Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Bob Lindsay Funeral

Those interested in attending Bob Lindsay's funeral: the service will be held at Owens & Brumley on 9th St in Wichita Falls at 7PM tonight. Cards and memorials may be dropped off or mailed to Wild Bird Rescue at 4611 Lake Shore Dr., Wichita Falls, TX 76310.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Wild Bird Rescue Loses Executive Director

I am sad to report that Bob Lindsay, Executive Director at Wild Bird Rescue, passed away unexpectedly on Monday, April 25.

Bob was a great friend of the birds and worked hard to make Wild Bird Rescue the excellent bird rehab facility it is today. He will be greatly missed by all of the volunteers at Wild Bird Rescue and by the community.

Lila Arnold, a long-time rehabilitator for Wild Bird Rescue and Assistant Director, has been appointed the Interim Executive Director.

Those wishing to make a donation to Wild Bird Rescue in Bob's memory are encouraged to do so. You are welcome to drop off or mail your donation to Wild Bird Rescue, 4611 Lake Shore Drive, Wichita Falls, TX 76310. You may also make a credit card donation at the facility or over the phone at 940-691-0828. Donations by credit card or by paypal may also be made at the organization website.

Those wishing to contribute to the family or wishing to drop off cards may drop/mail to Wild Bird Rescue at the address listed above. Be sure to put his wife, Phyllis's, name on the envelope so volunteers put the card in the correct place to have them delivered to the family.

The funeral is tomorrow, April 27, at 7PM at Owens Brumley funeral home.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Good Birding Weekend

Left: summer tanager concealed in undergrowth at Lucy Park at upper center of photo.

Yesterday, I had some budding ornithologists and others on a bird walk at River Bend as part of the Earth Day celebration. Although we took our walk at 2:00 PM, we did see some decent birds. Among them: house sparrow, house finch, cardinal, common grackle, tufted titmouse, great crested flycatcher, Carolina chickadee, blue jay, red-bellied woodpecker, and cedar waxwings.

When I got up this morning, I was debating where I should bird while on my way out to my truck. I saw a small flock of chipping sparrows in my front yard and decided to head back to Lucy Park. Since there was a light mist and there appeared to be a good chance of rain, I modified my usual route, which turned out to be a good thing. It didn't rain, but I was on a path I rarely take and saw a summer tanager (see photo.) At first, I saw a brillant red bird with darker wings and thought I was looking at a scarlet tanager. I used to see them growing up in Indiana on occasion, but not here. I called Terry McKee to gloat. But as I continued to watch the bird and tried to get a decent photo (what you see is the best I was able to get--you can see a little better if you enlarge the photo.) Anyway, when I got a good view underneath the bird, it became obvious that I was looking at a summer tanager, not a scarlet. Although a scarlet tanager would have been a great bird, the summer is great as it is a lifer for me. I was alble to watch the bird for a good 10 minutes.

Left: American goldfinch, male, photo from Wikimedia Commons, by mdf.

I was also lucky to see a flock of goldfinches that were still hanging around--some of which were completely in their summer yellow and black plumage as in the photo at the left.

Other birds this morning in Lucy Park included: northern cardinal, blue jay, mockingbird, chipping sparrow, mourning dove, white-winged dove, cedar waxwing, rock pigeon, Carolina wren, Carolina chickadee, yellow-rumped warbler, western kingbird, red-bellied woodpecker, tufted titmouse, mallard, European starling, great-tailed grackle, green heron, and brown-headed cowbird. A flock of ring-billed gulls also flew over the park.

So overall, a very nice morning.

Good birding!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Big Day in Texas Underway

Each year the Cornell Lab of Ornithology holds a Big Day in Texas fundraiser to support bird conservation projects. This includes the Lab's citizen science programs, eBird and various Lab conservation activities.

A big day is a competitive 24-hour event to find the most birds. You may compete only with yourself, but usually you are hoping to find more birds than anyone else who has done the big day in a particular area. In this case, Team Sapsucker is trying to break a previous 261 bird record. Team Sapsucker has been scouting their route for days to ensure they know where the birds are in advance of the day. In our area, a really intense big day might turn up 80 or 90 species, so you can see they are in a good location for birding.

Of course, the ultimate goal is to raise money. In this case, the financial goal is $250,000. You can follow Team Sapsucker on twitter today (@Team_eBird)--right now they are running behind.

So enjoy the fun and support this worthwhile organization. By the way, there is a contest for a free pair of binoculars associated with the video clip link above.

Good birding!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

North Texas Bird and Wildlife Club

The North Texas Bird and Wildlife Club meets Tuesday, April 19 at 7 PM at the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) building on Southwest Parkway (next to Wichita Valley Nursery). This is a small group and very friendly, so feel free to come visit. Light refreshments are served at the meeting. Good birding!

Finally! Yellow-headed Blackbirds

Picture from Bob Lindsay, Wild Bird Rescue

Every spring I try to be sure to be in the field for the few weeks yellow-headed blackbirds are migrating through. These are such beautiful birds, I don't want to miss them. I was out last weekend looking for them at Lake Wichita with no success and then received pictures from Bob at Wild Bird Rescue that they were having daily visits by a large flock. He sent some pictures--all from a distance, but you can see two of the birds in the photo to the left.

I was there Thursday afternoon and saw a large number, and today I have seen many of them while volunteering at the rescue center.

If you get a chance to get outdoors, you might be lucky enough to see some. They will be leaving soon and you won't have another opportunity for awhile. I would think they would be hightailing it out of this area as quickly as possible with all of the wildfires going on right now.

Good birding!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Sunday Birding

Turkey display at Rosemont cemetery.
I decided to bird Lake Wichita on Sunday. It was a pretty morning on the trail. I walked along the chat trail, around the barrow pit and across the bridge to the opposite side of the wooded area along the drainage area and then headed over to the spillway.

When I got out of the truck, I heard singing in the live oaks at the head of the chat trail. There are usually pretty good birds there and that held true on Sunday with several clay-colored sparrows and a few warbling vireos flitting among the leaves. Several white-crowned and at least one white-throated sparrows were on the ground below. I saw my first chimney swifts of the season. They are among my favorite birds. I decided to drive to the spillway instead of walk the dam. On the way, I pulled into Rosemont Cemetery. I don't often see many good birds, but I do often see turkeys and I was in the mood to try to catch a glimpse. Sometimes, it is better to be lucky that good as I had the opportunity to watch a tom turkey doing his best to court a hen. She wasn't paying him much attention. I don't know how she could resist--he was definitely a handsome fellow. I was able to get reasonably close in the truck and get a couple of good shots without scaring the birds.

This is a good time of year to bird--many of the winter birds are still here, the summer birds are arriving and migrants are passing through. Couple that with some decent weather and you have the makings for a good morning of birding. In the short time I was out, here are my sightings: mallard, ruddy duck, northern shoveler, bufflehead, blue-winged teal, pied-billed grebe, earred grebe, American coot, double-crested cormorant, American white pelican, Canada goose, mourning dove, snowy egret, great blue heron, killdeer, black-necked stilt, turkey vulture, red-tailed hawk, Eurasian collared dove, white-winged dove, rock pigeon, wild turkey, house finch, red-winged blackbird, brown-headed cowbird, great-tailed grackle, European starling, blue jay, chimney swift, cliff swallow, northern cardinal, robin, brown thrasher, cedar waxwing, Eastern phoebe, scissor-tailed flycatcher, northern mockingbird, yellow-rumped warbler, warbling vireo, American pipit, Carolina wren, spotted towhee, white-crowned sparrow, white-throated sparrow, clay-colored sparrow, lark sparrow, and house sparrow.

Good birding!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Great Backyard Bird Count Results Released

Those who participated in the Great Backyard Bird Count this year may be interested in the information posted at the website. Wichita Falls had 75 species counted over the 4 days, which isn't bad, although not as good as 2010 (which was a record year for us.) You can also tell by looking at previous years' data that more people are participating--this is probably the primary reason the number of species and the number of individuals is increasing.

Next year's GBBC is February 17 - 20, 2012, so block those days on your calendar now. The more people, the more checklists and the better the information.

Good birding!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Interested in Volunteering at Wild Bird Rescue?

Baby bird season is about to get into full swing. Although a few doves have been coming in, the songbirds haven't yet. It won't be long. Wild Bird Rescue is recruiting for volunteers to help during the peak months of April - September. Although WBR needs volunteers year around to help with special events and fundraising, volunteers are critical during the summer. How do you volunteer? Call Bob at 940-691-0828. An orientation is currently scheduled for April 23. If that date isn't good for you, fill out the application and just tell Bob that date won't work--other orientations will be scheduled. What do volunteers do? Most volunteers want to work with the birds. For the most part, it is feed, clean, feed, clean, throughout your shift, spending most of the time on your feet. If you don't care to work directly with the birds, help manning the phone, preparing the newsletter, doing laundry, and maintaining the outside landscape are all necessary. If you can make time to commit 4 hours every 2 weeks, please consider at least talking to Bob about volunteering. Good birding!

Project Feederwatch Season Ends

April 8 is the formal end date for Cornell's Lab of Ornithology's Project Feederwatch season. However, since I count weekends, this past weekend was my last count. I had a busy weekend, so I only managed to count on Sunday afternoon, so I didn't get many birds. I have been participating in Project Feederwatch for many years. It is gratifying to know that I can share the information I collect while participating in an activity I enjoy and benefit the birds. After I updated my information for the weekend, I looked at my summary for the year. Not surprisingly, I had the largest number of species and individuals during the snow storm in early February with 65 individuals of 13 species (Project Feederwatch methodology is to count the largest number of individuals seen at one time--so there were probably more than that present.) Also no suprise was that the highest number of any species seen at one time over the entire period was the white-winged dove, followed closely by the house sparrow. The dark-eyed junco also had good numbers. I'll look forward to seeing the consolidated report from Cornell later in the year, so see what the data says about birds throughout the US and Canada. If you don't already participate in Project Feederwatch, consider doing so next season, which starts in November. There is a small fee to take part, but well worth the money for the enjoyment. This would be a super activity for those who home school their children. In fact, there is a page just for this. There are many citizen science projects related to birds. Those sponsored by the Lab are listed here. Good birding!