Monday, May 27, 2013

Nesting time, everybody!

It's been an odd spring this year. Migration started off very slowly, held up by cooler than normal temperatures and no doubt by winds blowing the "wrong" way as well. Then about the 10th of May, the dam burst and migrants flooded through in 12 days or so.

And, as we discovered when we went out today to the American Chestnut Land Trust in Calvert County, a magnificent patch of bottomland forest and wooded hillsides, the birds are already about their business - the business they flew all he way here for, the business of making little birdies.

We were fortunate enough to see that Red-Eyed Vireo up there fly right into her low-hanging nest.

At Piney Orchard Nature Preserve in our home Anne Arundel County, fellow birder Jared Fisher pointed us toward this Prothonatory Warbler, feeding her babes in a nest box.

Today was Memorial Day, and Summer is indeed upon us!


Sunday, May 19, 2013

Maryland Big Day 2013

Princess and Warren crisscrossed Maryland on Saturday in a zany, exhausting attempt to see 100 species in the state in one day, a barrier we never seem to be able to cross. Guess what? Birdcouple came close again - but "only" tagged 92 species.

It was marvelous fun day at some of our favorite places, including  Susquehanna State Park and Swan Harbor Farm in Harford County, and Terrapin Nature Park over on Kent Island.

Lisa's favorite bird was a Cerulean Warbler, that beautiful but threatened neotropical migrant, which gave us great looks, not, for a change, from the upper canopy of some distant tree.

Warren's favorite was this very cooperative Kentucky Warbler. Both species seen at Susquehanna State Park....


Sunday, May 12, 2013

Birds of Panama, Part 1

First off, happy International Migratory Bird Day! This weekend, we celebrate the majesty and sheer amazing-ness of avian migration. Birdcouple came back from Panama just in time to see and hear all sorts of neotropical migrants descend on our little section of the US East Coast - warblers, flycatchers, orioles, nighthawks.

But, we have to admit, part of out brains are still in the Central American rain forest/ So here we present Part 1 of some of the birds we saw, using the amazing Canopy Tower as our base (more about that in a later post).

Broad-Billed Motmot
Yellow-Rumped Cacique

Common Tody-Flycatcher
Lesser Nighthawk
Female Fasciated Antwrens fighting
Green Honeycreeper
Lesser Kiskadee
Purple Gallinule

Sunday, May 5, 2013


Greetings from the Canopy Tower Lodge in Panama, where Birdcouple is feasting our eyes on Toucans and Motmots, Tanagers and Antbirds, Woodcreepers and Trogons. The bird life here is incredible and we have seen more than 160 species in a little over three days.

Amazing non-avian life, too, like army ants, a capybara, howler monkeys ( our morning wake up call), sloths and ... You get the idea.

It is GREAT to see Panama is conserving some of its nature and showing it off to visitors. Pictures here soon....

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Book Review: Crossley ID Guide to Raptors

This book, the latest in Richard Crossley's innovative photographic field guides, is, in a word, stunning.
Like Crossley's earlier guides, it has stunning photos of its subjects, in a diverse array of plumages, ages, subspecies and races, and habitats. A must have for those (like us) who need help occasionally telling their immature Red-Shouldered Hawks from their immature Cooper's Hawks, or a distant Red-Tail from a Ferruginous.
But perhaps because this guide covers a narrower array of species than the previous ones, Crossley and his co-authors have taken things further this time.
There's a photo spread showing accipiters in flight, another showing how to tell the age of Cooper's Hawks, one showing 24 different shots of Swainson's Hawk in Migration, from all conceivable angles. You get the idea. Some of the backgrounds are iconic raptor-watching sites, like Cape May, N.J., and Hawk Mountain, PA.
Birdcouple was hooked most of all by the quizzes at the back of the book. Raptors from above, below, perched, at sunrise. Amazing and informative. The only sad thing is how many birds we mis-ID'd.
All in all, this is a worthy edition to even a well-stocked ornithological shelf!
Full Disclosure: We reviewed a courtesy review copy from the publisher, Princeton University Press.