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Citizen Scientist - Reporting Leg Flags

My brother was recently in Florida and had occasion to photograph a shorebird in winter plumage that he could not immediately identify. While we were poring over the photos, we discovered that one of the birds was banded. So we decided to report this number in the interest of 'citizen science'. I thought I would write an article about this topic: Reporting banded bird data, specifically this type of marker, what we found out is called a "leg flag." (See photo below)

I personally did not know of the existence of the leg flag type of marker until seeing these pictures. I do not know when they came into being, but it is a great idea. On the bird above, if you look closely, you can see a metal band on the lower right leg. This was the only type of band I knew about, and of course they are impossible to report on from a photograph like this. But the leg flag is a different story - you can read it from a photograph and report it, thus providing valuable conservation data. …

Book Review - BETTER BIRDING: Tips, Tools, & Concepts for the Field

It is a lot of fun to develop better birding skills through the years as it enhances your enjoyment. If you are able to study a bird and find field marks for comparison with a field guide, birding is fun. But if you cannot study a bird, and you get only a brief glimpse, birding can still be very fun. As they point out in this book, you have to get to know a bird, notice its behavior, listen for songs and even call notes, assess the habitat - all can lead you to identification. One of the multiple attractions of birding to me is being a "detective", observing and assessing the clues presented. You have to become good at observation - there is no substitute for that. This book states as its purpose:

"Our primary goal for this book is to help you develop a solid foundation for building your filed skills...By providing information about a bird's habits...a better chance of knowing a species..." And that is perhaps the crux of being a better birder - knowing the spec…

Review of Birds of South America - Passerines

Birds of South America: Passerines (Princeton Illustrated Checklists)
For anyone with an interest in the birds of South America, this book looks to be a must have in your library. It is intended to be a companion to Birds of South America: Non-Passerines: Rheas to Woodpeckers by Francisco Erize. Now all of the known species of birds of South America are now illustrated in a compact two volume set with the accompanying text and range maps on the facing page. Most excellent for South American birders!

By way of description, this field guide covers all 1,952 passerine species to be found south of Panama, including offshore islands such as Trinidad, the Galapagos, the Falklands and the islands of the Scotia Arc leading to the Antarctic mainland. It features 197 color plates that will aid you in identification (not to mention being enjoyable to look at for a lover of beautiful birds). All plumages are illustrated, including males, females, and juveniles.

As a way of giving you a feel for the …

A Seemingly Forgotten Book Every Serious Birder Will Be Absolutely Delighted To Own

On a cold night this past January here in Wisconsin, I was browsing the books at a local Goodwill store when I happened upon a book I did not recognize entitled BIRDS OF THE WORLD. I opened the cover and checked the copyright date: 1961...This format, 1983. I thought that seems a bit out of date but I began leafing through the book out of curiosity. I was immediately enamored of the book because of the all the really beautiful illustrations (by Arthur Singer)! I am one who is always in the market to learn, and birds are one of the great loves of my life, so a book about birds of the world held great appeal. I decided to purchase it and have never looked back. What a great decision! Already it has provided me with a lot of wonderful times reading and enjoying the beautiful drawings. It is reminiscent of my childhood when I used to peruse the SONG AND GARDEN BIRDS OF NORTH AMERICA (National Geographic, 1964) in a state of rapture over the beautiful photographs of birds (e.g. Red-faced W…

"Coming home to a place he'd never been before"


Citizen Science Books to Help You Make a Difference

Citizen science is an exciting topic in this day-and-age. People other than trained scientists can contribute to science and nature conservation and help to make a difference! Here are some excellent books that will guide you in your efforts along these lines. 

Citizen Science: Public Participation in Environmental Research
From Brand: Comstock Publishing Associates
Citizen science enlists members of the public to make and record useful observations, such as counting birds in their backyards, watching for the first budding leaf in spring, or measuring local snowfall. The large numbers of volunteers who participate in projects such as Project FeederWatch or Project BudBurst collect valuable research data, which, when pooled together, create an enormous body of scientific data on a vast geographic scale. In return, such projects aim to increase participants' connections to science, place, and nature, while supporting science literacy and environmental stewardship. In Citizen…

Strikingly Beautiful Birds - Cardinals

It seems appropriate to start a post on this special and beloved bird with a poem. Here is the first stanza of a poem by William Davis Gallagher written in the 19th century.

The Cardinal Bird A day and then a week passed by:
  The redbird hanging from the sill
Sang not; and all were wondering why
It was so still—
When one bright morning, loud and clear,
Its whistle smote my drowsy ear,
Ten times repeated, till the sound
Filled every echoing niche around;
And all things earliest loved by me,—
The bird, the brook, the flower, the tree,—
Came back again, as thus I heard
    The cardinal bird.
- See more at:

Now some beautiful pictures of Cardinals - keep the poem in the back of your mind as you view these images beginning with Audubon and the Northern Cardinal of North America.

Audubon: Cardinal
John James Audubon

Female Northern Cardinal in Snowy Pine Tree
Adam Jones

Male Cardinal With Wings Spread
Wendy Kaveney

Red Crested Cardinal

Help With Buying Birding Binoculars from a 50+ Year Birder

What if it were possible for you to find the absolutely perfect pair of birding binoculars that would propel your enjoyment of birding to new heights? This article aims to empower you to do just that!

Good quality binoculars will enhance your birding! Here is an example of the delight someone had from upgrading their optics:
"This item so increased my enjoyment of my recent long-anticipated African safari that I can't recommend these [ Nikon] Monarch 5's highly enough.
Having always had poor vision, even in a corrected state, I've so often felt that I was missing out on the full visual experience in life. Even though I've tried other binoculars in the past I never felt that I saw clearly with them. These binoculars are like suddenly having good vision for the first time in my 63 years. After seeing the world so clearly after a few days I became the safari member who was spotting animals before everyone else! Super easy to focus, to steady and to hold. I also had a co…