Thursday, October 29, 2009

Bird-friendly coffee

Coffee, as our friend Paul B frequently reminds us, is the second-most traded commodity in the world (after the black goo called oil) and how we use it can have a tremendous impact on birds, and our environment as a whole.

We recently found a new source of bird-friendly coffee here in the mid-Atlantic states, Golden Valley Farms out of West Chester, Pa. Better yet, they are a family-owned and -run company, that selects and roasts their own coffee beans - and spreads the gospel of eco-friendly and organic coffee. BC likes that.

Golden Valley Farms was kind enough to send us their Bird-Friendly Coffee Sampler, which contains seven different pouches of ground coffee that makes 3-4 cups each. Six out of the seven are organic, and each coffee - they are from Colombia, Peru, Ecuador and El Salvador - features a bird, which helps remind us what this is all about. Well, the coffee is about all gone! Warren, a bigger coffee drinker than Princess L, liked them all. Hard to pick a favorite, although the Colombian Organic Don Telmo Reserva Tipica was particularly scrumptious.

Golden Valley Farms' Liz Janda tells us their coffee s served to visitors at the National Zoo in Washington, DC - the El Salvador Santa Teresa Pacamara to be exact. And, of course, you can order it online at

Monday, October 26, 2009

History of a Peregrine

Image: Dan Haas

Check out Dan Haas's blog, Nervous Birds for some delightful Peregrine pictures and the life history of our own Annapolis bird.

Warren and I kayaked out and tried (unsuccessfully) all summer to get a glimpse of the pair that hung around the Severn River Bridge, so its nice to learn her life story.

And, nice to hope for nesting success next year!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Mixed Feeding Flock, #7

First and foremost, Lisa just snagged us The Sibley Guide to Trees. It's amazing. Guess what she's been doing on Saturday morning?

We'll post more about this soon. ... Elsewhere in the world of birds and nature:

* Over at Nervous Birds, Dan Haas has an amazing essay and photos that tell the story, from fledging to the present, of our very own local Peregrine Falcon.

* Also locally, a deal was reached earlier this month to preserve 600 acres and enhance the South River Greenway in the Annapolis/Crownsville area. Great news!

* Farther afield, A DC Birding Blog posted recently about a rare crow that has just been rediscovered in the wild, the Banggai Crow. It's not extinct as thought, but still critically endangered.

* Finally, the Associated Press recently did a piece about Hawk Mountain, Pa. We read it in the local Roanoke, Virgina, paper when we were down visiting Adam at Virginia Tech. Not a lot in there that fans of Hawk Mountain didn't know, but a nice article all the same.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Today You are You!

That is truer than true!

There is no one alive who is you-er than you!

Happy You Day, Cute Husband!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Duck Stamp: And the winner is....

BC just got back this evening from Virginia Tech, where we had a lovely visit with young Adam, first time we've seen him since he went away to become a college man...

As Lisa blogged last week, we were lucky enough last weekend to participate in a Big Sit at Patuxent National Wildlife Refuge and, after that was over, take a peek at the entries for the 2010-2011 federal "duck stamp." As readers of all know, the stamp, required for waterfowl hunters, helps purchase and preserve thousands of acres of habitat in NWRs..

While we were away, Paul Baicich kept us updated on the Duck Stamp art contest, from his computer straight to Warren's BlackBerry. Without further ado, the winner is:

... This beautiful American Wigeon by Robert Bealle of Waldorf, Maryland. Robert came in 2nd in the contest -- 26 years ago -- and has been trying again ever since. We love this image (can't wait to buy our stamp) and are very proud that the prize went to a local boy. Paul also passed on this story from the Baltimore Sun.

Congrats Robert. The rest of you ... BUY THAT STAMP! :)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Eating it Up!

This was the bounty from our first week of participation in our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA).

Basically, we purchased a "share" in a local farm - Calvert Farm - and each week, during the growing season, we get a box full of goodies.
It is completely bonus, as the produce is uber fresh and locally grown - plus, Cute Husband and I are getting acquainted with some veggies that we normally wouldn't attempt to cook.
Do you see that cabbage the size of a basketball in the back?
The only thing not included is the wine.
However, the added bonus is that the CSA box pickup is very near one of our favorite wine stores.
And, we discovered that an Argentine red is mighty fine with sweet potatoes.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Big Sit and the Duck Stamp Contest

Bit Sit and sometimes Big Stand.

Cute Husband and I joined Paul Baicich and a group of newbie birders at the Patuxent Research Refuge on Sunday for the Big Sit.
The Big Sit is an annual event where a group selects a good bird potential habitat, and counts each species that is heard or seen within an imaginary 17 foot diameter circle around your sitting spot. The weather was perfect for a day of scoping and sitting and chatting and enjoying whatever decided to make its way our way.
Our group included 3 families who home schooled their children and were using the Big Sit as a learning experience.Love that!
I also loved this cool science book they were using, which included several chapters on birds, bats and pollinators.
The Environmental Educators at Patuxent Research Refuge provided some great bird learning tools - and the children were really engaged.
Love that!
In the palm of my hand... a Hummingbirds skull...
The Match the Drake to his Mate Game was also quite popular. And who can resist making a bird feeder with pine cones rolled in Crisco?
(Mine is the one of the left)
We wrapped up at 2:30 with 41 species and some new friends and headed to the Visitor Center to check out the entries for the 2009 Duck Stamp....
The judging is this weekend at the Refuge and the winning design gets the honor of gracing the 2010-2011 Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp or "The Duck Stamp".
And, an honor it will be, as the sale of Duck Stamps supports the purchase of millions of acres of wetland habitat for the National Wildlife Refuge System.

Each year the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service selects 5 species, any one of which can be painted.
The competition looks pretty tough this year....
One of Warren's favorites....

Most unusual....

Wood Ducks were popular choices....

I love the leaf in the water and the way the way the Gadwall's eye kind of follows you...

More Woodies...

A sharp looking Blue-Winged Teal set off with some reeds.

A gorgeous Gadwall.

Two very traditional looking entries....

Cinnamon Teals looking quite fine.

Unofficial judges.

So which will grace the next Duck Stamp?
Judging for the Duck Stamp is this weekend, and the winner will be put to work on the Duck Stamp for sale next July.
And, the proceeds will help place more signs like this around more protected habitats!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Birding - You can do it anywhere!

Thanks to a loan from our friend Paul Baicich, Warren has been reading Joseph Hickey's 1943 classic, A Guide to Birdwatching, which manages to be engaging, informative and quaint (in the good sense of that word) all at once.

He came across this oh-so-true sentence early in the book:

To the ornithologist, no corner of the earth is dull, no season is without its compensations.

One of the things that we like about birding (besides the fact that it's calorie-free, legal and just plain fun), is that you can do it anywhere. Well, just about anywhere. And even if you have just a few spare moments on your hands in some unexpected corner of the planet.

Birdcouple's been on the move a fair bit lately. Warren was up in New York in late September for the annual United Nations meetings, and then he met the Princess at Trenton, N.J., train station, where BC headed for the Appalachian Trail and a lovely, if wet, two-day hike. Then it was back to Annapolis and, unexpectedly, Warren was off to Geneva to cover some high-stakes nuclear diplomacy with Iran.

Yes, he packed his bins and 35-year-old Hamlyn Guide to Birds of Britain and Europe. Yes, he took a lovely 90-minute walk around the shore of Lake Geneva early one morning. Yes, he saw a lot of birds, all common Eurasian species. And yes, there were two lifers: Great-Crested Grebe and Carrion Crow.

Driving to the grocery store, taking the Metro to work, looking out your back window, grabbing a few spare minutes in a far-off city - birding, you can do it anywhere.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Nope not birds seen... but BirdCouple miles on the Appalachian Trail!

The soggy and somewhat non-birdy tale can be found on our AT Blog....

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Hybrid Goose Mystery

This odd-looking goose jumped out at both Lisa and I as we surveyed a flock of Canada Geese at the Crownsville Waste-Water Treatment Plant on Sunday morn.

It's obviously a Canada Goose hybridized with something else. Question is, is it a Canada Goose x Greater White_Fronted Goose or Canada Goose x Greylag (Domestic) Goose?

Thoughts, opinions welcome!

P.S. - Given this bird's size, the emerging consensus seems to be that it is a Canada x Greylag hybrid. Thanks to all!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Man I was Lucky Enough to Call Dad...

A little girl needs her Father

For many, many things:

Like holding her high off the ground

Where the sunlight sings!

Like being the deep music

That tells her all is right

When she awakens frantic with

The terrors of the night.

Like being the great mountain

That rises in her heart

And shows her how she might get home

When all else falls apart.

Like giving her the love

That is her sea and air,

So diving deep or soaring high

She'll always find him there

Author Unknown
10/12/42 - 9/29/09