Saturday, February 28, 2009
2. Buy Stokes Field Guide to Bird Songs: Eastern or Western. This is one of the best ways to learn bird calls at home. Each species is on its own track so you can flip between them easily. The Peterson Bird Songs: Eastern and Western are also good to have. They group the calls into groups that sound similar to help you learn them more easily.
3. Go birding by yourself. By birding by yourself, you will not be relying on others to identify the birds you see. This way you will learn more and become a better birder.
4. Join a local field trip. While this may seem to contradict #3, it is also important to surround yourself with experts that can help you with difficult identifications and give you tips on local birding and birding locations.
5. Study your bird books before going out. This will help you become familiar with the common birds and will make your outing more enjoyable.
6. Subscribe to your local birding list-serves. By reading the posts from other birders, you will learn what to expect while you are birding which will help you identify birds more quickly.
7. Try to identify every bird that you hear singing. If you do not know what one of them is, attempt to find it so that you can learn what is making that sound.
8. Read bird identification articles in birding magazines and on bird related websites. This will help you sharpen you identification skills beyond what you can learn in a typical field guide.
9. Get involved in May Day and Christmas Bird Counts. Not only will you be birding but you will be helping scientists learn about birds in your area.
10. Be patient. The more you are in the field, the more you will learn and the more fun you will have!
Thursday, February 26, 2009
- The whistling swan is the American version of the Tundra Swan.
- While the Tundra Swan sleeps on the water during the winter, it spends the breeding season sleeping on land.
- Tundra Swans will defend their nests against foxes, weasels, and gulls but will leave the nest quickly when bigger predators approach such as wolves, people, and bears. They do this to make their nests harder to find for predators that they cannot fend off.
- Tundra Swans stay in flocks whenever they are not on their breeding grounds.
- The roundtrip migration for Tundra swans covers 3,725 miles.
- The stomach acid of the Yellow-crowned Night-Heron is capable of dissolving the shells of turtles that they sometimes feed on.
- They tend to stay active during the day unlike other night-herons.
- A group of night-herons is called a "battery", "hedge", "pose", "rookery", or "scattering."
- These beautiful birds are listed as threatened in New Jersey and endangered in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.
- It is important to protect this birds during their nesting season in order to avoid nest abandonment.
This photo was taken a few hours after we were hit with a 10 inch snowfall in southern Indiana. The lighting in this shot creates some dramatic effect by spotlighting the hill on the opposite shore. But since the lighting is not hitting the foreground the foreground looks flat and lifeless.
Let me know which photo you prefer and if you have a reason why.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
This very interesting book is about the history and techniques of x-ray photography. It begins with an introduction to x-ray photography and a brief overview of the history of the art. He then lays out everything it takes to produce the wonderful images that follow. While this information is a little dry for people not interested in actually making these types of images, it is great for anyone that would like to give it a try.
The rest of the book is dedicated to showing the beautiful images that Dr. Myers has created. It is amazing to see how different nature looks through x-rays. I especially enjoy the many images of shells. The structures and shapes are wonderful to look at. It is also very interesting to see how he has added color to some of the images. This really makes x-ray photography not only a photographic pursuit but an artistic one as well.
Another great feature of this book is that the author lists other x-ray artists with a description of them and their work and how to find out more about them.
I highly recommend this book for anyone that is interested in learning about alternative ways of taking photographs.
To purchase this book please click here.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Check out more great Watery Wednesday Posts here.
Sunday, February 22, 2009
This is an adult dark morph Reddish Egret. The dark morph is much more common than the white morph.
Great White Herons only need to be considered in an identification in southern Florida. When in southern Florida the combination of pale yellow legs and big yellow bill with grayish lores distinguishes the Great White Heron. The Great Egret has a small bill relative to the Great White and has black legs unlike the Great White.
Juvenile Little Blue Heron and Juvenile Snowy Egret
Both of these species have a pale bill tipped with black. The Snowy has a pale yellow bill that matches the color of its legs. The Little Blue has a grayish blue bill. Notice that the Snowy has the same colored bill and legs. The Snowy also has a much more dagger like bill while the Little Blue has a shorter stumpier bill (no where near as stout as the Cattle Egrets bill though)
This is an adult Little Blue Heron. Notice the straw colored legs and bicolored bill (similar color as in the juvenile).
One helpful tip on all identifications (not just the birds mentioned above) is to use what you can. Most people do not think that comparisons are possible on single birds. Instead of comparing a bird to a separte bird compare colors, pattern, dimensions, etc. on a bird to the rest of the bird.
Friday, February 20, 2009
It has been incredible getting to know other nature bloggers and reading all of your blogs. We look forward to meeting many more of you and sharing our stories and tips with you all. Its amazing how fast the entries add up!
Thank you all for your comments and support!
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
This waterfall is called the Punchbowl. It is in the main canyon in the park and runs into Sugar Creek.
- Both sexes are known to attempt to attract a mate during the breeding season.
- In one study, over 45% of the nests contained young that had no genetic link to the apparent breeding male. This means that the female had copulated with more than one male.
- Red-faced Warblers are highly sensitive to environmental changes especially logging. Logging tends to cause huge decreases in the number of individuals present or cause their complete disappearance from and area.
- They are known to flick their tails from side to side while feeding.
- The Red-faced Warbler is the only North American warbler with both a bright red face and upper breast.
- Unlike many other warbler species, Hooded Warblers are highly territorial on their wintering grounds.
- Males and females frequent different habitats while on their wintering grounds. Males prefer mature forests while females are attracted to scrubbier forests and seasonally flooded areas.
- The last part of the Hooded Warbler's scientific name, citrina, refers to its bright yellow color.
- Hooded Warblers can be difficult to find during the breeding season because they prefer the dense understory of shrubs and heavy vegetation.
- Other than their hood, another field mark to look for is their white outer tail feathers. These are highly noticeable when the Hooded Warbler is is flicking or fanning their tail.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
I birded Lake Waveland on my way to Turkey Run State Park on Saturday. This was my first visit to this location and it was well worth it. There were Wood Ducks and Common Mergansers on the water and Bald Eagle, Red-tailed Hawk, and Rough-legged Hawk hunting around the lake. On Sunday I birded Eagle Creek Park in the morning and evening. In the evening ,on my way back to Bloomington, I was able to find Ruddy Duck and Greater Scaup both year birds for me (a year bird is a bird that I have not seen in the current year).
Spring is almost here!
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
During low tide, many species became visable in the shallow pools of water. The variety of species and colors are incredible.
It was also amazing to me how quickly the ocean dropped off at the edge of the lava. It went from just a few feet deep at the most on the lava to at least 20 feet deep within just a few feet.
To see more great Water Wednesday posts click here.
- Avocets physically attack predators near the nest including Northern Harriers and Common Ravens.
- American Avocets have been known to parasitize nest of their own species as well as other species. There are also documents cases of other species paracitizing avocets nests, including a Black-necked Stilt which the avocet raised as its own chick.
- Chicks leave the nest within 24 hours of hatching and can walk, swim, and even dive to escape predators.
- Avocets are known to raise their nest up to a foot or more with sticks and other materials in response to flooding. this keeps their eggs above water and saves their nesting attempt.
- American Avocet numbers are threatened by the destruction of the wetlands they use to nest and feed.
- In order to escape from predators, Virginia Rails have the ability to swim underwater. They propel themselves with their wings.
- Virginia Rails build many nests per nesting season but only use one to lay their eggs. The other serve as dummy nests to distract predators.
- Rails have the highest ratio of leg muscles to flight muscles of any bird.
- Virginia Rail's forehead feathers have adapter to resist wear from pushing through dense vegetation in marshes.
- Although not known for their ability to fly, Virginia Rails do migrate long distances each year.
Saturday, February 7, 2009
This picture of a Common Redpoll was taken last year at Indiana Dunes State Park.
Thursday, February 5, 2009
This photo was also taken right before sunset over Lake Monroe.
Monday, February 2, 2009
- In the late summer, Scissor-tailed Flycatchers form large premigratory groups of up to 1000 individuals.
- In some years, nearly half of all nest failures are the result of high winds and thunderstorms.
- A study found that individuals that nest in urban areas of Texas use up to 30% artificial materials in their nests.
- Scissor-tailed Flycatchers hunt by waiting on a perch and then flying out to catch insects. This is called hawking.
- Scissor-tailed Flycatchers are very aggressive when protecting their nest, just like other kingbirds.
- The Red-headed Woodpecker is one of only 4 woodpeckers that is knows to store food. It is the only one that has also be observed covering that food with wood or bark. they regularly store Grasshoppers alive but they wedge them tightly into places that they cannot escape from.
- Red-headed Woodpeckers are very aggressive in their nesting area, even destroying the nests of other woodpeckers.
- Recent tree diseases have created great nesting habitat for this species.
- The cartoon character, Woody Woodpecker, is roughly based on a Red-headed Woodpecker.
- The U.S Postal service featured a Red-headed Woodpecker on a 2-cent stamp in 1996.
Sunday, February 1, 2009
February started off well today too with very warm temperatures and many birds including Snow Bunting, Horned Lark, Purple Finch, Hermit Thrush, and Yellow-rumped Warbler. Keep the warm weather coming.
Here is my favorite photo from the month of January.