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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Anhinga Prize!

Love the way Anhingas spear a fish, then maneuver it until they can get it down their mouth. Quite a skill! Cannot believe the way their throat stretches. They are sometimes called the"snake bird" for how they swim almost submerged with just their neck sticking above water. Often they come out and rest after a meal. Female Anhingas have brown heads and necks, males have black heads and necks.
One of the fun things about photography is to be able to examine the details of the action shots you take. Photographed on Sanibel, FL with the Canon SX 50 camera.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Winter Bird Feeding Tips

American Goldfinches and Pine Siskin on lower right 

Dark-eyed Junco in snow

To help your birds get through winter in areas of the country where there is severe winter weather, start with an excellent bird feeder set up. Make sure you include multiple Stokes Select®  tubular, hopper, screen, and suet feeders filled with a variety of quality bird seeds and suet. Focus on providing black oil sunflower (which has a high oil, thus calorie count), seed mixes that contain a good amount of black oil sunflower and, for finches, Nyjer (thistle) seed. Also include suet which is a calorie-rich food that provides much needed energy for birds in cold weather.

Place feeders near cover so the birds can escape wind and cold. Near pines or other evergreens is ideal, especially if they face south. Place feeders on poles with squirrel baffles and locate them 12 or more feet from any place from which a squirrel can jump.

Clean off snow from feeders whenever it accumulates from a storm. This includes shoveling snow from under the feeders so ground feeding species like Mourning Doves, White-throated Sparrows and juncos can access seeds that birds drop from the above feeders. Consider using the snow blower to clear under the feeders if it is feasible. Some people make a big brush pile with a hollow middle inside and sprinkle seed on the ground in the middle of it so ground feeding species can get the seed. The more feeders you have, the more kinds of birds you will attract. 

Winter target birds. In addition to regular winter birds like chickadees, titmice, goldfinches, nuthatches, cardinals, jays, Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers, juncos, and White-throated and White-crowned Sparrows, you may attract rarer species like Common Redpolls, Pine Siskins, and Evening Grosbeaks.

Once you finish shoveling the snow go inside, pour a cup of hot chocolate, get out your binoculars and, though the window, watch a lot of happy birds flock to your feeders.

And if you're looking for Chirstmas gifts for the bird lover, get our just published new Stokes Essential Pocket Guide to the Birds of North America. With 250 species and over 580 stunning photos,  it contains all the birds you will see at your feeders and the essential ones beyond.

Buy Now! The Stokes Essential Pocket Guide to birds of North America

Sunday, December 07, 2014

It's Snowing!!... Egrets!

Snowy Egret eye up close, wow! This is an uncropped photo. That's what a Canon SX 50 super zoom camera with the long telephoto lens will allow you to photograph without disturbing the bird.

This snowy was preening and sitting on a fishing pier rail, so graceful.

You can see the feathers on its bill from preening.

And, at the other end, what golden slippers!! Those feet are so cool. Interesting how the toes on the right foot have black marks. There are so many details you can notice when you take photos like these. It gives you a whole new perspective on a bird.

Portraits of a Snowy Egret through my lens. These are the things about this bird that caught my eye to photograph. Look beyond the obvious when taking your photos.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Always Look Up When the Birds Look Up!

While other Snowy Egrets were busy catching lunch at J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge,

this one kept looking up at the sky

So we looked up and this Bald Eagle, 1st yr. flew over our heads.

While Bald Eagles mainly eat fish, they can also sometimes catch birds. So the Snowy Egret was showing some concern. When birds look up, look up too, they may lead you to a sighting of some cool other other bird, like this eagle. By tuning in to the behavior of birds you will enrich your birding experience.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Help Bluebirds Survive in Winter

We have Eastern Bluebirds visit us occasionally in late fall and even check out some of their nesting boxes from the past breeding season. They even grab a snack of the dried mealworms. They usually move on when the weather gets really bad.

Bluebirds may sometimes remain in some northern areas in winter, much to people's surprise. Here's some tips for bluebird enthusiasts, on how to help bluebirds survive in winter.

1. Bluebirds can roost together in bird houses to keep warm. Insulate your bird houses by closing off all cracks, drainage holes, etc., with some sort of insulating material so less drafts and cold get into the bird house. Just leave the entrance hole open. Face bird houses away from prevailing winter winds.

2. Bluebirds mainly eat fruit and berries in winter. Plant your property with an abundance of crabapples and native, berry-producing shrubs such as viburnums and hollies (like winterberry holly). Place these berry plantings in sunny, protected areas, blocked from winter winds. The bluebirds will have a warm place to eat and use less precious energy.

3. Some bluebirds will come to food such as, hulled sunflower, suet, dried mealworms, and some of the many "bluebird meal mixtures" or nuggets. Generally most bluebirds do not learn to do this. You can certainly try putting out these foods, but your best bet is to have lots of berries planted in your yard.

4. Bluebirds like water (may help with processing the berries) and will visit bird baths and heated bird baths. In general, when it is very severely cold, some people think it is a risk for birds to bathe. Holding off on the water, or placing sticks over the bird bath to only allow birds to drink, not bathe, may be a good idea in this situation. Many birds will eat snow in winter to get water.

Most bluebirds move out of the northernmost areas of their range in winter. Even ones that may linger eventually move on, once their berry sources are depleted or ice-covered. For bluebirds, and many birds, there is a trade-off of staying more north in order to be first to claim prime breeding territories, yet risking survival due to bad weather. Some of these tips may help them survive and you feel you're helping them. Bluebirds are truly beloved.
For more complete information see Stokes Bluebird Book.

For the very latest identification information and range maps on all three species of North American Bluebirds; Eastern Bluebird, Mountain Bluebird and Western Bluebird, see our new best-seller, The Stokes Field Guide to the Birds of North America, the most complete photo guide to birds of NA, and the new regional editions, The New Stokes Field Guide to Birds: Eastern and The New Stokes Field Guide to Birds: Western Regions. Also just published is our The Stokes Pocket Guide to the Birds of North America.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving to All!!

Have a Happy Thanksgiving and for those of you traveling in the snowstorm, be safe!

Lillian, Don, Phoebe and Abby

Monday, November 24, 2014

Wild Goose Chase, Cackling Geese now

Cackling Goose, adult subspecies hutchinsii, in between two Canada Geese.

Cackling Goose, right

Are you looking for Cackling Geese? You should be looking over all those Canada Geese for something smaller. This unusual bird is being sighted now in several places in New England. See our other blog post for complete info and ID.