Sunday, December 28, 2008

Goal Hit! 164 Species Seen in Indiana in 2008!

Cackling Goose

I left my mother-in-laws house this morning at approx. 10:45a with one mission - to find a Cackling Goose.  I decided to check out a small wetland spot in Grant County, IN near Taylor University where waterfowl is typically reliable.  As I approached the area and pulled alongside the highway, I was happy to see approx. 75-100 Canada Geese, however, I was also cautiously optimistic as I knew this would likely be my first of many unsuccessful stops for the morning.  As I began to scan the Geese I became instantly excited to see 1 goose that appeared to be out of place, much smaller than the others.  This particular goose was about the size of a 
Mallard, sat on the water more like a duck than a goose, had a much smaller head and neck, dabbled like a duck, often popping its rear straight in the air to find food, and yet, had all of the markings and looks of a Canada Goose.  I continued to watch in disbelief that I had completed my mission so quickly!  I studied the goose for about 30 minutes until I finally concluded that it was indeed a Cackling Goose.   The size, the bill, the neck, and its somewhat distant behavior compared to the other geese made it a certainty!  The bad news was that I forgot my camera so I had to go back to my mother-in-laws, get my camera, go back, re-find the Goose, then zoom as far as I could and take a ton of picture to get only a couple that were somewhat decent.  

I was fortunate enough to come across a Cackling Goose that was on the small side.  Some variations are somewhat larger and can be a bit more confusing to confirm as a Cackling Goose vs. a Canada Goose.  If you compare this Goose to both the Goose (with its head in the water) to the left and the Geese on the right you can see that this Cackling Goose is about the same size as a Mallard Duck.  You can also see the bill is much shorter than the typical Canada Goose. This particular Goose also behaved more like a duck in its feeding behavior and its size allowed it to actually bob up and down as a dabbling duck would while feeding, often flipping up and down only exposing its rear pointing to the sky!

Thanks to this Goose, I will be able to submit my name to the American Birding Association to be listed under Indiana's Annual List of Birds Seen in 2008!  I needed 164 Birds and I did it!  Next years goal will be 200!

1 to Go!

I made a brief visit to Eagle Creek Park yesterday, December 27 in search of Cackling Goose and Red-shouldered Hawk.  Although cloudy and somewhat rainy, the temperature was approx. 60 degrees making it feel like spring!

The brief visit turned out to be a half success when a Red-shouldered Hawk flew directly (close) over my head as I was looking at a small flock of Tree and White-throated Sparrows.  Since I am a bit skittish with Hawk I.D. I wasn't yet satisfied that I had seen the bird so I stuck around a bit later and played a CD (loudly) with some Red-shouldered Hawk calls.  It wasn't but a few minutes later that two beautiful Red-shouldered Hawks flew over the treeline.  I got a several more good looks with the calls and was finally satisfied that I had seen the Red-shouldered Hawk!

Unfortunately, no Cackling Geese!  Hopefully today will produce this (or another) needed species.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Just 2 More Birds!

The year 2008 is about to come to a close - it is hard to believe that a full year has passed.  It is also hard to believe that I have seen 248 species of birds this year, 164 of them in Indiana!  Now, to some birders this may not be many, but for me, a novice lister - gaining this many species has not been a easy task.  For one, it is highly likely that I have seen far more species than I have counted, however, in order for me to count a bird I have to feel EXTREMELY good about its identification.  If I don't feel good, I will solicit a  second or third opinion, if this is not possible or doesn't give me satisfaction, I simply refuse to count it.
As the years draws to a close, now with only 5 days left in 08' I need two more Indiana bird species to achieve my goal of being able to submit my name (among thousands of other birders) to be published in the American Birding Associations (ABA) Annual List Report.  There are multiple areas to list your achievements and it will take years for me to be eligible for most, however, 164 birds (minimum) seen in the state of Indiana in one year will allow me enough birds to be listed under Indiana's Annual List.  The ABA will accept no less than 164 birds for this category!  So, with 5 days to go, I am on a serious mission - 2 birds!  Some welcome candidates would be - Red-shouldered Hawk, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Merlin, Northern Shrike, Cackling Goose,  Screech Owl, White-winged Crossbill.... and several others.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christmas Bird Count - An Amazing Day!

This past Wednesday, December 17, I was invited by a couple of friends (Rob, Eric R.) to participate with them in the Christmas Bird Count in Greene County at Goose Creek Fish and Wildlife Area.  Until this day, I had never been to this property and anxiously accepted the invitation!  Many birders participated in the count and in total the day produced 103 species!

We left Indianapolis at approx. 4:50a and headed to 
Linton, IN.  When we first arrived, we met 
up with a small group of Birders to watch for waterfowl flying out of their night resting areas.  Aside from several Great Blue Herons, the morning started off  very slow.  As the earth lighted, the first birds of interest were seen.  Two Whooping Cranes!  Whooping Cranes!  A lifer!

Afterward, we began our assignment at 
Goose Pond by surveying a large 

section of land, which I believe was Unit 11.  I wasn't aware of how out of shape I was until about an hour into the project where I felt as though I needed instant hip replacement!  The terrain was frozen and rough!  There was 
little bird activity, however, to my excitement, I was able to pick up several lifers.  Eastern Meadowlark, Savannah Sparrow, Northern Bobwhite, Northern Harrier, and Rough Legged Hawk.

We then took a short break to recap at lunch and then took off to do some birding at Sullivan-Greene State Forest and Hawthorne Mine.  Both 
properties produced multiple birds.  The highlights for the State Forest were a Brown Creeper, Purple Finches, Pileated Woodpecker, and Yellow-rumped Warblers.  Hawthorne Mine was another story altogether!

The visit to Hawthorne Mine will no doubt go down in history for me as one of my best birding moments.  We went to look primarily for - Northern Shrike, Short-eared Owl, and waterfowl.  Unfortunately, we were unable to locate a Northern Shrike.  However, we did not only find a Short-eared Owl but were treated to Short-eared Owls in every direction we looked.  Over the entire property, no matter where you looked, you could see a Short-eared Owl at close range - whether perched or hunting - they were everywhere!  Absolutely everywhere!  After calming down somewhat from the excitement of the Owls, we refocused our search to waterfowl and were again treated to some rarities and unexpected numbers of some very nice ducks.   I picked up the following birds as lifers at Hawthorne Mine - Short-eared Owl, Mute Swan, Trumpeter Swan, and Canvasback.  Additional highlights included a ton of Northern Harriers, American Kestral, Green-winged Teal, and Red-tailed Hawk.  In all, I was able to obtain 10 life birds for the day - not to bad at all!

To read more about the importance of the Christmas Bird Count go to:

My new life list total is - 250!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Snowy Owl! Snow Buntings! Five Lifers! What a Day!

There is nothing more I can say about today except WOW, what - a - day!  I had a birders dream day!  My best friend John, my daughter, and me went to Ft. Wayne (Allen County) today to try our luck at seeing a Snowy Owl that has recently taken up residence in the area.  At first, we were pessimistic since there was some snow on the ground and we weren't seeing anything that stood out to be an Owl.  However, another birder found a distant glob of snow in the middle of the field that appeared to be in the shape of an Owl so we got out and walked some way to find out.  Just as we were all starting to think that the shape was indeed a glob of snow or a rock - it came to life and began to look at us just as you can see in the picture.  I took several shots from far away and was happy I was able to catch a shot of this beautiful bird.  Simply breathtaking.

As we were looking for the owl we came across 3 other species that were additions to my life list.  A flock of Snow Buntings, Horned Larks, and a group of American Pipits.  Can it get any better?

Yes!  Once I got home and was reviewing my pictures, I discovered that there was another 
group of birds I had never seen mixed amongst the Horned Larks - Lapland Longspurs!

Five lifers in 1 square mile!  Merry Christmas to me!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

So Comes the Snow, So Comes the Birds!

I have lived in Indiana my entire life and every year I say the same thing, I hate snow, I hate ice, and I hate the cold!  I am definitely a warm weather man.  I have full intentions on moving to a nice warm location in Mexico upon retirement - unfortunately, many, many years in the future.

HOWEVER, I did come to one positive conclusion today as I was sitting in my recliner and counting my backyard feathered visitors for "Feeder Watch" - a data gathering project for Cornell University.  My conclusion - there is not a prettier scene or a site more relaxing than watching the backyard feeders when the snow is falling!  When the snow comes, so do the backyard guests - often in great numbers!  Today was one of those days.   

This morning, as I was making my coffee, I heard my first guest chirping - a Northern Cardinal.  Cardinals are usually the first birds to arrive in the mornings, usually just as the sun is lighting the planet.  Next comes the arrival of my most loyal visitors - The American Goldfinch.  Sometimes referred to as the "Wild 
Canary", the American Goldfinch is a common backyard feeder bird year-round in Indiana and is known in the summer for its very bright yellow feathers.  In the winter, it loses most of its spectacular yellow plumage but some do retain a pale yellow tint and some tend to be spotted bright yellow throughout the year.   I took this picture on the left today of one Goldfinch that retained a beautiful yellow throat!  Today, I had a record number of American Goldfinches at my feeders - at one time I counted 23!  I also had record numbers of Mourning Doves and Dark-eyed Juncos all which was result of the cold weather and especially the snowfall.  Seed eating birds know that snow is going to make their ability to find food more of a challenge so they move out fast when they know things are getting ready to get tough!

Today, I was glad I lived in Indiana!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

November Ramblings!

It is hard to believe that we are now in December and fast approaching 2009!  I was able to get out and bird several times throughout November but hadn't had much time to actually sit down and reflect on my experiences or my progress.

I was fortunate to add several birds to my life list since my last post - Blue-headed Vireo, Lesser Scaup, Dunlin, Winter Wren, and Ruddy Duck.  These five birds have brought my World List to 235, and my State List to 149!

I was able to go out on Thanksgiving for a few hours to bird Southwestway Park.  There was alot of birds but only a few species.  Tons of Song Sparrows one of which I was able to get a fairly good picture.  I was also happy to see a small flock of Sandhill Cranes fly overhead.  By the time I got my camera out they were past me but I was still able to get a picture between the branches.

The winter list of guests at my feeders is finally starting to grow.  It is always nice to see the Dark-eyed Juncos arrive for the winter.  Northern Cardinals are making morning and evening visits.  American Goldfinches are devouring the thistle.  Mourning Doves are cleaning up the seed on the ground.  Blue Jays are inconsistent but do dine on occasion mostly on the whole peanuts I have been offering.   And of course, the House Sparrows - what can I say - they are persistant creatures!  I have finally found a way to keep them away from the platform feeders.  I now feed ONLY striped Sunflower Seed near the house.  For the most part, the seed is to large for them.  They do eat some but nothing like the the oil type seed.  

Anyway, that wraps up November.  I am hoping for a GRRREEAAT December - my goal for December is to add 21 species!  

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Aviphilia - A Birding Condition!

I just finished reading an article today in the November/ December 08 issue of “Birding” that finally gave a name to my growing condition and my inability to stop watching birds – Aviphilia!  Yes, it is crystal clear, I am an Aviphile. 

In his article, Randy  Horvarth had the epiphany of this condition as he is trying to bridge the difference between “Birders” and “Birdwatchers”, two terms that are yet to be conclusively defined and are defined differently by many throughout the birding community.  Most agree that “Birdwatchers” are those that enjoy birds mostly from an aesthetic point of view.  “Birders” are those that have taken the love of finding birds to greater lengths. 

Birders are willing to travel to find specific species of birds and are typically willing to spend absurd amounts of money in doing so.  In my case, a birding trip will always come before new furniture or an LCD TV.  Birders typically are more involved with listing birds and are more actively focused on protecting and learning about the birds that they seek.  Birding becomes not only a hobby but a sport that typically evolves into an obsession.  The game of listing never ends because once you have documented a bird for the first time than you begin to document more specifics on the bird such as the first time you saw it in 2008, 2009, etc.

Nonetheless, whether you are a “Birder” or a “Birdwatcher” there is a condition that bridges these two together.  Aviphilia.  A deep love for birds!

More about the condition of Aviphila and the obsessive behavior of a Birder to come in future entries.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

A Gorgeous Day to Bird! Lifelist - 230!

Today was one of those days that words simply cannot describe!  To sum it up, it was GORGEOUS! The sun was shining bright, the air was warm and the birds were everywhere.
Around the park were flocks of Yellow-rumped Warblers, Cedar Waxwings, Purple Finches, Northern Cardinals - one birder saw all of our common woodpeckers in one spot!  I gained two lifers today - Rusty Blackbird (those beautiful eyes), and Purple Finch!  On the water were 
Norther Shoveler's, Green-winged Teal, Bonaparte's Gulls, Least Sandpipers, Pectoral Sandpiper, and a Cooper's Hawk attempting to 
dive bomb some shorebirds - which by the way was another lifer that I added on Halloween that I was able to witness taking a dive for any bird that was brave enough to land.  I was amazed that during a chase, a Cooper's Hawk will chase a bird in flight up, down, through trees, etc. and does not give up easily.

I took both pictures on the left today at Eagle Creek.  The first shot is Ring-billed Gulls diving for food and in the second a Cardinal that was just looking awesome in the fall leaves.  Throughout the park, the berries were a hit!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Where Does Your Coffee Come From?

When you drink your coffee each morning do you:

1. Drink it and proceed with your day with no clue of the impact it is making?
2. Drink it, knowing that your cup is most likely grown in an irresponsible habitat destructive way?
or... do you...
3. Drink it and feel good knowing it was shade-grown and that you have made an impact in preventing habitat destruction?

Well... let's hope you answered #3. If you answered #1, I forgive you. If you answered #2 - it is time for a change.

Here's the deal. To make a long story short, coffee (long ago) was grown mostly in shade covered environments in tropical areas that hosted hundred of migratory birds and other species of plants and animals. Things were good. We could drink coffee with little adverse impacts on the environment.

Flash forward to today and Coffee is still very much in demand and a driving force of many economies in countries such as Mexico, Costa Rica, etc. However, man has found yet another way to mass produce something without thinking of anything more than the mighty dollar! Most coffee today is grown irresponsibly in areas that were cleared out to grow sun tolerant coffee without the trees that once owned the land. The good news is more coffee. The bad news is less trees - less habitat - less birds - less plants - and less species of whatever once utilized the trees to survive. The local farmers which are mostly doing all they can to survive are working and/ or growing on farms that give them the most benefit - the farms that are growing the sun tolerant coffee.

More good news! There are several GREAT initiatives out there that are actively working with farmers to educate them on nature friendly ways of growing coffee and offering them opportunities to sell their coffee at fair prices so to encourage them to want to grow in this environmentally friendly manner.

So... now that you know, here are some links that you can use to learn more about shade grown and bird friendly coffee and even purchase your first bag. You can do it!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Life List 224 - ABA List 138!

I didn't get to bird much today, however, I was able to get in about 1 hour at Eagle Creek and it turned out to be an hour well spent - 2 more lifers.  Let me clarify though, that any time birding is time well spent!  I basically birded from one spot and was able to see several shore birds including my two new additions of Spotted Sandpiper and Greater Yellowlegs.  A few other highlights were Semi-palmated Sandpiper, and Great Egret.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

A perfect October 5th, 2008!

Finally, I was able to get out and look at some birds.  I was running a bit late this morning but spent some much needed alone time birding around the Marina @ Eagle Creek Park, Indianapolis.  I was quickly rewarded with a large flock of Yellow-rumped Warblers which appeared mostly to be of the "Myrtle" variety.  Some other highlights were a Ruby-crowned Kinglet and an awesome Golden-crowned Kinglet giving plenty of good looks at his "crown".  I also followed a Black and White Warbler for several minutes and at times was almost close enough to jump up and touch it - such a striking Warbler!

At 12n, I was off to attend a luncheon to celebrate the Amos Butler Audubon Society's accomplishments for the 2008 Birdathon!  All teams were recognized for their outstanding birding and fundraising efforts!  In all, the Birdathon raised approx. $28,000 this year - WOW!  After lunch, there was a silent auction that offered an amazing assortment of products, giftcards, etc. from area businesses and other Birdathon supporters.  I, of course, bought several items at SUPER deals - however, I quickly learned once I brought my items home that there was no deal good enough to prevent my wife from lecturing me about my frivolous spending habits!

After the lunch, I headed back to Eagle Creek to check out the shorebirds.  Some other birders has mentioned earlier several birds that I had yet to gain as lifers so I was hoping that they would still be poking around in the mud for my birding enjoyment.  To my amazement, they were all present!  I quickly gained 4 new lifers - Pectoral Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper, Semi-palmated Plover,  and Solitary Sandpiper!  

The weather was crisp, clear, and warm!  Not a cloud in the sky!  Birding was good, complete with four new lifers AND after a terrible first 3 quarters, the Colts made an awesome comeback and beat Houston - could there be a better day!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Birding Depression!

Have you ever been so busy that you can't find time to bird?  If so, does it drive you nuts? Do you find yourself looking at every bird picture you can find.  Browsing "Wild Bird" or "Birdwatcher's Digest" fantasizing about trips you wished you had money to take?  Staring out your window hoping for a Rufous Hummingbird?

Well, here I am... officially in a rut aching for a few minutes to bird!  Last weekend I was able to get out for about 2 hours - just enough time to want more.  I thought I had my first Least Sandpiper (6 actually) but didn't claim them because I just wasn't sure!  I had the scope on 60x and still couldn't feel 100%... maybe next time.

The birding forecast for this weekend is grim as well.  However, if I can find an hour or two, rest assured I will be looking up toward the sky hoping to see some sort of feathered life!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Another Change!

After much thought and after changing my blog several times for no good reason over the last few weeks, I have decided to go back to the original format!  I love birds, I love orchids, I love carnivorous plants... and so many other nature related things that my heart just won't let me run them all together.  So, I have decided to keep my birding blog a birding blog and have created another blog that will allow me to write about my friends in the flora world.

Have you ever seen anyone so indecisive?

Feel free to check out my new blog at

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Random Thoughts!

I changed my blogs up a little so that I could (at times) write about some of my other interests that I routinely obsess over!  I often wonder how healthy these obsessions are?  Not that it matters much either way!

Recently, I added two new birds to my life list - Chestnut-sided Warbler and Nashville Warbler.  I am always excited for the new additions but never content as I know there are so many left to see!

The Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have been at the backyard feeders in record numbers for my place... migrants I suppose, taking daily breaks to get charged up for many remaining miles of travel.  The American Goldfinches are beginning to increase in numbers at the feeders as well... now that the young are on their own, days are shorter, nights are cooler, they are ready to eat thistle vs. the insects that they have been eating all summer.

Three Orchids blessed me with blooms this week... all Lady's Slippers (Paph's) - White, Green, and a Yellow.

I planted some Venus Fly Trap seeds a couple of weeks ago from my plants outside so I now have about 50 Flytrap orphans!  Most people prefer not to mess with Venus Fly Trap seeds since it takes the plant about 3-5 years to mature but I say "why not" I hope to be around it 3-5 years so I'll take another 50 Flytraps!  The first picture is the newest sprouts and the bottom pictures is seedlings that are about 10 months old.

Well, that's about it, I turned 33 today so I guess I will just take it easy, eat some Red Velvet cake that my family bought me and watch my feeders all day.  What a life!

Thursday, September 4, 2008


FINALLY,  this week I was able to take some time off from work to go birding!  As mentioned prior, time has not been on my side lately - between work, football, soccer, etc. most of the birding I have done lately has been through the windshield of my car!

Anyway, I have been to Eagle Creek Park 2x, Salamonie Reservoir, and Southwestway Park only to find that I have been more frustrated than relaxed mostly because of the one group of birds that we ALL love to identify - WARBLERS!  Now, I know that many of you tenured Birders might find this humorous, but these hyper little creatures had me cursing far more this week than any confession could attempt to neutralize!  

My typical Warbler sighting went something like this...  Look!  There's one! Where did it go! Up there! Behind the leaf! No behind the branch! The next tree! Got it! No I don't, it moved! It has some yellow on its... SHIT!  I can't find it!  Its gone... and, of course, the process repeats itself!

So, thus far this week, my confirmed Warbler sightings were - Prothonotary, Blue-winged, Common Yellowthroat, Black and White, Yellow, and Yellow-throated.  Unconfirmed sightings would be somewhere in the millions!

On a less frustrating note, I was able to add at least on  new lifer this week - Common Nighthawk.  I also stalked what I believe was a Winter Wren for sometime on the north side of Lilly Lake.

This takes me to my new life list total of 215!  I love birding!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

3 New Additions!

My dilemma of finding time to bird lately continues, however, I have been able to get out 2x this week and to my delight I have added three new birds to my life list taking it now to 214! I am looking forward to the forthcoming weeks of fall migration in hopes I will catch some lifers that I missed this spring.

My newest additions are - Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Yellow-throated Vireo, and Black Tern.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

So much to do, so little birding! 211!!!

Well... since returning from Costa Rica, there has been little to no time to bird - aside from an hour here and there in between work or other things going on. This past week I was able to finally get up to the Salamonie Reservoir in Andrews, IN and spent about 5 hours birding. I had a great time and even added two new birds to my life list - a Blue-winged Warbler and an American Kestrel.

Today, after several weeks, I was able to meet up with the local Audubon group to bird a small portion of Eagle Creek. The overall species count was low during the hour that I joined, however, I was lucky enough to spot three lifers, a Willow Flycatcher (would have never identified w/out help), Orchard Oriole, and a Yellow Warbler.

I have been thinking about next year and where I would like to go birding... at this moment, I think a trip to Corpus Cristi, TX (w/ ABA) and San Blas, Mexico both should be some exciting locations. Been to San Blas, Corpus Cristi?

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Costa Rica - WOW!

I (along with 2 friends) just got back from Costa Rica last night and the entire trip could easily be summed up to one word… WOW! Our trip wasn’t all that long, 4 days actually, 2 of which were dedicated entirely to birding. These two days produced 84 new life birds, along with a few others that are common here in Indiana. Some of these new birds left me almost breathless! The most frustrating part of the entire trip is that you don’t always get to focus on and appreciate each bird because just as you begin to look at one bird, here comes another! However, to a birder, this would be good problem to have.

We hired Carlos Jimenez ( to lead our birding adventure to both the Palo Verde Wetlands and the Rainforest in Bijagua at Heliconias Lodge ( - two completely different eco-systems that provided two distinctly different types of Birds. Carlos proved his value at the sighting of the first bird. He was 100% accurate with every sighting and with all of the birds we saw, there is no way we could have done it with out him! If you plan to go to the Guanacaste Region, I would recommend you request his services!

Some, but not nearly all of the highlight of our trip included a great sighting of a group of approx. 6 Scarlet Macaws, Boat-billed Heron, Laughing Falcon, Bi-colored Antbird, Ocellated Antbird, Spotted Antbird, Chestnut-mandibled Toucan and White-fronted Nunbird. A huge highlight for me (since I LOVE Hummingbirds) was sightings of Steely-vented Hummingbird, Rufous-tailed Hummingbird, Black-crested Coquette, Cinnamon Hummingbird, Green-breasted Mango, and White-necked Jacobin.

Along the trail in the Rainforest, we also encountered two venomous snakes (both on the trail) a Jumping Pitviper and an Eyelash Pitviper. My friend John jumped about 6 feet in the air when he realized he had a large Tarantula next to his feet! Crocodiles, Howler Monkey’s, White-faced Monkey’s, Bats, Frogs, Toads, a Sea Snake, Orchids, etc. were also all welcome additions to the trip! No doubt I plan to go back! You can look at some of my pictures by going to:

Although the trip went way to fast, I was still happy to get back home. As a welcome home present as my family and I were walking a local park I spotted about 19 species in about an hour including two more lifers – a Great-crested Flycatcher and a flock of Cedar Waxwings. The excitement never stops!

In summary… my life list had a great week – a nice jump to 203!

Sunday, May 25, 2008


I wasn't able (for the first time in a while) to go Birding last weekend so I was extremely anxious to get out today! It has been a gorgeous day today, perfect for birding and if you are a Indy 500 fan I'm sure you were equally pleased!

The morning started off with a picturesque look at an immature Bald Eagle (approx. 3 years old) that was working the waters pretty hard directly in front of us! Actually, it was probably the closest I have been to a Bald Eagle to date and as usual, I left my camera at home! Some other lifer highlights for me today were a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, Least Flycatcher, Canada Warbler, and Prothonotary Warbler. Although not lifers, some other highlights included Red-eyed Vireo (everywhere), Scarlet Tanager, and Indigo Bunting. A very successful and rewarding morning! Aren't we blessed to have birds?!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Big Day!

Yesterday (5/17) was my first BIG Day ever! I alongside my team of Birdathon (Team Wal-Mart) participants joined forces for what was, I think a good outcome for a group of novice birders - actually, I was the only self-declared "Birder" in the bunch - the remaining members came along for support and a chance to get outside. We birded from about 9a-11a as a team and seen about 20 species! Afterward, I continued on solo for a bit and was later joined by my 7 year old to bird two additional locations. All said and done, I guess I birded for about 11 hours. My total species count was 45! Now, I know this is a shabby number to most BIG Days, BUT, these 45 species wore me out!!! My goal was actually 50 so I didn't fall too short I guess! My highlight birds were a Wilson's Warbler, Red-eyed Vireo, White-eyed Vireo, and a Wood Thrush. All lifers for me! At the end of the day, we raised $1,210 for our local Audubon Society, way below my goal - so hopefully I can bring in some more money prior to the end of the month.

Monday, May 12, 2008

100! +3

My first milestone! Wow, I feel like I have achieved one of the greatest victories ever! My 100th species on 5/10/08! I owe this victory to the Black and White Warbler. What a great bird to hit 100 with! Of course the two additional birds I added on the same day would have been equally as wonderful. I took a short birding break between watching my kids play baseball and was instantly rewarded by an Indigo Bunting AND a Scarlet Tanager within steps of each other.

Finally, after a stressful day at work, I was able to come home and add one more new bird, a White-crowned Sparrow (two actually) one of which can be seen in the picture. Instantly, my stressful day melted away!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Miraculous Mallards!

OK, so this morning, my daughter comes to me in the kitchen with a green balloon and says, "Daddy, make a wish, what kind of bird do you wish you would see at our feeders?" I say, "a Cardinal" she says "No, something different", "how about a Rose-breasted Grosbeak Daddy" and I say, "Yes, that would be awesome!" My 3 year old son then says "How about a Mallard"... (he LOVES Mallards) and I say "Yes, I hope we see a Mallard too!" Later, my wife called and said, "Guess who came to visit today?" I said very skeptically "who?" and she proceeds to tell me that a female mallard (seen in this picture)came to our yard today and feasted on the seeds around the base! Now, I am not sure how many of you out there get Mallards at your feeders but I for one have never had one, especially since we have no creek or pond within any good view from our house! When I say my son loves Mallards, I mean he talks about them constantly! The thing that makes this even crazier is a couple of weeks ago when we were picking up trash as a family at Eagle Creek Park, my son began to cry because he never saw a Mallard (believe it or not) and just as we were finishing up - here comes a Mallard and drops in the water right in front of him - within 5 feet - as if it flew down there specifically for him! So that plus today's event... he wished for a Mallard and one actually showed up in our tiny subdivision yard at OUR bird feeder!!! There is no doubt that these events were miracles! Oh yeah, there was also a male he never made it to the feeders - my son eventually ran out to touch them and they were scared off!

Monday, May 5, 2008

What Species Will Be My 100th Bird! 99!

After yet another great Sunday of Birding (5/4), I was able to come home and give my list another healthy boost upward! In fact, I didn't realize I had added so many new species until I hit the submit button! I have to admit, it was very hard not to pack up and head back out to find just one more bird.... however, I did. I resisted the temptation and called it a day!

This upcoming Thursday (5/8) several co-workers and me are heading out to support our local Audubon Society by participating in the local Birdathon. This will be my first BIG day ever so I am not sure how my list will fair compared to some of the others that will go out this month but, we are excited for the challenge nonetheless. My goal is 60, which I hope is an achievable number! Of course, all I really need it 1 - new bird that is!

Wish us luck!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Countup to 100! The number is 90!

This past weekend was outstanding! Sun+Spring+Lots of Trees=BIRDS EVERYWHERE! This past Sunday was actually the busiest birding day I have had since I have been listing. As fast as I was able to identify one bird, another would pop up to draw my attention - what could be better, I was out of my mind with joy!

The new additions to my list were: Magnolia Warbler (BEAUTIFUL), Northern Parula, Rose-breasted Grosebeak, Palm Warbler, House Wren, Swainson's Thrush, Warbling Vireo, Swamp Sparrow, and Gray Catbird! Of all of the birds I saw, the only one that would be still long enough for me to take a photograph was this Mallard - always dependable!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

83 Baby!

It's getting' bad, I am REALLY wanting to hit that 100 mark! To celebrate my forthcoming accomplishment, I even ordered myself a "100" pin! I really want to officially add this pin to some part of my birding gear!

This weekend I was able to add some pretty neat birds to my list... Chipping Sparrow, Black-throated Green Warbler, Pine Warbler, Yellow-throated Warbler, Blue-gray knatcatcher, and Tree Swallow.

The weather was cloudy but nice. Today, the local Amos Butler Audubon crew had a luncheon in memory of Bud Starling - whom which I never had the privilege to meet, however, the stories that were shared today made me feel like I have know him for years. It was nice to hear so many wonderful stories from so many people and how he impacted them in their hobby of birdwatching! No doubt Bud was a pioneer! I heard Warbler season was his favorite so it was nice that we were able to spot so many Warblers on the hike today - in his honor!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

A Troubled Day Gone Good! 77!

What can make a bad day better? Simple. Birding! On April 8, I had a morning that was so depressing at work that I refuse to even attempt to describe it in words! However, after the worst meeting I have ever had I decided to take the afternoon off and go Birding - the best way I know to take my mind off of anything that may be bothering me at the time. Long story short, my day was instantly better when I was able to add 3 more birds! Among many other birds that I was able to see this day, my highlight was spotting a Brown Creeper, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, and a pair of Northern Shovelers!
The day prior, a good day all day, I took a small group of Co-workers out with me to a small park to do a mini birding adventure and was amazed at what I was able to add to my life list in just a short period of time. The first highlight was a pair of Great-horned Owls that were in plain view for everyone to easily see! Then we saw an Eastern Towhee, Yellow-rumped Warbler, and finally, a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker! The short trail took us about 45 minutes to walk but paid off huge for all of us. Does it get any better?

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Eastern Phoebe makes 70!

A beautiful weekend in Indiana, sunny and warm in the mid 60's F.

Saturday, we spent the day both picking up trash and birding near the water at Eagle Creek Park. Good News and Bad News! The Bad News - we picked up a TON of trash and plenty still remains. How sad it is that the same people who enjoy the park also so freely leave their garbage behind to destroy it!

OK, now the Good News! Saturday, while surveying the water (I love my new scope) I saw my first Blue-winged Teal, several actually! I also saw several Common Loons, Horned Grebes, Pie-billed Grebes, American Coots, and Red-breasted Mergansers.

Today, Sunday, my day was complete when I spotted an Eastern Phoebe - my 70th life bird! Now... on to 80!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Number is Growing! Now, 68!

Despite a rainy morning and a long walk, I was rewarded to spot my first Golden-crowned Kinglet as I was hiking with the local Audubon group! A gorgeous bird that waited very patiently about 10 feet from the group so that everyone could take a look. After becoming discouraged that others had earlier saw a lot more birds than I did, I extended my day to look for more. My efforts paid off when I spotted my first Bonaparte's Gull, Horned Grebe, Pie-billed Grebe, and Field Sparrow. I can't wait until next week!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Costa Rica! Here I come!

I'm booked! It's official! I, along with two of my best friends will be heading out to the Guanacaste area in Costa Rica during the first week of June! I am absolutely beside myself with excitement and am not sure June can get here fast enough! This will be my first official trip outside of the United States for the primary purpose of Birding!!! Wow!

Has anyone ever been to this area? If so, suggestions on birding spots will be greatly appreciated.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

My Easter Gift? Three more Lifers! 63!

Could a day get any better? My family and I went to Mass, Celebrated the Resurrection, ate lunch out (my kids behaved perfectly!) AND, I was able to get and hour in at Eagle Creek with two of my kids and my dear, dear friend, Mr. Vortex Scope! I was instantly gratified to see birds all over the water and immediately started huffing and puffing trying to get my scope set up before a single bird flew away - none did. Most were American Coots, but just as I expected there were several other notables mingling with the group, including: American Wigeons, Gadwalls, Green-winged Teal, Mallards, Canada Geese, Hooded Mergansers, and Red-breasted Mergansers. We then walked to look at the feeders and there it was - a single Pine Siskin waiting patiently to be added to my life list!

We walked to the next observation pavilion and there they were, another group of blessings - Common Loons! Beautiful Common Loons, swimming in plain view as if they had nothing better to do than pose as models for my Vortex! Lifers!

Oh yeah, and how can I forget about yesterday at the Mississinewa Reservoir? My first Double-crested Cormorants mingling with a large group of Ring-necked Ducks! I was also able to witness a very large group of Eastern Bluebirds that made me almost cry that I didn't have a camera, there was blue everywhere - I mean everywhere! Absolutely amazing!

How blessed we are to have such beautiful creatures all around us!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The number is 60!!!

Today, we spent the morning birding the Salamonie Lost Bridge West area (Andrews, IN) and had a GREAT time! Yes, that is me waving with the big smile! I am a happy man when birding! We saw 29 species total, however, the highlight was the Greater White-fronted Geese we saw in the Marsh area. This, along with an Eastern Bluebird and Red-headed Woodpecker took my life list to 60.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Spring Forward! I am at 57!

Like any other Sunday, this morning I woke up, went downstairs, started a small pot of coffee (shade grown, of course) and went to the window to see what birds have chosen to dine with me this morning. All of my devoted friends were outside – House Finches, American Goldfinches, Mourning Doves, Northern Cardinals, E. Starlings (not my friends), a Common Grackle, and the very rare House Sparrows. Then, as I was sitting down to watch my visitors I noticed that the time on the TV box was different then that on my phone – we SPRUNG forward! My morning suddenly went into complete chaos, now I was late for the bird hike! I scrambled around the house, grabbed my birding bag and took off. I got about a half a mile from the house and realized that I forgot my wallet so I had to turn around and go back. Finally, I was on the road to go birding. I arrived at the park with not a birder in site; I was running about 45 minutes late so this didn’t surprise me. Long story short, I went birding alone.

My day quickly made a turn for the better when I spotted a Gadwall and an American Wigeon! Both lifers for me! It continued to get better as I spotted two immature Bald Eagles fly very close overhead and a lone Snow Goose (blue form) – lifers for me as well. Finally, to top off what started out to be a very disastrous day I had a Killdeer fly in front of my car and a Northern Mockingbird show up at my feeders this evening. I can’t wait until next Sunday!

This brings my life list to 57!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Finally! A Robin!

My prayer has been answered! Today while driving to one of my stores I spotted a Robin amongst a flock of Common Grackles.... the excitement about made me drive off into the opposite field!!! I also had a Red-winged blackbird at my feeder yesterday.... Grackles, Robins, Red-winged blackbirds, I am going into overload!!!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

I can't find the Robins!

OK, for about three days now I have woke up to the sound of Robins communicating to the neighborhood that they are back! I jump out of bed, look out the window - no Robins! Yesterday, I even snuck to the back yard as stealthy as possible - no Robins! Am I hearing things? Is this a side effect of becoming a birder? Am I suffering from spring migration withdraw?

Sunday, March 2, 2008

A Great Day!

I had a wonderful morning today. I met up with the local Birders at Eagle Creek Park and was able to add several birds to my life list including... Green-winged Teal, Ring-necked Duck, Wood Duck, Redhead, Red-breasted Merganser, Black Duck, and a Herring Gull. I also saw several large (noisy) flocks of Sandhill Cranes fly over our neighborhood and spotted a Turkey Vulture while driving South on I69. Spring is in the air! This takes my Indiana list to 48 and my life list to 50!

Common Grackles!

First of the year! Today, there were 3 Common Grackles at my feeders, pecking away at whole peanuts. This take me to 40 Indiana, 42 Life.

Sunday, February 24, 2008


Finally, after several weeks of windy weather and sickness, I was able to get out and go birding this weekend. I was SO happy to get out! On 1/23/08, I went to Southwestway Park near my home and walked a trail system that I never knew existed before then. Didn't see much until I got back on the river bank, there I saw a pair of Belted Kingfishers (lifers), Hooded Mergansers, Canada Geese, and Mallard Ducks.

Today 2/24/08, I went birding at Eagle Creek Park with the local birders and was able to add another "lifer" to my list - a Barred Owl, it was spotted earlier by another birder and she later took several of us to the location and it was still there trying to get some rest after a nights work. Anyway, I added two new birds so I would call this a successful weekend. I am now at 39 Indiana Birds and 41 for my lifelist total.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

A setback already!

Upon reviewing my list of birds thus far, I have discovered a setback. I have inadvertently added a Red-headed Woodpecker and Black-capped Chickadee as part of my life list. Unfortunately, I have not seen either one of these birds yet so I had to remove them. So my actual Indiana count is 37! Hopefully I will regain some momentum over the next few weeks!

Monday, January 14, 2008

1/14/08 - My official journey begins...

As of today 1/14/08, I have seen 39 Indiana Birds. Most of these birds have been identified at either Eagle Creek Park in Indianapolis or on my property at home. Some notable birds for me of this 39 are: Pileated Woodpecker, Bufflehead, Hooded Merganser, Northern Pintail, Common Goldeneye, Common Merganser, and Fox Sparrow.

Indiana State Bird

Indiana State Bird
Northern Cardinal