Showing posts from January, 2013

Snowbird 2.0

American Tree Sparrow: Always at home in the snow. From Oak Harbor, Ohio, Kenn writes:  When I was a kid, first learning about birds, I read that "snowbird" was the Dark-eyed Junco's nickname.  Juncos are easy to recognize, and for many people in the eastern U.S., they are characteristic birds of winter.  But for me, the real "snowbirds" are American Tree Sparrows.  Strictly winter birds anywhere south of the Arctic, they arrive with cold weather, and they visit Kimberly and me only when the snow flies.   American Tree Sparrows belong to the genus Spizella, which makes them relatives of familiar birds like Chipping Sparrow and Field Sparrow.  The main difference is that Tree Sparrows have their center of distribution at least a thousand miles farther north.  Indeed, "Tree Sparrow" is a misnomer:  many spend the summer far north of treeline, on the tundra, where the largest willows are only a couple of feet tall.  In winter, flocks range throu

When Wind Energy Development Isn't Regulated - Birds Lose

An update on Black Swamp Bird Observatory's struggle to  protect birds from  poorly placed wind turbines in the  critical migratory bird stopover habitat in northwest Ohio.  You've all seen that play, right?  The runner has the ball, he's fighting off defenders like a mad man, dragging tacklers down the field, making forward progress in spite of the odds, and then... WHAM!    He gets clobbered by the one he didn't see coming. The image below is the one we didn't see coming. A large wind turbine ready to be installed at the  Erie Business Park in Ottawa County, Ohio.  Only a few miles from Magee Marsh. Would that it were only a game. And when the play ended and the whistle blew, we could simply shake off the hit and return to real life. But it isn't a game. This is real life. The playing field is critical migratory bird habitat. The players are just ordinary people with an EXTRAordinary level of dedication to protecting bird habitat. And w

Rocking the birds at Rockport

Roseate Spoonbills are not challenging to identify, but they certainly brighten up a day of birding. Spoonbills can be found at all seasons in the region of Rockport/Fulton on the central Texas coast. From Oak Harbor, Ohio, Kenn writes:  In early March, much of North America still will be struggling to shake off winter, weary of the cold and impatient for spring.  But on the central Texas coast, things will be hopping, as the abundant wintering birds mix with the first spring migrants.  And we will be there also.  We will be reviving a tradition that aims to increase the enjoyment of birding. Marbled Godwits, photographed in winter at Rockport, Texas. A wide variety of shorebirds can be found  here  through the winter, with more joining them during migration.  For learning to identify shorebirds with confidence, it's especially helpful to see them in mixed flocks, where direct comparisons are possible.  In the early 1990s, Victor Emanuel and I started a series of birding