May 17, 2013
Article in: Photography
A Killdeer displaying a “broken-wing” to distract us from his mate’s nest.
We stumbled upon him and after a couple photos, took a wide detour around the nest.
May 15, 2013
Article in: Birding
Every year members of the Birdfreak Team participate in the Illinois Spring Bird Count, a citizen science project geared at counting birds across the state. County by county, birders try and find as many birds as possible during migration.
This year we found out that some less-covered counties are counting on Sunday instead of the usual Saturday to try and attract more birders for both days. We hope to participate both days next year.
Some of the highlights from our day of counting:
I would have taken more photos but after being caught in a heavy downpour I decided to put the camera away.
May 8, 2013
Article in: Birding
Saturday morning the Ohio Birdfreaks headed to the Black Swamp Bird Observatory. Though it was tempting to start birding as soon as we arrived, we were signed up as volunteers at the info booth that morning so to work we went!
Ohio Young Birders Club Volunteers
The three of us (including new birder Jamie) manned the booth to help answer questions and take walk-in registrations. It was amazing to see so many new, seasoned and expert birders in and out of the area. As they came and went, many took advantage of Leica’s generosity as they brewed up some (complimentary) amazing Birds and Beans coffee.
An large number of volunteers signed up to help during the Biggest Week. It is great to see so many people volunteer their time to help make the event a success!
Pine Siskens at Black Swamp Bird Observatory
The Birdfreaks will be helping all throughout the week in various locations. But what we are doing is small change compared to what the folks at the Black Swamp Bird Observatory do to make the Biggest Week happen. I can’t even begin to explain how awesome these people are along with each and every volunteer and sponsor of the event.
A BIG THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO HELPS MAKE THE BIGGEST WEEK IN AMERICAN BIRDING A SUCCESS!!
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.