Showing posts from March, 2008

Whooping Cranes on the Move!

The following is the latest information on the 2008 Whooping Crane migration from Charlie Luthin, Natural Resources Foundation
March 26
Eleven of the 17 ultra-light led juveniles from 2007 have begun their northern migration! Yesterday afternoon, 6 of the cranes left the pen site area at the Chassahowitzka NWR and flew to southwest GA. This morning, biologist Richard Urbanek saw the birds and noted that they had split into groups of 4 and 2. The group of 4 resumed migration today, but the other 2 have not. Today, another group of 5birds left the pensite and are currently flying north. Only 6 birds now remain at "Chass".
March 25
We received the sad news that DAR 43-07 collided with a power distribution line in a corn field in Fayette Co., IN and died. The photo we received showed a large cut above her bill. 43-07 and 5 other 2007 DAR subadults began migration from the Hiwassee NWR in TN on March 16. They stopped in Adair Co., KY their first night, then moved to Clark Co., IN …

Big Morongo - Hard to Find Desert Riparian Birding

I noticed recently that on my birding bookshelf I had a couple of copies of some old Birdwatcher's Digest (BWD) from the 1980s. The January/February issue contains a good article by Chuck Bernstein on a little known, but very cool, birding spot - Southern California's Big Morongo Reserve. The article inspired a visit to the place while on my spring break as a graduate student at Washington State University. It was the possibility of seeing a strikingly beautiful bird - the Vermilion Flycatcher - that lured me down there. Indeed Bernstein talks about making a pilgrimage there every year, if possible, to "get my symbolic blood transfusion" that keeps him going for another year.

Bernstein quotes the curator of natural history for the San Bernadino County museum, and conductor of a breeding bird survey for the area, as saying that "the desert riparian ecosystem has the highest density of breeding land birds in North America". Cardiff's survey records show a…

An Intriguing Bird Sighting

In the mid 1970's I went on a backpacking trip to the San Juan National Forest in southwestern Colorado with some college buddies. Unbeknownst to me at the time this trip was to provide me with one of my most interesting life list sightings. We had made our way to Durango, Colorado and after gathering provisions, from there we headed out to the trailhead. We climbed all day and ended up in a coniferous forest at elevation in the San Juan Mountains. With the notable exception of the colorful Steller's Jay that I pointed out to them, none of my friends were too interested in birds. So I set out exploring by myself in this unique habitat. When birding, a lot of times I like to stand in one place for a while and see what shows up. As I stood there about 10 feet away in a pine tree, I spotted a distinctive bird that, if you get a good look at it, is not likely to be mistaken for any other bird - a male Olive Warbler. I knew what it was right away, and I was thrilled because it was o…

Extra Special Birding - High Island, Texas

With the advent of spring tomorrow, I thought it would be a good time to write about my experiences at one of my all time favorite birding locations - High Island Texas.

If you are unfamiliar with High Island, it is special because it is a piece of land that is literally bowed up by a rising salt formation below it (i.e. the surface manifestation of a subsurface salt dome). As such, it allows for the growth of oak trees and other vegetation amidst the coastal marshes. This turns out to be a magnet for migrating passerines who have just made the long trip over the Gulf of Mexico.
I lived in Houston from August, 1981 to December, 1986. Back then, of course, there was no Internet, so in order to find out where the birding action was I phoned the Houston Audobon Society (HAS) and got on their mailing list. It was through them that I found out about the most excellent softcover book "A Birder's Guide to the Texas Coast" by James A. Lane (1980) (Note: I checked and you can still…

The Passion for Birds Begins in a Wondrous Way

Well, I went for a nice walk this morning and it was beautiful, the sun was shining, and the Cardinals were out in full force, singing away. I even saw a flock of Sandhil Cranes flying overhead and bugling. The cranes have been gone for a number of months so it was a lift to the winter weary spirits to see them again. All in all, it seems like agood day to start a blog about a topic that has been a passion of mine for more than four decades - birds. And since it is the beginning of the blog it seems appropriate to start at the beginning of the passion.
When I was five years old, I was a relatively adventurous lad. I was newly enfranchised as a bicyclist and I started riding all over the place and exploring. So one fine early summer day I was out enjoying myself, riding in the neighborhood. Around the corner from my house lived an elderly couple who were skilled gardeners. They had a very beautiful garden filled with colorful flowers that I stopped to admire. As I stood gazing at the fl…