Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Going on Vacation

Tomorrow my husband and I are leaving for a vacation, visiting North Carolina and Florida, so I look forward to birding en route. I will be sure to post any good birds. Ya'll watch the Texas birds for me.

Good birding!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Great Day at Wichita Moutains

Photo taken by Michael Male and used with permission from Wikimedia Commons.

My father-in-law visited over the weekend and my husband and I took him to Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. My husband always wants to see elk, which rarely happens (and didn't this trip either), but we did see lots of buffalo, some white-tailed deer, prairie dogs, a wild turkey and of course, Texas longhorn cattle.

However, my best sighting of the day was a couple of black-capped vireos along one of the trails. The black-capped vireo is an endangered species and the Wichita Moutains is one of the few places you have a good chance of seeing one. I have actually seen one in Lake Wichita Lake park some years back, but that sighting wasn't accepted by the Texas Bird Records Committee (TBRC) since I was the only one who saw it, and I didn't have a camera. Wichita Falls is not considered a mecca for the bird. But the bird is distinctive enough I am satisfied I saw it, so that is the important thing.
I looked for the canyon wren at Quanah Parker Dam but no luck this time. I almost always hear one there at the very least, but not this time. I guess I shouldn't expect to see everything on every trip.
The weather, although hot, wasn't miserable. There was a fair amount of shade in many areas, and a good breeze atop Mount Scott, which is usual. A good day in the refuge topped off by beef ribs at Meers (hubby had his usual Meers burger and Dad got one of the 1/4 lb burgers.)
Good birding!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Bluebird Symposium Coming Up

A few years ago, Wichita Falls hosted the Texas Bluebird Society Bluebird Symposium. I really enjoyed it. This year, the Symposium will be in Henderson, TX. Here is some information on the symposium in case you can make time to attend.

August 14, 9:00 AM - 2:00 PM

New Civic Center at Lake Forest Park

1006 Hwy 64, Henderson, TX

$10 registration includes lunch

Register by July 1 and receive 10 extra door pr1ze tickets

Special guest speakers Keith Kriedler and Greg Grant with information on woodpeckers and bluebirds. Other speakers as well.

Silent auction will provide funds for bluebird conservation projects. Also, anyone who signs up to watch 2 bluebird boxes, gets one free.
The registration form is available on the website.
Good birding!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Baby Bird Photo #2

Photo courtesy of Wild Bird Rescue
Well, our ID challenge is giving people fits, so I am posting another photo in hopes that by providing more information, we can make a good identification in case we receive another, similar baby.
Good birding!

And You Think Adults Are Tough!

Photo courtesy of Wild Bird Rescue.

We've talked before about the challenges of bird identification. Immature birds present their own special challenges. Some look like their parents, and some not so much.

In the picture at left, Bob Lindsey from Wild Bird Rescue is holding a new "patient" at the center. It's important to know what bird we're dealing with to ensure its proper nutrition and care until release. This is a new one and we're not entirely sure what it is.

Any ideas?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Birding Trip to Costa Rica

Katherine at Wild Bird's Unlimited (Smith's Gardentown) sent me a flyer for a birding trip to Costa Rica she has arranged for November. I wish I could go--this is on my bucket list of birding places, but this year isn't in the cards.

The trip is 4 - 14 November. A deposit of $350 is required to make a reservation; the balance is due in August. Price per person (not including air fare) is $2495 (single)/$1975 (double). She can accept only 18 more people.

If interested, contact Katherine Smith at 940-733-2423. She'll send you the flyer as well as lists of birds you can expect to see at the various stops.

Good birding!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Bird ID Is Tough

Even for those of us who bird regularly, bird identification can be tough. For those with little prior experience, it can be even more difficult. If they don't have experience, binoculars and/or field guides, all people have to rely on is their memory of birds they have seen on TV or in a magazine.

Many times people call, excited that they have found a really unusual bird. Other times they call because they see a bird that "looks like" a very unusual bird, but know that it cannot be what they think it is. Usually, they have found a fairly common bird--just one they haven't seen before and therefore, not one that pops into their minds.

Two examples to illustrate:
- There was a call there were birds that look like penguins building a nest in a tree. The person knew it was very unlikely this is what she had, but the markings looked like a penguin to her. It turned out to be a pair of yellow-crowned night herons. If you know your birds, then the confusion is hard to understand. But if you look at the aspects of the birds (both seem kind of hunched up and stumpy) and you haven't seen night herons, the coloring could lead you to think penguins, especially if the lighting wasn't the best.
- Received a call that there were a couple of bald eagles in a tree in my neighborhood. Well, in June, that is very unlikely, but if I missed a pair of bald eagles because I didn't go look, I would have been upset. I did not see any birds on the tree mentioned, but I did see two Mississippi Kites flying overhead. This is possibly the cause of the confusion. Although to an experienced birder, there is no resemblance between a bald eagle and a Mississippi kite, the fact is they are both raptor type birds and both have a pale head with a darker body. If you have seen both birds, you would recognize immediately the tremendous difference in body size, if nothing else. If you haven't then you might reach for "what hawk-like bird do I know of that has a pale head?" and come up with a bald eagle.

Sometimes, we are not understanding enough when people mis-ID birds. Heck, I have been a birder for most of my life and still make mistakes, even with binoculars, field guides, and a host of other tools. I am just glad that people noticed the birds and were interested enough to try to find out what bird they are seeing. Fortunately, most birders have "been there" and remember what it was like just starting out. The birding list servs are full of requests for ID help, sometimes spurring a lively debate.

So get out there and look for birds and don't worry about making mistakes. Start with a few common birds and work your way to some of the less common. You'll have fun regardless.

Good birding!