Thursday, September 29, 2005

A good camera for digiscoping?



Hey! Check out the Fuji FinePix E9009 megapixel digital camera. Though I haven’t field-tested it myself, nor have I seen any digiscoping results taken with it yet, it possesses many promising features for digiscoping. Using the optional accessory adapter (#AR-FXE02) brings it to a 43mm filter thread. This thread size is supported with the Swarovski DCA for zoom and fixed as well as the Kowa Digital Camera adapter with the 43mm adapter ring.

Positives:
  • 4x optical zoom.
  • Accessory adapter (#AR-FXE02) to bring it to a 43mm filter thread.
  • 2” LCD Screen.
  • Aperture Priority.

Negatives:

  • No cable release.
Link: Digital Photography Review of the Fuji FinePix E900

Rare Bird Coming Back to Pratt's Wayne Woods



"If you spot a flash of yellow in Pratt's Wayne Woods, it's not a canary run amok. Instead, consider the sighting an omen of good ecological times to come. For years, YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRDS were a rarity in northern Illinois. Although native to the area, destruction of wetlands destroyed the blackbirds' habitat. But converting farm fields back to marshes at Pratt's Wayne Woods in Wayne and James "Pate" Philip State Park in Bartlett is reversing that trend. At 10 a.m. this morning in Philip Park, the two preserves will be jointly named as an Audubon Important Bird Area. There are only 48 such areas in Illinois. The Audubon Society's important bird area program is an international effort that recognizes sites providing crucial habitats for threatened species. "

Link: Full Article from Red NOVA

Link: All about the Yellow-headed Blackbird from Cornell Labs

Yellow-headed Blackbird image © 2005 Michael Allen McDowell

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Quiz Bird #3


(click on image for larger version)

This bird was digiscoped last evening at Pheasant Branch Conservancy. What do you think it is?

Image © 2005 Michael Allen McDowell

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

WWA field trip into Pheasant Branch Conservancy!



REMINDER!

Sparrows, Springs and Prairie/Wetland Restoration
at Pheasant Branch Conservancy Dane County (Middleton, WI)

In partnership with: Friends of Pheasant Branch and Madison Audubon Society

Field trip leaders: Tom Bernthal, Pat Trochlell, and Mike McDowell

Saturday, October 1st, 1:00 - 3:30 pm

Call Wisconsin Wetlands Association to register: (608) 250-9971

Link: More information on the field trip

Lincoln's Sparrow image © 2005 Michael Allen McDowell

Monday, September 26, 2005

WSO Wisconsin Point field trip Results



I had a great time during the WSO Wisconsin Point field trip this past weekend. Due to poor lighting and very windy conditions, I didn't do any digiscoping. So...the weather could have been a little better, but the birding was still excellent.

Some of the highlights included RED-THROATED LOON, WHITE-WINGED SCOTER, SABINE'S GULL, HARRIS'S SPARROW, WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW, BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER, AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER, AMERICAN PIPIT, LAPLAND LONGSPUR, PEREGRINE FALCON, MERLIN and several jaeger sightings. Perhaps the most exciting bird seen was an ARCTIC TERN that was spotted by Aaron Stutz and Jesse Peterson from the lighthouse. I was at the lighthouse with them and was rewarded with wonderful looks of this species.

On Sunday morning an immature jaeger flew nearly overhead our group assembled on the beach, but it still became an identification challenge. The "experts" debated and the prevailing thought was PARASITIC JAEGER due to warm-brown coloration, but there were a few holdouts for LONG-TAILED JAEGER given certain field marks. Last night while checking Cornell's Birds of North America on-line, I came across the following account regarding immature jaeger species:

"Immature and Basic plumages of Long-tailed Jaeger not readily distinguished from corresponding plumages of Parasitic Jaeger. No single character or possibly even combination of characters provides complete separation between these species in immature and adult Basic plumages."



(post-jaeger huddle/debate)

It's easy to get caught up in the passionate identification debate and forget the fantastic view of a species that rarely provides such great looks. Nevertheless, I logged onto Amazon and ordered Olsen's field guide on Skuas and Jaegers so I'll be better prepared for next year!

Arctic Tern image courtesy of US Fish & Wildlife Service

Huddle/debate image courtesy of Thomas Schultz

Friday, September 23, 2005

Norton Announces Funding for Wetlands Projects, Additions to National Wildlife Refuges



"Interior Secretary Gale Norton yesterday announced the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission has approved nearly $29 million for habitat conservation in the United States and Canada to benefit migratory birds. At the same time, the Commission also approved the acquisition of nearly 6,000 acres of important migratory bird habitat to be added to the National Wildlife Refuge System."

Link: Full Article from USF&WS

Ruddy Turnstone image © 2005 Michael Allen McDowell

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Adapter Sleeve for AT/ST Swarovski scope!



Ever since Swarovski introduced the Digital Camera Adapter (DCA) for digiscoping, I’ve desired a simple way of adapting it to my older style AT/ST spotting scope. That day has finally come! This new adapter sleeve compresses over the eyepiece giving it the correct diameter to match up with the DCA.

After extensively testing the adapter sleeve, I found the DCA for fixed eyepieces has a perfect fit with the AT/ST 20-60x zoom eyepiece. When using the DCA for zoom, a slight obstruction occurred along the right circular (vignetted) edge 1x optical zoom using a Nikon Coolpix 995. Unfortunately, the shadowing was still evident with flat backgrounds even when optically zooming the camera past 2X.

So, if you have the older AT/ST series scope and eyepiece like I do, and you want to use Swarovski’s DCA, you need to get the adapter sleeve plus the DCA for fixed eyepieces even for the old zoom eyepiece.

There is also news that Leica will be introducing a digiscoping adapter for their Televid spotting scopes that is not proprietary to the Leica digilux cameras. More on that after October 1st.

If you have any questions, just drop me an email!

Gathering planned to talk about pelican abandonment



"BISMARCK, N.D. - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is planning a gathering of pelican experts to try to solve the mystery of why the big birds abandoned the Chase Lake National Wildlife Refuge in central North Dakota. Last year, nearly 30,000 pelicans left the refuge near Medina, leaving their chicks and eggs behind. This year, the refuge saw a massive die-off of pelican chicks, followed by an exodus of their parents."

Link: Full Article from Grand Forks Herald

American White Pelican image courtesy of US Fish & Wildlife Service

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Another Quiz Bird


(click on image for larger version)

I'm going to be away from a computer for a few days during the WSO Wisconsin Point field trip this weekend. While I'm away, here's another quiz bird for you to consider. This very shy little bird was digiscoped just this morning at Pheasant Branch Conservancy and was hanging out in dense thicket. What do you think it is?

Image © 2005 Michael Allen McDowell

Skyscrapers Shut Off Lights To Help Save Migrating Birds



"The city says it has a plan to save birds that involved shutting off skyscraper lights. Lights Out New York is an initiative designed to help hundreds of thousands of migrating birds navigate safely through the city. Apparently the lights are distracting to migrating birds and have already caused the death of 10,000."

Link: Full Article from NY1 News

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Four men fined for shooting owls


© Photos.com

Sharon Stiteler ("the birdchick") alerted me to this very sad article...

"Four Carlton County (MN) men have been fined after separate incidents of shooting owls that migrated into the region during last winter's owl irruption. The shootings were unrelated but occurred when thousands of great gray, boreal and northern hawk owls moved into the region from Canada looking for small rodents to eat."

Link: Full Article from Duluth News Tribune

D-SLR options for Swarovski Digiscoping



From the Digiscoping Chat listserv, here’s an excellent explanation by Clay Taylor of Swarovski regarding D-SLR options for use with the Swarovski spotting scope.

With the Swarovski scope, you have two basic options:
  1. The TLS 800 Camera Adapter (part # 49313) which turns the scope into an 800mm f/10 telephoto lens. This uses a standard T-mount, and if used with any of the D1 or D2 series cameras, makes the unit perform like a 1200mm f/10 (if a D2x is used at the high-speed mode, a 1600mm f/10). The image quality is outstanding, yielding 11x14 and 16x20 prints with ease.

  2. The D-SLR + a Nikkor 50mm lens attached to the scope's 20-60x eyepiece via the DCA-Zoom Adapter (# 49206). This allows the power of the zoom eyepiece to be multiplied by the D-SLR's crop factor of 1.5x to yield image magnifications of 30x to 90x. Quite honestly, the image quality for fine prints goes away at higher than 60x (that's 40x on the eyepiece), but the overall image quality is surprisingly good through the zoom range up to 40x.The drawbacks show up as the light transmission drops, making shutter speeds drop and placing a premium on stability, and atmospheric imperfections (heat shimmer, dust, moisture, wind, etc.) all become much more apparent.

You can contact me directly if you want to find out more about these and other options.

Clay Taylor
Naturalist Market Manager

Swarovski Optik North America LTD
2 Slater RoadCranston, RI 02920
Tel. 800-426-3089 x 2959
Fax. 401-734-5888
ctaylor@swarovskioptik.com
http://www.swarovskioptik.com/

Monday, September 19, 2005

New tool helps track migratory birds



"Biologists have recently begun working with a new tool that is a great improvement over the aluminum leg band. Chemical signatures locked in feathers can be read much like a canceled stamp on the outside of an envelope, telling you where the letter originated. These signatures come from naturally occurring patterns of stable isotopes in rainwater that vary predictably across North America. They are transferred up the food web from plants to insects to songbird feathers."

Link: Full Article from Times Argus

Kentucky Warbler image © 2005 Michael Allen McDowell

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Windblown warbler joy for twitchers



"Birdwatchers have been excited by the discovery of a rarely-seen American songbird on Shetland. The Yellow Warbler, scientific name Dendroica petechia, has ended up on the wrong side of the Atlantic after being blown off course - possibly by hurricane activity - while trying to migrate from Canada or the United States to South America."

Link: Full Article from Scotsman.com

Yellow Warbler image © 2005 Michael Allen McDowell

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Survival of the Species?


Spotted Owl

"SEATTLE — The federal government has given a California group permission to kill one species of owl in an attempt to save the Northern Spotted Owl from extinction, but the process has left some people in the timber industry shaking their heads. The government recently gave the California Academy of Sciences permission to kill 20 Barred Owls in an effort to learn why they are thriving in the same forests where Spotted Owls continue to decline. "

[snip!]

"But to many who lost their logging jobs during the timber wars of the 1980s and 1990s, seeing the Spotted Owl lose out to another owl species bolsters their argument that the timber industry was not the "owl killer" it was portrayed as being. "There's a great deal of bitterness and resentment and it's time to get that industry back on its feet to take those restrictions off and go do a responsible job of creating homes with the timber that's standing there," said Arnold. "

Link: Full Story from Fox News


Barred Owl © Photos.com

From Natural History March 1999 (Sharon Levy):

"The barred owl is a generalist, so it'll eat almost anything," says Tom Hamer, a consulting biologist who has studied the interaction of the two owls in the northern Cascade Range of Washington State. "It will eat flying squirrels and snowshoe hares, which the spotted owl also eats. But the barred owl will also hunt trout and amphibians in small streams and eat anything else that crosses its path, including grouse." Because the barred owl is such an adaptable hunter, it can live off a home range of only about 1,600 acres in the northern Cascades. But spotted owls of this region are specialists, taking mostly arboreal mammals like flying squirrels and red tree voles. To find enough food to survive, spotted owls need large areas of the older forests that support their prey. In the redwood region (from the Oregon border south to San Francisco Bay), spotted owl home ranges are generally small, because wood rats provide an abundant food source, but in the Cascades, ranges can span 30,900 acres.

"Let's start indoors. Let's start by imagining a fine Persian carpet and a hunting knife. The carpet is twelve feet by eighteen, say. That gives us 216 square feet of continuous woven material. Is the knife razor sharp? If not, we hone it. We set about cutting the carpet into thirty-six equal pieces, total them up--and find that, lo, there's still nearly 216 square feet of recognizably carpet like stuff. But what does it amount to? Have we got thirty-six nice Persian throw rugs? No. All we're left with is three dozen ragged fragments, each one worthless and commencing to come apart." -- David Quammen (The Song of the Dodo)

Spotted Owl image courtesy of US Fish & Wildlife Service

Quiz Bird


(click on image for larger version)

Here's a picture I took yesterday at Pheasant Branch Conservancy. Do you know what species this is? I'm wondering if this would make a good quiz bird photograph. A few of my co-workers struggled with the identification of it. So let's say you're in southern Wisconsin. It's the apex of fall migration and you're walking through a tall grass prairie restoration area when you notice a flock of about 25 of these birds foraging at the tops of tall plants. When they flush, they pretty much stick together and fly only about 10 to 20 yards. What are they? Maybe this is too easy, but maybe not. I'll post the answer in the next day or so.

Link: All about the Bobolink from Cornell Labs

Image © 2005 Michael Allen McDowell

Friday, September 16, 2005

Birds of Wisconsin Placemat



A message from Karen Etter Hale...

The Birds of Wisconsin Placemat is finished! A collaboration of the Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative (WBCI) and About Place Consulting, the laminated placemat features colorful images of 32 common Wisconsin birds on the front, and fun facts and educational information on the back.

The Birds of Wisconsin Placemat provides a fun and easy way for residents and visitors, young and old alike, to learn about the birds they see on a daily basis. We need your help to get the placemat into as
many homes as possible!

All of us on the WBCI Outreach Committee who have worked with Charlene and Cindy from About Place Consulting over the past several months think this is a very exciting "new" way to spread the word about birds in Wisconsin! We hope you think so, too.

Karen Etter Hale
Chair, Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative
Executive Secretary, Madison Audubon Society

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Bird-watchers can follow virtual migration of Ohio osprey


© Photos.com

"COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Satellite transmitters attached to two birds of prey in central Ohio will enable researchers and the public to track their annual migration live. The collars were strapped on the osprey pair as they successfully reared three chicks over the summer on Alum Creek Lake in Delaware County. The female, following typical patterns for the species, already has made it to Cuba. Males usually follow one month later."

Link: Full Article from Ohio News Now

Link: Ohio DNR Track Osprey Migration

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Digiscoped Sedge Wren


(click on image for larger version)

If you've been monitoring my gallery, you may have noticed I don't digiscope birds as much as I used to. As viewing birds for enjoyment is superseding taking pictures them (which is often a huge pain and time consuming effort), I won't refuse an opportunity to capture a bird that is just begging to be photographed.

Most of the time now when entering Pheasant Branch Conservancy in search of songbirds, I don't usally bother bringing spotting scope and camera along. This morning was different - it had that certain je ne sais quoi with the light that instinctively seems to set one day apart from another in the photographer's mind. So I brought along the scope and camera and captured this SEDGE WREN in beautiful golden morning light. Speaking of light, here's the EXIF data for the above shot:

CAMERA : E995V1.6
METERING : CENTER
MODE : A
SHUTTER : 1/351sec
APERTURE : F3.4
EXP +/- : -0.7
FOCAL LENGTH : f15.1mm(X1.0)
IMG ADJUST : STANDARD
SENSITIVITY : ISO100
WHITEBAL : AUTO
SHARPNESS : NORMAL
DATE : 2005.09.14 07:57
QUALITY : FULL FINE
SATURATION : +1
FOCUS AREA : TOP

Sedge Wren Picture #2

Sedge Wren Picture #3

Link: All about the Sedge Wren from Cornell Labs

Sedge Wren images © 2005 Michael Allen McDowell

California Condor News



California condor chick died last month of West Nile virus

"LOS ANGELES Federal environmental officials say a three-month-old California condor chick that died last month was killed by West Nile virus. U-S Fish and Wildlife Service spokeswoman Alex Pitts says scientists attempted to retrieve the chick from its nest for a medical examination but it died August 25th before being treated. The chick hatched May 19th in the wild in Ventura County."

Link: Full Story from KESQ NewsChannel 3

A worthwhile read:

Link: Bootstrap analysis - sunday times: condors, woodpeckers, and hope

California Condor image courtesy of US Fish & Wildlife Service

Feeder Fighting



Last evening I noticed that this particular RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD has declared possession and property of the nectar feeder in our backyard. I think it is competing with only 2 or 3 other hummingbirds for the moment and will give chase to any that come near the feeder. They'll fight when it isn't necessary. Most hummingbird species are extremely territorial and try to chase off intruders, even if there is an abundant food supply for every hummingbird that could possibly come. A solution that might quell the fighting is to place a second nectar feeder, which I may eventually do depending on how long this hummingbird sticks around.



On the chase - the hummingbird is quicker than the lens! After watching this show of territorial behavior for a while I noticed that while the "piggy" hummingbird was busy chasing, a third hummer would come in and quickly take a sip of nectar. Not for long, though. The possessive hummingbird would come back, chase, and then return to perching atop the feeder hanger, darting its head around seemingly looking for the next contender.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird image © 2005 Michael Allen McDowell

Frog action plan to cost millions



"About a third of frog, toad and salamander species are facing extinction; threats include fungal disease, pollution and habitat loss. Because of their sensitivity to environmental factors, amphibians are sometimes referred to as the 'canary in the coal mine', an early-warning system for ecological decline which will also impact other species, including humans."

Link: Full Story from BBC News

Frog image © 2005 Michael Allen McDowell

Monday, September 12, 2005

Teeny Phones for Tweety Birds



"Humans may not be the only animals using cell phones in the near future. Ornithologists and engineers at Oregon State University are planning to strap tiny mobile phones to songbirds and monitor the birds' migration with unprecedented accuracy."

Link: Full Story from Wired

Image © 2005 Michael Allen McDowell

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Displaced songbirds navigate in the high Arctic



This is really interesting (mm)...

By experimentally relocating migratory White-crowned sparrows (Zonotrichia leucophrys gambelii) from their breeding area in the Canadian Northwest Territories to regions at and around the magnetic North Pole, researchers have gained new insight into how birds navigate in the high Arctic. In particular, the findings aid our understanding of how birds might determine longitudinal information--a challenging task, especially at the earth's poles. The work is reported in Current Biology by Susanne Ã…kesson and colleagues at Lund University in Sweden.

Migratory birds navigating over long distances can determine their latitude on the basis of geomagnetic and celestial information, but longitudinal position is much more difficult to determine. In the new work, researchers investigated whether birds can define their longitude after physical displacements in the high Arctic, where the geomagnetic field lines are steep and the midnight sun makes star navigation impossible for much of the summer.

White-crowned sparrows are nocturnally migrating birds that breed in northern Canada and perform long migrations covering a few thousand kilometers to winter in the southern United States. In the study, young and adult white-crowned sparrows were captured with mistnets near Inuvik, NW Territories, Canada, during mid-July to mid-August--the end of the breeding period and shortly before migration--and transported by a Canadian icebreaker along a northeasterly route to nine sites on the tundra, among them the magnetic North Pole (located on Ellef Ringnes Island). The researchers then recorded the birds' directional orientation in cage experiments.

The scientists found that both adult and juvenile birds abruptly shifted their orientation from the migratory direction to a direction leading back to the breeding area or the normal migratory route, suggesting that the birds began compensating for the west-to-east displacement by using geomagnetic cues alone or in combination with solar cues. The experiments suggest that, in contrast to what would be predicted by a simple genetic-migration program, both adult and juvenile white-crowned sparrows possess a navigation system based on a combination of celestial and geomagnetic information to correct for longitudinal displacements. The results of the study suggest that the birds may in fact use declination--the angle formed between the magnetic North Pole and geographic north--to obtain longitudinal information. Geographic north can be determined by star positions late in the summer, as night returns to the high Arctic.

Link: All about the White-crowned Sparrow from Cornell Labs

White-crowned Sparrow images © 2005 Michael Allen McDowell

The Raptor Rehabilitator Returns!


© Photos.com

Here is another event if you are in the Madison (WI) area that may interest you...

"Eagle, Falcon, Hawk and Owl: The Raptor Rehabilitator Returns!"

7:00 p.m. Tuesday, September 13th

Madison Central Public Library
201 West Mifflin Street
Madison, WI 53703

Dianne Moller, a raptor rehabilitator licensed through US Fish and Wildlife and WI DNR, will bring 4 live birds to the library - including a Peregrine Falcon and a Golden Eagle. Come these majestic creatures up-close and hear about Dianne's work rehabilitating and releasing injured birds of prey.

No registration required, this event is free!

Link: Dianne Moller's website

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Deceit of the Raven



"It began with apes. In the 1960's and 70's, scientists taught captive chimps to use words and documented wild ones using tools and planning hunting expeditions. Then other smart mammals -- monkeys, elephants and porpoises among them -- also proved to have surprisingly "human" mental powers. And in the last few years, the circle has expanded to still other mammals and beyond."

Link: Full Article from NY Times (registration required)

Or use Bugmenot.com to bypass the registration.

Raven image courtesy of US Fish & Wildlife Service

Museum learning facts behind owl invasion



"A massive invasion of the United States by the great gray owl means Field Museum bird experts have nearly 700 feathered carcasses on their hands. "Great" is the word for the owls, North America's largest with a wingspan of up to 60 inches, and for their unprecedented influx into Northern states from Canada, as many as 10,000 in Minnesota alone."

Link: Full Article from the Chicago Sun Times

Great Gray Owl image © 2005 Michael Allen McDowell

Monday, September 05, 2005

Hurricane Birds



Appearance of hurricane birds can bring new understanding

"Hurricane birds" is the nebulous term for birds that apparently have been swept up within the eye of a hurricane, then deposited hundreds of miles inland long after hurricanes are downgraded to tropical depressions or low-pressure systems, said Doug Stotz, conservation ecologist/ornithologist at the Field Museum.

Link: Full Story from the Chicago Sun Times

Black Skimmer image courtesy of US Fish & Wildlife Service

Sunday, September 04, 2005

The Early Birder



Early this morning Pheasant Branch Conservancy provided an exuberant rush to the senses with cool and moist air, fresh droplets of rain decorating recently fallen leaves and the chirps and call-notes of migrating birds in the forest canopy above. I just love fall migration. After scouting around the stream corridor trail for a while, I settled on a spot where the introduction was a Black-and-white Warbler clinging to a tree trunk just as nuthatches do. Just moments later I realized I was completely surrounded by wood sprites of every color. Though in their fall suits, I could still make out the faded orange of a Blackburnian Warbler and the still bold yellow wing-bar of the Golden-winged Warbler. A burst of bold notes came from over my shoulder. I swung around to see a singing Carolina Wren, which was quickly joined by another one...perched together at the end of a dead branch. As the impressive concentration of hungry wood warblers moved through the upper-story, I watched insect foragers working closer to the ground...beautiful male and female Black-throated Blue warblers. Confusing fall warblers? I don't think so. With a little time and close study, their unique impressions are still very recognizable and appreciated.

Image © 2005 Michael Allen McDowell

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Kenn Kaufman on juvenile shorebirds



Kenn Kaufman on juvenile shorebirds from the Ohio Birds listserv:

Recently I'd been swamped with preparing to give programs to some bird groups in Europe so I hadn't been getting out enough, but Kim and I took advantage of the auto tour route being open last Saturday on Ottawa NWR. There are a lot of shorebirds in there. They aren't always easy to see from the road -- good bird habitat isn't always good birding habitat but the refuge is doing its job, and the patient searcher can find plenty of birds to study.

I was reveling in the beauty of the juvenile shorebirds. As a group, juvenile sandpipers have to be the most gorgeous birds imaginable, with their rich colors, bold markings, and crisp feather edges. It was a treat to see spangled young Lesser Yellowlegs right next to patchy molting adults, to see lots of brightly colored juvenile Least and Semipalmated Sandpipers side by side, to admire the tiger-striped tertials on young Short-billed Dowitchers, or to see one of my personal favorites, the beautiful juvenile Stilt Sandpiper. These plumages are the best part of August birding. Looking back, it's surprising to realize that these juveniles were not even illustrated in field guides before the 1980s. Before that time, the books showed breeding and winter adults, and we puzzled over all those late-summer shorebirds that didn't "look like the picture in the book." European birders were ahead of us in coming to grips with these birds, and those of us kids in the USA who were reading "British Birds" magazine in the late 1970s really had our eyes opened to this subject. Jon Dunn was among the first to really use this information and to get North American birders to focus on juvenile shorebirds. He's never gotten as much credit for this as he deserves. Jon (and the late Claudia Wilds) made sure that juveniles were well illustrated in the first National Geographic field guide, and it started to change the perceptions of birders here.

At any rate, I encourage everyone to think about the ages of these birds, because this adds a wonderful dimension to shorebirding at this season. Reports passed along by Jean Iron and Ron Pittaway in Ontario indicate that Arctic shorebirds had good breeding success this year, so it's not surprising that lots of juveniles are passing through. Everyone attending the OOS shorebird symposium this weekend should have a great learning opportunity. We would certainly be there if we weren't going to be out of the country, but we'll make a point of looking at Curlew Sandpipers, Temminck's Stints, etc., this weekend and saluting the symposium from a distance.

Kenn Kaufman
Rocky Ridge, Ohio

Least Sandpiper image © 2005 Michael Allen McDowell

Friday, September 02, 2005

More Buff-breasted Sandpiper News



Twitchers flock to East Lothian to see sandpiper

"A RARE wading bird that has hardly ever been seen because it lives in the Arctic tundra has become a huge attraction in East Lothian after it was blown off its migration path. Hundreds of birdwatchers have been flocking to the saltmarshes in Tyningham to catch a glimpse of the Buff-breasted Sandpiper, which normally lives among millions of square miles of deserted scrubland. "

Link: Full Article from the Scotsman.com

Also, check out the new Buff-breasted Sandpiper images by Robert Royse! Wow!

Buff-breasted Sandpiper image © 2005 Michael Allen McDowell

The Mystique of Birds!



Are you near the Madison (WI) area? If so, you are invited to attend a birding program at Madison Public Central Library.

Jon Stravers, Research Coordinator for Audubon's Upper Mississippi River Campaign presents:

"The Mystique of Birds: The Importance of Rituals Within Bird Behavior and the Mystery of Migration."

7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Monday, September 19th at:

Madison Public Central Library
201 West Mifflin Street
Madison, WI 53703

"Come learn about birds that nest and migrate along the Upper Mississippi River including Red-Shouldered Hawks, migrating Tundra Swans and other species uncommon in the Upper Midwest. Jon has operated a raptor banding station along the Mississippi River in Iowa as part of his role as Research Coordinator with the Audubon Society, and will present a slideshow on his work. Refreshments will be provided by Madison Public Library Foundation."

Tundra Swan image © 2005 Michael Allen McDowell

Thursday, September 01, 2005

'Worst seabird season on record'



Same bad news for seabirds as last year...

"Seabird colonies in Scotland have suffered one of the worst breeding seasons on record, experts have warned. Reserves run by RSPB Scotland, the National Trust for Scotland (NTS) and the Scottish Wildlife Trust (SWT) have seen major failures of some species. Breeding has been poor in guillemot, puffin, kittiwake and razorbill colonies, particularly in the west coast reserves. "

Link: Full Story from BBC News

Atlantic Puffin image courtesy of US Fish & Wildlife Service

Hummingbirds.Net


(click on image for larger version)

In Wisconsin the single hummingbird species we expect to see is the Ruby-throated Hummingbird, but there are nearly annual sightings of Rufous/Allen's and a few Green Violet-ear records, but generally up north. I recently put out a nectar feeder to attract hummingbirds and now there are 3 or 4 regular visitors.

Apparently, hummingbirds aren't interested in the concept of sharing and will often chase each other away from the feeder. They seem to lead of life of constant intensity and when not in hot pursuit of each other, they'll even chase other bird species around. A few weeks ago at Horicon Marsh I observed a hummingbird harassing a Red-tailed Hawk. It makes you wonder just how big these tiniest of birds think they are!

An excellent on-line resource for learning all about hummingbirds and attracting them is Hummingbirds.net. There you will find information on nectar mixes, feeders, migration, what to do with sick or injured birds, conservation efforts, maps, photos and a whole lot more.

Link: Hummingbirds.Net

Link: All about the Ruby-throated Hummingbird from Cornell Labs

Ruby-throated Hummingbird image © 2005 Michael Allen McDowell