Sunday, February 22, 2015

Just Humming along...

The little guys are White-bellied Woodstars and the "large" one is a  Buff-tailed Coronet.

A few years ago, the BBC sent a film crew to visit our friends at Reserva Las Gralarias in Ecuador. They were working on a new series, already shown in the U.K., titled "Life Story" and narrated by Sir David Attenborough. The second episode called "Hummingbird Fight Club" was filmed there. Click on the title to see a preview.

Las Gralarias is an amazing place to visit with birds that you'll never see up here in our freezing climate...they even had a few of our warbly friends when we visited! I still think about it whenever I get chilled to the bone up here and look forward to returning one day. We owe so many thanks to Jane Lyons, Edison Buenano and Tim and Kathy Krynak for making our stay do fantastic. Now that I have a better lens and a little(very little) more skill, I may even be able to get more shots in focus! They just move soooo fast!
 Andean Emerald...truly a jewel!

The feisty Booted Racket-tail...

Buff-tailed Coronet, you can tell because his tail is buff. 
Clever...

 Buff-winged Starfrontlet, all puffed up due to the rain.
It is a rainforest after all!

Fawn-breasted Brilliant.

 Fawn-breasted Brilliant, I think he actually made a sound!

 Great Sapphirewing or Green-crowned Brilliant...hmmm...which one was it?

 Now this is a Great Sapphirewing...I think...

This is a Green-crowned Woodnymph with a White-whiskered Hermit pretending to be the boogey man.

It's a Sapphire-vented Puffleg...cause he has puffy legs of course!

 Shining Sunbeam.
He truly was one a wet afternoon of jungle birding.

Yep, that bill really is that long on this Sword-billed Hummingbird!
 From base of the bill to the tail tip, this species averages 5.5" in length, not counting the 4" bill!

 Velvet-purple Coronet was my favorite hummingbird of our trip.
They looked gorgeous in the rain, very soft and velvety!

Violet-tailed Sylphs have crazy long tails to impress the ladies...
The things that men do for love...

White-whiskered Hermit...hey! That's like me when it gets below zero here!

If you value these hummers and all of the birds that live in Ecuador and the many that migrate to our neck of the woods in the spring, consider helping out the Las Gralarias Foundation. 
Every little bit helps!

Thanks!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

The Great Backyard Bird Count...or snowflake tally...

 Yes, winter is still raging here in northern Ohio!

 This weekend is the annual Great Backyard Bird Count sponsored by Cornell Labs and eBird.
We've submitted lists for a number of years now...it's a great excuse to sit by the windows and do nothing but look at birds! Though running back and forth from front windows to back windows does get a bit tiring.

As you can see, we are in the midst of a lovely snow storm today. That has slowed down the visits to the feeders, oh well, I'll keep counting no matter what. I hope you get some good birdies today!

We had a total of 12 Northern Cardinals at one time. 
They seem to get along fine...for now.
The White-throated Sparrows gave up on trying to find seed on the ground as normal...the snow is a little too deep and powdery. Sparrows sink you know.

We've also had a few American Tree Sparrows and one lone Downy Woodpecker attacking the suet feeders.

 And then there's our little furry friends...
I made this feeder to hold peanut butter mixed with millet.
It keeps the Squirrels occupied!
 
Cooper's Hawks give a whole new meaning to "Bird Feeding!"
He didn't stay long...nor did anyone else!

Monday, February 2, 2015

WHAT!! No Warblies?!

 American Tree Sparrows were plentiful on this frigid January morn.

 Happy belated New Year! I haven't been out birding too much this year. I've taken numerous walks in the forests of Cuyahoga Valley National Park, but without a camera....hard to believe! Sometimes it's just nice to escape to the woods and relax and breathe.

So...I did get out to bird and I headed out to Magee Marsh and the boardwalk! To my surprise, there wasn't a single warbly thing to be seen! Oh, I forgot...it's the heart of that thing we call "winter in the Midwest." Snow, cold, a little more snow, a little colder, more snow, sun for about three minutes...then more snow and cold. Be patient! Just a few short months more...honest!

I also stopped by to visit my friends at the Black Swamp Bird Observatory. Yes indeed, they are there all winter! Stop by if you're out there. They have new books and gifts in stock...and a nice selection of photos by me! All the money from my photos goes directly to them!

It was a very quiet day, only a few other folks out and about at Magee, though none on the boardwalk. The birds had the same idea. They were all hiding from me other than the American Tree Sparrows, which were foraging like mad all along the trail edges. What did I say a minute ago? Oh yeah, patience...it will be spring soon. Right. We'll see!
  
I had the odd feeling I was being followed...

 I thought about laying on the beach to get some sun...but couldn't find the beach!

 The Bald Eagles were soaring around the area, but no one was home at the nest.

 Did I mention that I saw quite a few American Tree Sparrows...

 I'm pretty sure Lake Erie is under there somewhere.
Not a good day for a swim...I don't like the "hard" water we have...

 I got dizzy just watching this Downy Woodpecker searching for lunch!

 I'm telling ya...somebody is following me!

 These are the cozy homes of the muskrats at Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge.
Yep, I walked over there too...my legs were tired...

 This guy stopped me in my tracks when I was driving out.
I'm not positive, but it sure looks more like a Rough-legged Hawk than a Red-tailed!
Any opinions?

 The gulls don't seem to care how cold that water is...one more reason that I don't care for them!
The Trumpeter Swans on the other hand, I love!

 And yet again, another Tree Sparrow!
My first butt shot for 2015...

In your dreams...just three more months...three more months...keep saying it...

Sunday, December 14, 2014

My Favorite Books of the Year...so far...

 I realized that I have never posted any kids books...that's going to stop today with this wonderful book, "Pretty Betty Butterfly" written by our good friend Sally Deems and illustrated by Wendy Fedan. Sally has been an award winning writer for quite some time and this book is a great read for children of all ages...even me!

The Doodles said "while reading this this book I recalled that carefree feeling of the wonder of nature through a child's eyes, and chuckled over Betty's funny eyes." If The Doodles likes it, it must be good. And she's right about those googly eyes of Betty's!

 Another children's book by another good friend is "Alphabetical Bugs in Color" by Larry Hohman. We've met Larry a number of times at different local birding events and he always has a new alphabet book and artwork to show. The Doodles bought a few of these books for her nieces and nephews over the years.
Larry is an outstanding artist and always manages to find unusual subjects for every letter. Of course my favorite is the bird book...

 "Bringing Nature Home" was a surprise find for me while cruising the internet for a native plant book for The Doodles. Written by Douglas Tallamy, it covers just about everything you need to know to change your habitat from harmful to helpful. This is a great book to help you or a friend change your little piece of the earth.

 As Mr. Tallamy states, "...insects have done fine on this earth without humans and would continue to do so in our absence. If insects were to disappear, however, our own extinction would not be far behind."

 "The Thing With Feathers" by Noah Strycker truly will surprise you with the amazing things that birds do...and make you realize that we may not be the most intelligent life on the planet. If you love birds and want to delve a little deeper into their personal lives and their knowledge, this is a great read.


 Once again, Princeton University Press has come out with an outstanding field guide. This time regarding the "Bumble Bees of North America." I loved this book because of all the bumblies that zoom around our garden. No chemicals used here! They are amazingly soft and wonderful to watch as they flit from flower to flower working tirelessly to gather pollen.

This book will help you simply figure out who is who in your garden...

 "The Trees of Eastern North America" is a book that can help birders identify more birds. How? You know when someone screams out "It's over THERE! Up in that green tree!" and you stand there with that blank look on your face, because like me, you're color blind and all the trees may be green for all you know. Well, this book will help you learn and ID those "green" trees so you can sound smart and say "It's at four o'clock in the Black Oak!" Folks will be impressed...really.

 This is a wonderful book for all of you "hunter gatherers," folks that want to add to their life lists or search for new frustrating birds to aggravate you. "Rare Birds of North America" by Steve N.G. Howell, Ian Lewington and Will Russell is a great tool and wonderful guide to the rarest vagrants that visit North America every year...or almost every year.

I'm still waiting for one to land in my garden.

For my friends in Britain, or even those of you that want to be in Britain, read  "A Sparrowhawk's Lament:How British Breeding Birds of Prey Are Faring" by David Cobham with Bruce Pearson. Mr. Cobham discusses fifteen species of raptors that reside in the UK today and the efforts by scientists and conservationists to stabilize their populations. He uses personal stories and connections to the effects of documentary films on changing peoples perceptions of these wonderful birds. Every chapter has great illustrations by Bruce Pearson which brings the stories to life.

  And then there's "Ten Thousand Birds, Ornithology Since Darwin." I've had this book for a while now...and I'm still reading it! Tim Birkhead, Jo Wimpenny and Bob Montgomerie did a fantastic job with this book.

I'm one of those short attention span folks...if it has more than ten pages and isn't illustrated on every page, I'll fall asleep. I was surprised and delighted when I discovered that this rather large and detailed tome was so easily readable. I keep going back to it over and over again. It's broken down by the major areas of ornithology, including evolution, classification, migration and more. And yes, there are great illustrations and photos throughout!

 I highly recommend  reading "The Passenger Pigeon" by Errol Fuller since we've just passed the anniversary of the passing of Martha, the last passenger pigeon. This beautifully illustrated book has many interesting facts  about the Passenger Pigeon and its demise. There are illustrations, photographs, paintings(including John James Audubon's,) specimens, poems, historical accounts of the billions that roosted and blackened the skies for miles and days and more.

Very easy to read with answers to the many questions I had about this bird and its life...and the over hunting that wiped it out.

SO, these are much better than video games and ugly sweaters...give the gift of knowledge this year, or even get one for yourself!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thank You...

Today I'm' thankful  for all those little warblies that sit still long enough for me to get a nice photo...

 I'm also thankful for great friends like Kim Kaufman of the Black Swamp Bird Observatory for all they do to promote conservation and the love of nature.

 We need to also be thankful for all of the Audubon groups like Western Cuyahoga Audubon for their ongoing support and protection of the Important Bird Areas.

When I thanked Kim for  promoting conservation, I also need to be thankful for all the young people that have heard the call of the wild.
Support groups like The Ohio Young Birders Club!

Better not forget The Doodles for putting up with me!

And the lovely birds that have visited our gardens and brought a little joy and a sense of wonder to our lives.

I am very thankful for our friends at the Las Gralarias Foundation for helping to save wild areas in Ecuador for our feathered friends.
There are groups like this the world over that need our support.

Thanks to all of the bird banders and researchers that strive to help and preserve the birds that we love so much.

 Our friends at all the the parks and refuges that are struggling to protect a little bit of nature through all of the government cuts and inane laws need thanks and support as well.

 On behalf of the birds on this Thanksgiving, I thank the insects. Yummmmm...