Sunday, May 15, 2011

What Birding Has Taught Me

When: May 14 2011
Where: Magee Marsh, Oak Harbor, Ohio

International Migratory Bird Day was perhaps one of the best days I've ever had. Why? Well, here's a short list:
  • I met and talked with Kenn and Kimberley Kaufman; both such wonderful and passionate people. What a pleasure to meet them! (along with Greg Miller and Ken Keffer. More awesome bird people!)
  • Saw my first Swainson's Thrush, my second Veery, my first spring-plumaged Blackpoll and Magniolia Warblers, my first Blue-headed Vireo, and my first Canada Warbler
  • Got some great close-up looks of a Blue-headed Vireo, Yellow Warbler, Black Throated Green Warbler, American Redstart, and Baltimore Oriole
  • Saw a banding demonstration, in which a Blackburnian Warbler was banded along with three NOPAs
  • Held and released a Grey Catbird after it was banded
  • Saw bird fat!
Ok, the last one isn't that great, but it was still interesting! As I show you photos from the day, I'll elaborate on each point.

Here's that Swainson's Thrush!

First, the banding demonstration. Ken Keffer was the speaker and he did an excellent job. The presentation was fun and informative. Many different species of passerines were banded; including...

There were LOTS of Warbling Vireos banded that day!

Bird fat! (of a Red-eyed Vireo)

This Baltimore Oriole isn't being too nice to Kim...

Kim shows me how to hold the Catbird...

Me with the Catbird! When I released this beautiful little bird, it was incredible to feel the energy as it launched into the air. What power, grace, and determination is packed into their tiny bodies! And such detailed topography and mysterious eyes. Birds are AMAZING CREATURES and really DESERVE to be loved, conserved, and WATCHED with passion!! I'm so very glad to be a birder, to be part of an everyday effort to conserve and learn about these complex animals.

A stunning male Maggie!

The first NOPA of three...can you believe that this tiny bird flew across the GULF OF MEXICO withOUT stopping? Minimal food, no drinking, and NO rest. And, because she has adult plumage, it means she's done it at least three times! So have any other birds in definitive basic plumage. Isn't that the most incredible thing? Just imagine! Being four inches long and skimming along the waves of the Gulf, knowing it's fly or die?? THIS is why I love birds!

A close-up of another Catbird banded that day. Look at the orbital feathers around its eye, and those tiny little whiskers on its chin! And notice how the black cap feathers are a bit longer. And who knew their eyes were a deep maroon-BROWN? What amazing detail these birds have.

This guy brought "oohs" and "aaahs" as he was pulled from the net. A male Blackburnian! A "poster bird" if I've ever seen one.

The Vireos were fiesty! This is a blurry photo, I know, but it was too neat not to share.

Male Wilson's Warbler. Look at the pattern on his "plain" as he may seem, the feather groups are still apparent. It's amazing! Remember, even the drabbest of birds have flown further on their own two wings than you've probably walked on your two feet your entire life. Think about THAT the next time you dismiss an American Robin as "just" a robin! Take time to appreciate birds and what they are capable of!

Checking a Tree Swallow's wing...they're perfectly designed for their lifestyle. Evolution is astounding.

Female Blackpoll warbler! This one stumped the crowed until Ken showed us the orange legs! She didn't want to be held...

Common Grackle...he looks uncomfortable.

Male Chestnut-sided Warbly. TONS of these guys too!

A male Canada warbler...unfortunately I've got a sad story to tell about a Canada Warbler. After banding, the warbler wasn't ready to fly away, and it had been released it over the crowd, so the bird fluttered down and onto the ground. A guy stepped RIGHT ONTO IT and kept his foot there (he didn't realize, of course); but he couldn't have been more accurate if he'd tried. It was quite sickening and scary. I gasped; we all did. I was one of the few who saw it; those who didn't were happy they didn't. Ken hurried to pick it up and rush it away to try and save was dead, though. Poor, poor thing. An accident, but still horrible. We all were silent for a bit after that. R.I.P. little guy, and may your relatives continue to inspire and teach us all.

Two Wilson's Warblers getting ready to be weighed.

Kim bands a Grey Catbird...

And now for the "wild" bird shots. Here we have a stunning male Black-throated Green Warbly...he was super cooperative! I was standing just feet from this branch as I took these shots.

In the field, I didn't even realize I was looking at a Blue-headed Vireo...when I check the ID at home, I got a little shock. What an awesome bird! (By the way, this same bird is in the banner for my blog! Look up!)

Female American Robin on her nest!

FINALLY got a decent shot of a BTBW!

A particularly vibrant male Baltimore Oriole. I've seen them in my neighborhood start to build nests...flying around with streamers of hay, hair, and grass. To think just weeks ago they were in SOUTH AMERICA and by the time autumn comes, they've got to raise a family and fly BACK across the Gulf until NEXT spring, when (if they survive) they get to do it all over again. Being a bird is hard, but I am sure they have so much joy with it. To be able to fly, to sing such beautiful songs, and to inspire so many people...what an incredible life.

and a Yellow Warbler...did you know one Yellow Warbly, "Wally", returned nine years in a row to a certain banding station in Canada every spring? Wow!! How birds find their way back over thousands and thousands of miles is simply unfathomable...

In conclusion, I'd like to relate to you how important it is to conserve and protect birds and their habitats. We must realize that the actions we take here in America will affect countries like Venezuela and Ecuador; and what they do will affect us. Why? Birds!

Birds, quite literally, connect us all-- they spend winters in South American countries and breed in North America in the spring. If American habitat isn't saved, then the birds in South America will have no home to come home to! And if South American habitat is destroyed, our spring migrants will have no winter vacation home! If habitat worldwide isn't protected, birds will cease to exist. Rachel Carson warned us of a "silent spring", and it is a very real possibility. Without everyone's help, passion, and dedication, our feathered friends will have no homes. With no homes, they have no where to raise their young. Without a new generation, once the current generation passes, there will be no more birds. It's a very scary and sobering thought, but it's necessary to keep it in mind as we go about our daily lives. Birds are an important part of our world and without them, life would never be the same.

So, help the birds. Help the world. Support efforts to conserve birds and their habitat! Get outside and appreciate the birds! Take photos and paint pictures of these wonderful creatures, and share their beauty with others. WE have harmed their habitats, but WE are the solution!


If birding has taught me one thing, it is to appreciate and learn from our avian neighbors, and to share that passion with others. They are DESERVING of our efforts, time, and love, and we must do ALL WE CAN to preserve these AMAZING, ASTOUNDING,BEAUTIFUL, INSPIRING, INCREDIBLE, STUNNING, and POWERFUL beings.

"When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world."
~John Muir

**Peace Always,
Kristina Polk**

Friday, May 13, 2011

Sand, Sun, and Screams

When: May 8 2011
Where: Sandy Ridge Reservation, Ohio

Took another visit out to my fave neighborhood birding spot, Sandy Ridge Reservation. It was a great day at SRR; I saw a Bay-breasted and a Black throated Blue warbler...along with a Sandhill Crane! Tons of Tree Swallows were foraging in the air, and Canada geese were sitting pretty on their nests. (Well, most of them.)

The Tree Swallows were windswept and feisty that day!

The Sandhill was getting attacked by some Red-winged Blackbirds! Now THAT was an interesting sight...

The lighting on this flying Great Egret was to amazing not to share:

And the Bald Eagle made an appearance!

**Peace always,

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

It's Big!

(Male Yellow Warbler)

When: Saturday May 7 2011
Where: Magee Marsh, Oak Harbor Ohio

...and when I say big, I mean it!!

The Biggest Week in American Birding is here, and so are the biggest names in birding, and the biggest birds in birding...this week is BIG! Warblers, warblers, warblers, warblers are back!! Fifty (50) species and thirteen (11) Life birds in one day (May 7)...those are some big numbers. Would you like the list? Bold birds are Life birds.

  1. Chestnut sided Warbler
  2. Warbling vireo
  3. Bay Breasted Warbler
  4. Prothonotary Warbler
  5. Nashville Warbler
  6. Blackburnian Warbler
  7. Black and White Warbler
  8. Black Throated Green Warbler
  9. Ovenbird
  10. Linncoln's sparrow
  11. Nothern Parula
  12. American WoodCock
  13. Cape May Warbler
  14. Pine Siskin
  15. Green Heron
  16. Common Grackle
  17. Redwinged Blackbird
  18. American Redstart
  19. Yellow Warbler
  20. White Crowned Sparrow
  21. Rose breasted Grosbeak
  22. Northern Cardinal
  23. Sandhill Crane
  24. American Coot
  25. Mallard
  26. Great Crested flycatcher
  27. Canada Goose
  28. Baltimore Oriole
  29. American Robin
  30. Herring Gull
  31. DC Cormorant
  32. Bald Eagle
  33. Redtailed Hawk
  34. Rng Billed gull
  35. Turkey Vulture
  36. Blue Jay
  37. Downy Woodpecker
  38. American Goldfinch
  39. Brown Headed Cowbird
  40. Killdeer
  41. Red Breasted Nuthatch
  42. GBH
  43. Great Egret
  44. Palm Warbly
  45. 1 unID'd empid flycatcher
  46. 1 unID'd tern
  47. Pine warbler
  48. White throated Sparrow
(and for some reason, I've lost the last two...the Word document I typed up was deleted. Sorry!)
Also, I had written a whole blog post and it, too, got deleted. I can't remember what I had written, so I'll just share my photos! I'm sure that's all you'd like to see, anyways! *winks* Enjoy!

Female American Robin

Reeeeeach for that food, Mr. NOPA!

The same male NOPA.

My first NOPA! Look at those legs! Can you believe that's only half of his legs? You only see the tarsus...wouldn't it be funny if warblers had all of their legs visible? They'd look like mini Boat-tailed Grackles!

OVENBIRD. I spotted this one for a whole group of birders. :) Pretty proud of this sighting.

Nashville warblers were EVERYWHERE.

Watching us...
And turning away...

Near the end of the day I saw and heard this Green Heron in a tree. They've got the most interesting voice!

Male Chestnut Sided Warbly. What lovely colours you have, sir!

My FIRST Cape May Warbler. Beautiful!

I never did manage to get a good shot of a BTBW...oh well. These at least show their telltale wing patches.

Male Bay-breasted Warbler. What a handsome species...

I'm afraid that's all the decent photos I got from that day. Magee/BSBO is certainly a WONDERFUL place to be, though...the birds are incredible and the people as well!! Go visit!

**Peace Always,