Compiled by John Shamgochian
To a New Englander like me, winter has always been the time of year to bundle up and watch finches devouring the stocked seed feeders and juncos scampering on dainty pink feet over the snowy ground. It is not the season to watch Pine Warblers and Chipping Sparrows on Cape Cod or studying an obliging Cape May Warbler foraging along the shore line; indeed that normally would be a fantasy to a New Englander. Yet these birds are just a few of many warm weather species that birders have been delighting in throughout this strange February. Despite the bitter winds that still ruffle the feathers of Harlequin Ducks and Surf Scoters, spring seems to be already in the air. The shoots of plants are already appearing and even now Red-winged Blackbirds can be seen in nearby marshes.
Yet apparently our sun and warm weather have not been shared by the central states this February, as is made perfectly clear by the first and second posts of this month's Blog Birding.
Marcel Such, from SUCH-N-SUCH BIRD BLOG, writes about the 2012 Valmont Gullapalooza field trip in Colorado, which he and his younger brother Joel led with an assortment of other well-known birders. He writes:
"No doubt due to a recent blizzard and accompanying cold weather for the past two days and right up to the morning of the trip, participation numbers were brought down to a “mere” total of 92 birders (compared to last year’s all-time high of 227).
Neil Gilbert, the Obsessive-Compulsive Birder, cites the "bum code" of birding and his fabulous winter birding in upper Michigan. This post was actually written at the very end of January but I couldn't help but include it. Many of you may already have read this post for it was highlighted in the recent Blog Birding #67 on ABA Blog. He writes:
The Bum Code of Birding has but three rules:
- Never spend money on unnecessary luxuries (e.g., hotels, showers, food, etc).
- 2. Pay for necessities (bridge fares, parking fees, coffee) with scrounged change.
- Avoid plans. Drift.
Follow the rules, and you will enjoy abundant success.
Liam Wolff gives us a tantalizing reminder of the all-too-distant summer months in his post on birding in the warmth of Georgia in June on his brand new blog, The Colorblind Birder. He writes:
Summers in Georgia are not very enjoyable for a kid like me. Reasons are mostly weather-oriented. Mowing the lawn and other laborious tasks in 110F weather (plus high humidity!) is not really anyone's idea of fun and birding is nearly impossible during most of the day. However, if you get out early enough, Georgia summers can be thoroughly enjoyable! The example I will share is from June 2011, probably one of my best birding adventures.
Andrew Kinghorn, one of a large family of British young birders, has put together a photographic essay on on identifying Kumlien's Gulls on his blog, The Fog Blog. He writes:
"Just a quick blog post pointing out some of the features as to why many (including myself) believe this bird to be a Kumlien's Gull. I have learnt loads about Kumlien's Gull ID just through this bird, very educational indeed! So here are a few shots with some details underneath each photo as to why the bird has been ID'd as a Kumlien's Gull.
The Prairie Birder gives us an intriguing look at the extinction of the United State's only native parakeet, the Carolina Parakeet. She writes:
I started birdwatching three years ago, when I was eleven. Besides compiling my life list and year list, I’ve also started reading about birds that are now extinct. It’s informative but also very sad, thinking about bird species that no one will ever see again...The only way I can think of to bring back a bird like the Carolina Parakeet, at least for a short while, is to tell you about it today.
Robert Meehan describes his exciting day watching a Western Tanager and other delightful birds in NC on his blog (which he shares with his younger brother) Birding Bros. Blog.
Who’da thunk it? Just a month after James and I rushed down to Pinehurst for a beautiful male Western Tanager, I received a phone-call from Ali Iyoob apprising me of a second individual, a female – and pretty much in my own back yard. The bird had been coming to a feeder in northern Durham, but a combination of strong winds and extreme cold made me wonder whether the bird would survive the night.
Chris West shows us a rarely considered migratory pattern on his blog, The Southwest Wisconsin Birder.
Most people are used to the "normal" migration routes taken by many birds. This does apply to many bird species in North America. They migrate north in the spring to their summer breeding grounds and then migrate south in the fall to their southern wintering grounds. In this ongoing blog series, I will be talking about some of the slightly less known migrants: those that migrate from west to east and vice versa.