My visitors came from *where* in November 2011?!?!?

Here are my favorite search terms that brought visitors to this site during November 2011. This is part of an ongoing monthly series on blog search terms.

Last month there were a bunch of search terms that just made me laugh out loud.

* owls with mohawks – really!?
* shirts about having a lisp – I don’t have any, but maybe I should design some?
* gift ideas for women who like to sleep – another niche I have yet to explore.
* thermal spaghetti tank – contradictory much?
* pigeon in prison – for public defecation? stealing bread? loitering?
* who was poor sam peabody – hopefully the searcher got his/her answer!
* owl drawings for kids that are colored – is that the best way to phrase your search?

One day I found the term florida small birds in my stats; the next day a different person searched for big birds of florida. Another day, another user: bird size comparison chart. Conclusion: focus more on bird size in future posts.

I love that someone searched for what are the official colors of bird banding and what are the official symbol of bird banding. Oh, I wish there was an answer for that! Think of all the shirts I could design! 😉

To the person searching for funny birding outfits – wrong site, buddy!

I wonder if an egyptian griffin hummingbird would be cute?

Most intriguing search term of the month: wesley the owl movie

Funniest search result: whoever searched for ivory-billed woodpecker graph of extinction somehow ended up here!

Finally, to the person searching is annual bald eagle watch at starved rock fun?: YES, it is. When you go, be sure to look for juvenile eagles wearing bling!

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Grebe pellets & submarines

The other day at Gemini Springs I watched a pair of Pied-billed Grebes swimming around the fishing pier. During a period in which they were swimming on the surface for a long period, I took a video of the little water birds, setting my camera on the pier railing. After I started recording, an Osprey flew close over where I was standing, and I lifted up my binoculars to watch it hunting.

It wasn’t until I got home that I noticed the camera captured two interesting moments with the grebes. First, right at the start of the video, one of the grebes cast a pellet!

Birds cast pellets which consist of undigested materials. I bet a lot of birders are familiar with owls regurgitating pellets; dissecting pellets is a popular educational activity for school kids and anyone can actually purchase owl pellets online for this purpose. But owls are not the only birds that cast pellets after meals. Kingfishers, corvids, herons, swallows, shorebirds and others all cast pellets of varying sizes. The pellet cast by the grebe seems quite large in proportion to the bird when I think about the size of pellets cast by Barn, Great Horned, and Barred Owls, American Kestrels, and Red-tailed Hawks (the species pellets with which I am somewhat familiar).

The other behavior I caught on video was the second grebe doing a submarine move – appearing to submerge in place, rather than a more typical flamboyant diving movement. I’ve never seen this behavior before, but it’s apparently quite normal, judging from the Google results when searching grebe submarine.

Since I was watching the Osprey while my camera shot the grebes, I didn’t get to see either of these interesting moments with my own eyes. Thank you, camera! I will pay extra attention to the grebes who seem to be settling in at Gemini Springs for the winter, and hopefully I’ll see some interesting behavior like this. Who knows?!

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Posted in Behavior, Florida, Funny, Gemini Springs, Video, Volusia Birding | Leave a comment

Thanksgiving kayaking @ Blue Spring

Arthur and I had a quiet morning paddle at Blue Spring State Park on Thanksgiving Day. The warm spring is very popular with swimmers, though it’s recently been closed to human-type swimmers for the season because of these guys.

All three manatee photos were taken November 21st

Manatee Party

Rolling with the flow

Walking to the river with our kayaks, the first bird we saw was a Red-shouldered Hawk perched above the dock. A good start to the day.

Red-shouldered Hawk

Our short trip began at the canoe put-in next to the St. Johns River Cruises pier. We paddled against the slow-moving northward flow of the river, and struggled a bit in windy conditions.

St Johns River

There was a big American Alligator across the river from the dock.

American Alligator

We took our first right to stay with the original flow of the St. Johns (going straight would have taken us through a part of the river that was straightened during the riverboat boom).

Another right took us to Snake Creek, a naturally winding path that would have lead us to Hontoon Island, if we had that much paddlin’ in us.

It was quiet, but we were not alone.

Snake Creek

FL Red-bellied Turtle?

Snake Creek

Little Blue Heron

Snake Creek

On the way back, we had a peek at the place where the spring run meets the St. Johns. We were hoping to see manatees. No joy, though there were several Double-crested Cormorants perched at the end of the run.

Double-crested Cormorant

As we headed back to shore, we spied a Black Vulture having a drink.

Black Vulture

Several of his friends were waiting in the trees above us.

Black Vultures

We had a great morning out and just may have started a brand new Thanksgiving tradition. Belated best wishes to my blog readers – I hope your Thanksgiving was wonderful!

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Posted in Florida, Florida State Park, Kayak, Volusia Birding | Leave a comment

THANK YOU! (was: URGENT Call For Help!)

November 23, 2011 – I’m updating this post to sincerely THANK ALL OF MY FRIENDS AND READERS who voted for FCWR in the recent Chase Community Giving Campaign on Facebook which ended Tuesday, November 22nd. The vote was close at the end and FCWR got a huge push of support when they really needed it! In the final ranking they ended up at #77 and will receive much-needed funding of $25,000. Thank you, thank you, thank you! – Amy

Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation is participating in the Chase Community Giving Campaign on Facebook which ends in just under two hours. Charities in the top 100 at the end of voting will receive $25,000 of funding, but FCWR has slipped out of the top 100. Please take just a moment to help the animals and vote for Flint Creek in this campaign. When you vote, the button says “VOTE AND SHARE” but you are NOT required to share anything on your Facebook wall. Please vote, please share, please help the animals.

This post originally appeared on Birdorable

If you’re on Facebook or you know someone who is, please consider supporting our favorite wildlife rehabber, Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation, with a vote in the Chase Community Giving Campaign. Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation is a private, not-for-profit organization in the Chicago area treating over 3,400 animals annually! The vote is completely free and gives Flint Creek the chance to get funding from $25,000 to $250,000, depending on where they end up in the final vote.

Voting just takes a moment!
Visit the Chase Community Giving application and vote for FCWR!

Vote Now

Flint Creek recently released a pair of orphaned Bald Eagles back to the wild after raising them to independence so be sure to check out their Facebook page and look for photos of that fantastic event.

Some of you may know that we (Arthur and Amy) volunteered with FCWR and that this all-volunteer wildlife rescue organization means a lot to both of us. Your support would be greatly appreciated and remember, it doesn’t cost anything! Please vote if you’re on Facebook and share the word with your family and friends, too. Voting ends November 22nd.

For more information about Flint Creek check out their website or Facebook page.

Thank you!

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Posted in Charity, Conservation, FCWR | 2 Comments

Lifer #575

On Sunday, a grey and windy day, I drove up to the Illinois Beach State Park Hawk Watch. I wanted to visit with some friends there, but I have to admit there was another draw – a female Mountain Bluebird had been seen around the pavilion fairly regularly since November 9th.

When I pulled up I started fiddling with my binoculars and camera. I was still fumbling with my stuff as I started walking up to the pavilion – only to be greeted by Paul Sweet and Karen Lund, cameras in hand, pointing them in my general direction. Apparently the Mountain Bluebird arrived about the same time I did. I dropped everything to watch this lovely lost lady and snap some pictures. Life bird #575!

IBSP Mountain Bluebird

IBSP Mountain Bluebird

IBSP Mountain Bluebird

IBSP Mountain Bluebird

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Posted in Hawk Watch, Illinois, Life List | 3 Comments

Guest post: ARC’s Fall Owl Fest

On Saturday Arthur attended an event at a raptor / rehabilitation center back home in central Florida. While I continue my Illinois visit, Arthur was kind enough to write up what he saw there. Thanks for this, my first blog guest post, honey!

While my wife Amy was off to see the release by Flint Creek of the two Mooseheart Eagles at Starved Rock State Park in Illinois, I drove over to Apopka to check out the annual Owl Fest at the Avian Reconditioning Center. The ARC is open to the public every Saturday from 10am to 4pm (see our visit in September), but the annual Fall Owl Fest is its largest event.



I got there just after 10am and it wasn’t very crowded yet, but the parking lot quickly filled up. There was live music, activities for kids, green-living exhibits and product vendors, but what drew the most attention was, of course, the pavilion with live owls and birds of prey. ARC’s resident Education Ambassadors were on display on perches and gloves, showing off their beautiful feathers. Among the many birds were two Bald Eagles, a Barred Owl, Kestrel, Swallow-tailed Kite and two Barn Owls.




In September we got to see ARC co-founder Scott McCorkle fly a pair of Harris’s Hawks. At Saturday’s event he flew a Peregrine Falcon named Cora. The bird first flew around in circles over the excited crowd. Then the falconer took out a corded lure and swung it around and around for the bird to chase. It was very cool to see the falcon swoop by at lightning speed.



You can visit to learn more about the organization.

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Starved Rock Eaglet Release

Saturday was magical.

The first eaglet flies free!

Two beautiful young Bald Eagles were released at Starved Rock State Park on a perfect fall day.

So many people came to share the day with Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation.

A short program started at 11AM and when I walked out with Darwin I was amazed at the huge crowd, the bird paparazzi, all the positive energy.

Media and fans have been posting photos, videos, and beautiful tributes on FCWR’s Facebook page and elsewhere on the web. The coverage has been phenomenal. The following list is just a handful:

Chicago Tribune blog: bald eagles gone wild
Chicago Tribune video: Rescued eagles released at Starved Rock
Daily Herald: Eaglets rescued at Mooseheart released at Starved Rock
Sun-Times: Mooseheart’s eaglets return to the wild
Kane County Chronicle: Mooseheart eagles take flight at Starved Rock
St. Charles Patch: Up and Away: Mooseheart Eaglets Soar …
Flickr: Returned to the wild!
Blog: Mooseheart Eagles … First Flight Toward Their New Home
Facebook album (FCWR): Mooseheart Eagles’ Release Day
Facebook album: Mooseheart Eaglet Release and More
Facebook album: Eagle Release
My Facebook album: Bald Eagle Release

Transporting the eaglets to Plum Island for the release; Phil & Scott photograph the crowd

The crowd waits for the eaglet release

The releases on Plum Island were spectacular. The birds flew strong and the crowd was mesmerized.

The release of the first eaglet

The release of the second eaglet

The program afterwards drew another huge crowd. Journey was a star and everyone was amazed by his story, and by his beauty.

Journey and Dawn

My heart was completely full of love from being with so many friends, old and new, feathered and otherwise. It was truly a magical day. If only Arthur was here with me, it would have been absolutely perfect.

Pip, Bill and Kim

Kotori and Frank

If you are on Facebook, please take just a moment to help FCWR in the Chase Community Giving campaign. Voting is FREE and each vote gives FCWR a chance at a bigger funding amount. Please vote and share with your friends.

Darwin and a very happy blogger. I’m still smiling!

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Posted in FCWR, Festivals & Events | 1 Comment

Fun while it lasted

Audubon’s Birding the Net ended on Monday, November 7th, when the final two birds were released. Arthur and I had a lot of fun playing the game, especially during that brief shining moment after the penultimate bird, the Black-capped Vireo, was released, and we were in the top two positions.

The leaderboard with just two participants at 33 birds!

Unfortunately we were not so clever when the last clues were revealed, and though we did eventually find the Sandhill Crane, we were no longer in the running for a top prize.

Find the blog, read the comments, find the Sandhill Crane profile, click the My Web Page link…

… and find the final bird!

Kudos to Audubon for a fun and challenging competition, and congratulations to the winners, which will be announced officially sometime around November 15th.

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Posted in Contest, Social Media, Websites & Blogs | 1 Comment

Random Red-shouldered Hawk stretches

I stopped along the Spring-to-spring bike path in DeBary to watch a Red-shouldered Hawk perched along the edge of the forest. The path is heavily used and I didn’t think the bird would mind my stopping. I was right. Shortly after I settled in to take some photos, the bird casually stretched its wings and roused. It was still perched when I left a few minutes later.

Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk

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Posted in Behavior, Florida, Volusia Birding | Leave a comment

Amazing bird clips

This past week three extraordinary video clips made the social media rounds among birders. Here they are, in case you missed them.

William Rhein narrates Imperial Woodpecker film comes to us from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. This clip shows the only photographic evidence of this bird known to exist.

Paraglider vs vulture is a helmet-cam video taken by a Russian paraglider as a Griffon Vulture gets tangled in his main parachute. The footage is pretty amazing; beware the foul language in the English subtitles on this version of the clip.

Murmuration is a remarkable video of an extremely common bird. Trust me, just watch it.

Murmuration from Sophie Windsor Clive on Vimeo.

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