We Have a Birdy 30 Winner!

The grand prize winner in this weekend's Birdy 30 Competition is songbird Stephanie Stokes, who tallied 16 species in one half-hour span -- including a Brown Creeper.

Second place was a tie between Gabrielle Shmitt and Charley West, who both had 14,

Lisa Potash came in fourth with 13 species.

Six entrants  has 11 species.

Congrats to all who participated.

Best bird seen: Dark-eyed Junco, of course.

Or possibly Stephanie's Creeper.



Baby Snapping Turtle in January

IMG-0346Found this little dude in my side yard yesterday. 

I think he is dead -- maybe awoke early during the recent 68-degree days and then got caught in the cold???

No, he didn't die from carrying that quarter around. I placed it next to him for scale....

I brought him inside to see if he would wake up from its torpor. No luck.

I put him back outside this morning with my best wishes.

If you see a young snapping turtle at the CF this spring, I'd like to think it's little Tommy Torpor.

How to Find the CF Virginia Rail

_MG_8609 (1)
I have had success seeing a Virginia Rail at the CF at No-Name Culvert. I approach very quietly and watch for ripples in the water.

The views are not great, but if you see ripples you'll have a chance of seeing the rail through the phrags.

The view will be a bit like the one above, but hopefully a bit better. :- )

I hope this is useful. Can't think of any negative repercussions of posting but if you think it might cause a problem, let me know.

I know that rails have been seen in other CF locales this season as well.


Monday Mystery Simplified


OK, I get it. Monday's Mystery was too tough to decipher. Here's what I was getting at: Why are these three state bird stamps the same but different, and how?

Example: New Jersey's stamp features male and female, but that's not the answer.

You may have to click on the stamps to examine them.

A Red-shoulder at the CF (and more)

Alice Leurck (who has been busy with her camera at the CF), passed along the above photos of a Red-shoulder she saw by the Pine Grove  recently.

No wonder it's Stiles T's favorite raptor.

You can read a free e-book about Allendale's Red-shoulders on Apple Books here (I hope).

Some background on the book: Since the early 2000s, a family of endangered red-shouldered hawks has nested in Allendale and nearby Ramsey. To chronicle their struggles and triumphs, photographer Jerry Barrack and I have created “Survival: The Red-shouldered Hawks of Allendale, N.J."

Jerry was the principal photographer, and we also have great shots by Kevin Watson, Kumar Patel, Barbara Dilger, Bob and Lisa Safier, and Ken Wiegand.

I did most of the writing, with additional chapters by John Workman (on the Red-shoulders' courting display) and Ken Wiegand (on what it's like to host a Red-shoulder nest). Len Soucy of The Raptor Trust wrote the Foreword.

The book also features a locator map with the hawk’s nesting sites from 2002 to 2011, an interview with Celery Farm Warden Emeritus Stiles Thomas (who has followed the hawks’ triumphs and tragedies for the past decade and more), plus some nifty surprises. 

And it's a free download.

(If you like the book, please consider donating to The Raptor Trust here.)


Birding in Amsterdam

IMG_0329With the exception of this Golden Eagle, the birds in Amsterdam were too far away to photograph well, but did get several life birds during our peregrinations around this City of Canals.

Also saw several through binoculars from the hotel window, which overlooked the Amstel River -- especially Eurasian Coots and Great Crested Grebes.

Other finds: Common Ravens, Great Cormorants and Shags, Gray Herons (hanging out with the residents at the Amsterdam Zoo), Rose-ringed Parakeets (Amsterdam's equivalent of our Monk Parakeets, I suspect) and Eurasian Magpies and Eurasian Blackbirds.

IDing new birds with a field guide was a challenge at times -- holler if any of the sightings seem dubious!

I did not include the statuesque eagle on my eBird list of 13 species.

If you are going to Amsterdam and would like some birding tips, I can share some with you that Taco at Flevo Bird-watching graciously provided.


A Living, Breathing Rusty Blackbird at the CF

7W0A6887 (2) copy1bAlice Leurck writes:

I was impatiently waiting for the reveal of the ID of John Workman's excellent drawing (even though he is not a professionally trained artist)!
In celebration of that bird, here is a photo taken at The Celery Farm on the very day the ID was revealed.
The bird perched up behind the twig momentarily before again disappearing into the vegetation. 
(Thanks, Alice. Love that yellow eye. I'll be on the lookout. Saw one near Barking Dog Corner just after the Christmas Bird Count three weeks or so ago. Need some more serendipity.)
More on Rusty Blackbirds and their population decline here.

Monday Morning Mystery 011320

Img160This is a sheet of beautiful U.S. state bird stamps from a few decades ago, and it includes the state flowers for all 50 states as well.

Lots of fun to look at (look how many states have the Western Meadowlark as their official bird), but one thing caught my eye.

A couple of states have the same bird, only different.

Answer Friday if I remember.