Monday, July 06, 2009

My Blog's New URL!

Attention Bill of the Birds readers and RSS feeders!

If you still have your browser pointed this (Blogger) version of Bill of the Birds, please consider changing the link to my new home on Blogspot. Here is the NEW URL: http://billofthebirds.blogspot.com/

Thanks for reading, and for making the transition with me!

Sincerely,
Bill (of the Birds)

Friday, May 29, 2009

Movin' On Up!


Dear Everybody:

I am once again migrating Bill of the Birds. This time, a new blog design will accompany the move over to Blogspot. Blogspot offers some features and flexibility that are not readily available elsewhere. So, the new URL for Bill of the Birds is: http://billofthebirds.blogspot.com/

I Need Your Vote
But my redesign team (meaning Katherine The Web Witch and me, plus a few sympathetic amigos) has agonized over whether or not to go to the widely accepted "Web 2.0 design" for the site (just short lead-ins and thumbnail photos for each post) or the more traditional (preferred by 'readers') design with today's post in full, and lead-ins of the older posts.

Would you be kind enough to share your preference?
Thank you

And, if you've been reading BOTB via RSS, just visit the new URL and tap the new RSS link in the blue bar across the top.

I want to thank all the readers of this blog over the years. You inspire me to write each day! And I owe you a debt of gratitude.

Bill Thompson, III

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Mystery Vireo: Your Best Guess



At Magee Marsh two weekends ago, in addition to the myriad warblers present, there were several vireo species there, too. I photographed this vireo from the boardwalk assuming it was the warbling vireo that had been singing from the same vicinity.

We'd also seen a Philadelphia vireo or two during the morning.

When I got home and started going through my photos to select any that were 'keepable' and to ditch those that weren't I came across this bird again. I thought to make it a Mystery Bird ID Quiz, and sent the image to two birders whose ID skills I respect. One said Philly, one said warbling. It's a bit tough with the mostly head-on views.

I still feel it's a warbling vireo, but maybe one that recently ate a Philly Cheesesteak at Pat's, thus making its lores dirtier than normal and it's overall look pale and washed out (no doubt from the Cheez Whiz). To me the bill does not look stubby enough for a Philly.

What do YOU say?

Maybe one or more of the bird ID aces that occasionally lurk here at BOTB will be kind enough to chime in. [You know who you are.] If you DO answer, please give your reasons.

Game on!

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Lucky Shot: Chimney Swift

Chimney swift.

These images may not look like much via the Blogger interface, but I'm fairly happy about them. I shot this gliding chimney swift as he swooped past our birding tower on our second Big Day, May 10.

Normally swifts zip past our tower at high speeds and zig-zag off into the blue, leaving me with a dozen images of nothing but sky. If you've ever tried to photograph a chimney swift, you know what I'm talking about.

But this chimney swift and his two traveling companions made to slow circles of our birding tower, probably checking it and our chimney out as possible nest sites. After their first slow circumnavigation, I realized what was going on and grabbed the camera. This was the only shot I got that had a sizable bird in the frame.

Here it is cropped slightly.
For the first time in my bird photo life, I was as swift as a swift.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

This Birding Life Episode 20: iBird

A screen-shot from the iBird app on my iPhone.

Episode 20 of my podcast, This Birding Life, is now available for free downloading at Podcast Central on the Bird Watcher's Digest website and in the Games & Hobbies and Literature categories in the Podcast section of the iTunes store.

This episode is an interview with Mitchell Waite, the creator of several database-driven websites for bird identification, and the new and very popular iPhone application called iBird. Mitch tells about his early career as a writer and publisher of computer books and how this set the stage for merging his fascination with technology and love of birds into several neat product ideas.
Mitchell Waite and two of his iBird app logos.


In our next episode (TBL episode 21), we'll be in The Philippines, talking with a woman who is working to save two critically endangered endemic birds on the island of Cebu.

Thanks for listening to This Birding Life! More than 3,000 TBL episode files are downloaded each month—just from the BWD web servers, not counting those downloaded from iTunes. We're proud to be making interesting "ear candy" for bird watchers! And I welcome your comments, suggestions, and questions about the podcasts.


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Monday, May 25, 2009

Meadows Gone to Hay

Male bobolink.

Lucky for our grassland-nesting birds, it's been a wet spring. So I suspect (or hope) that the meadowlarks and field sparrows, and grasshopper and Henslow's sparrows, and bobolinks have gotten their first broods off successfully.

Hay fields are a unique habitat type. When the hay is cut in early May, the grassland birds have no chance. Many nest are destroyed and some brooding females killed when the fields are cut. But without regular cutting (which probably accomplishes the same thing the grazing bison herds did until they were wiped out about 250 years ago) the fields turn to brush, then woods, over time. So the same grassland-nesting birds that may perish from the cutting also benefit from it.
Raking the hay into rows.

Four days of dry weather in the forecast means it's time to cut hay here in southeastern Ohio. So knee-high lush grass is reduced to cuttings and left over night. The next afternoon, if the air is dry, the hay gets raked into rows. Another day or so and the rows get baled. Around here lots of farmers use the large round bales. Some hay-makers leave the rolls wherever they drop off the baler. Others move the giant round rolls around and into neat straight-line groupings.

Raked hay waiting to be baled.

I love the smell of new-mown hay and I like seeing the bales lying around the cut fields. But I'm always glad when the spring is wet and cold and the hay cutting has to wait until the end of May to give the nesting birds a fair chance.

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