Thursday, January 31, 2013

Our Younger Generation of Birders

One thing that you may have noticed about both me and Paul is that we are both fathers. Not only that, but we are both have three kids, which is quite a lot of work. When, oh when does one get time to go birding when you have kids running around?

Now I am lucky in that I work part-time and can spend the rest of the time as a stay at home father for my 2 year old and be there when my 7 year old twins get home. My older kids sometimes like to go birding with me (with varying results), but my youngest is even more of an impediment to seeing any interesting birds. Don’t get me wrong, he is great and all, but he is a handful and is not a quiet kid (he gets that from me). Not the best partner for trying to find and identify vaguely yellow warblers.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Taylor Arboretum in Winter, a Photoessay

I live right near Taylor Arboretum in Wallingford, Pennsylvania. I also live near Tyler Arboretum in nearby Media, Pennsylvania.  Yes, Taylor Arboretum and Tyler Arboretum are only a few miles (about 8 according to Google Maps) from each other, and yes they are very similarly named. I'm sure this isn't confusing, except that it is, so I will give you a little synopsis of each:

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Damon's Birds for the Week of January 20 - January 26

This week was not quite as lowly as last week's count, but I am still hampered by really cold weather and parenting. Yeah, I know that Paul had a high of -15 F, but I still consider anything that is consistently with a high in the teens/low twenty with plenty of wind to be damn cold.

Week 4 Paul's Birds

I spent most of the week working on a proposal in a tiny office in downtown Montreal. Not exactly great for the bird watching. So I didn't have a great week in terms of numbers. But I did get in a couple of trips over the past couple of days.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Paul's Snowy Owl

I have been looking at ebird's interactive bird map to see where birds are being seen and to figure out what I might just be able to see. I noticed last week while in Montreal that there were some reports of snowy owl in the countryside to the west of the city.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Which Damn Chickadee?

Earlier in the year I added a chickadee to my list (got it mostly by ear because it is one of the small number of birds I can actually identify by sound) and last week Paul added one, which lead to stress about what type of chickadee each of us saw.

There are seven species of chickadee in the U.S./Canada, and most of them look alike. Ugh. Luckily they all mostly live in different places, so there is no chance that I will be seeing a Gray-headed chickadee from northern Alaska or the Yukon. At least neither will Paul, but he will probably be the only of us to see a Boreal Chickadee. Which chickadees live near to Paul and which ones live with near me?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

State Birds that are Uninspired

In 1988 the St. Louis Cardinals football team moved to Tempe, Arizona and was henceforth known as the Arizona Cardinals. When professional sports teams move, they sometimes change the name to something more appropriate, but sometimes they keep the same name for the new location. This can lead to odd things like the Utah Jazz, Los Angeles Lakers, Tennessee Oilers (later changed), Los Angeles Dodgers, or Memphis Grizzlies. Those all make sense from the original location, but not the new ones. This phenomenon is often joked about by people because it doesn’t take much effort to say things like “Los Angeles doesn’t have lakes or trolleys, Tennessee doesn’t have oil and has never had grizzly bears, and Utah doesn’t have any jazz because they are all white!” So when the Cardinals moved to Tempe, you could hear people joke about Arizona Cardinals being strange because there aren’t any cardinals in Arizona.

But that is not true! I lived in Tempe for three years and saw them at my feeder ALL the time. Don’t believe me? Let’s look at Wikipedia’s range map!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Damon's Birds for the week of Jan 13 - Jan 19

They can't all be like last week because I am not at Cape May every week. Even if I was, there would be slow weeks. This was a slow week.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Friday Music: Mockingbirds

Happy Friday all.  My week of birds has been...slow.  Cold temperatures, fog, and kid responsibilities have kept from having much time to actually look for birds this week. It worries me that Paul may catch up.

Friday is a nice and easy and relaxing day, so let's listen to some music featuring birds! Today's featured bird (because I've added them last week) is the northern mockingbird.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Day Trip to Cape May: A Photoessay

As I have mentioned before, one advantage I have over Paul is that I live on the east coast of the U.S. and frequently visit family in southern New Jersey. Last weekend I took a day trip there.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Oh House Sparrows, Why Have You Forsaken Me?

Here I am, 14 days and 29 species into my year of birds and there is one bird that is missing from my list. The damn house sparrow.

Monday, January 14, 2013

To The Bird Not Seen

Just to be clear, I am not a professional birder. I like watching birds and its always fun when I see something new or unusual. A bird I didn't notice before or one makes an unexpected appearance can really make my day. However, many times when I see birds, I can't make an immediate identification and am left wondering what did I just see. I will start by stating the obvious problem: most birds can fly and do so on a regular basis.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Damon's Birds for the Week of Jan 6 - Jan 12

Only four birds the first week?  Well, not quite that low this week.  It DID help that I went to Cape May and got five different duck species, but even without it I got quite a bit more. Hanging out in the two local arboreta helped a lot as well.

Paul's Week 2 Update

My list of birds seen has grown some this week. This is partly because I saw common birds while driving around and also because I took a couple of side trips to see if anything interesting could be found. My common birds included house sparrows (saw them on the way to university near the little pizza/Chinese food restaurant- I know, both in the same place?), an American crow (actually there are lots of these around here caw cawing away), Canada geese (not so many flying around Peterborough but large numbers of these hanging out on Lake Ontario), mourning doves (I think this was because of Damon's blog being posted on the day before), and the two gulls (many of these flying around Lake Ontario too).

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Birding Equipment

When I get time to go out birding, I don't want to waste a whole bunch of it gathering stuff up and thinking about what I should bring, so I have a back pack ready to go. It isn't anything big and full of stuff, but something I can just grab and pick up and know everything I need is already in there.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Paul's Week 1 Update

My first week was about as eventful as Damon's. Here my first week of birds:

Paul's First Bird

Hi Everyone,
Here is my first post. It is a bit delayed because my iPad was refusing to let me use blogger from the road. So my posts may be sporadic but I will contribute whenever I can and if I have something interesting to add. Just before Christmas, Damon laid down the gauntlet of 'the big year' and I couldn't say no.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Damon's Birds for the Week of Jan 1- Jan 5

What a lame bird week for me.  I finally did find my field guides (Sibley is my go to guide, but I have a backup of an old Peterson and Stokes), but that doesn't help me with those gulls that I never could identify (don't worry, they aren't leaving the Pathmark marking lot any time soon). I am totally going for a walk in the Tyler Arboretum a couple times this week.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Home Location Issue

I have a home field advantage when it comes to birds. Paul lives north of Toronto, which is fine I guess, but isn’t the diversity capital of North America. I live outside of Philadelphia, but I frequently visit family on the South Jersey Shore and around the Chesapeake Bay, so I get lots more diversity coming through. Yay and great for me!

Damon's First Bird of the Year

It has been cold outside and I’ve had the kids home for winter break, so my ability to go out and look at birds has been pretty low. A few days ago (in 2012, so it doesn’t count) I saw a black vulture and snow geese on a drive, so I was hoping to see a nice haul for the first day of the year.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Welcome to the Year of Birds!

It all started when I (Damon) took a trip to see my mother in Maryland. After visiting her, I visited my oldest brother and we hung out, flipping through the TV, when we stumble on The Big Year. We watched some of it and chatted about it because my brother had seen it before and I had only read the book. But it was in the middle of the movie, so we turned it (I wanted to watch it all the way though and not just from the middle), and I didn’t think much about it.