Forum Role: Participant
Active Since: April 4, 2020
Topics Started: 0
Replies Created: 23

Forum Replies Created

Viewing 20 posts - 1 through 20 (of 23 total)
  • JackBird21
    Participant
    TBMachine
    Yesterday, I set aside lots of time to complete Melissa's assignment and it was well worth the time and effort ... in fact, it made for a better birding an photographic experience for me !  I sat out on our elevated back deck for 43 minutes and just sat still and observed the happenings.  A few birds flew through (Northern Cardinals, Red-breasted Thrush, and Blue Jay).  The first 10 minutes where torturous, but I practiced patience and soon began to hear more calls and observed more movements of birds.  I observe that there are two particular large, conifer trees and one lower bush that are on edges of our yard, that the birds preferred to perch in.  I think both of these locations gave the birds a concealed location where they could watch the yard for predators and other pals.  I noticed that all of the birds, while perched, continually looked right and left and up and down to be prepared for anything that might attack them.  I know where to place my feeders now for better photos ! 980A8119 I then drove to Parker River MRA and went out to Sandy Point, a HUGE, wonderful beach area where even on a cold day, many people were out just sitting in chairs enjoying the beach.  Gulls were the main attraction along with a flock of Horned Larks.  I took my time, moving slowly and angling away and around the Gulls, and for the most part they were cooperative and I was able to get closer to them today.  The Horned Larks were much more skittish and getting close was not an option, as they would fly off  when I was still far away. I mimicked what I observed Melissa do when she photographed the Piping Plovers on the New Jersey Shore.  The Horned Larks were foraging in a short, green grass area about 30 yards above the outgoing shoreline.  The sun was behind the shore and lighting up the grassy area the Larks were in.  So I lay prone with my camera and waited quietly.  Within 15 minutes several of the Larks foraged towards me and I was able to take my time and capture several dozen photographs, from a respectful distance.  Canon 1.4x Tele Converter on a Canon 150- 500 mm lens.980A0788980A7775
  • JackBird21
    Participant
    TBMachine
    This is a great assignment !  Kudos Melissa for suggesting this.  Now I know EXACTLY which types of photographic images I want to capture ! **High quality images are a MUST for me ... so this means I need to acquire a DSLR camera body with a full size sensor.  Outstanding images I capture - my goal is to display them on a backlit, wall hanging screen that is at least 24' x 36" in my home !  I love rich colors !  I now realize that I do NOT want to capture simple portraits of birds ... I want action - flying, singing, mating rituals, aggressive or defensive behavior, mothers feeding and taking care of their young, I want to capture interaction !  I want unique, natural, intimate images of birds.  I get excited about extreme close ups of birds that fill the screen AND I am excited about razor- sharp and well lit images of birds in their habitat. **A 150- 500 mm Zoom lens with an F /4.5 to  5.6 aperture is what I need to start and a 1.4 or 2.0 extender.  After that, I am going to have to save up and get a fixed lens 600 mm lens. **A Gillie suit is going to be a must, a pop-up "sit in" blind will be a must and a Trapagon HOKKI (lying prone) blind is going to be a must for me.  I want eye level photos of waterfowl in lakes, ponds and streams... shorebirds scurrying along the shoreline ... and Owls !  I am going to have to become good at camouflage and learning how to disappear in their environment ! **These concepts are wonderful, insightful, respectful and extremely useful.  This is outstanding teaching and mentoring !  Thank you Melissa !
  • JackBird21
    Participant
    TBMachine
    Activity 4:  The next step for me along my bird watching journey is to visit Cornell Labs; take live courses and workshops; and begin to plan travel to other areas of North America to observe more birds.  Some of this will have to wait until we have COVID-19 under control.  Meanwhile I will continue to study online with Cornell Labs, bird often with experienced birders; and continue to learn. This course has been wonderful ! I have learned so much.  Many questions about birds and bird habitat have been running through my mind, and now after completing this course, much of these questions have been answered and my direction with birding is becoming more clear ! Thank You !
  • JackBird21
    Participant
    TBMachine
    Activity 2: Through Cornell Labs, Audubon and The Brookline Bird Club I have been actively implementing the Seven Simple Actions to Protect Birds. We have planted natural shrubs to provide shelter and food for birds in our yard.  We have feeders and a birdbath in our yard and I have become engaged and am supporting the efforts of local and statewide bird organizations.  I have been hosting "Beginning Bird" Seminars through Zoom session, Statewide Wildlife websites and big box stores in our area.  I will be an ambassador of Birding, and continue to hone my skills and knowledge every passing year !
  • JackBird21
    Participant
    TBMachine
    Activity 1: I am a first year birder (2020) and during this COVID-19 infested year, I decided to follow my interest in birds and become an active birder... the reason, to get outdoors into the clean air, to be away from groups of people in closed in locations, and dive into the world of birds and learn as much about them as possible.  What were the biggest benefits to me ? Birding got me up early and out into nature.  This was great for my attitude.  Learning about birds through observation got my mind wondering more and more as to why birds do what they do.  This led me to sign up for online Cornell Lab education programs, just like this one.  I have learned so much about birds and now I know there is so much more to learn !  Yay !  This will keep me busy for the rest of my life !  In addition, I met and made new friends who shared their passion for birding and directed me to resources like Merlin, eBird and HOT SPOTS so that I could observe more birds !  It was these friends, who socially distanced with me, that the greatest learning occurred.  I have joined Audubon organizations in 2 states and I belong to the Brookline Bird Club.  Through these organizations I am learning faster and have resources and experts to go to - when I need help !
  • JackBird21
    Participant
    TBMachine
    Activity 2: I chose to review the species reported on eBird Checklists at Roger Road and Mt Lemmon in Arizona for this exercise. At Roger Road, I am guessing this is a lowland - wetland habitat as ducks, grebes, Coots, Egrets were observed.  Also birds that prefer to be near the edge of water with some trees like woodpeckers and hawks, and low brush or high grass like sparrows and flycatchers. At Mt. Lemmon - ravens, jays, nuthatch, woodpeckers, wrens, bluebirds, thrush, crossbill and warblers were observed.  I am guessing that this is not a water habitat, but a mountainous habitat with trees and low brush were these species can forage and hide from predators.
  • JackBird21
    Participant
    TBMachine
    Activity 3: I chose to listen to bird songs by watching and listening to the Canopy Lodge Bird Cam for five minutes.  While there were many  different species on screen, they were not vocalizing.  What I have discovered in my first year of birding, is that "hearing" the birds is critical to finding the birds.  I am studying bird song each day on Merlin and challenging myself with app games.  My hearing is not as good as others, but with time I am hoping to get better at knowing many of the species songs.
  • JackBird21
    Participant
    TBMachine
    Activity 2:  I chose to watch several beautiful birds at Canopy Lodge in Panama on Bird Cam.  While watching these birds on Bird Cam, I focused my attention to how the different species use different techniques for eating.  The Gray-colored Thrush never seemed to leave the table with the fruit and while they grabbed pieces to eat, they were constantly looking around and guarding this food source.  The Blue-Gray Tanagers, The Green Honeycreepers were NOT to be driven completely away by the Thrushes, however they were clearly intimated by them.  Especially the Green Honeycreepers would not leave and they would sneak in grab fruit and sometime continue to eat if not bulled away too badly by the Team of Thrush Guards !  The Flamed-rumped Tanager (in his striking yellow & black plumage and white/blue beak) would fly in and charge the Thrushes and drive them off !  It would then leisurely eat as much fruit as it wanted and withing 20 seconds it would be gone again !
  • JackBird21
    Participant
    TBMachine
    Activity 1: What could be more fun than to watch beautiful birds at Canopy Lodge in Panama on Bird Cam !  I have been watching for over 30 minutes and have been able o observe the foraging behavior of Clay-colored Thrush, Green Honey Creepers, Blue-gray Tanagers, Crimson-backed Tanagers, Flame-rumped Tanagers, Chestnut-headed Oropendolas and Gray-headed Chachalas !  These would of course, all be Life Birds for me if I were there live!  5 pieces of cut fruit are laid on a board on a table and 2 sugar feeders hang from nearby posts.  The Gray-colored Thrush' are dominating the table and they chase off the smaller species from the fruit.  The Green Honeycreepers cleverly sneak in and grab fruit when the Thrushes are pre-occupied chasing others or flying away.  The Green Honeycreeper is bold enough to never fly off and it continued to hop around the table waiting for another chance to get some fruit ! It was obvious that the Green Honeycreeper continually looked up & around between bites of fruit to stay on guard for predators. The Blue-gray Tanagers were much more timid and kept their distance from the Thrushes.  They would land on corners, farther away from the Thrushes and only move in for the fruit when the Thrushes had completely flown away.  However, the Flame-rumped Tanager is aggressive and it charged the Thrushes with its beak extended and chased them off.  It then took its time eating the fruit.  This was a fun assignment !  
  • JackBird21
    Participant
    TBMachine
    Activity 4: My favorite birding spot is Plum Island.  I expect to find Snowy Owls, Northern Harrier, Cardinals, American Black Ducks, Pintails, Red-throated Loons, White-winged & Black Scoters, and Buffleheads. But six months from now, will be May of 2021 and the Warbler migration will just be beginning so we'll see Common Yellowthroat, Yellow Warblers, Baltimore Orioles, Eastern Towhees, House Finches and Goldfinches !
  • JackBird21
    Participant
    TBMachine
    Activity 3 - When I go to the Macaulay Library and study the plumage difference of the Male American Goldfinches in summer and winter, it is apparent that the Summer Male has striking Gold-Yellow coloring !  When I study the Winter plumage, legs, bill and wings are the same, but instead of the striking Yellow- Gold colors, this bird is more tawny and blends in with the back better ! _____________________________________________________________________________ When I go to the Macaulay Library and study the plumage difference of the Male Common Loon in summer and winter, it is apparent that the Summer Male has a strikingly, contrast black and white plumgae with a horizontal, black colored necklace across its throat.  When I study the Winter plumage, the colors are a much more subdued gray and sometimes brownish color that contrasts the white belly, and the horizontal necklace band has disappeared all together !
  • JackBird21
    Participant
    TBMachine
    Using Merlin’s “Likely Birds” feature I choose three species that live here year-round in the Northeast.  As I live close to the coast, Mallards, Ring-billed Gulls and Common Eider are residents for is that we see each day we head out to Plum Island !  Bufflehead, Snow Bunting and Horned Grebe are here now (November) but we only get to enjoy them for part of the year. I like that Merlin shows so quickly the birds that we are likely to see, as well as showing when they will most likely arrive and depart.  I use Merlin every day that I bird and it is so informative and easy to use !
  • JackBird21
    Participant
    TBMachine
    The Yellow-bellied Flycatcher has an interesting migration pattern !  From observing the Range Map, this species spends over 7.5 months of the year Wintering in Central America.  All at once this species quickly migrates North, but flying West of the Gulf of Mexico- up through the Mid-western States - across to the Northeast and Central regions of Canada.  It appears that they complete this Northward migration in less than 2 weeks !  They then appear to spend about 2 months at the breeding grounds in Canada, before they start a fast Southern migration by returning to Central America !  They spend the most months of the year in Central America ... make a swift North and Northeast migration into Canada ... quickly get their successful breeding done ... and rapidly descend across the USA back into Central America.  It is not quite clear from the Range Map, but I believe many of these Y-B Flycatchers return to Central America by flying West of the Gulf of Mexico, while others make the non-stop cross Gulf of Mexico flight from Louisanna !  This is an amazing migration !
  • JackBird21
    Participant
    TBMachine
    The Sandhill Crane has a very interesting and different migration pattern from other birds.  This Crane Winters in three areas, Texas, Florida and South of the Great Lakes of the USA.  After observing the Range Map, each of these 3 groups appear to migrate differently  The group that Winters in Texas migrates North through the Mid-Western US States, into Canada and some head West to Alaska while others appear to go all the way to the Artic for the breeding season !  The second group Winters South of the Great Lakes and appears to split their group up, with some migrating in a Northwesterly direction while the other half of the group appears to migrate in a Northeasterly direction into Canada.  This second group migrates a great distance, but much less than Group 1.  Then we have the 3rd Group that Winters in Florida.  Some, but much less than half of this group, migrate North to the Great Lakes and meet up with Group 2 to head to the Canada breeding grounds.  When Group 2 migrates back South, the members of Group 3 travel with them, but it appears that they return all the way to Florida, while the original Group 2 members stop when they reach the area just South of the Great Lakes !  I wonder why some of this species (Group 2) prefer to Winter in the cold weather just South of the Great Lakes while the other two Groups (1 & 3) migrate all the way South to the warm temperatures of Texas and Florida / and why does Group 1 travel so far North to Alaska and perhaps the Artic to breed, when it is apparent that many of Group 3 never leave Florida - so they breed there ?
  • JackBird21
    Participant
    TBMachine
    The Rufous Hummingbird Winters for 5 to 6 months in Central America.  It makes a Western migration up into the USA along the California Coast all the way up into Canada.  It does not spend a great deal of time in the breeding grounds, before it migrates swiftly South and they fly West of the Rockies and all the way back to Central America.  Most of this species makes the entire migration from South to North back to South !
  • JackBird21
    Participant
    TBMachine
    The Ruby-throated Humminbird Winters in Central America and Florida for 5 months of the year.  They make a fast moving Northward migration across the Gulf of Mexico and land in the Southern USA.  From there, they spread out as far as the East Coast and rapidly move all the way to Canada and they spend 4 months breeding, and Summering in the North.  From there they make rapid reverse migration along the same routes all the way back to Central America.   _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ The Rufous
  • JackBird21
    Participant
    TBMachine
    The Scarlet Tanager Winters in South America for several of the Winter months of the year.  They then rapidly head North West into Central America, where they they fly across the Gulf of Mexico and land in the Southern USA, East of Texas.  They then continue to speed Northward towards Northern USA and Canada where they Summer (breeding) for a three months.  Then by September 1 they reverse their migration routes and close the distance back to Central America and then down into South America very quickly.  I wonder why they travel so far and why they are traveling so fast to reach the two final destinations of the Northern breeding grounds and the Southern Wintering grounds ? Why fly so far and take so much risk ?  Food ?  Temperature ?  What's the hurry ? The Western Tanager Winters for 5 months of the year in Western Central America.  It begins its very quick migration right after April 1st by   flying along the West Coast of Central America, along the California Coast and West of the Rocky Mountains and up into Canada to breed.  They spend only a few weeks in Northwestern USA and Canada (breeding) and then return swiftly to Central America by reversing their route.  It appears from the migration map that many of the Western Tanager only migrate 1/3 of the way, breeding (in New Mexico) and then returning to Central America.  How come many of these Tanagers fly all the way to Canada while others fly a much shorter distance, maybe not even North of Central America or just over the border in the USA ?  I think that the Western Tanager must be an efficient breeding species as it spends only a few weeks breeding !  Wow  !
  • JackBird21
    Participant
    TBMachine
    Activity # 1 - I observed that the Northern Cardinal has a much bigger migration range, East of the Mississippi. Filling the coast of the USA, north and south. The Blackburnian Warbler stays in South America for most of the early part of the year, and then they have remarkably fast migrations through the USA, as they quickly head North into Canada.  The Blackburnian doesnt even hang around long during the mating season, as they then quickly fly through the USA and reside in South America again for the Winter !
  • JackBird21
    Participant
    TBMachine
    Activity 1: I sat on the front porch of our home and observed birds that came to and close to our feeder.  Here is the list of  birds I saw during my 15 minutes of observations: Black-capped Chickadee Mourning Dove American Robin American Goldfinch Pine Warbler   Activity 2: Using Merlin’s “Most Likely” species feature, I was excited to see how accurate this tool is as each of the 5 birds I observed (above in activity 1) were listed as likely  !  While I am familiar with each of these species, I followed the instructions and listened to the call and song of each species on Merlin. The Pine Warble is awfully quiet when it calls and it has a very high pitched call that is hard for me to hear.   Activity 3: Using range maps I found five birds that pass through our area, that I knew nothing about ! Eurasian Wigeon (call is loud and "WEE are) American Wigeon (call sounds like squeezing a childs toy) Greater Scaup (call sounds like a screw gun) Lesser Scaup  (call sounds like a chicken clucking with a "whoop" like spinning a 45 record backwards) Clapper Rail (call is kik kik kik) I went to All About Birds, as well as Merlin to read a little bit about each of them.  I listened to each of their calls and songs, and looked at the bar chart to determine which were likely to be in our area the next two months (September and October).
  • JackBird21
    Participant
    TBMachine
    Activity 1 - Look for two birds (either outside or on Bird Cams) that you can tell apart just by shape. I decided that I wanted to use Merlin to ID a Barred Owl and a Greater Yellowlegs.  As I have made more and more journeys into the field this year (my first year birding), these are two birds that I can easily ID accurately just because of their body shapes.  Merlin was easy to use too !  I went through the menu and answered the questions and the next thing I knew, Merlin offered several choices based upon my answers and sure enough the Barred Owl was there !  I took a few moments to read the description and then I played it's songs and studied its usual ranges. Then I started at the beginning again and entered the data that best describes the Greater Yellowlegs.  After answering each question, Merlin provided me with a few choices and the Greater Yellowlegs was one of them.  Pretty cool.  I often am up early and head to the shore this time of year and although I try to position myself where the wind and the sun are at my back, it is fun to note that even in silouette - the Greater Yellowlegs is a bird I can positively ID now every time based on its shape.  It's foraging style of rapid leg movements while it sweeps its bill through the water is distinctive too, and these two elements make them easier for me to ID correctly !  I took a few moments to read the description and then I played it's songs and studied its usual ranges. Merlin is a pretty cool, and very accurate tool to assist me in ID'ing birds correctly !   Activity 2: Look for three different birds that have the same color (e.g., black, white, or red), but on different parts of their bodies. The Red-winged Blackbird; the Red-bellied Woodpecker and the Northern Cardinal each have red coloring on their bodies.  Obviously, the Northern Cardinal (Male) is almost fully adorned in red !  But the Red-winged Blackbird only has red coloring on its shoulder patches !  The Red-bellied Woodpecker has red coloring on the crown of its head and it continues down on its nape !  Merlin was very helpful in accurately id'ing these 3 birds, providing me with photos of each, along with a description of each detailing where to find the red (as well as other) coloring on the body of the bird. Activity 3:  Look for three different birds that are searching for food today. What are their food-finding behaviors ? I decided to focus on Shorebirds today for activity # 3 as now (Late August) the Shorebirds are migrating through New England along the shoreline and it is interesting to watch each of their foraging behaviors.  The Snowy Egret is a graceful bird, and I found it today running in shallow water near mud flats chasing and then spearing smaller, minnow size fish.  The Great Blue Heron in contrast positions itself on shoreline edges or in the water and doesn't move at all.  It almost becomes a statue until an unsuspecting smaller fish comes by, and the Great Blue Heron will move swiftly be striking with its neck and bill to snare its food.  The Greater Yellowlegs, moves around shallow and mid-deep water with erratic movements as it swings its bill back & forth side to side to catch fish and other food ! Activity 4: Pick your favorite bird, and see if you can describe it using at least three of the bird ID strategies (size and shape, color pattern and markings, behavior, habitat and range, and sounds). One of my favorite birds has become the Alder Flycatcher.  While it is small and somewhat drab (olive green) colored bird, with black wings.  It is larger than a sparrow but smaller in size than a robin.  It has two distinctive, white wing bars on its black wings and it has a distinctive "rreeBEER' song.  It also will make a "pip" call !  The Alder's we observed nested in bushes approximately 5 feet above the ground and immediately adjacent to a pool of water.  This Spring and Summer, a close friend uncovered this pair of Alders and allowed me to observe them with him several times a week !  We watched them bring nesting materials, then we discovered their nest in the bushes, and we observed them feeding their newborn in the nest with food they would catch; and then finally we observed the newborns leaving the nest ! This was an exciting breeding season for me to watch, and that fact that Alder Flycatchers have not been confirmed breeding up here in Essex County, made this fun for me !  
Viewing 20 posts - 1 through 20 (of 23 total)