Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Bird Expert

Yes, that's me - the "expert". All you have to do is tell people that you are a birdwatcher, and you become the expert. I am by no means an expert birder. I cannot identify the one Western Sandpiper in the flock of thousands of Least Sandpipers like some people can. I cannot identify the migrating songbirds flying overhead at the Higbee Beach platform. I cannot even identify most of the hawks flying past Hawk Mountain unless they are really close or the professional counters shout out the name. I'm getting better at bird songs, but still get fooled by Titmice.

Even though I know that I'm not an expert, non-birders continue to rely on me to identify all kinds of sightings, and answer all kinds of bird behavior questions. As referenced by my last post - my mother sent a photo of a hawk in her backyard asking me to identify it. Coworkers ask me to identify birds based solely on their terrible descriptions of "the finch that is making a nest in my hanging plant" - turned out to be a House Wren. On and on . . .

Last week was the best yet. Kristyna - the young captain of my ice hockey team - couldn't wait to ask me about a bird that had become trapped in her fiance's apartment. She told me that it was the fourth bird in a week to get into the house (don't ask about # 2 and # 3 - they are no longer with us). They did manage to get a couple of photos of #4 before they got it out of the house though. Neither Kristyna or Brian could figure out what kind of sparrow this was. Check it out:

American Kestral - a Falcon! Inside the rowhouse in Mayfair. How in the world did it get into the house, nobody knows. But at least it's outside now. Thanks to Brian for having the wherewithall to take a few photos, or I would never have been able to render my expert identification.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Down at the Boathouses

Barbara and I went down to the Boathouses yesterday and saw plenty of Bufflehead. We counted 12, but they dive under so often that it's hard to get a good count! The males are all starting to bob and weave around each other angling for the gals. It should be quite interesting as the weather starts getting warmer. At least the ice is gone from the river now.

We also got really close views of one male Hooded Merganser. He was mixed in with the Mallards right at the edge of the river. WOW. Stunning plumage.

Still no Crossbills though.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Mom - Your Famous!

I write these posts and assume that they go off into cyberspace somewhere never to be read. Then, I mention someone by name and they get all "oh, I made the blog" and "hey, I saw you mentioned me in the blog". So it was with Barbara last week when I hated her for seeing the Bald Eagle. So it was with Lori when I hated her online too. So it will be with my mother when she gets a shout out today for spending 86 cents to send me - not one, but two separate letters with bird related things inside.

So, here's to Carolyn way down in the Villages Florida for sending me a great photo (shot with her point-and-shoot) of a Cooper's Hawk sitting on the light post in back of her house. She sent the photo along with a note that read - "What the hell kind of hawk is this?" followed by a few other cryptic lines of text about Dick and Loretta's son wanting to marry my grandmother (that's for another blog).

The other envelope contained a newspaper clipping about Snowy Owls erupting south this winter. My own mother is rubbing it in that I have still not seen a Snowy Owl even though the article states that the owls have been seen as far south as Tennessee. Thanks Mom.