Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Many Joys of Book Authorship

I've never been so proud to be the author of a book as I was when I saw my friend Bart carrying a copy of The Young Birder's Guide in hands-free mode.

In the booth where it was being sold at The Space Coast Birding & Wildlife Festival, dozens of copies of the book were purchased by blushing female customers following Bart's appearance.

Steven King, John Grisham, Oprah, and that mom that writes lusty vampire books can just eat their collective hearts out.

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Monday, December 01, 2008

The Chow Line

Blue jay, dark-eyed junco, northern cardinal on a snowy afternoon.

In winter, when we feed suet dough to our backyard birds, we often see a number of hungry individuals waiting for their turn to eat. I did not realize this fully until I started taking pictures of the suet dough visitors on our back deck railing. This series of images, like many other similar shots I've shared here recently, was taken with a Wingscapes BirdCam.

I think it's pretty interesting how the birds line up along the deck railing. There were a number of neat combinations of birds in the images the camera captured—I'm only sharing a handful here.

Cardinals at the suet dough.

Juncos only.

Junco (head only) and three cardinals. We're out of food.

Cardinal, bluebird, cardinal, bluebird.

Ever see those old couples in restaurants eating unhappily and saying NOTHING to each other?

Cardinals are always the last birds at the feeder at the end of the day.

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Friday, November 28, 2008

Chowing Down

Yesterday was Thanksgiving—the only national American holiday where we all have license to stuff ourselves until we explode. I did. Did you?

Interestingly the birds at the suet dough station were following suit. Especially the blue jays.

Blue jays are creatures of boom and bust. When they find food in abundance, they load up as much as they can in their large, expandable throat pouches, and take it away to cache. This is a hedge against leaner times ahead, or so the ornithologists tell us. In this way blue jays help keep our forests healthy. They cache thousands of acorns, beechnuts, and other edibles of their choosing. They only remember and re-find and consume a small number of these caches. The forgotten ones may germinate and become trees. In many cases these trees are a long distance away from where they might have grown had they not been transported by the cache-minded jays. This is how jays are unknowing healthy forest helpers.

Had my Wingscapes BirdCam been located at the far end of my parents' dining room table during yesterday's holiday feeding frenzy, I'm not sure the images it captured would have looked very different from the ones below. We staggered home in a food malaise about 8 pm and immediately began groaning and taking Alka Seltzer. My parents, Elsa and Bill, totally out-did themselves. Best gravy ever. Wicked good turkey and taters. Awesome rutabagas. Cherry-custard pie.... I put a hurtin' on it all.

Now I won't have to eat until sometime in mid-December. That's December 2025.

Anyway, check out the blue-crested suet-dough pig of Indigo Hill (the jay—not me).
Happy digesting!

The jay's main feeding mode is basically squat and gobble.

Checking around to see if anyone is watching him clean out the ENTIRE batch of dough.

The all-you-care-to-eat suet dough buffet is OPEN. Please use a clean bill on each return trip.

In this photo he's thinking: "I can get one more bill full in there I think!"

He makes his getaway with the precious gooey loot.

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Monday, November 24, 2008

GameCam Night Pix

I call this one: "Devil Bunny, Tire Swing, Moon, and Pear Tree."

I have been having fun with my two remote nature cameras. One is a Wingscapes BirdCam designed to take daytime images at feeders, nest boxes, bird baths, etc. The other is a MoultrieGameCam designed to take nighttime images of wildlife. Many hunters use gamecams to see what deer are coming in to a feeding station or what game is using a certain trail.

The night cams have motion sensors and a flash unit that lets them take a shot every time something walks past the sensor. These remote cameras bring out your inner spy.

I placed the Moultrie out in the east edge of the yard to capture images of the critters that were coming in to eat the pears falling from the ancient pear tree. I got what I expected—mostly rabbits and deer. Here are a few of the more interesting shots.

At 4 am, a nice-sized buck comes in for some pears. Check out the temperature registered on the camera. Brr!

This old boy is big enough to reach some of the low-hanging fruit. Smaller deer have to wait for wind falls.

A "fork-horn" buck hears the camera click.

And a nice six-pointer hoovers up some fruit.

Just at dusk, the first buck checks for any newly dropped fruit and also looks toward the house to see if anyone is about.

All kinds of wildlife gets captured in action.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Alcid Indigestion

The camera's date is wrong, but the cameraman's mad ID skilz are in full force.

While digitally flipping through the images from the front yard Wingscapes BirdCam this morning I was shocked and pleased to add ANOTHER new bird to the property list here at Indigo Hill. If you look in the lower frame of this image, you'll see a nice shot of a fox sparrow (of the eastern legless race). But it's the OTHER bird I am super excited about. The one in flight. See it?

I've studied it for several hours now and feel I can conclude with complete confidence that the motion detector on the camera caught an image of a flying alcid. To be completely, awesomely specific in this identification: It's a razorbill!

Now why would a razorbill end up on a dry ridgetop in southeast Ohio?

Then I remembered! I threw some old sardines out on the compost pile the other day.

Mystery solved! Eat your heart out David Caruso! And take those stupid shades off your face. You look like a leprechaun in a Blues Brothers movie.

Nailed it! Razorbill, baby! Sweet!

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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Bird (Life) Goes On

Nice to know, in spite of major things happening in this big old goofy world of ours, that the birds just carry on with their lives.

I set up a Wingscapes BirdCam on our new platform feeder this weekend and got a few images of our regular customers. Still need to reset the camera's date and time I see....

If you've never tried a remote birdcam, you might want to—it's a lot of fun. The Wingscapes BirdCam is really user-friendly. I think it took me about 15 minutes to set up everything, including batteries and memory card. More images from and comments about the Wingscapes BirdCam in the future.

I really like the look on this tufted titmouse's face. I think he's asking if you managed to VOTE TODAY!

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