May 7, 2013
Article in: Young Birders
Kicking off the Biggest Week in American Birding (Friday May 3rd) the Ohio Birdfreaks along with new birder and Ohio Young Birders Club member Jamie attended the opening gathering at the Maumee Bay Conference Center. After introducing some of the key people that make the event so great (including the super hardworking staff at the Black Swamp Bird Observatory) everyone was off to mingle and talk.
We decided to walk the boardwalk just next to the Nature Center in Maumee Bay State Park. Jamie found life birds galore – a stunning view of a Blackburnian Warbler, Palm Warblers, Yellow-rumped Warblers and a very large number of Yellow Warblers. A Swainson’s Thrush, some White-throated and White-crowned Sparrows added to the excitement. We also found an Eastern Screech-Owl hanging out near a nest box (word is that the Mrs. was inside the box).
At 7:30 we headed upstairs in the lodge to see none other than our good friend and awesome Ohio Young Birder Kristina “Catbird” Polk. Kristina writes a blog we enjoy called wild@heart. And did we mention that she is amazing?
(Kristina is the one with the cool hat)
The basics about Kristina:
Kristina Polk is a 17 year old birder from North Ridgeville Ohio, whose passion for birds began as an interest in wildlife photography. She is a long time vegan and is compassionate towards all life, including the birds she’s gotten to know through birding. She also enjoys art in all forms, including sketching and writing, and uses these hobbies to channel her love of wildlife. Additionally, Kristina volunteers in spring and autumn at Black Swamp Bird Observatory’s bird banding station. She is attending the University of Wyoming next fall to pursue an education in wildlife biology. – Biggest Week Bios
What else we know about her? Well…she is a great writer (Here is a link to an example from The Eyrie – ABA’s young birder blog – Worlds Away)
She is compassionate about all animals, a great speaker and an inspiration to all future conservationists. The best thing about her is that she makes others feel what she feels – love for nature. And of course we love her because she LOVES catbirds.
The talk was great and we are always happy to hear one of her talks. All-in-all a great start to our Biggest Week activities!
May 2, 2013
Article in: Birding
The Biggest Week in American Birding is getting ready to start!
Online registration has closed BUT that doesn’t mean you can’t still sign up! They are accepting walk-in registration at the festival registration table at Maumee Bay Lodge and Conference Center and at Black Swamp Bird Observatory for just $20.
The registration table will be open from 7 A.M. – 7 P.M.
Thursday, May 2 through Friday, May 10th
Walk-in registration gains you access to the daily guided walks at Magee Marsh, evening socials at Maumee Bay Lodge, and discounts at dozens of participating local businesses.
SO, you might be wondering, how is birding with so many people? Are you used to being one of just a few or even a solo bird watcher?
If you have never experienced birding near and with so many other people just like you, I highly recommend it! There is nothing like it and it’s amazing!
This isn’t a crowded fair of people you may not wish to be around; it’s not Walmart where everyone is looking for their own list of things. This is a group of like-minded people all looking at the same thing: awesome migratory birds!
Did I mention it is an amazing experience?
Birdfreak Birders Jennie and Dakota will be spending two weekends and a couple of weekdays up at the event and we will have in-tow a brand NEW birder! We are beyond excited to introduce our friend Jamie to the mix of birding.
We should have a lot of things to talk and blog about in the next week – GOOD SPRING BIRDING EVERYONE and hope to see you at the Biggest Week!
April 17, 2013
Article in: Book Reviews
2013 is The Year of the Young Birder so the following book fits in perfectly with our goal of promoting young birders and outdoor enthusiasm.
The Kids’ Outdoor Adventure Book: 448 Great Things to Do in Nature Before You Grow Up by Stacy Tornio and Ken Keffer is a great asset for coming up with fun outdoor activities.
It is a book that is much needed in a time where more and more kids are spending less and less time outdoors.
Inside are tons of fun activities ranging from finding bird nests to milking a cow! Each of the activities has an “adventure scale” from 1 to 5 and for each there is a basic description of the activity, plus a more challenging addition the the basic quest.
The activities are organized by season, starting with my favorite season, Spring. In each season are specific destinations, projects, games, and recipes.
Many of the items listed you will most likely be familiar with. But I found a great number of activities I’ve never really thought about or hadn’t really appreciated when I was a kid.
Every parent should buy The Kids’ Outdoor Adventure Book and encourage their children to do as many as the activities in it as possible.
I may even try a few of these myself because you’re never too old to enjoy the outdoors like a kid!
Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher to review on Birdfreak.com. The links are to our Amazon affiliate account.
April 16, 2013
Article in: Photography
A couple of shots from the annual Midwest Crane Count.
March 19, 2013
Article in: Book Reviews
The following review of the Crossley ID Guide: Raptors is part of the Raptor Blog Tour. Make sure to check out all the really great articles about this superbly fine guide.
Turkey Vultures. Some people hate them because they are “ugly” or “gross”. But I think they are awesome.
Turkey Vultures are nature’s garbage disposals. Any roadkill is free game. And it doesn’t matter if a deceased animal had a disease or toxin in its system; mostly the Turkey Vulture is unharmed!
The Crossley ID Guide: Raptors by: Richard Crossley, Jerry Liguori & Brian Sullivan covers all North American raptors, including the majestic Turkey Vulture.
One of the Turkey Vulture plates in the new guide
The guide includes 101 color plates with over a thousand photographs. The photos are superimposed on a background to form a scene of multiple birds in multiple poses and angles.
Enter to win the ultimate Crossley ID Guide sweepstakes sponsored by Princeton University Press.
This format is unique to the Crossley ID Guides and a fascinating approach to bird identification. This way you are able to see the same species at varying distances and even in differing light.
The goal is to mimic what you may see in the field and create a better understanding of what to look for and how to identify the birds.
The Turkey Vulture plates show amazing close-up detail of the bizarre, featherless heads of these always interesting birds. The plates also show the habit of large numbers of vultures forming a “kettle” or circle, soaring on thermals plus varying angles of birds in flight.
The Crossley ID Guide: Raptors takes the unique Crossley approach and focuses exclusively on the large, beautiful diurnal raptors.
And it does an excellent job covering the amazing Turkey Vulture.
Check out more great posts on The Raptor Blog Tour.
The tour continues tomorrow with posts from:
Join the Raptor ID Happy Hour: with Richard Crossley and Brian Sullivan on Friday, March 22nd.
Plates provided by Princeton University Press.
March 8, 2013
Article in: Outdoors and Travel
Coming up next week on March 16th is the annual Shreve Migration Sensation!
Shreve is where Ohio’s largest inland natural wetland complex exists (5,671 acres) making this the perfect place to host a spring migration sensation!
The 13th Annual Shreve Migration Sensation includes workshops, vendors, live birds, hands on events and even some snakes! We have attended the past three years and each time have had a wonderful experience!
So…what’s going on this year?
Some great workshops are planned which are all included for the low price of a 10 dollar admission and only 15 dollars for a family.
Here is a list of all six workshops
- Cute Chicks (Young Birds) by Chuck Jakubchak, Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist
- Not the Last of the Mohicans! By Cheryl Harner (on the Mohican Park and Malabar Farm State Park before and today)
- Birds, Bugs & Botany: A Photographic Foray by Judy Semrock
- Wood-Warblers: Gems of the Forest by Jim McCormac
- Go Birding: It’s good for you! By Kimberly Kaufman
- The Magic of Bird Flight by Kenn Kaufman
There will be fun activities for children as well. Hands-on programs, a dip-net program (bring boots), information on snakes from The Wilderness Center, and live animals from the Akron Zoo.
This event is completely worth a day out and in addition to all the wonderful events, the birding area is great! Killbuck Marsh, Shreve Lake, Brown’s Bog and Funk Bottoms wildlife area…when you get there the registration desk has a great map of where to go and bird throughout the day.
Check out a list of birds you might see – HERE
March 5, 2013
Article in: Birding
So…what’s going on MAY 3 – May 12, 2013?
YES – The Biggest Week in American Birding!
Registration is now open! Some of the workshops and field trips are filling up fast so it is definitely not too early to reserve your place for a bird-filled week of fun!
The entire week (10 days!) is only 30 dollars for adults, and 10 dollars for students! There are fees for some of the trips and presentations but many are free, including a a talk by Kim Kaufman on shade-grown coffee and guided tours on the Magee Marsh Boardwalk!
During the festival you can register, pick up your name badge and registration packet between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. at the Maumee Bay Lodge & Convention Center.
What’s going on at his big incredible week of birding? Well the main attraction of course would be THE MIGRATING BIRDS. Check out the links below if you would like a preview of what you likely will find while you are here:
In addition to the great birding there are presentations, field trips, book signings, banding demonstrations, and even a bird tattoo contest! You can view the complete schedule of events HERE.
Here a few of the MANY things we are looking forward to:
Young birder Kristina Polk (author of the Wild at Heart blog) will be presenting And Then I Met a Gray Catbird: How One Bird Changed My Whole Life May 3rd at the Maumee Bay Lodge and Conference Center at 7:30 p.m.
We have heard Kristina speak before and her words have passion and power. She is definitely an advocate for our birds and a great speaker.
Punk Rock Big Year: Paul Riss knocked birding stereotypes out when he decided to do a big year of birding AND tattoo the Latin name of every new bird he saw during that time. In addition to his cool presentation May 4th at 7:30 p.m. he will be judging a bird tattoo contest at 5 p.m. (both will be at the Maumee Bay Lodge and Conference Center).
Whether you are a photographer, new birder or ornithologist – guided walks every day (free with your name badge) are one of the BEST ways to see every bird and connect with other birders. Bird guide author and amazing birder Kenn Kaufman will be guiding these walks at 8am and 11am on the boardwalk.
There will be a Bird-Friendly Coffee Bar at the Maumee Lodge & Conference Center and Birds and Beans coffee will also be served at the Black Swamp Bird Observatory. In addition to being one of the best coffees around, it is by far the best coffee for the birds!
Kim Kaufman will be speaking all about the awesomeness of shade-grown coffee on Sunday May 5th at 3 p.m. at the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge. She and Kenn spent some time at a bird-friendly coffee farm and it is amazing how just buying coffee can impact our birds in a wonderful way!
Okay, I could go on and on but the Biggest Week has a wonderful website so go check them out! They have information on all the events, maps, places to stay and contact and registration info.
If you have not attended before – it is really worth it! And if you have, then you know it’s true!
GOOD BIRDING AND HOPE TO SEE YOU THERE!
March 4, 2013
Article in: Book Reviews
More Than Birds: Adventurous Lives of North American Naturalists by Val Shushkewich, is a collection of life histories of the most important naturalists that have shaped modern-day ornithology and conservation.
The collection starts with the early pioneers of bird study household names like Wilson and Audubon, and continues to todays expert naturalists Kaufman and Sibley.
Twenty-three naturalists are covered, each with detailed information from their early days to their lifelong accomplishments.
While I was familiar with several of the naturalists in More Than Birds, the majority were new to me. The material, while historical, felt fresh and exciting like I was exploring with these great adventurers.
These naturalists were more than just looking to study birds. They had deep feelings towards the conservation and preservation of birds and their habitat.
Read about Jack Miner, “the father of conservation” as well as Robert Ridgway, “curator of the Smithsonian Institution’s bird collections for forty-nine years…”.
In 1889, Florence Merriam Bailey wrote a list of “Hints to Observers” which include seven tips to prevent birds from flushing at your approach. These tips still hold true today.
Whether you are new to birding or a long time student of ornithology, there is bound to be a lot of newfound information in this fun read.
List of Naturalists Covered
- Alexander Wilson
- John James Audubon
- Thomas Nuttall
- Spencer Fullerton Baird
- Robert Kennicott
- Robert Ridgway
- Florence Merriam Bailey
- Allan Cyril Brooks
- Cordelia Standwood
- Jack Miner
- James Henry Fleming
- Percy Algernon Taverner
- Margaret Morse Nice
- Joseph Dewey Soper
- Louise de Kiriline Lawrence
- Doris H. Speirs and J. Murray Speirs
- Roger Tory Peterson
- Hans Albert Hochbaum
- Robert W. Nero
- Robert Bateman
- Kenn Kaufman
- David Allen Sibley
Disclaimer: We received a copy of this book from the publisher to review on Birdfreak.com. The links are to our Amazon Affiliate account.