215 And Counting…

215 And Counting…


California Condor

So far this year, I’ve been on the East and West Coast. I have seen over 215 birds, 4 new lifers! Above and below are photos of lifers I’ve seen on the West Coast…

The California Condor looks pretty much like a oversized Turkey Vulture. I saw some at a state park feeding on a neighboring cattle farm’s dead cow carcass! There were also Ravens, Turkey Vultures, Red Tail Hawks, American and Golden Eagles and 1 fat coyote feasting on the poor cow.



While checking out a new birding site, I met a professor who asked me if I had seen the Ruff. I hadn’t, so I thought, since I didn’t know that there was one in the area and really didn’t know much about it. Well he informed me that it was last seen in the shallow pond hanging out with the Long billed Dowitchers. I went home and studied up on the bird, so that the next time I went back there I was able to spot him easily! Though the bright orange legs do help do give him away amongst the Dowitchers!

A New Year, A New Count

A New Year, A New Count


American Bald Eagle

A few years ago I moved from my home state. When I left, my brother suggested as a way to stay closer, we could have a bird sighting competition. He was a birder and I really wasn’t at all… but I went along with it. So the rules were set up, just count how many different species of birds you see in the continental US and we will compare totals at the end of the year. Well, lets just say that I’ve won every year since and became a birder along the way… (clearly I’m a very competitive person). Besides becoming a birder, it gave me a wonderful new hobby, gets me outside a lot more, I’ve also met some wonderful people, made some interesting new friends and explored some beautiful places. Thanks David!!!

So begins another year, we no longer really compete, since I go to so many more areas of the country than my brother, it isn’t really fair anymore. Now I try to find new lifers to add to my list, but we do still count how many bird species we see each year, because you never know if this one will end up being your big year!

So far this year (mid January) I have a total of 98, not bad but I still have a long way to go!

The Eagle above and photos below are a few birds that I’ve seen so far this year, I’ll keep you posted as to how my year continues on…


Great Blue Heron


Roseate Spoonbill


Did You Make It Through The Work Week?

Did You Make It Through The Work Week?

It starts off kind of slow, hard to get moving, like you have a steady climb ahead of you…


Oh, you’ll get to the end of the week, but there is a lot of work to get through first…


Just keep on going, doing your job, getting more work, getting it done and so on and so on. But it’s worth it, it pays for all the fun things that you’ll do on the weekend…


Wow, the end of the work week is near, you can see it, you can taste it, let’s get ready, get prepared for the run out of the office, stretch your legs, here it comes…


Hallelujah!!! Yeah!!! The weekend is here!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


The weekend feels kind of like this! 🙂  ENJOY! Hope you have a Wonderful Weekend!

The Red-cockaded Woodpecker Is Still Endangered!

The Red-cockaded Woodpecker Is Still Endangered!


Red-cockaded Woodpecker

They’re only about the size of a cardinal, but they play a huge role in the intricate web of life of the southern pine forests.

Making their home in mature pine forests, preferably Longleaf pines, these birds excavate in living mature pine trees, usually around 80 years old, unlike other woodpeckers which bore out cavities in dead rotten and soft trees. The Red-cockaded  may take from 1 to 6 years to bore out a suitable cavity in these trees. 

Due to the widespread commercial timber harvesting, the European settlements and naval store/turpentine industry from the 1700s on through the mid 1900s, the longleaf pine ecosystem initially disappeared. Today many of the southern pine forests are young, which has made it difficult for the Red-cockaded to survive. 

I have seen in a few areas of North Carolina where many different measures are being put in place to protect these birds. Controlled burns are done to help thin out the forest making it healthier for the remaining trees to thrive. Keeping many Longleaf pine forests protected from harvesting so that these birds can continue to have a home.

These birds are rarely visible, you will typically hear them first. I will go birding in the Longleaf pine forests and I stop to listen ever so often, when I hear sounds of what some say is a squeaky toy, then I know that the Red-cockaded is around. Though be careful, the small Brown-headed Nuthatch has a similar squeaky toy sound, though a bit higher pitched.

These woodpeckers were once considered common throughout the longleaf pine ecosystem, with an estimated population of 1.5 million “groups” or family units. Currently there is estimated to be only 14,068 birds left in 11 states!!!

They will make several cavities in a cluster which may include 1 to 20 trees in a 3 to 60 acre area. They ones that they actively use will have small resin wells which exude sap. These smart Woodpeckers will keep the sap flowing as a defense mechanism against rat snakes and possibly other predators.

The Red-cockaded Woodpecker play a vital role in the intricate web of life by building their nest cavities. At least 27 species of vertebrates have been document as using their cavities either for roosting or nesting. Such species include birds, snakes, squirrels, insects, frogs and lizards! Some species, like the wood ducks will only use the cavities that have been abandoned by the Red-cockaded Woodpeckers, and have had the entrance enlarged by the Pileated Woodpeckers. However many other species can use the cavities without any alterations, such as the Brown-headed Nuthatches, Tufted Titmice, Redbellied Woodpeckers, Redheaded Woodpeckers, Eastern Bluebirds, Great Crested Flycatchers and Flying Squirrels. 

The Red-cockaded Woodpecker is a valuable asset to our planet and should not be lost!



This California Western Tanager Is A Beautiful Bright Yellow

This California Western Tanager Is A Beautiful Bright Yellow


Western Tanager

Another day, another park in California… this time I was there looking for this bird and luckily I found it fluttering around in the tree tops.

These birds can be found from the northern parts of western Canada down south into Central America.

Take a closer look at this photo and you will see the insect which the bird is eating. I think it may be an ant or possibly a spider. Insects are their preferred diet, but they also eat fruits.

In the early part of the twentieth century, these birds were thought to pose a huge threat to the commercial fruit crops. In 1896 one person wrote that “the damage done to cherries in one orchard was so great that the sales of the fruit which was left did not balance the bills paid out for poison and ammunition.” Luckily today we have found ways to protect the fruit crops from birds and it is also illegal to shoot native birds, so the Western Tanagers are safer now!

Clark’s Grebe Vs.Western Grebe, It’s All In The Eyes…

Clark’s Grebe Vs.Western Grebe, It’s All In The Eyes…


Clark’s Grebe

The photos above and below are of Grebes that were once thought of as the same species. Up until the 1980s, the Clark’s Grebe was considered a “white morph” or a paler version of the Western Grebe. After some closer study of the two species, they were found to be definitely two different species. 

The major difference between these birds is around the eye. Can you see the eye or is it hidden by the black or dark gray? The Clark’s Grebe has a red eye that is surrounded by white, the black or gray area stops above the eye, while the Western Grebe has red eyes surrounded by black or gray that stops under the eye!

If you are out west and you come across one of these grebes and you are just not quite sure which one it is, since in winter the gray on the western grebes can become much lighter and make identification difficult, take a close look at their bills. The Clark’s Grebe has a bright yellow dagger-like bill while the Western Grebe’s bill is darker, somewhat olive-green or grayish. So look closely and you should be able to identify just which species you are looking at. 


Western Grebe

These birds can be found in North America from British Columbia all the way south into Mexico. They can be found on lakes or in wetlands, I’ve often seen them in the ocean just offshore the California coast.

They prefer to eat fish, but can be opportunist when it comes to the food they eat, and have been know to eat insects, worms, crustaceans and salamanders. Usually they will dive down into the water to forage for small fish.

So don’t panic if you see one of these grebes out west, just take some photos, take some field notes. If you can’t identify the species right there, then go home and do some “homework,” study your photos closely and you should be able to identify. 

Have fun and happy birding!

The Vermillion Flycatcher Is Soooo Pretty!

The Vermillion Flycatcher Is Soooo Pretty!


Vermillion Flycatcher 

As I was walking around a one of the parks in the Lake Piru Recreation Area In California, I suddenly saw a flash of red off to my side. I turned to look and there was this beautiful Vermillion Flycatcher! He was just perched on a grill, then he would fly off to try to catch an insect, then perch again. He wasn’t overly afraid of my presence, but he wouldn’t allow me to come too close… luckily my camera has a good zoom.

About the size of a sparrow, this brightly colored flycatcher is usually found in brush along streams or in woods or near ponds or in open country. They will perch, sometimes only a few inches from the ground, then fly out and grab an insect.

They breed from southeast California east to central Texas and south to Argentina. Spending the winters in the same areas. The females aren’t quite as pretty, they are brownish above with whitish underparts and buff or pinkish undertail coverts. Often times the Vermillion flycatchers will bob their tails like a phoebe.

Let Us Not Forget The American Robin

Let Us Not Forget The American Robin


American Robin

The Robin is a large bird, around 10 inches. They are very widespread, often found in gardens, parks, open areas as well as wooded areas. Breeds from Alaska east to Newfoundland, south to South Carolina, Texas and California. They winter from Canada down through Mexico.

You will often see them running around on lawns or parks, then they’ll stop and cock their heads to the side to search for food. Often seen stopped on a lawn pulling up a earthworm!

Their diet depends on the time of day, they tend to eat more earthworms in the morning. Later in the day they will eat more fruit. It is vulnerable to pesticide poisoning because it forages largely on lawns and parks that have been treated.

The photo above is of a Robin that I startled and it flew up into a tree, it was keeping an eye on me! The photo below is of two possibly immature Robins foraging along the grass in a park in California.