Author Archives: Amy

I found summer!

Summer had yet to arrive in our part of the country when we left home yesterday. The high temp in our part of Lake County, Illinois was just 60°F whereas the normal is 76°F. Tomorrow & Saturday are predicted in the low 70’s. After driving south for the past two days, I know where summer has been hiding. OMG it’s hot here!

This afternoon we had a hot, sweaty picnic at the lovely Georgia Veterans State Park where we were joined by curious Northern Mockingbirds and a few Common Grackles watching us from Spanish moss-covered trees. We took a short walk there after lunch and actually saw our first ever Tufted Titmouse. They range in our part of Illinois but for some reason they are kind of hard to find in our county.

We’re now staying at a hotel close to the Space Coast with the main goal of seeing the Space Shuttle launch on Saturday morning. But first, some (hopefully good) birding!

There is a group of Least Terns flying around the roof of our hotel, transporting fish and making a lot of noise. Are they feeding young?

While trying to make a video of the tern shenanigans, this flock of White Ibis flew by. Can’t wait to see some more southern birds tomorrow!

Posted in Florida, Travel, Video | Leave a comment

Blackbirds divebomb Cranes

During our Saturday walk at Rollins, we saw this Sandhill Crane family (the same small family that we had previously observed) being divebombed by Red-winged Blackbirds. And those blackbirds aren’t kidding – see how they really smack into the adult cranes!

Now we knew that cranes eat crustaceans, but we didn’t realize these meat-eaters would also be a threat to the Red-winged Blackbirds – or rather, their young. A post on Laura Erickson’s Twin Beaks blog (and this one) this week cleared that up though. Yikes.

Posted in Behavior, LCFPD, Video | Leave a comment

BPW: Pied Kingfisher

I’m digging into the archives for this one. The Pied Kingfisher was one of the most abundant species we came across during our visit to the Gambia in January 2007.

These guys are cute and noisy. We heard them almost everywhere we went if we were close to water. You can hear what they sound like here. We saw them perching in trees, where they would call one another, or, more interestingly, hovering above the water hunting for fish.

Here’s one relaxing on the rocks between hunting sessions.

piedstand

This one appears to be taking the easy route – hunting from the side of a bridge. Scouting before going out there and hovering is probably a good idea.

piedlooking

This is how they look when hunting. They were so fun to watch!

piedbpw

Be sure to check out the other bird photos submitted for this week’s Bird Photography Weekly.

Posted in Africa, Bird Photography Weekly, Gambia | 5 Comments

Rollins with Lake-Cook Audubon

We had another walk at Rollins Savanna on Saturday. This time it was another bird walk sponsored by Lake-Cook Audubon (their last walk of the season). It was an overcast and unseasonably cool morning, with rain forecast for the early afternoon. Despite the weather, over 45 birders of all levels joined in the walk. Here are most of us at the start of the walk.

Lots Of Birders

We did lose quite a bit of birders along the way – including us! We walked ahead of the group just shortly after the halfway point in the loop trail, after three hours of birding.

Because the group was so large, we split in two. Even then, we were still birding with a huge group. Here’s our half just shortly after we began.

Birders Birding

By the way, I’m not sure you’ve noticed (ha!), but I really like to take photos of birders. I don’t exactly know why. When we went birding in Holland we never went with a group so I would always get a kick out of seeing photos in online newspapers of birders all looking in one direction through their binoculars or focusing their cameras on the same thing. I just like birding as a hobby so much so I guess seeing photos of people doing it in a big group makes me smile.

On Saturday the Bobolinks that had been so prevalent during our last walk were a bit more subdued. We still saw many males singing, but we didn’t observe any females at all. A few of the males were quite bold, giving us great views from perches close to the trail.

Singing Bobolink

Bobolink

The Meadowlarks, on the other hand, seemed to be a bit more vocal than they were the last few times we were at Rollins. We heard these almost everywhere during the walk, but they kept their distance.

We noticed Eastern Kingbirds at at least three different locations, including what seemed to be two pairs.

Eastern Kingbird

We saw lots of birds flying high over the savanna, including Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, a Marsh Harrier, plus this Red-tailed Hawk being pestered by a Red-winged Blackbird and a flock of Canada Geese.

Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

Goose Flock

In total we counted 37 observed species, including three lifers: Sedge Wren; Northern Rough-winged Swallow; and a fleeting look at a Virginia Rail.

Rollins Savanna

Posted in Illinois, LCFPD, Life List | Leave a comment

McHenry Dam outing to end May

On Sunday we went out again with Lake-Cook Audubon, this time to an outing at McHenry Dam, which is part of Moraine Hills State Park in McHenry County. We took the Fox River trail which passes through meadow, marsh, wetland and forest habitat.

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There are even two observation decks, including this one that almost looks like a blind!

blind

Arthur and I noted 37 observed species, with six lifers! Arthur also recently started using Birdstack (I started a while back but never finished) to record all bird species we have observed. Our ‘actual’ life list is now at 442 species total.

On one part of the trail, we observed a Common Yellowthroat, one of our six lifers on the outing.

Common Yellowthroat

The next 8 or 10 birds we saw were Yellowthroats, but each time we saw the movement of a bird in the bushes, we looked hopefully through our bins, looking for a new species. But they were all Yellowthroats. Well, they are Common – it’s true!

We also ran back to see this lifer Orchard Oriole that a few stragglers in our group found in a tree.

Orchard Oriole

Besides birds we also saw lots of turtles, a rather large muskrat, and this huge bullfrog.

bullfrog

Another great outing with Lake-Cook Audubon!

Posted in Illinois, Lake-Cook Audubon, Life List | Leave a comment

My visitors came from *where* in May?!

Here are some of the more interesting search terms that brought visitors to this site during May. You can see previous editions of this monthly post here.

Searches for Magnificent Frigatebird-related information continue to bring visitors. Last month people searched for frigatebird bible, frigate birds natural enemies, magnificent frigate bird for children, frigate bird food chain, and how does a magnificent frigate reproduce? (what are the options for birds?).

Interesting and funny typos for the month include hummbird food, alalbama birdhouse, pigeon fancers, magnificient riffle bird, bird watching supplys, birders termanology, outdoor wildlife bird suppyies, and my favorite, sworowski monoculr.

I noticed a lot of searches for birdhouses and birdfeeders last month. Some of the search terms sound pretty funny to me, but most of them were for houses or feeders that are actually available for purchase, like these: bird house airstream; hummsicle; pirate birdhouse; and diving cat bird bath.

My favorite funny search terms for May were do loons breed in illinois? (a question I had myself a couple of months ago), rectangle scope (ouch!), passerine turkey, and quiet birding clothing.

Posted in Search Terms | Leave a comment

Homemade bird feeding pole “system”

Today Arthur and my dad made a bird feeder pole for our back yard. First we all went to Home Depot to pick up the materials. The pole system is based on several feeders my parents have, all made by my dad. We used black pipes normally used for natural gas and/or plumbing systems. For this project we used:

One 2′ long, 1 inch diameter pipe (“the base”)
One 10′ long, 1/2 inch diameter pipe (“the long pole”)
One 18″ long, 1/2 inch diameter pipe (“the arm”)
One 1/2 T-section joint
Two 1/2 inch end caps
Two each: S-hook, nut/bolt, large washer, small washer

At Home Depot, we had an 18″ piece cut off the 10-foot pipe, and the cut side of the 18″ pipe threaded.

Here are Arthur and my dad preparing for the project. (My dad’s wearing dark glasses because he just had lens replacement surgery on his eyes.)

feeder1

First, the T-section was screwed onto the top of the long pole.

feeder2

Both 18″ arms were then screwed into the sides of the T-section.

feeder2a
feeder2b

They used a drill to cut holes in the end caps and then used the bolts, nuts & washers to secure the S-hooks to the ends of the caps. Pliers were used to tighten the S-hook around the bolt. The end-caps were then screwed onto the ends of the arms.

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We then used a sledgehammer to pound the base pipe directly into the ground. We first hammered one end of the pipe in slightly, to prevent too much dirt entering the pipe from below. When the pipe was buried with only a few inches above the ground, we slid the long pole into the base. Since the pipes were not meant to nest this way, the long pole wobbled a bit. We used shims to make the fit more snug. I think the final result is pretty cool:

feeder5

This system is much more substantial than the shepherd’s hooks we’re now using for our feeders. We can finally hang our Wingscapes Birdcam and hopefully get some more interesting shots than the ground images I’ve gotten over the past months. Here’s a sample we got late this afternoon.

feeder6

Posted in Products, Yard Birds | 17 Comments