Owls Well, has found that mother nature can be cruel and unpredictable. Fortunately Owl was at the right spot when he found a rare spotted awl stuck in the ice and snow

Wow this migration has gotten off to a quick start. We have seen kestrels, owls, howlers and goanna just to name of few. What else can we possibly see? Well get those binos and scopes ready because here come some more.

Nicholas David Sly over at Biological Ramblings has temporarily broken his self-imposed silence to bring to our attention a very important and urgent matter. Nick has been studying the phylogeography of endemic Hispaniolan birds as part of his honor's thesis and is worried about the wildlife and environment in Haiti. Habitat loss is a huge problem world wide but as Nick points out it is especially bad in Haiti.

Ron over at Pet Monologues has posted some wonderful bird pictures. Don't you really want to know what that magpie is thinking?

Amila over at Gallicissa recently concluded his 15 day absolute birding tour that he took with 4 British birders. The trip was a roaring success with a whopping 252 species seen, which may be more then I see in a year. Highlights of his trip included rediscovering a resident breeding pair of Marshall's Iora in Lunugamwehera, spotting 2 leopards in Yala National Park and thrashing 2 Brits at scrabble in Sinharaja. It sounds like a pretty full trip.

I thought that going to Iowa to see a black-backed gull was exciting but Charlie over at 10,000birds had the opportunity that most of us will never have in our lifetime. Charlie traveled to Singapore and braved guards, large iron gates and a torrential downpour to observe a white-faced plover, a species that is not included in any Southeast Asia field guides, has only been viewed by a small amount of people and perhaps may be the rarest shorebird on the planet. Leave it to our friends at 10,000birds to come up with the scoop of the decade.

We may not all be as lucky as Charlie is, and have the opportunity to see a bird so rare, but we are all lucky to be sharing in this unique online migration. Where else could you find out about the environmental struggles of Haiti, see amazing herons, leopards and white-faced plovers in a matter of minutes all from the comfort of your own home. However luck does not last forever and your time to test your luck and win a copy of Jonathan Rosen's book Life of the Skies is almost over. You have until tomorrow, Friday April 4th, to send in a photo of a bird in flight which enters you into their random drawing. If you have a blog, you have until April 11th to help get the word out and link to the contest page to get your name entered into that drawing. Time may be running out to get in on the drawing but we still have plenty more migration to go here on this edition of IandtheBirds so hop into your blind and settle back for some more great virtual birding.

During the year there are certain birds that we kind of take for granted because we think of them as common. However we can get very excited when they first return to our area in the spring. The American robin is a good example of this, but Robin over at Dharma Bums has a very special reason to look forward to spring and the return of the robins, or at least one special robin.

Keeping a blog can be hard work. Most of us bloggers spend quite a bit of keeping our blogs going and most of us don't get paid to do it. We do it because we love to share our stories, ideas, photos, jokes or whatever with our readers. As hard as it is to run one blog my friend Ocean is such a go getter that she actually runs two blogs Ocean and Forest Walks and Island Rambles. Ocean has some wonderful baby pictures of Anna's hummingbirds in the nest on her Ocean and Forest walks blog. Over on Island Rambles, Ocean has pictures of Swan Lake. No not the ballet with a swan queen dancing gracefully. This is a real swan lake with great blue herons soaring gracefully above. Both sites have some really great pics.

Here in Minnesota, some of our larger birds are beginning to migrate back into the area. We often see the long forms of herons, egrets and sandhill cranes flying across the sky. Snail, over at A Snail's Eye View spotted a flock of large birds but they were not flying by. It is probably a good thing that emu do not really migrate. Can you imagine a stampede of emu each spring and fall.

With gas prices going through the roof it is getting more difficult every day to get out to those great birding places, which never happen to be right next door. John Beetham over at A DC Birding Blog has a great solution, birding by subway. John took a trip up to New York by train and visited several good birding locations that are located close to the subway. At Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge John saw all sorts of signs of spring including waterfowl, warblers and even his first butterfly of the year but the highlight was a group of irruptive boreal birds that had not yet headed north.

Birding by subway sounds pretty cool, unfortunately it is impossible here in Minnesota since we don't have any subways. Besides, I would probably not know what to wear. That is the subject that the Unkown Birder, over at The Cult of Ornitholigy, tries to tackle. It is the age old question of, "Do real birders wear white"?

Wow, this virtual migration birding is hard work. We have seen stick robins, nesting hummers, dancing herons, stampeding emus and subway redpolls. I think that it is time to take a bit of a rest. Maybe get away from migration and birding for a few minutes and enjoy some other parts of life. After all we can't be birders all of the time.

Some times we just need to slow down a bit and take life life easy. Sit back relax and maybe read a good book. Patrick Belardo, over at The Hawk Owl's Nest recently read Ken Kaufman's Flight Against the Sunset and in Patrick's words, "Overall, it was an enjoyable book."

If you are not in the reading mood perhaps a bit of spring sports will turn your fancy. Next up to bat is Tai Haku from Earth Wind and Water. Tai is a great all-rounder with a lifetime batting average off 60.73. Here comes our bowler. Tai handles it perfectly and scores. It's a GOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1! Check out Tai's prize a beautiful barn owl.

Are you all rested up and ready to continue our virtual migration tour? Good, then grab your field guides and lets get going again.

Let's move out west to the beautiful state of California. California is a birders paradise with the ocean, mountains, fields, lakes, streams towering forests and much more. But there are also some more unique places to bird in California. Pam Shack, over at Tortoise Trail, made a trip out to Death Valley, Ca in 2007, and at Bad Water, in Death Valley, Pam Shack found Bird Life.

California is a big place. While Pam explored Death Valley, Liza Lee Miller, from It's Just Me, was on the other side of the mountains exploring San Diego during spring break. Besides a visit to San Diego Zoo Wild Animal Park and Sea World, it looks like Liza Lee did quite a bit of birding. She also came back with some very nice pics to share and 6 life birds for her list.

There are many ways that birders ID birds. Many of the experienced birders that I know can ID a bird by its call or song. Other birders use behavior to ID the birds that they see. But Nick Lund from The Birdist went to a location where the birds can only be identified by their shape and color. That is because they are all made of wood. Nick visited the Wendell Gilley Museum and interviewed the Exectutive Director and Curator, Nina Gormley about the museums fabulous collection of wood carved birds.

Seabrooke, over at The Marvelous in Nature, has been very busy so far this spring. First there was some spring cleaning to do. Then it was off to help set up the Tommy Thompson Park Bird Research Station to get ready for the beginning of the banding season. Finally Seabrooke got a little R&R while visiting the parents for Easter. What would Easter dinner be with out bit of birding while waiting for the turkey to get finished.

Now I am all tuckered out again. It is a good thing that our next post comes from Nancy Castillo, Aka The Zen Birder, over at The Zen Bird Feeder. Its time to get in touch with our inner birder, to meditate and be at peace, to watch a sharp shinned hawk constrict a tufted titmouse. Yikes, it might not be very peaceful but as Nancy said it is a fascinating part of nature and I think that it is very cool.

Our final stop on our whirl wind spring migration birding tour is the wonderful state of Minnesota where the snow has still been falling and spring is just getting out of the gate. Early spring is a great time to watch for nesting owls and this year I have been watching a great horned owls nest down in Lakeville, MN. The chicks have finally hatched and I have taken some photos of one of the chicks in the nest as well as both of the parents.

Well we certainly got our share of birding in on this trip. We have traveled the world and seen many species, including some exotic ones. I hope that you have enjoyed my first time hosting Iandthebirds. I have had a lot of fun putting it together, although this is a lot of text for a photo blog like mine. Hopefully you will come back and visit ecobirder again in the future. The next Iandthebirds, edition 73, will be hosted by A Snail's Eye View on April 17th, with submission deadline on April 15th.


Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

You did a terrific job putting IATB together!! I'm sure it's a bit of work but you made it a really fun read. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Very well done. Thanks!

Duncan said...

A great compilation, nicely done.

The Ridger, FCD said...

Very nicely done - but I think you mean April there for the next edition!

Ecobirder said...

Thanks everyone I had a lot of fun doing it, and a special thanks the ridger, fcd for catching my mistake. I have corrected the error.

Anonymous said...

Nice job! Fun to read. Thanks much!

Anonymous said...

Great job! Really enjoyed your take in iatb! There were some great stories there! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Great job! An easy read with great descriptions as previously mentioned. I am interested in identifying the birds in my post ;-). Mike Bergin (and you) was kind enough to identify the magpie.

Another bird image source: In my weekly Caw to art! series there is an image labeled "Doom watch" an incredible shot of a vulture. Follow the link back to dpimaging and you will find many more bird shots like this. The Doom Watch link =

tai haku said...

Great presentation (plus you did me a rather nice favour by inflating my batting stats!) - I'm only halfway through but there are great posts this week.

Ecobirder said...

Thanks guys your great posts made it easy and a lot of fun.