Thursday, September 29, 2011

Cerulean Warbler on The Way to Decline?

The Cerulean Warbler (Dendroica Cerulea) is a less common Warbler. They are certainly not your typical  migrant. There are an estimated 560,000 of them left in the U.S. They have dropped from 4% around 1980's to 7% today. The main reason for it's decline is loss of habitat. Many birds are suffering from habitat loss but the Cerulean Warbler seems to be taking quite a hit. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service tried to get a warrant to put it on the endangered species list, but it was not so. I hope we will be able to save this bird from an extreme drop in population.

Photo Copyright by GLENN BARTLEY. Check out his website at he has excellent pictures.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Field Marks

Take this 1st year Female American Redstart for example. When you have trouble identifying a bird, it is a good idea to try and find something on the bird that is rather distinctive. It can be anything: an eye ring, a faint streak on the belly, bill color, bill length, or leg color. Anything that would help while looking at it in the field guide. Look at the American Redstart in this picture. What are the field marks? Let's see, where the yellow is located on the bird, the amount of yellow underneath and how bright it is, how the tail is positioned, and the white eye ring. These are simple field marks of the Redstart. But some birds require very descriptive field marks and some don't even have any differences at all. For example the Alder and Willow Flycatcher. There is not a way to tell which species it is until it vocalizes. ( Vocalization, key factor in birding.) The field marks of a bird is what makes it unique. Thanks for reading everybody and happy birding!

- John Mark Simmons
    Photo by John Mark Simmons

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Recipe For a Great Birding Day

1. Get a recent report from the area you want to go.

2. Focus on one category of birds like shorebirds or warblers.

3. Go with two or more people to pick up more bird sounds and see more.

4. Look at maps of the area and figure out where you need to go and how to get there so you won't be delayed by backtracking and dead ends.

5. Pack accordingly and dress accordingly to the habitat to avoid delays.

These basic tips might help improve your day of birding and let you enjoy the experience more.  Have a nice day!
Posted by John Mark Simmons
Photo by John Mark Simmons

What is a Traill's flycatcher?

I know some people out there already know what one is but I wanted to clarify it for everyone. ( Sadly) I just figured this out recently. A Traill's flycatcher is the name used when someone finds a flycatcher that could be either a Willow or an Alder flycatcher. The only way to tell them apart is if you here it vocalize. For a very long time the Willow and the Alder Flycatcher were considered the same species. Because even if you got to hold each one in your hand you would not be able to tell the difference. Because there isn't one except for the voice. A bird's song is one of the most important tools to memorize. It helps in so many ways.

Posted by John Mark Simmons

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Ruby Throated Hummingbird At My Feeder

I finally put up my hummingbird feeder after several years of letting it sit. The Hummers found it immediately and one particular female has found a prominent perch in an Oak tree right outside my dining room window. It is very easy to put the scope on and I look at it every day. What I really wanted to talk about was the Hummingbird's migration. The Hummers have to fatten up before their very long a perilous journey to the South. I have watched as this Hummer gets bigger every day. I think she might leave sometime soon. If a Hummer stops just once during their migration they might die. They have to keep moving. Hummingbirds are one of the coolest birds in creation. I mean, 80 beats a second?? Yeah, thats a lot. I tried to put up a video of the Hummer that I phone scoped. It turned out great except that I can't upload it. I'll try to figure out what the problem is.
Photos by John Mark Simmons
Posted by John Mark Simmons

Her favorite perch in the Oak tree! Twelve feet from the window.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Battle of the Owls

Do you agree with this?  I saw this article in the Wall Street Journal awhile back. It is quite disturbing. The Spotted Owl is an endangered species. And there are a group of ornithologists ( I cannot remember if it was DNR or something else) that want to start SHOOTING Barred Owls in order to save the Spotted Owl. The reason being that the Barred Owl is a competitor of the Spotted. Because other efforts have failed to try and save the Spotted Owl. It continues to decline.  I do not agree with this plan. I think you can try to defend a bird to a point. But when you cross the line in trying to save one bird is starting to kill another. This is definitely crossing the line for me. Mind you this is only going to happen in the Spotted Owl's territory in the West.  Comment below and state your opinion. Kill Barred Owl to ATTEMPT to save Spotted? Or don't shoot Barred Owls.

 Spotted                                                                                          Barred


 Spotted Owl Image from                                            Barred Owl Image from
I just pulled them from google images and these links were attached.