Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Tubac and the Santa Ritas

Greetings from Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

After missing the Sinaloa Wren last weekend, I knew I would need to make a trip back, or try Fort Huachuca for a different Sinaloa Wren.  I decided to stay closer to Tucson and give the Tubac bird another shot.  This weekend was a much different story.  Within seconds of arriving, I heard the distinctive rattle call.  After a couple minutes, it gave a single burst of song before moving further from the trail.  I never got a visual of the bird, but the real treat with Sinaloa Wrens are their beautiful songs.

The first Hog-nosed Skunk that I've seen.  This one was close to the Sinaloa
Wren spot.
One of many Broad-billed Hummingbirds
After the Sinaloa Wren, I headed to a location that I had never birded, Chino Canyon.  The road in is quite rough and very slow going, but the end location is worth it.  There had been a couple recent reports of Five-striped Sparrow from this location so that was my main target.  I was only marginally successful; the Five-striped sang for a couple minutes but I was never able to locate it.  I guess it gives me a good reason to go back.  The biggest highlight was a pair of Black-capped Gnatcatchers that decided to forage just a few feet away.  A Crissal Thrasher was also a nice bird, since I don't see this species nearly enough.

The male Black-capped Gnatcatcher from Chino Canyon

A Gila Monster.  This guy was on the road as
I was leaving Chino.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Capped Birds in Florida Canyon

Greetings from Tucson, AZ

With a weekend off, and all of southeast Arizona at my finger tips, I figured I would make up for a couple birds that I have missed in past years.  So, with that in mind, I headed to the Santa Rita Mountains.  There were a few birds that I hadn't seen in the US, that were in the area; this included Rufous-capped Warber, Black-capped Gnatcatcher, and Sinaloa Wren.

I started out in Florida Canyon where I quickly came by a Black-capped Gnatcatcher but only got brief looks.  I was hoping for better, but figured I could put in more effort after searching for the Rufous-capped Warblers.  After about a mile of hiking up canyon, I heard a Rufous-capped Warbler singing from the hillside.  Eventually, I had decent looks, but again not great.  I decided to wait out the warblers, which worked to perfection.  A pair came down into the creekbed to forage and get a drink, all within about 20 feet of where I was waiting!

Rufous-capped Warbler in Florida Canyon
After this successful jaunt, I decided to go searching for a Sinaloa Wren along the De Anza Trail in Tubac.  While I didn't have any luck with the Sinaloa Wren, there were still many birds around, and I knew I would have more chances for Sinaloa Wren in the coming weeks.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

A Slate-throated Redstart in Arizona

Usually I think of my birding luck as being quite bad, but maybe things are turning around.  During my first week in Tucson, two great birds showed up.  The Heerman's Gull and this bird, a Slate-throated Redstart.  As far as I know, this was the first Pima County record of this species.  The few other records from the US, most of which have come in the past five years, have been confined to the Huachuca and Chiricahua Mountains.  

The beautiful Slate-throated Redstart that was found in the Santa Catalina Mountains just outside of Tucson, AZ.
Another shot of the Slate-throated Redstart.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A Wonderful Day at Goose Pond FWA

This past Saturday, I traveled south for 2 hours to the incredible Goose Pond FWA in Greene County, Indiana. I had been asked by a small group to lead them around the property for a few hours so they could see all of the fantastic birds in the area.

Although I wasn't meeting my group until 10, I arrived early so I could see what was around in order to decide when to take my group. It didn't take long to see that we were going to have a great day at Goose Pond. I hadn't quite made it to the property when a Red-headed Woodpecker flew across the road and perched close enough for me to click off a couple quick shots. I scouted a few more areas and then headed to meet up with my group. Although they were all new birders, they were excited to get out and see new birds!

It's always a highlight to see Red-headed Woodpeckers.
For me, the best part of the day was the amazing number of waterfowl covering the area. Pretty much everywhere that we stopped, there were tons of ducks to check out!

There were many Green-winged Teal around and the species was one of the favorites my group got to see!

There weren't very many American Wigeon found during our trip.

We had great views of many Northern Pintail including some males in beautiful breeding plumage!
The 300+ American White Pelicans that are currently migrating through the area were all congregated in one unit which was quite a sight to see!

One of my favorite parts of the early spring at Goose Pond is the huge number of American White Pelicans that migrate through the area.
Our final stop was to check for shorebirds in Field C on the south end of Goose Pond. Although the birds weren't as close as when I checked the spot earlier in the day, there were still plenty of shorebirds to be seen. In addition to the usual early arrivals, I was happy to see that the two Long-billed Dowitchers that other birders had found earlier in the day were still there!

It was a wonderful day to be in the field with sunny skies, warm temperatures, and lots of birds!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

A Heerman's Gull in Arizona

Greetings from Tucson, AZ:

I was lucky enough to arrive in Tucson during a week that not only saw one, but two great birds.  The first being a bird that is seen regularly on the west coast but was my first for Arizona.  A post about the second bird will be coming soon.  While working on Tuesday the 17th a Heerman's Gull was reported from the opposite side of Tucson.  If you are familiar with Tucson, you will understand that a cross-city trip can take longer than an hour.  Luckily, I was able to make it across town in less time and quickly find the gull.  I hadn't seen this species in a few years so it was great to see!

The Heerman's Gull with a Pied-billed Grebe

Friday, March 20, 2015

Baseline and Salome-The Famous Thrasher Spot

Greetings from Tucson, AZ

On my way to Tucson, I stopped for a day of birding in the Phoenix area.  When you're in the Phoenix area, at the right time of year, you have no other option other than spending a morning at the "Famous Thrasher Spot".  The spot is rather unimpressive; you just pull off the road and go walking, any which way, into the desert habitat.  The habitat is much more nuanced than it first appears and most of the species stick to their specific niche.

One of the Sage Thrashers
I arrived a little after sunrise, when the desert is still relatively cool.  After going through large flocks of sparrows, I figured it was time to get serious and start looking for the targets.  I quickly found a pair of Bendire's Thrashers and with a bit more searching the "star" of the site, a Le Conte's Thrasher.  The Le Conte's gave great views as it ran between the vegetation and eventually stood in plain view, while preening.

I was also able to get great views of multiple, small flocks of Sage Thrashers.  These thrashers are only winter visitors while the other four species seen at this location are fairly regular breeders.  After heading into some better Crissal Thrasher habitat, it only took a few minutes to locate one.  Luckily, it gave great views while it perched in the open, for a couple of minutes.

One of the main reasons I wanted to bird this site was to study Sagebrush and Bell's Sparrows.  Unfortunately, I only came across one individual, a Bell's.  Hopefully, next time I'm back the sparrows will be in.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Spotlight on a Hotspot: San Elijo Lagoon

Rob writes: I was recently working on making a list of birding hotspots around the country for an article that I will be part of in Birds & Blooms Magazine later this year, and I got to thinking...there are some incredible birding sites around the US, and the world for that matter, so we need to get back to talking about some of the best ones here on the NuttyBirder.com blog!

This week's featured hotspot is San Elijo Lagoon in Encinitas, California. I've visited San Elijo on each of the several occasions that I've taken a birding trip to Southern California and always find that it has awesome birds!

San Elijo has several access points, but my favorite is off of North Rios Avenue where you can park along the street. The trails are well maintained and give you access to much of the property, allowing you the opportunity to find numerous bird species.
I've always found San Elijo Lagoon to be a great place to see and photograph California Gnatcatchers.
The lagoon portion of the property is a great place to find waterfowl and shorebirds in the proper season and has hosted some great rarities including Curlew Sandpiper. Along the trials, be on the look out California Gnatcatchers, Bushtits, Wrentits, and many other songbirds.

Hummingbirds, like this Anna's are common around San Elijo Lagoon.
You can learn more about San Elijo Lagoon on their website and you can find the full list of birds that have been reported to eBird here.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Birding Through Texas

Eric writes: While driving from Indiana to Arizona, I had a few days to spend in Texas.  Besides all of the great birds there are in Texas, I had three main targets: a Ruff in east Texas, a Striped Sparrow in central Texas, and a Common Crane in west Texas.  

I started out by picking up some pine species in east Texas, such as Red-cockaded Woodpecker and Bachman's Sparrow before heading for the Ruff. The Ruff had been found a few days before at Anahuac NWR but there hadn't been many positive or negative reports since then. After a few hours of searching on the first afternoon, my hopes weren't too high.  I headed back to the same spot the next morning and again had no luck. The third time was the charm, after scanning for about 20 minutes I finally spotted the bird and had some great looks.  

My next target, the Striped Sparrow, didn't take quite as long. After about 20 minutes the bird popped out of the brush. It was also great to see many Harris's Sparrows that were visiting the same seed pile as the Striped Sparrow.

My last target, the Common Crane, didn't go as well. I spent an entire day searching without even finding many Sandhill Cranes and assumed they had departed on their migration north. I later learned that was exactly what had happened. The same Common Crane was found in Nebraska while I was looking for it in Texas. After Texas, it was off to New Mexico for a couple days of birding before arriving in Arizona to start my field work.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Learning to Identify Lesser and Greater Scaup

***This guest post is written by Brian Zwiebel. Brian is an award-winning photographer that has been published in international books and magazines. One of the many things that makes him a great photographer is his understanding of the identification and behavior of his subjects. If you'd like to learn how to get incredible photographs, join Brian on one of our Sabrewing Nature Tours photography trips

Thanks to Rob for inviting me to be a guest blogger just as we start one of my favorite times of the year. Waterfowl migration is in full swing so let’s try to answer that age old question: “Is that a Lesser or a Greater Scaup?”

Over the years I have repeatedly heard that head color is a great way to separate the male scaup species; blue for Lesser Scaup (LESC) and green for Greater Scaup (GRSC). There are several problems with this method. First, this does nothing to help us with the females. Second, in poor lighting such as back lighting or heavy overcast, the head will be nearly colorless appearing black even at relatively close range. Lastly, when viewing in good light the green head for male GRSC is quite reliable, however more than 50% of my LESC images show a bird with a green head.

The following images and captions will illustrate a number of other key field marks to consider. Comparison photos will show the Lesser Scaup on left.

Head shape is much more reliable than head color for separating the scaup. Here we have a
LESC showing the flat back of the head. GRSC have a much more rounded head. Also note
the nail (black tip) of the bill is quite small on LESC while the black spreads and is much
wider at the tip on a Greater Scaup. The nail size is probably the most consistently
reliable field mark but unfortunately most birds will be too distant for it to be of much use.
Head shape also works quite well for the female (and immature male) scaup. Note flat back
of head on LESC and perfectly rounded head on GRSC. The nail can be even more
difficult to discern on female scaup as it lacks the rich black of the nail found on the males.
Another aspect of head shape to consider is the large jowls or “cheeky” appearance of
the GRSC. The LESC has a much finer build. This trait is not as easy to see when
a bird is in perfect profile as in the first head comparison image.
While we are discussing structure and build of the head, take a look at how broad the bill
is on this GRSC. The bill tip almost reminds me of the flared nostrils look of
a Northern Shoveler. In comparison the LESC bill is very slight but this is best viewed
at close range.

To find a GRSC in a large group of distant LESC it can be useful to quickly scan
for a male bird with exceptionally bright flanks. Male LESC have fine gray
vermiculations in the flanks while GRSC vary from pure white or white with
minimal gray flecking. This is not a perfect field mark on its own as there is some
overlap depending on molt and age of the birds but it will allow you to quickly focus
in on some likely candidates.
Sometimes with the above clues scaup ID can be quite straight forward. Other times we need to rely on the preponderance of the evidence. While weighing the evidence it is good to keep a few additional things in mind.

First, head shape is difficult to judge in flight. This is a LESC showing a green, roundish head. 
Second, preening and scratching scaup sometimes roll over on their sides which at a
distance will flash what appears to be a very white flank. What may look like a good
indicator for GRSC may in fact be the very white belly of a LESC. 
Third, a number of sources mention the length of the white wing stripe as a field mark
for scaup in flight. This can be hard to determine even when frozen in a picture at
1/2,000th of a second. Here we can see the GRSC wing stripe is quite a bit longer.
Even with quality optics and a great understanding of scaup identification we are sometimes left with no choice but to label a bird as scaup species and there is nothing wrong with that!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Birding Belize: A Guest Post by Tyler Ficker

***This guest post was written by our friend Tyler Ficker. Tyler is a junior in high school and is from Cincinnati, Ohio. After his senior year, Tyler hopes to be headed to Cornell University where he plans to study biology with an emphasis in ornithology. He 's been birding since 4th grade when his class studied a Science unit on birds. His favorite places to bird are Northern Ohio, Belize, Costa Rica, and Maine. He joined Rob on a Sabrewing Nature Tours trip to Costa Rica in July 2014.

Tyler writes: I spent February 15-22, 2015 birding the country of Belize. My family had traveled there for a mission trip, and we spent the last three days birding the southern part of the country. During the mission trip, we found several great birds in the villages and around our hotel. Highlights included: four species of orioles - Baltimore, Orchard, Yellow-Tailed, and Altamira - frequenting the flowering trees, Magnificent Frigatebirds coming in to hunt in the evenings, and at night, Ferruginous Pygmy-Owls and Lesser Nighthawks that would call until about 11:00pm.

Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl

On our first day of real birding, we took a river tour to the Mayan ruins of Lamanai. We started out birding by boat down the New River and would stop along the way to look for water birds that may be lurking in the mangroves. Our guides, Robert Crawford and Collin, knew the birds of the area and just where to find them. We came across a Bare-throated Tiger-Heron on its nest, a large colony of Yellow-crowned Night-Herons, and a Lesser Nighthawk sleeping on a limb at eye level. By far the most amazing bird on the river tour was the Jabiru on its nest. Although this bird was observed way off in the distance, when a bird is around 4.5-5 feet tall, it still stands out, especially on its colossal nest. Upon reaching the ruins, we immediately found two species of trogons, Gartered and Slaty-tailed. As we proceeded into the forest, we came across 7 Howler Monkeys, both adults and babies. We ended the day with a grand total of 65 species in 7 hours of birding.

Slaty-tailed Trogon

Early the next day, we met Robert Crawford outside of Bird's Eye View Lodge at Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary. This is by far my favorite birding hotspot I have ever been to in my life and coming back to it for a second time was an awesome experience.. We went on a slow-paced boat tour through the lagoon with only a few target species in mind. My knowledge of Central American birds had greatly increased when Rob led us on a tour through Costa Rica last summer. The things I had learned on that trip proved to be extremely useful at Crooked Tree because I was able to contribute to the group since I could now identify many more of the birds based on shape, call, behavior, and location. Right away, we came across my number one goal bird for the trip! I was blown away to see just how incredible the colors of an adult Black-collared Hawk were.

Black-collared Hawk
As we continued through the lagoon, we came across more great birds such as Gull-billed Tern, Black-necked Stilt, Limpkin, Sungrebe, Yellow-billed Cacique, Purple Gallinule, and much more. When we were watching the cacique, a blackbird notorious for hiding deep in the mangrove roots, I saw a blur of black and white. When I looked up to see what it was, I was speechless. Only about 15 feet away sat a male Barred Antshrike. I was so excited to finally see this bird! I have looked for it for the past 3 years in Belize and have never found it. From there on, things just got more and more interesting when we came across an antswarm. When birding Central America, an antswarm is a goldmine. There are so many different species that will come out during one of these swarms. In 15 minutes of watching, we saw Red-throated Ant-tanager, Red-crowned Ant-tanager, Grey-headed Tanager, Grey-breasted Chat, Tropical Peewee, Roadside Hawk, Tawny-winged Woodcreeper, and more.

Gray-necked Wood-Rail
From there, Robert had one goal in mind - finding the Agami Heron. This beautifully-colored heron is very secretive and is seen by few. We put a lot of time into finding this bird alone, boating up and down the river hoping to catch a glimpse of one. After about 45 minutes, Robert and I saw what looked like a good candidate for the Agami Heron. We stopped the boat and my whole family got great looks at the beautiful heron. Our list from Crooked Tree ended up being 109 species for the 5 hours we were there. We went back to the lodge to park the boat and started our drive to southern Belize.
We reached the southern portion of the country that evening with plans of getting up early to head into the mountains in search of one of Belize’s rarest birds, the Orange-breasted Falcon. In the morning, we were greeted by a group of four Collared Aracari on the balcony by the breakfast area. Other birds that morning included Blue-grey and Yellow-winged Tanagers, Rufous-tailed and White-bellied Hummingbirds, Grey-headed Kite, and Brown-hooded Parrots.
Collared Aracari
When visiting the Cayo district in southern Belize, one of the best places to bird is Mountain Pine Ridge. This is a very remote location, taking about 2 hours of off road driving to reach it. Thanks to the hard work and skillful driving of my dad, we were able to make it to the preserve. The first location Robert took us to within the park was a massive cave. The area around the cave had been known to attract White-whiskered Puffbirds. Although we didn't see the it, we did see several other great birds. The highlight was the Collared Forest-Falcon that we spotted as we were leaving the preserve. At Mountain Pine Ridge, even the drive between locations can turn up some interesting birds. As we drove, Green Jays, Painted Buntings, Thick-billed Seed-Finch, Yellow-tailed Oriole, and Azure-crowned Hummingbirds flew across the road. Robert told us it was now time to go for the Orange-breasted Falcon. When we reached the location for the falcon, we found the scenery alone was worth the whole trip, and the rare bird is a bonus. We stood above a 1,000 foot waterfall looking over the valley hoping to catch a glimpse of the falcon. We had only been there for a matter of minutes when my mom spotted it! After a long day of driving and exploring, the falcon was an awesome reward. 

That night we celebrated with dinner at DuPlooy’s Jungle Lodge where we also saw Mottled Owl, Fer-de-Lance, and Kinkajou. It turned out to be a great day and was a great conclusion to a great trip! For more pictures: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tyficker/

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

A Great IYBC Trip to Goose Pond!

This past weekend, the Indiana Young Birders Club (IYBC) partnered with the Marsh Madness Festival at Goose Pond FWA to offer a day of birding for young birders from all over the state. Typically by this date, the marsh has thawed and there are thousands of ducks, geese, and cranes around the property. Unfortunately, that was not the case this year. There was virtually no open water and plenty of snow still on the ground. Even with the conditions, we made the best of our day.

After a brief incident that involved pushing a couple cars out on a very icy road, we got to our birding. Highlights seen thoughout the day in Greene County included Whooping Crane, Rusty Blackbird, several hundred Sandhill Cranes, and a few species of waterfowl.

You can see the bands and what appears to be a transmitter on the leg of this Whooping Crane.
Once the trip was over, part of the group decided to hear west to Turtle Creek Reservoir to look for the Little Gull that has spent the winter there. We were not disappointed! Not only did the Little Gull come in close, we also found Red-throated Loons, Snow Geese, and American White Pelicans!

This is what your car will look like after a day of birding around Goose Pond during the spring!
Although we would hope for more birds by this date, we all still had a great trip and thoroughly enjoyed being out on one of the first nice days of the spring!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Molt and Identification: Long-Distance Migrants

Many birders don't pay much attention to the molt patterns of birds.  But, it can be an important aspect in the identification process.  One way we can use molt to help with identification is to realize that short-distance migrants and long-distance migrants differ in their molt strategies.  

American Golden-Plovers (juveniles) - What do American Golden-Plovers
and Buff-breasted Sandpipers have in common?  They are both
long-distance migrants and share similar molt patterns.
Buff-breasted Sandpiper (juvenile) - Another long-distance migrant that
shares the same molt strategy as the American Golden-Plover
Many long-distance migrants (excluding songbirds which mostly molt on their breeding grounds) don't undergo any wing molt until they reach their wintering grounds, outside of the United States.  However, this only applies to adults.  The flight feathers of juveniles grow in simultaneously, from the time they hatch through the fledging period.  Thus, these young birds have fresh juvenile feathers when they migrate south.

How does this affect identification?  To be able to use this information to the fullest extent, you need to be able to identify the birds as adults or juveniles.  There are many cases where this won't be possible.  In these situations, if the birds are molting flight feathers, it can help in the identification process.  If the flight feathers are not molting, it won't be of any help due to the lack of molt (during this period) of juvenile birds.

Using Molt to Identify Cliff and Cave Swallows

Cliff Swallows are long-distance migrants and thus molt after they migrate south to their non-breeding range.  A species that is very similar to Cliff Swallow, the Cave Swallow, is a short-distance migrant.  So, if you see a Cliff/Cave Swallow that is molting flight feathers in the late summer-fall, it's highly likely that what you are looking at is a Cave Swallow.  

Referenced Literature:
Pyle, P. 1997. Identification Guide to North American Birds, Part I. Columbidae to Ploceidae. Slate Creek Press, Bolinas, California.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Check Out Some Great Presentations at The Biggest Week in American Birding!

As I sit here looking out the window at the snow-covered ground, it's hard to believe that in just two short months, the Biggest Week in American Birding (BWIAB) will be upon us. Some early migrants are already beginning to head north - such as Northern Parula and Black-and-White Warblers - and birders are getting excited about their impending arrival.

When most birders think about the BWIAB, they immediately think of the amazing volume of warblers that move through the area, like these and many more.

Prothonotary Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
If you are exceptionally lucky, you might get to see an endangered Kirtland's Warbler during the BWIAB.
But in addition to the amazing birding opportunities, the BWIAB offers you the chance to listen to presentations by some great birders and conservationists from all over the world. I know it can be hard to pull yourself away from the birding on the boardwalk at Magee, but I think this small sample of some of the presentations just might show you that it's worth your time to sign up to listen to these amazing talks.  You can sign up for these presentations and many others by visiting www.bwiab.com!

MY JUNIOR BIG YEAR: A Young Birder's Quest to See 400 Birds
Presented by Gabriel Mapel

In 2011, 11 year-old Gabriel Mapel from Virginia embarked on birding's first ever "Junior Big Year".  His quest was to enjoy a child's version of a "Big Year", with a goal in this case of seeing at least 400 species of birds within the United and Canada in a single calendar year.  His travels took him to Florida, Texas, Alaska, Arizona, Ontario, and to right here at the Biggest Week.  Along the way he encountered many amazing birds including the Brown Shrike, Gyrfalcon, Horned Puffin and Black-vented Oriole.  The question is--did he reach his goal of 400 species?  Come and find out as Gabriel, who is now 16, takes us on a journey through some of the most memorable moments of his Junior Big Year adventure.  His informative talk mixes a sense of humor with the sheer delight and wonder of a pre-teen discovering the world of birding in the adventure of a lifetime.

Presented by Jonathan Meyrav 

A new and exciting Bird Race where teams from the world over race to raise awareness and $$ to Stop the illegal killing of migrants along the Flyways. This project of the Israel Ornithological Center in conjunction with Birdlife International is making waves all over the birding community and can potentially be a game changer in the horrible world of illegal hunting and trapping in years to come.

Presented by Dr. Drew Lanham 

This mini workshop will focus on using creative non-fiction nature writing and poetry to breach the gaps between science, sociology, and conservation advocacy to move the conversations about birds and natural history into a brighter light and to more diverse audiences. Freeing one's self to write creatively about birds is a novel way to journal and to bring birds and their plight closer to the heart. Crafting journal entries, prose, poems, or even blogs, can paint vivid pictures of experiences and species that won't soon be forgotten as easily as a check on a list might be. Join Drew Lanham to free your mind to think about how best to blend words and birds together with science and sensuality to evocatively paint portraits that are technically precise, emotionally riveting and widely engaging.

Presented by Kelly Riccetti 

Taking field notes and sketching allows you to slow down and really study birds. On these very special trips, Kelly will help participants enhance their appreciation and understanding of the shape, plumage, field marks, and fine details of birds by learning fabulous field notes and sketching techniques. Kelly will show you how to sharpen your observation skills so you can create memorable field sketches to include in a nature journal. You don’t have to be an expert artist to start field sketching or nature journaling. Observation and simple drawing techniques can help you capture fast-moving birds using pencil on paper. These techniques not only help with bird identification, they also help create memories that go deeper than a photo.

BIRDING & TOURISM: How Traveling To Go Birding Can Have A Positive Impact On Conservation
Presented by Rob Ripma, and from the Ohio Young Birders Club, Tyler Ficker and Ethan Rising 

Traveling around the world looking for birds is exciting - you see new birds and other wildlife and also explore new places at the same time! In their portion of this presentation, young birders Tyler Ficker and Ethan Rising will share just how amazing these trips can be by taking you along on their journey to Costa Rica! Presented through spectacular photos and their own field notes, these two remarkable young men will hold you spellbound as they share highlights from their adventure.

Of course these trips are an amazing experience, but have you ever considered the impact on the local environment and economy that you are visiting? No matter where we travel, we always have the opportunity to help promote, fund, and bring awareness to conservation in the area. From Magee Marsh and Northwest Ohio to Central America and beyond, birders are making a difference for conservation when they travel. In his part of the presentation, Rob Ripma will highlight some of the amazing projects that traveling birders have helped fund as well as offer suggestions on how you can make a difference.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Birding in Chicago

Barrow's Goldeneye with a couple Canada Geese
Eric writes: With a some rarities showing up in the Chicago area, a few of us Indiana birders headed across the state line on the last day of February.  We started at the Fox River, where a Barrow's Goldeneye  had been found in mid-February.  When we arrived, Mike and Jeff Timmons, already had the bird, so all we had to do was watch and enjoy!

After we had our fill of the goldeneye, we headed to Lincoln Park where our next target has been residing.  When we walked up, our target, the Bohemian Waxwing, flew a little ways to the east but quickly returned to offer great views.  It never offered great photo opportunities but at least we had great views.   

The Bohemian Waxwing from Lincoln Park.
After the Bohemian, we headed to Wolf Lake to see the redpoll flock that has been feeding in the area for a few months.  We quickly located the redpolls and were offered great views and good photo opportunities.  A nice addition to the flock was an adult male Common, that we didn't see a couple weeks ago when we were birding this location.  

Hoary Redpoll-photo from my last visit to Wolf Lake
A male Common Redpoll from Wolf Lake.  Photo by A. Rominger
We finished off the day birding two spots on the Indiana lakefront.  Our first stop was at the BP warm water outlet which was fairly slow, but our second stop at Portage Lakefront Park was productive.  There was a good amount of waterfowl which included White-winged Scoter (4), Surf Scoter (1), and many of the more common species.

An adult male White-winged Scoter at Portage