Monday, August 30, 2010

Tough Morning

Photo of yellow warbler, by Dori, Wikimeida Commons
Yesterday I went birding at Lake Wichita Park and the spillway. Saw some decent birds overall, but am still paying for it.

My mother always said she should have called me Grace, since I am a complete klutz. I get focused on something and forget everything else. In this case I was looking at a bird (nothing very special--a great-tailed grackle flying overhead), forgot I was at the edge of the trail, stepped off and went down. Twisted my left ankle and sprained my left foot, knee, hand, wrist, elbow and shoulder and somehow my right shoulder as well. Hurt like a son of a gun. Lost my glasses (didn't realize they came off my head worrying about whether I did any serious damage to my body) and broke my camera (but that's why I buy inexpensive stuff--I do this on occasion.) Fortunately, no damage to my binoculars--that would have been a serious bummer.

Anyway, that cut short my birding trip as I couldn't use my left arm much at all and my right one hurt. Fortunately, one day later I am much improved, although I am not doing much that requires the use of my arms. Another couple of days and I should be 100% again, if I don't take another spill.

But back to the birds. At Lake Wichita Park I saw the following: scissor-tailed flycatcher, northern cardinal, blue jay, eastern phoebe, killdeer, chimney swift, mallard, American coot (this is early), yellow warbler, Mississippi kite, northern mockingbird, red-winged blackbird, American robin, great egret, barn swallow, mourning dove, white-winged dove.

I drove through Rosemont Cemetery on my way to the spillway, but nothing special--house finch, white-winged dove, scissor-tailed flycatcher and American robin.

At the spillway there were dozens of great-tailed grackle, looking rather ratty as they do at the end of the summer. In addition, there were house sparrows, Eurasian collared dove, killdeer, house finch, great egret, rock pigeon, red-tailed hawk, barn swallow, snowy egret, great blue heron and semipalmated sandpiper. The sandpipers always give me fits, but fortunately for me in this case, they were easy to see, a few flew and they were calling, making it easier to be certain of my ID. Thank goodness for Birds of North America (BNA) online--I could listen to recordings of the calls and compare to rule out the western sandpiper and positively ID the semipalmated.

A subscription to BNA isn't too expensive and if you are a member of the Texas Ornithological Society, you get a discount, making it an even better deal.

Good birding!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Pretty Morning on Lake Wichita

This is one of my Saturday's at Wild Bird Rescue. One of the good things about late summer (other than the break in temperatures we're having right now) is that things are begining to slow down at the Rescue. That means I can go outside now and again to check out the birds on Lake Wichita. During the height of the summer season, there just isn't time to do that.

This morning I took about 15 minutes to walk down to the inlet adjacent to Wild Bird Rescue. In just those few minutes, I got to see a couple of immature Mississippi Kites (probably some of our releases), a great egret, great blue heron, great-tailed grackle, red-winged blackbirds, mallards, pigeons, mourning dove, Eurasian collared doves, white-winged dove, house sparrow, black-chinned hummingbird, snowy egret, and both an adult and immature yellow-crowned night-herons. The night-herons were not together. The immature was in the reeds along the shore line and the adult was a flyover.

Not bad for such a short time.

Good birding!

Friday, August 27, 2010

New Look

I got tired of the blog template I was using (just seemed a little blah) and decided to change it up. I like the rain in this template (probably because it has been so hot and dry lately) and hope you like it too. But let me know. I'm in the mood to experiment.

Good birding!

Consider eBird

I have kept track of my sightings for years. I have also moved around a lot.

My master life list was recorded in my copy of Clements' Birds of the World--a couple of years ago that book came up missing. I am hoping the next time I move, the book will miraculously reappear, since all of my European sightings are there. My nightmare is that it was in the trunk of the car I sold a few years back, and I didn't notice when I cleaned it out. I can't imagine why that thought has been bouncing around in my head for years, but it is a recurring nightmare. It has GOT to be in this house somewhere.

I keep my field notes in little notebooks I can carry around, and some of those are missing.

I tried AviSys, but when my computer hard drive died, so did my list.


I have been meaning to start using eBird for some time. My hope being that once the sightings are posted there, they cannot be lost. In addition, the information entered by birders is a source of information for many scientific studies.

eBird is another project of one of my favorite organizations, Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the Audubon Society. I am going to spend some time over the next several weeks going back through all of the notebooks I have and loading that information while inputting information from my current birding outings. Let's hope this eliminates my observation storage problem while contributing to the general knowledge about birds.

Good birding!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Ivory-billed Woodpecker Article/Photos in Smithsonian

Interested in the history of the ivory-billed woodpecker. In this month's Smithsonian there is an article you can read online.

Good birding!

Want a Chance to Win a Bird Book?

I received an email today that Princeton University Press is having a drawing from those who "like" their Facebook page or fan them on Twitter.

The books they are giving away to some lucky folks who sign up are:

Birds of Western North America: A Photographic Guide
Birds of Eastern North America: A Photographic Guide

Princeton University Press publishes a lot of books of interest to naturalists and birders, so no hardship on me to sign up at their page.

The drawing is Friday, so sign up at one or both of their social media sites.

Good birding!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sunday Morning In Lucy Park

Once fall arrives I try to bird Lucy Park every few weeks. Lucy Park is river bottom deciduous woodland and sometimes draws some excellent migrants. With TEXBIRDS reports of migrants heading through the area, I gave it a try today. It wasn't a fruitful morning, but even a poor morning birding is better than a morning doing most anything else.

I didn't see many different birds, but there were a lot of Mississippi Kites. Since we are having a good crop of dragonflies, the kites should be eating well. I saw several fledglings in the tree tops.

In addition to the Mississippi kites, birds seen/heard this morning included: blue jay, cardinal, mourning dove, white-winged dove, Eurasian collared doves, chickadees, European starling, red-bellied woodpecker, downy woodpecker, mockingbird, great-tailed grackle, rock pigeon, robin, Canadian geese, and mallards.

Since I didn't see a lot of birds in the park, I drove through Riverside Cemetery. Not a lot of species there either, but again several Mississippi kites as well as hundreds of red-winged blackbirds and dozens of white-winged doves.

Good birding!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Interesting Articles on Painted Buntings and Titmice

Painted bunting photo courtesy of Doug Jenson, Wikimedia Commons.
Two wonderful little birds in our area are the Painted Bunting and Tufted Titmouse. The recent edition of the occasional Oklahoma Biological Survey Newsletter has interesting articles on each of these birds (as well as other topics.)

I had a talk with someone recently about painted buntings. Many people aren't aware of these colorful birds in our area because they inhabit the county, not the city. I have had a female at my feeders before in spring migration, but it was only for a day and she hightailed it out of town into the surrounding countryside. This is the time of year, the painted buntings are leaving us for their wintering grounds (see the article cited above).

We do get to keep the tufted titmouse all year around and we do have both the tufted and black-crested species. Whether we are in the hybridizatioin area mentioned in the newsletter article, I am not sure.
It's always a good birding day when seeing or hearing either of these birds.
By the way, if you're interested in receiving notice when the Oklahoma Biological Survey newsletter is published, you can email Amy Buthod at to be placed on the distribution list.
Good birding!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

North Texas Bird and Wildlife Club Meeting

The North Texas Bird and Wildlife Club met at Wild Birds Unlimited (Smith's Gardentown) tonight and heard about some new products for bird lovers. Many thanks to Bill from Smith's for his time and interest.

A couple of the products I found most interesting were a new easy clean feeder with anti-microbial properties and well as a product called Feeder Fresh which is to help keep feed dry in the feeders. Both sound like good products to discourage molds and other noxious things that cause disease among birds. And anything that makes a feeder easier to clean is a good thing.

For those of us who buy large quantities of bird food each year, the Daily Savings Club may be an option to consider. I am generally opposed to things I have to pay to join, unless I am sure I can get all of my money back and then some. In this case, the Daily Savings Club is $25 annually but has many benefits. Stop by the store and look into it--whether it is a good deal for you depends upon how much feed you buy.

Bill gave out some samples of the no mess feed and bark butter to an appreciative bunch of birders. I know my samples will be put to good use.

Smiths is now an authorized dealer for Tilley hats--a great favorite of outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds.

There are still some openings on the Costa Rica trip in November, so if you're interested, be sure to sign up soon.

Good birding!

Monday, August 16, 2010

New Birding Forum

There was a post on TEXBIRDS last week about a new North American Birders Forum.

Although created primarily for the more obsessive birder, there appears to be plenty of content for bird lovers of all levels of interest and knowledge. Take a look.

Good birding!

Thanks Readers

I like getting email from readers of this blog. Most are sending me more information about the subject of one of the posts.

Thanks to E.B. Hawley who publishes the Traveler Literary Gnome blog listed in the blog roll. She always has such beautiful pictures on her blog. She sent me a link to her pictures of turkey vultures on the blog, published a couple of years ago when she had a roost near her property. She was also kind enough to send me a very good article from the New York Times on purple martins. Although purple martins are leaving us now, this article is good inspiration for those who may want to set up martin houses in their yards next spring.

So keep that email coming!

Good birding!

Friday, August 13, 2010

North Texas Bird and Wildlife Club Meets This Week--LOCATION CHANGE

The North Texas Bird and Wildlife Club meets Tuesday, August 17, 7PM at Smith's Gardentown/Wild Birds Unlimited on Seymour Highway. I am not sure the topic of the program, but I am sure we'll get to see all of the new goodies at Wild Birds Unlimited. The group will also be planning their September club picnic.

If you're not a member of the club, come visit. It's a small, friendly group. You'll have a chance to learn more about birds and other wildlife, local birding spots and to meet area birders. The club publishes a monthly newsletter with news about local bird sightings and nature-realted events and happenings in the area.

Good birding!

Stalking the Elusive Turkey Vulture

For the past few weeks when I have been in the area of Kemp Blvd and Midwestern Parkway between 8:30 and 9:00 AM, I have seen large flocks of turkey vultures circling over the area near Barwise Junior High. Easily 30 - 50 birds in a flock. One morning there were 2 flocks circling the area.
Turkey vultures roost in groups. They are not active early and wait for the sun to start heating the atmosphere, creating updrafts in which they can soar all day. Wednesday AM I had a little time so decided to hang out in the Barwise Jr. High parking lot to see if I could refine a roost location. I got some funny looks from the adults with the girls' track team. Possibly because I got caught up in looking for the birds and was stopped in the middle of the parking lot instead of a defined parking space. I didn't notice until people started driving around me, giving me the evil eye.
I could see 3 vultures on the school's roof and noted a couple of birds launching from nearby trees off Maplewood and flying to Barwise around 8:30. Unfortunately, I had to leave for an appointment (work seems to interfere with my birdwatching waaaay too often) so wasn't able to tell much more.
Today I took the day off and headed out for the Maplewood/Barwise area around 8:30 and staked out the area around Hirschi Realtors, across the street from Barwise. There was a roost on the roof of Barwise. I counted as many as 16 turkey vultures perched where I could see them. However, this was not nearly all of the turkey vultures to be seen. As the air heated up, turkey vultures started launching themselves out of trees in the area, but the largest group came from an area northeast of that location, so it looks like I will be out on another surveillance Sunday AM. It appeared that the Barwise/Maplewood area was a "meet up" location before dispersing. If you have any ideas on the location of the second roost, please post a comment.
Good birding!

Purple Martins Released

We did find a purple martin colony with lots of birds on the outskirts of Wichita Falls and released three young into the flock. Of course, this morning, I saw a single purple martin perched on a wire outside Wild Bird Rescue's front door. Figures.

Good birding!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Looking for A Purple Martin Roost

Photo courtesy of Dori, Wikimedia Commons.
Wild Bird Rescue has three fledgling purple martins to release. The colony at Wild Bird Rescue is usually the group we release in, but for whatever reason, the colony disappeared immediately after fledging their own young this year.

So we are looking for a roost. If you are aware of a roost in or near Wichita Falls, TX please call Wild Bird Rescue at 940-867-9761.
Good birding!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Earth's Cycle

Gardeners are highly attuned to the cycle of the seasons. So are birders.

I woke up earlier this week and thought, "It seems dark for this time of the morning." I had to check my clock to be sure it was my usual wake up time. It was; it's just the days are once again getting shorter. And fall migration season has started.

It seems we just finished talking about spring migration and now we're into fall. And that is true. Spring migration continues into May/June and Fall migration begins in July. The birds are constantly on the move.

The purple martins at Wild Bird Rescue fledged last week; I didn't see any purple martins yesterday while I was working there. I saw postings on OKBIRDS and TEXBIRDS about large martin roosts, which generally precede the birds' departure.

The fall migration is usually more drawn out, so we will have a chance to see birds for several months.

Good birding!