25 December 2009

Trudell & York, DHP

DHP, you ask? "Designated Holiday Photo"

Matthew York, Heidi Trudell, F.P. "Pete" & Irene, Anakin (photo by Janna York)

The above photo is from two weekends ago when my folks came up from Houston to visit. They were lacking a photo to send out with their Christmas cards, so we fixed that ;-)

Last weekend, Matt and I attempted our first Christmas Bird Count as a married couple. We're still on speaking terms, no worries! Our accomplices, Jane and Gary, were great spotters and by the middle of the afternoon we were up to 67 species. Mind you, we slept in; our group met at 8 and disbanded at 4! Quite a relaxing shift from the breakneck speed and competitive spirit of the coast.

So, courtesy of ebird, here's the final list we submitted. Documentation for a few of the critters is in the works - Common Loon, Least Flycatcher, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher and Gray Catbird will require notes to be submitted because they are not commonly recorded here in the winter.

Location: McLennan County, TX, US
Observation date: 12/19/09
Notes: 58 miles (2.5 hrs) by car, 2.5 miles (5 hrs) on foot. 8:30 am until 4:10 pm.
Number of species: 67

Gadwall 14
American Wigeon 4
Mallard 6
Northern Pintail 1
Green-winged Teal 4
Ring-necked Duck 2
Common Loon 1
Pied-billed Grebe 3
Neotropic Cormorant 2
Double-crested Cormorant 8
Great Blue Heron 6
Great Egret 2
Black Vulture 4
Turkey Vulture 31
Northern Harrier 1
Cooper's Hawk 1
Red-shouldered Hawk 1
Red-tailed Hawk 4
American Kestrel 8
American Coot 8
Killdeer 2
Ring-billed Gull 460
Forster's Tern 1
Mourning Dove 12
Belted Kingfisher 1
Red-bellied Woodpecker 3
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 2
Downy Woodpecker 2
Northern Flicker 1
Least Flycatcher 1 silent empid, slight teardrop shape to the eye ring
Eastern Phoebe 4
Loggerhead Shrike 4
American Crow 26
Carolina Chickadee 3
Tufted Titmouse 2
Carolina Wren 2
Bewick's Wren 5
House Wren 2
Marsh Wren 1
Golden-crowned Kinglet 2
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 11
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 2
Eastern Bluebird 22
Hermit Thrush 1
American Robin 26
Gray Catbird 1
Northern Mockingbird 5
European Starling 13
American Pipit 51
Cedar Waxwing 46
Orange-crowned Warbler 4
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle) 70
Spotted Towhee 2
Chipping Sparrow 15
Field Sparrow 3 1 partially leucistic (white tail and part of primaries)
Vesper Sparrow 12
Savannah Sparrow 2
Fox Sparrow 2
Song Sparrow 9
Lincoln's Sparrow 5
White-throated Sparrow 4
Harris's Sparrow 2
White-crowned Sparrow 18
Northern Cardinal 24
meadowlark sp. 62
Brown-headed Cowbird 50
House Finch 8
American Goldfinch 6

This report was generated automatically by eBird v2(http://ebird.org)

Festive Ramahannukwanzmas to all, and to all a Fröhliche Weihnachten!

21 December 2009

Spindalis reminiscing

For the second consecutive year, a new bird has been added to the list of Florida breeding species. You may remember that in 2008, a pair of Least Grebes nested at Yamato Scrub Natural Area in Palm Beach County, and two young fledged. Both parents and young eventually disappeared from the area, though a single Least Grebe was seen there this past September. In 2009 another Caribbean species, Western Spindalis, nested in the state for the first time, at the Long Pine Key picnic area in Everglades National Park. The pair was first spotted in late July by visiting birders Heidi Trudell and Matthew York. Soon thereafter, a second female was seen with the pair, and it wasn't long after that that a nest was found near the top of a slash pine. Three young hatched; the last fledged in early September, but once the male parent stopped singing, birders had difficulty finding any of the six individuals presumed to present. The presence of the second female led to speculation that this may not have been the first time that the pair has nested in the park.

...the above is the first paragraph of Brian Rapoza's "Fall 2009" update for Tropical Audubon. Looks like the annual Trudell & York contribution to North American ornithology has been taken care of. Thanks to all who helped sponsor the honeymoon! =D

12 December 2009

when birds hit windows

This blog was not intended to be about dead birds, so I've attempted to keep such material out of the spotlight. However, FLAP.org has done an amazing thing. They've put together a guide to common dead birds of Toronto. And as expected, this makes me way too happy. You can click on the previous link to see FLAP's intro page and download the pdf. It's simply amazing.

(click the image for an article regarding Toronto's window legalities from thestar.com)

For a bit of background, FLAP is the Fatal Light Awareness Program - while I generalize my interests in "birds that hit windows," FLAP calls on skyscrapers and other tall city buildings to be responsible and turn off their lights at night during migration. FLAP has led the world in a thorough monitoring and rehab program which tracks mortality and survival rates. They have picked up 40,000+ birds since 1993 in the Toronto area alone... and they're barely at a pinch point if you're looking at migration movement for the continent!

Anyway, I'm completely thrilled to see that the awareness campaign isn't painted rosy colors with upright birds (even the Sibley IMBD poster design, below, is a bit subtle).

(image via fws)

I was overjoyed when this poster came out, but people asked me what it was about - you can barely see the power lines, radio tower on top of the buildings, a bridge, wind turbine and, well, buildings.

Regardless, information is spreading and one of these days we might even consider ways to lessen our human impact before construction ever begins - to the point of not constructing things at all, and making due with what we already have. Ah, these lofty dreams of responsible humans.

Go forth, for the betterment of humanity and the planet upon which we live.