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.
February 18, 2013
Article in: Take Kids Birding
The New York State Young Birders Club (NYSYB) has many opportunities for young birders between 10 and 19, adult members and even partner organizations. The club is a special project of the New York State Ornithological Association and offers field trips, meetings, scholarships and much more! NYSYB also welcomes members from other states!
The New York State Young Birders Club provides community, friendship, and fun for young people who have a passion for wild birds and their habitats
If you know a young nature lover in New York – you might want to consider a gift membership – it’s only TEN dollars! (Twenty for adult members)
Youth member benefits include:
* make new friends who share your passion for birds!
*go on young birder field trips and other events throughout New York State.
*join in on bird counts and other birding projects with other young birders.
*contribute to and get email alerts about special events and resources for birders.
*get photos, artwork, and writings published on this website and in newsletters around the state.
*are eligible for NYSYBC scholarships
*voice their ideas to help shape NYSYBC.
Check out their membership page to see the many benefits for adult members, alumni and partners!
They also have a Flickr Photo Group called NYS Young Birder’s Photos for photos taken by members of the club.
The New York State Young Birders Club is another wonderful example of the perfect place for budding young birders and future conservationists.
New York is an AWESOME place to watch birds! Back in 2008, Birdfreak Eddie, Dakota and Dad (Grandpa) visited another great blogger Tom from Mon@rch’s Nature Blog.
February 14, 2013
Article in: Book Reviews
Donald & Lillian Stokes have published new regional editions to their highly acclaimed The Stokes Field Guide to the Birds of North America (available March 26, 2013).
These guides provide the most current and up-to-date information on birds and is a complete update to the former Stokes Field Guides published in 1996.
The coverage is geographically split along an imaginary line that cuts through the great plains states: North Dakota, South Dakota up into Canada and on down through Texas. This works for us since it is difficult to divide the country in terms of bird distribution but the western parts of especially North and South Dakota seem more “west” than “east”.
Both guides follow the same format with the western boasting 2,400 photos to the eastern’s 2,200.
The best part of the guides, other than the superb photo quality, is the display of birds in various plumages and ages. When applicable, differing male and female plumages are shown as well as age cycles of gulls and other obvious plumage variances among specific bird species.
The sheer number of photographs somewhat overshadows the text. But the descriptions of birds including flight, habitat and voice notes should not be overlooked. The text is full of pertinent information to help the identification process.
All notable subspecies and hybrids are also included in the text as well as the photos.
The range maps show year-round, breeding and wintering grounds as well as migration paths.
Sprinkled throughout the species are “identification tips” boxes that further explain how to distinguish between difficult and similar looking species.
Follow Donald and Lillian Stokes on their popular blog – Stokes Birding Blog.
Disclaimer: we received copies of these books from the publisher to review on Birdfreak.com. The links are to our Amazon Affiliate account.
February 11, 2013
Article in: Young Birders
The Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) is coming soon: February 15th-18th, 2013. This may be the easiest citizen science project to participate in. Everyone can participate and you can do so without even leaving the comfort of your home.
All birders (and “almost” birders) are welcome to join in. It is just a three-step process:
1. Create an account for the GBBC; if you already eBird you can use the same login
2. Count birds! 15 minutes is the minimum and you don’t have to count every day (although why not?)
3. Enter your results on the GBBC website or eBird
But the best part of the Great Backyard Bird Count is getting kids involved. What a perfect time to sit down, watch birds, and practice identification.
Feeder watching is one of the best ways to learn about birds. These are usually common species that can be seen up close and for long periods of time. If your feeders are really hopping then there is the likeliness of size comparison between different species.
The GBBC has a whole section for kids that includes printable coloring pages, puzzles, a sound quiz, and other identification tools.
The Great Backyard Bird Count is really a perfect way to get the whole family more interested in birds and to participate in some citizen science.
Plus, who doesn’t enjoy watching birds on a cold winter day?
February 8, 2013
Article in: Young Birders
The Minnesota Young Birders Club is supported by the Science Museum of Minnesota. It is open to kids age 13-18 from Minnesota and western Wisconsin.
Annual membership is $20.00 but youth can attend one event prior to becoming a full member.
The Minnesota Young Birder Club connects youth to other young birders in the state via monthly field days, workshops, and social media. We provide a challenging environment where youth can learn about birds, conservation and science while socializing with friends. – Minnesota Young Birders Club
There are many programs/field trips listed on the club’s website with more listed on their Facebook group page.
Overall, the Minnesota Young Birders Club is off to a great start. We suggest they get a website separate from the Science Museum of Minnesota and allow the young members the ability to add content and share information.
Hopefully they can expand their reach across the entire state of Minnesota.
February 6, 2013
Article in: Young Birders
A part of eBird, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the Black Swamp Bird Observatory have teamed up to create the Young Birders Network.
The Young Birders Network aims to provide resources for young birders to connect and learn, while giving their adult advocates resources to encourage and support. Though the network is primarily geared for ages 12-18, younger birders and college students alike may also find relevant resources. The network is coordinated by the Black Swamp Bird Observatory and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and includes dozens of partners. – Young Birders Network
You can also access eBird directly through the YBN and submit your checklists (highly recommended).
Plus, if your state is lacking in the young birder club category, there is a young birder club toolkit available to get the ball rolling.
So, check out the Young Birders Network now!
February 4, 2013
Article in: Young Birders
There is nothing more hopeful than hearing about partnering environmental groups, willing teachers and eager students coming together to create a native habitat at a school.
Appropriately named, Hope Elementary School in Carlsbad, California did just that on January 17, 2013. They planted over 50 different native plants, shrubs and trees in their new Native Habitat Exploration Garden. (see U-T San Diego News article here)
Partners in Fish and Wildlife gave the school a three thousand dollar grant to create a four thousand square foot native habitat. The event was coordinated by Jonathan Snapp-Cook, a U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service biologist.
The benefits of this program might be obvious – but they are critical in helping future conservationists:
-Improved habitat – providing habitat for local and migratory wildlife
-Teaching and learning – limitless options to teach and explore – from learning native plants to history and geography.
-Stewardship : What better way to teach children how to be stewards of the land?
-Social development – Not only does this help kids learn to explore but it gets them outside in nature.
With partners such as the National Fish and Wildlife Service, students can be reached on a school-wide level and have a daily accessible place to study, learn and appreciate wildlife.
The biggest benefit of coordinating this type of habitat creation, aside from monetary help, is that the school receives expert advice and instructions on how to properly create a wonderful habitat to attract wildlife and how to maintain the environment.
Download the U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s Schoolyard Habitat Project Guide – (PDF) – this is a planning guide for creating schoolyard habitat and outdoor classroom projects.
Carlsbad, Ca is 35 miles north of San Diego, Ca