Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Snow Day!

Thank goodness for laptops!  Fortunately, after waking up to almost 14" of snow I was able to stay at home and work vs. battling the traffic to get to a facility!  What made the day even better was that I was able to do most of my work while looking out the window to a large number of birds that preferred my feeding stations over them making the attempt to scrounge up food in the deep snow that surrounded the area.  Below were some of my guests!

Song Sparrow... a common - uncommon bird at my feeders.  This species normally shows up on snowy days like today when food is a little harder to come by.

American Goldfinch... Even though these birds lose most of their striking color in winter, a few will retain patches of yellow, like this one did around his neck.  Just enough yellow to make this a gorgeous bird!

House Finch... some consider this cute bird a pest.  I don't, they are always welcome at my feeders.  Unfortunately, this eastern variety is highly inbred and is very susceptible to disease.  With this in mind, it is important to keep a close eye on these birds when they come to dine.  If you notice several at your feeder with "sore eyes" - it is important to clean your feeders ASAP.  The good news is that this disease affect mostly this one species any seldom spreads to other birds.  Occasionally, you do see the disease in other finches.

House Finch (female)... a healthy female.

Dark-eyed Junco... a winter time favorite also called the "snowbird".  These birds feed mostly on the ground, hopping around searching for small pieces of seed.  

Monday, January 26, 2009

52 Down, 148 to Go!

Thus far, 2009 has rewarded me the privilege to see 52 species of birds!  These birds have ranged from the Carolina Chickadee and Blue Jay to rarities in Indiana such as the Spotted Towhee and Varied Thrush!  Most recently, I was blessed this past weekend to see a nice congregation of Greater White-fronted Geese, Common Mergansers, Common Goldeneye's, and Northern Pintails!  All of these wonderful birds have brought me a little closer to my goal of seeing 200 birds in Indiana this year - only 148 to go!

I must admit that I am having such a great time 
setting goals, chasing birds, and making a sport out of this hobby we call "birding".  However, no 
matter how many times I see a given species , I just can't seem to get tired of any one of them.

I mean, who could EVER get tired of  Northern Cardinal?  One of the brightest birds on earth!  Or, a lazy pair of Gulls that you would assume are the same species at a distance but when you get close enough you come to realize that you have two?  They are not just "Seagulls"!  P.S. this post was revised on 1/29/09 since for some reason could not count on the day it was posted orginally. Ha.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

White-winged Crossbills

White-winged Crossbill...Indianapolis, IN.  I had full intentions on heading about 2 hours north this weekend to see some recently reported flock of WWCR's when a message was posted last night on the Indiana Bird Listserv that White-winged Crossbills had made their way to Eagle Creek Park in Indianapolis, IN!  Unfortunately, last night I had no success in tracking the birds down.  Since I had to run an errand today on the same side of town I thought I would utilize my lunch break to take another look.  Upon my arrival, there were already two birders that had the birds in their sights.  I was ecstatic to see approx. 40 WWCR's alongside a large group of Pine Siskins as well as several Purple Finches.

White-winged Crossbill

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Lake Michigan, Indiana Dunes - 6 New Birds!

It was cold, windy, and approx. 25 degrees today at the Indiana Lake Michigan shoreline.  However, despite the cold weather, I (along with my friends Rob and Eric) declared today a victory after seeing some pretty awesome birds!  These birds included a Varied Thrush, Spotted Towhee, Golden Eagle, Great Black-backed Gull.  These along with a Black-capped Chickadee and  a Ring-necked Pheasant gave me 6 lifers today!  

Varied Thrush... Ogden Dunes, IN.  My first ever!  What an absolutely gorgeous bird!

Spotted Towhee... Ogden Dunes, IN.  A very rare visitor to Indiana.  A lifer.

Red-headed Woodpecker...Indiana Dunes, SP.  We stopped briefly at the nature center and was very pleased that their feeders were being attacked by several Red-headed Woodpeckers.  Others present were Hairy Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, and Red-bellied Woodpecker.

Red-headed Woodpecker Juvenile... Indiana Dunes SP.  This was my first time seeing an immature Red-headed woodpecker... more like a Black-headed at this point!

Golden Eagle... Kankakee Sands, Newton County, IN.  Not the best picture but an excellent fly-over of an Immature Golden Eagle, a life bird!  This one is likely to be between its first and second year.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

My Goals for 2009!

In 2008, I saw 250 new world species.  In 2009...

I would like to see...

250 new species of birds.  Hitting this goal would bring my world life list to 500, allowing me to submit my list to the ABA for 09'.

My trip list for 09' thus far includes...

Orland, FL (March)
Corpus Christi, TX (April)

I would like to see...

200 species in Indiana.  This year I saw 164.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

2008. My Year in Review!

Northern Cardinal, Indiana... when all else failed, I was was always able to take a picture of a Cardinal. Since I have very limited photographing technology, I was always happy to see this species nearby.  I really like this picture since this particular female was looking at me as if I was the paparazzi!

My 2008 Summary

252 Life Birds (World) as of December 31, 08

224 Life Birds (World) added in 2008

250 Species seen in 2008

166 Species in Indiana, USA (2 uncountable)

90 Species in Costa Rica

Below are some pictures I took (remember, I am a novice) mostly in Costa Rica that I would consider highlights thus far in my journey as a birder.

Short-eared Owl, Indiana... this was one of my biggest highlights for 2008 in Indiana.  This particular day, 12/17, we saw at least 30!  They were everywhere, a sight to see.

White Throated Magpie Jay, Costa Rica... our first bird in Costa Rica, it came to visit us on our patio ledge and was very open to food donations... as you can see in the picture it really enjoyed pretzels.

Scarlet Macaws, Costa Rica... During our trip we came across this flock of about 13 Scarlet Macaws in Palo Verde National Park.  This was no doubt one of the top highlights for me during this trip.  They were absolutely beautiful!

Cinnamon Hummingbird, Costa Rica... This was the first of several hummingbirds that we would see during our trip.  This particular hummingbird kept us entertained every morning from our patio while we drank our morning Coffee.

Steely-vented Hummingbird... the most interesting thing about this hummingbird is that I did not realize what species I was taking a picture of until I zoomed in on some of the shots.  There were so many hummingbirds using this bush as a food source, all I could do is take pictures and hope to get a few good ones.  On this same shrub, there were also Black-crested Coquettes and Rufous-tailed Hummingbirds.

Crested Caracara, Costa Rica... I didn't realize this bird spent most of its time on the ground until this trip.  We came across this one a few times on the trail.

Boat-billed Heron, Costa Rica... I took this picture from a boat and thankfully so since the river (in Palo Verde) we were travelling was full of Crocodiles!  The name speaks for itself.  Look at that bill!

Bare-throated Tiger Heron, Costa Rica... I have to admit that without our guide, Carlos, we would have missed alot of birds!  As with many birds, they blend well with their surroundings.

Indiana State Bird

Indiana State Bird
Northern Cardinal