Showing posts from 2011

Twas the Night Before the Christmas Bird Count

From Homebase in Oak Harbor. Ohio, Kimberly Writes: My friend Katie Andersen is so creative. She wrote this great poem about the joy and insanity of doing Christmas Bird Counts to the theme of Twas the Night Before Christmas. I think you'll like it as much as I did - and I hope you'll share some of your favorite CBC stories with us! Twas the Night Before the Christmas Bird Count by Katie Andersen ‘Twas an hour before the Christmas Bird Count, when we left our warm house; Not a songbird was stirring, not even a Titmouse. Binoculars were hung over downy vests with great care, In anticipation of the birds that would soon fill the air. While our neighbors were still snug in their beds, To the count circle we birders did head. And I in my hoodie and my friend in her Tilley Hat Had just hiked to the spot marked on our count map When, alerted by a Winter Wren’s scolding chatter, We snatched up our optics to see what was the matter. Quite annoyed by the Wre

Hotel Birding - Fueled by Bird Friendly Coffee

From a hotel somewhere in Harlingen, Texas, Kimberly Writes: Kenn and I are in Texas for the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival  where Kenn will be leading several walks and giving a special presentation tomorrow night.  We arrived yesterday afternoon, made a brief stop at the convention center where the festival headquarters are located, and headed for our hotel.  As we were unpacking the second load from the car, I noticed a couple birds perched atop a smallish shrub in the vacant lot beside the hotel.  As we stepped off the pavement to get a better look, we were stunned to see that they were two White-tailed Kites!  Well, we took our white tails right back in to our hotel room to fetch optics and cameras, and when we came back there were THREE circling above the hotel.  I managed to shoot about 30 seconds of video of one of the birds as it "kited" in one spot.  Wait for the 13 second mark and watch as the bird cuts out and heads for parts unknown.  Look at those long

Bird Research - Point // Counterpoint

Kimberly Writes: I've received a tremendous amount of feedback on my last post about bird research.  I wanted to share a particular comment, because I think the points are so valuable.   The following comment was made by by "Jude," and I thought it was important enough to share openly on our blog in order to generate some good, healthy dialogue about this subject.  The comment from Jude: "I don't know the birder who sparked your response, but I'd be very surprised if their call to re-examine banding came from a place of not understanding the critical importance of the data being gathered. As a novice birder, I've already seen distressing examples of geese with overly tight neck bands, smaller birds with too tight leg bands, and birds with too many bands altogether. I imagine you have to have seen way more than I. Understanding the value of data gathering in conservation efforts and advocacy can and should be accompanied by compassion and a very high

Banding Together for the Good of the Birds

From Homebase in Oak Harbor, Ohio, Kimberly Writes:   Recently a well-known birder, admired by many (including yours truly), spoke out publicly about her belief that banding and color-marking is bad for birds. Of course this is not the first time these research methods have been criticized. Humans have active minds and diverse interests and beliefs; we are always going to disagree on some things, and that’s okay. But this particular situation felt like a blow because it drew such an emotional reaction from people who, I believe, actually know better. Whether the topic at hand involves birds or some other issue, when emotion overrules facts it is cause for concern. This is a delicate issue, and to be honest, I’m not sure I’m the right person to take this on. Truth is, I would rather just ignore it and focus on things like the upcoming Ohio Young Birders Conference and all the other positive things BSBO has going on. But part of what creates this problem is the fact that we need more

The Big Year: and hopefully beyond

From homebase in Oak Harbor, Kimberly writes: Last night, Black Swamp Bird Observatory loaded a bunch of birders into our awesome Bird Bus and went to see the movie The Big Year.  I was excited to go to the movies with Kenn and a bunch of friends no matter how good or bad the movie turned out to be. To be honest, I was more than a little concerned that Hollywood would simply adopt the model perpetuated by the media for decades and cast us in the same stereonerdical  role. I was wrong. Steve Martin's character, " Stu Preissler," is a powerful , wealthy, executive who is obsessed with birding. His colleagues all bow to his executive prowess and on more than one occasion, they actually beg him to rescue them in challenging business negotiations. He's a hero. But here's the beauty. He's also a really nice guy.  He loves his family, and while on occasion (with some gentle admonishment from his loving and supportive wife) he skips a few family moments to see g

Her Majesty's Army

From home base in Oak Harbor, Ohio, Kimberly writes: To say that I hadn't traveled much before Kenn and I got married would be a serious understatement. A lifelong Ohioan, I come from a family perfectly happy to set their roots deep in northwest Ohio and keep them there forever.  The idea of living any place else or traveling the world was something that had never entered my mind.  All that changed when Kenn and I were married in 2005.  Suddenly, I found myself in love with a world-traveler who had experienced some of the most extraordinary places on earth.  In terms of deciding where we should make our home together, the world was on the table. If you read this blog or know anything about me and Kenn, then you probably know that the bird migration here in NW Ohio is pretty phenomenal. I'm sure most people just assume that birds are the reason we decided to live in Ohio, and of course that's a big part of it.  But, the main reason we decided to live here--of all the pl

MBS: Use Your Birder Power, part 3

From Oak Harbor, Ohio, Kenn writes: With the Midwest Birding Symposium (MBS) only a couple of days away, here are some final suggestions for how to make the most of the experience, for yourself and for the birds. All too often, when birders are asked to support conservation, we are just asked to send money somewhere. Of course, that’s often a good thing to do; but I prefer to focus on approaches that represent an actual, personal involvement. So, in a post on September 10, I recommended that you should connect with Birds & Beans Coffee. That’s a personal commitment: if you’re going to drink coffee, why not go for the type that protects bird habitat, not the type that kills birds? In a post the next day, I suggested picking up the Duck Stamp and the Ohio Wildlife Legacy Stamp. This is a personal involvement also: we’re not just sending $15 off somewhere, we’re buying a stamp that we can show off in public, to demonstrate that birders are stepping up to the plate and supportin

MBS: Use Your Birder Power, part 2

The current Ohio Wildlife Legacy Stamp: not only is it one key field mark of a good birder, it can also help to get you a significant discount during the Midwest Birding Symposium. From Oak Harbor, Ohio, Kenn writes: This is a continuation of yesterday’s post about how to make the most of your visit to the Midwest Birding Symposium (MBS), in Lakeside, Ohio. But as I’d like to point out, you can take advantage of some of this advice even if you DON’T get to attend the MBS. Yesterday, I wrote about how you could do yourself (and the birds) a favor by visiting the booth of Birds & Beans – The Good Coffee. Today, here’s another kind of approach: 2. Get Your Stamps On. Everyone who goes birding in Ohio should be a stamp collector to some extent, collecting at least two per year: the “Duck Stamp” and the Legacy Stamp.  This year's Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp  The Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp, popularly known as the “Duck Stamp,”

MBS: Use Your Birder Power, part 1

From Oak Harbor, Ohio, Kenn writes: In a few days, the Midwest Birding Symposium (MBS) will roll into Lakeside, Ohio, for the fourth time.   I spoke at the first one there, in 1997, and Kimberly attended the one in 1999, but we didn’t know each other then.   We were both involved when the MBS came back to Lakeside in 2009, and we’ll be even more heavily involved this time: for example, we’re giving a keynote talk together on Friday morning, September 16th.   And Black Swamp Bird Observatory and Kaufman Field Guides are sharing one of the major booth spaces in the vendor hall.   We’ll hope to see many of you at the Symposium! If you attend, you’re bound to have a good time, no matter which of the many alternative activities you choose. But there are a few simple things you can do that will make your visit good for the birds, as well as for you. I’ll describe a few of them, in separate posts. 1. Go talk to Birds & Beans. This company is a sponsor of the Symposium, and will have

Roseate Terns

Adult Roseate Tern on Eastern Egg Rock, Maine, in June 2011. From Oak Harbor, Ohio, Kenn writes: Terns may be the ultimate summer birds. They are related to gulls, but gulls thrive in cold weather, some even spending the winter north of the Arctic Circle. Terns, by contrast, love warm climates. In much of North America, they are most prevalent during the summer. About ten days ago, thanks to the generosity of Dr. Steve Kress and his highly successful Project Puffin, Kimberly and I were able to visit Eastern Egg Rock, in the Gulf of Maine. We did see puffins there, and many other birds as well; maybe Kim will blog about the puffins (hint, hint). But I was most pleased by the opportunity to look closely at Roseate Terns. Some treatments of tern identification focus on bill color. The mostly-blackish bill of Roseate Tern can be useful for quick ID, but it’s tricky, too: other terns have blackish bills for part of the year, and in transitional stages they can show color patterns m