Birding

We love to travel to find new birds and participate in a lot of bird counts. We also created a Guide to Birding Field Guides and host a collection of over 200 birding links from all over the globe.

Conservation

While our main focus continues to be birds, we promote other areas of conservation as well. Conserving land not only benefits wildlife, but is hugely beneficial to people as well.

Year of the Young Birder

2013 is officially The Year of the Young Birder! We plan on spending the whole year promoting young birder clubs and sharing ideas on how to help student naturalists become lifelong conservationists.

Ohio | Illinois | Iowa | Michigan | Indiana
Minnesota | New York

Check out the Book Review Library!

Phriday Photo – Killdeer on Nest

June 11, 2010
Article in: Photography

On a recent naturalist studies outing with my nephew Dakota we discovered an ornery Killdeer. She scolded us as we walked by in the parking lot before we realized she had 4 beautiful eggs she had been sitting on. We snapped this quick photo before giving her lots of space. From a distance you couldn’t even see her as she hid into the curb.

Killdeer by Nest in Parking Lot

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Horsing Around But Always a Birder

June 9, 2010
Article in: Dogs and Horses

Teddy Up CloseThanks to my beautiful fiancee Stacia, I have been fully introduced to horses and horseback riding and I love it! I took two lessons last year and after a long gap I finally took my third riding lesson.

Stacia has a handsome bay Appendix Quarter Horse named Teddy (pictured on left). He is a ten-year old Thoroughbred (race horse) and Quarter horse. My ultimate goal is to be good enough to ride him confidently.

Me and Teddy
Me and Teddy

Me and Teddy

The horse lesson was on a wonderful horse named Dee, who just happens to be 28 like me. I spent the 30 minutes working on trotting and posting. It looks easy but for a newbie like me, it is quite the workout on the legs (and I have strong hiking legs).

Teddy
The entire time we were riding (and afterward) I could listen and watch birds all over the horse farm. Bobolinks and Eastern Meadowlarks serenaded me constantly from the hay fields. Tons of Killdeer were picking through the mud and Barn Swallows were everywhere.

Sitting up atop a horse you have a commanding view and can pretty much go through any terrain. Talk about the perfect way to go birding! Some day I would love to go birding on horseback and in northern Illinois there are a surprisingly high number of places to do just that.

Teddy . . . what a handsome guy!
Teddy

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Website Update Review – Cornell Lab of Ornithology

June 7, 2010
Article in: Bird Conservation

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s website is one frequented by The Birdfreak Team. There is a wealth of information on birds, birding, and conservation. Plus, the Lab “gets it” in terms of making a user-friendly, visually appealing, functional website. Here is an overview of this newly updated site.

The Lab’s website has always been a wonderful resource. The more recent update provides a lot of information in a fairly straightforward way. At first glance there is a lot going on. Some might call the site “busy” or “crowded”. We like to refer to it more as “layered”. The Lab provides a ton of programs and information that in order to keep the majority easily accessible, the screen real estate needs to be used efficiently.

The content can be drilled down fairly quickly without a lot of clicking but initially you’ll need to look around a bit. The rotating content helps to provide more info in a fixed space but does add to the overall overwhelming feeling. All of Cornell’s projects and auxiliary sites are super easy to get to. There is even a search function directly to All About Birds, a simple yet essential addition to the site.

Citizen Science projects, our favorite feature of the Lab, are given a complete section where you can access the results or join in on the fun.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has adapted well to all the various social networks, blogging, etc. The new website has a lot to offer but can potentially take users (new and returning) awhile to fully grasp all of what to do and look for.

If you are unfamiliar with The Lab now is a good time to check out the updated site and get involved in learning about and helping out birds!

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Bird Photography Weekly #93

June 6, 2010
Article in: Bird Photography Weekly

Northern Cardinal taking a bath
Northern Cardinal (male)

Join in now on the 93rd edition of Bird Photography Weekly!!

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Phriday Photo

June 4, 2010
Article in: Photography

In January the Birdfreak Team split forces between Ohio and Illinois. Jennie got a new job and she and her son Dakota moved to northwest Ohio while Eddie and the rest of the clan remain in north central Illinois. Ohio is home to many wonderful bird lovers and conservationists and the birding is great.

Dakota will be spending most of the summer in Illinois. We are looking forward to a fun, birdy summer all around the Midwest!

Ohio Birdfreak Plate
Jennie's new plates

Illinois Birdfreak Plate
birdfreak_plate

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Backyard Baby Robins

June 3, 2010
Article in: The New Birder Experience

The New Birder Experience is all about observing and learning about birds. As fun as it is to build up a large list of birds on a hike, I’ve found that it is much more fun for both Stacia and I when we just plain watch birds being birds.

Over the last couple of weeks Stacia has discovered several American Robin nests, packed with crazy cute babies begging for food. One nest had newly hatched birds that inexplicably vanished overnight. There was no sign of struggle and we are unsure what happened.

However, she quickly discovered a second nest by her house that also had small babies.

Each nest had three babies (which meets the average 3-5 eggs of robin nests). According to All About Birds, the young will be able to leave the nest after 13 days. Only 40% of nests successfully produce fledglings and only 25% of these will survive until November. [Read more about the American Robin's life history.]

These robin babies were found nesting in a picnic table umbrella at Stacia’s workplace around May 18th and are now gone.

Baby Robins

Baby Robins

American Robins are abundant but their commonness makes them easy to observe. These observations can easily lead to further investigations into bird behavior of other birds and an increased general interest in all wildlife. Never underestimate the power of the common to enhance the new birder experience.

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Coming in 2011 – YardMap Network

June 1, 2010
Article in: Bird Conservation

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is creating a new citizen science project that will connect natural backyard bird habitats together. This project has the potential to create a huge boom for conservation as it will show how important individuals are to the big picture.

Backyard habitats can potentially connect large and small preserved land to create large-scale, mixed habitats that birds and other animals can use.

From the Lab’s website:

Now in development, the YardMap Network is an NSF-funded project that builds online communities to investigate the impacts of bird-friendly and carbon-neutral practices in backyards, community gardens, and parks. Participants will locate their yards or parks on a Google maps interface, then document their sustainable practices, such as adding native plants, putting up bird feeders, installing a solar panel, or biking to work.

YardMap will serve as a detailed site description for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s citizen-science bird observations. By providing access to rich media resources for learning about sustainable practices and enabling people share their maps and practices with each other, YardMap strives to create online conservation communities engaged in real life sustainable practices.

The YardMap Network will be tested and launched in 2011, in partnership with the National Audubon Society, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Roger Tory Peterson Institute, Empire State College’s online alumni program, and the American Community Gardening Association.

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