Monday, September 30, 2013

Giveaway - Birds & Blooms Backyard Birder Series on Hummingbirds

Broad-billed Hummingbird in Southeast Arizona
Rob writes: We are very excited to announce a giveaway to one lucky reader of an incredible new hummingbird workshop that Birds & Blooms Magazine and Kenn and Kim Kaufman have created!

This online workshop will teach you everything you need to know about hummingbirds, from tips on the best way to feed them to some amazing facts about these fascinating little birds. I have taken the course and found it to be extremely interesting and educational. I was especially impressed that it answered all of the most common hummingbird questions that I get asked while working for Wild Birds Unlimited. You can read more of my review of the workshop here.

Enter to win the free workshop by using the Rafflecopter widget below. The contest ends at midnight on Sunday, October 6th.

Be sure to check the blog on Monday to see if you've won!' a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Midwest Birding Symposium 2013

Rob writes: I spent this past weekend at the Midwest Birding Symposium in Lakeside, Ohio on the shores of Lake Erie. The festival is held every two years and this is the third consecutive one in a row at Lakeside. This was the third time that I have been to the festival and it was actually the first big birding festival that I attended back in 2009! While the festival has great programs and there are good number of birds migrating through the area, my favorite part of the festival is the people. I spent most of my time in the vendor area talking to people from all of the country and world. From tour leaders to optics reps, there are a million things that you can learn about!

On Thursday before the festival started, Brian Zwiebel and I did some filming for a new
birding video series that we are working on! More info on that coming very soon!

Rue Mapp, from Outdoor Afro, talking about how to get diverse audiences into birding!
It was a very inspiring presentation!

One of my favorite parts of the weekend was spending time listening to the wonderful youth speakers from
the Ohio Young Birders Club! It was a great day of fun activities for young birders sponsored
 by the American Birding Association and Black Swamp Bird Observatory.
I also go to go birding with them and helped several of them find a few lifers!

Another non symposium related highlight was that my t-shirts and car door magnets for my new tour company,
Sabrewing Nature Tours, arrived! Check us out on Facebook and our website.
In 2015, the event will move to Bay City, Michigan and will be hosted by Michigan Audubon. It is sure to be an awesome weekend and I hope to see many of you there!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

It's Time for Another Bird Quiz

Rob writes: We had a lot of responses to our last bird quiz and now it is time for our quiz for the second half of September! Do you know what it is? Submit your answer here

To see the answer to the last quiz and to find out if you got it right, follow this link

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Review: Birds & Blooms Backyard Birder Series: Hummingbirds

Magnificent Hummingbird
Rob writes: Birds & Blooms Magazine has been working on a really cool new project with Kenn and Kim Kaufman. They have produced the first online video workshop in their Backyard Birder series! All About Hummingbirds teaches participants about the amazing lives of hummingbirds as well as how to attract them to your backyard.

After a great introduction video, the workshop is broken down into 3 sections -  "Fascinating Hummingbirds", "Hummingbirds in Your Backyard", and "Gardening for Hummingbirds". Each section contains an amazing amount of material to teach you everything you need to know about hummingbirds. The videos are both informative and entertaining, and the "Did You Know" sections offer some fun additional hummingbird facts. I was very impressed to see that this workshop covered all of the most common questions that I get asked by my customers at Wild Birds Unlimited and I personally learned a lot of new information in the "Gardening for Hummingbirds" section.

It would be easy to overlook the "Additional Information" section but that would be a huge mistake. The "Hummingbird Videos" are absolutely amazing and the "Expert Q&A" gives you quick answers to common hummingbird questions via short videos from the Kaufmans. The "Bonus Materials" offer downloadable PDFs that are extremely well laid out and very informative. I especially like the 10 Best Hummingbird Blooms download.

I would recommend this workshop for anyone that would like to attract hummingbirds to their yard. Even experienced birders that know all about hummingbirds will learn a lot during the gardening sections of the workshop. The workshop is $35 and can be purchased by going here: will also be offering a contest to win a free workshop. More details will be coming very soon so stay tuned!

My Certificate of Completion!
*We received a free copy of this workshop in order to provide this review.*

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A Rarity at Lucky Peak

Rob writes: Early this afternoon, I got a message from Eric that they had caught a really unusual bird at Lucky Peak in Idaho and that he would give me details later. After a couple of hours, I received this photo.

Cape May Warbler
This Cape May Warbler is the first record for Lucky Peak and only the third record for the whole state! Everyone is pretty excited about the record and you can see more photos below and on the Idaho Bird Observatory's Facebook page.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Weekend Birding with the Young Birders

Rob writes: Last Friday, I picked up Landon Neumann and headed to the Indiana Lakefront to do some scouting for our Indiana Young Birders Club field trip the next day. We arrived late in the day so we were not expecting to find much but the number of warblers ended up surprising us! We found 11 species in just a couple of hours and I even got an decent photo of one of my favorite warblers, a Black-throated Blue!

A Black-throated Blue Warbler at the Migrant Trap
With the winds out of the south overnight, we were not anticipating a great day at Miller Beach. When we arrived, Ken Brock, an expert lakefront birder, and his group were already there and had nothing to report other than that the parking lot had been locked up and there was very little room to park! Luckily we were able to squeeze all of the cars in and it wasn't long before part of the group radioed in that there was a Red Knot about a mile down the beach in the USX Steel Impoundment! Landon and I took off down the beach and were happy to find the bird actively feeding right were it had been reported. It was a new state bird for both of us. Suddenly a Whimbrel called from behind us but we could not find the bird.

More of our young birders arrived and started to make their way the mile down the beach for the knot but unfortunately, a Cooper's Hawk flew in and scared the bird away just 2 minutes before they made it. We all made the long walk back down the beach together and we were almost to the parking lot when Aidan, one of our young birders, asked what bird was calling. I looked up to find the Whimbrel flying by!

We spent the rest of the morning searching for warblers on the west end of the lakefront, Hammond Lakefront Park and Migrant Trap and Whiting Park, and ended with a nice total of 13 species! We returned to Miller Beach in the afternoon and again made the walk down the beach to look for shorebirds in the impoundment. The highlights were both an American Golden and a Black-bellied Plover offering side by side comparisons!

On the way back to Indianapolis, two of the young birders, Aidan and Nick, and I made a stop at the Lebanon Sod Farm to try to get Aidan his lifer Buff-breasted Sandpiper. We were amazed by the number of American Golden-Plovers and the variety of plumage that they were in.

One of the American Golden-Plovers the has partially molted.
This American Golden-Plover has started to molt but is still showing quite a bit of breeding plumage. (Photo by Aidan Rominger)
Although Nick and I had seen a Buff-breasted Sandpiper right after we had arrived, the bird flew just before Aidan was able to see it. We struggled to relocate the bird and were just about to leave when we found it again on a side road! The bird stayed in one place preening for a long time before moving around to feed. Aidan got great looks and was very excited to end the day with a lifer!

A distant shot of the Buff-breasted Sandpiper.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Owl Banding on Lucky Peak

Owl banding has now begun on Lucky Peak!  The first couple weeks are usually fairly slow but it's the time to catch Flammulated Owls.  The highlights so far have been one Long-eared, a few Flammulated, and a couple Northern Saw-whets.  

Long-eared Owl

Flammulated Owl


Friday, September 6, 2013

App Review: iKnowBirdSongs

The iKnowBirdSongs app is designed to help birders more quickly learn bird songs and calls. The audio is entirely from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Macaulay Library, so it's of the best quality and accuracy available. The app is designed to work as digital flash cards and is in my opinion, an effective way to learn bird songs. There is a species profile complete with a photo and range map along with the common vocalizations of the species in addition to the audio.

While the app comes pre-loaded with some "decks" of cards (i.e. groupings of birds), you can also create your own so that you can focus on species that you are actively working to learn. For instance, if spring migration is coming up and you need a quick refresher on warbler songs, you could create a deck of warblers and focus in on just those species. Once you have learned one, you can click one button to say that you have mastered the song, and it will be removed from the deck while you practice with the rest!

Both the "Practice" and "Game" modes will help you learn the songs, but I feel that the Game mode is much more fun. It starts by just playing the song and giving you four options to select the correct answer from. If you are struggling to get it, you can click for a hint which will bring up a photo of the bird. The more you play the game, the more bird songs you will learn and remember!

Overall, I would recommend this app for those that find themselves struggling to remember bird songs in the field. The app is currently only available in Apple's App Store for $9.99, and there is no Android version. Your purchase will also help the Cornell Lab of Ornithology because 15% of each purchase is donated back to them!

One change that I would like to see is a specific addition to the Tutorial or the FAQ pages. It would be great if the app developers would ask that people not use the songs in the field to attract birds, as it can be detrimental especially during the breeding season. received a sample version of this app in order to provide this review.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Bird Quiz is Back!

While we have been working hard on an update to, the bird quiz has taken a back seat to everything else. Today, I had a chance to get a new quiz set up on the website for everyone to participate in. We will post 2 quizzes during September and will draw a winner on October 1st. The winner will receive a very cool t-shirt!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Hawk Trapping on Lucky Peak

Eric writes: Here are a couple photos and a video that highlight the hawk trapping so far on Lucky Peak.

An American Kestrel in flight over Lucky Peak.

A closeup of a Red-tailed Hawk.

Watch me release one of the birds!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Songbird Banding at Lucky Peak

Eric writes: The migration has slowly been building up on Lucky Peak over the last couple weeks.  Many warblers including a good amount of Townsend's are now around.  The flycatchers have been moving in good numbers for most the month; Western Wood-Pewees are regular and some rarer species such as Gray, Least, and Willow have shown up.  But the ultimate highlight was a male American Redstart!  

The male American Redstart.
A hatch year, female Evening Grosbeak.  A bird that
is seen but hardly ever caught on Lucky Peak.
A Least Flycatcher, only a few are caught each year
at Lucky Peak

One of my favorites . . . a Townsend's Solitaire.