Wednesday, January 30, 2008

More Flicker pics

My N Flicker has been hanging around so I took some more pics about 5 mins ago. This is one beautiful bird!!!

Monday, January 28, 2008


I found this N Shrike perched in a tree off US 14 in the field just east of Buckhorn Ln. The bird was in the middle of the field and I was on the opposite side of the road so the pics aren't all that great. It is a Shrike though! Their status this winter is hovering around "uncommon" to "common" right now. usually they're uncommon to rare.
I do love Shrikes though!!!!!!! This one is my second for the year!! It was a good find for me because the last one I saw was a little shaky. It was one of those split second sightings that you would have to guess at the ID if it were any shorter. anyway, I'm glad I got it. I'm down to only 560 more species that I have to see before the year is up. well, I have a long ways to go, and I can't miss a single species. Otherwise I'm cooked. lol

Happy Birding!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Feeder activity lately

Not much going on around the feeders lately. Not even any Redpolls or any winter finches except for the occasional Purple or House finches. The only real bird of interest lately has been this N Flicker. I don't usually see them at my feeder although they're common in the area and can be seen daily.

This picture was digiscoped through binoculars.
Here's a link to more "binocularscoped" pictures I've taken:

Happy Birding!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Differences between Snowy Owls and albino Red-tailed hawks with extra info on Snowys

Ever since someone reported a Snowy Owl near Mukwanago WI, there's been some discussion over whether it is a snowy or not. It was also mentioned that an albino Red-tailed Hawk had been seen in the area before but not since two years ago.
There are some that argue that the bird was the Red-tail but others that say it was a snowy. The original observer feels that the bird is indeed a snowy. I'm inclined to agree with him until proven otherwise. Snow Owls are very difficult to misidentify.
Mike Hendrikson at "colder by the lake" birding blog says otherwise. He says that he has had people misidentify such birds as Red-tailed and Rough-legged hawks and even crows or ravens and mistake them for Snowy Owls. Well... I believe Mike. He's an excellent birder and trip leader and he has a ton more experience than I do. I still can't get over how people can misidentify such a striking bird as a Snowy Owl though.
To give you an idea of how difficult it is, I've posted some pics that I've pulled of the web. (note, these are not my pictures and I lay no claim to them. I'm merely compiling them for comparison reasons) lol, I probably broke some kind of copyright law though.
anyway, these are not the worlds best comparisons but they do illustrate to a point the differences between Snowys and albino red-tails.

Note the posture. Snowys tend more to look like their leaning forward. Compare with the very upright posture of Red-tails.

I believe the picture below is copyright Mike Mcdowel. One of WI's top digiscopers.

Note in this pic the very upright posture that this hawk is maintaining.

This bird has more of the leaning forward posture that we sometimes see in Red-tails and may look more like a Snowy at a distance. Note though that this bird is quite a bit thinner looking than a snowy might look.
(sorry these aren't any bigger)

Note also that the general head shape is completely different. The red-tails look much more "hawk-like" than the rounded head of the Snowy Owl.

There are also differences in color between red-tails and snowys (not in these birds but in non-albino red-tails). I tend to think of red-tails having an off white breast. Almost yellowish in color. Snowy Owls are mostly pure white. I know of no color variations in the white coloring of these birds other than the black barring that some snowys display. Snowy owls tend to be pure white. Snow white. Rarely is the color an off white (unless the bird is dirty or something).

Here are some extra links about Snowy Owls. I've tried to keep the sources as respectable as possible.

Saturday, January 19, 2008


The temp this morning was 24 degrees below zero... without wind chill. That was just the ambient air temperature.
That's cold enough to freeze the tail off a peacock! That's cold enough to freeze the wind in mid blow! It was so cold it was hard to breath if you stepped outside. I'd imagine it was pretty bad for the birds too. The high today was only -1.
To quote the Birdchick ( "People were feeling sorry for house sparrows". On the way home from Madison today, I spotted several Red-tailed Hawks, a lone Rough-leg, two Kestrels and about a dozen crows. That was all. The raptors were out only to hunt so they could keep warm.
I hope you all are keeping warm out there. It's darn cold here.
Hopefully, this cold will bring some more northern birds south. Aaron Holschbach in Arena, found a golden eagle this afternoon (most likely minutes after I passed by the same area with out seeing the bird).
Oh well, I'll get Goldens eventually.

Keep warm,
Happy Birding!

Friday, January 18, 2008

LE Owl directions

For those of you who may be going to Chicago sometime soon. You may wish to see the beautiful birds.
Therefore, I am posting the directions to the birds. They have already been posted to IBET (the IL bird listserve) so they are out in public and not hard to find.

"Via a friend whose children go the the school:

Mary Richardson Park, a Chicago Park District park (CPD)adjacent to
South Loop Elementary School:

Mary Richardson Park is inside a development in the south loop that
can be tricky to find. The crossroads are Roosevelt Rd (1200 South)
and State (0 East/West). From Roosevelt, head south on State to 14th
Street. Turn Right (west) and go one block to Plymouth Ct. Turn
Right (north) and go one block to 13th Street. The park is on the
corner of Plymouth and 13th and there is a stand of 5 or so evergreen
trees and the birds are there."


-greg neise
Berwyn, IL"

Happy Birding and good luck if you go.

More on the LE Owls in Chicago

Here's a few more links (including some pics) I've found on the Long-eared Owls in Chicago's south loop area:,CST-NWS-owl11.article

Happy Birding!

Another Owl post

Here's a story in the Chicago Tribune about the LE Owls that are roosting on the south side of the loop.,0,5498599.story

What a perfect publicity subject for birds, birding and birders. There are people stopping by that aren't birders that enjoy the owls. One girl, Nina, who is 17, got to see the birds for her birthday. She was quite ecstatic about it. As they point out, "remarkable things are ahead". Only good can come from this.

However, protecting the birds should be at the back of all our minds. They don't seem to be disturbed as of now. I hope that stays that way. We should be watching the birds closely and be prepared to back off at the slightest sign of disturbing them.
Otherwise, I say enjoy them while they're there. If they don't appear to be disturbed, then it means that owls and people are living side by side. The owls get what they need and we get to enjoy them.

Now I just have to get down there before roosting season is over. I need LE Owl for a few lists. Not just my year list. lol

Happy Birding!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Long-eared Owls in the south loop in chicago. you call these sensitive?

Here in WI and in MN, just posting LE Owl location to a listserve can get you in big trouble. Down in Chicago, LE Owls are becoming a celebrity with birders throughout the city and with a certain elementary school where these birds have taken up residence.

So this means that LE Owls in Chicago are less sensitive than Owls in WI or MN?,
means that you can give away LE Owl locations in IL but not in WI? If I posted LE Owl locations to Wisbirdn, I'd get shot by the list owner and a few dozen other people. Because of this repression of sightings, information about these birds has not accumulated like it should. I mean, people in WI don't even post LE Owl sightings to Ebird!! much less tell anyone else about them. They are a far too understudied bird and I think we underestimate just how adaptable these birds are.

Reference: Birdchick blog:

Monday, January 14, 2008


3 House and 2 Purple finches at my feeder today. First I've seen since before Christmas.

No, this isn't a house finch and no the other bird is not a purple finch.
Anybody have any ideas as to what they are? (yes, this is one of my photo quizzes)

I'll even give you an idea of where I found them (extra points if you can guess where):

Well, Earthbird was the only one to answer. and she got the ID right.

The two birds are Black Rosy-finch in the first and third pics and Am Pipit in the middle one.
Location is at the top of Beartooth pass in the Beartooth mountains of southern Montana.

I wish the pics could show just how beautiful it is up there. But no number of pics can.

Happy Birding!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Sauk city birding today and 5 more year birds!

Mom and I went birding this afternoon over by Sauk City. First we checked the dam, then a couple places along the river and then we headed up county C to Natural Bridge SP. I added 5 species to my year list.

The complete bird list is as follows (* indicates new for the year):
Canada Goose
Mallard (about a thousand of them)
Green-winged Teal*
Wood Duck*
3 Greylags
Mourning Dove
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Red-tailed Hawk
Rough-legged Hawk*
Am Goldfinch
N Shrike*
Horned Lark*
Am Kestrel
E Bluebird
Bald Eagle (about a dozen and a half)
House Sparrow
Rock Dove

I'm now up to 38 for the year and counting.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Year bird #33!

I just heard year bird #33!! A lone Barred Owl!! Calling from my back yard too.

No, sorry, this guy isn't the same one.

i took this pic back in Nov down by the Balmoral Dam.

Happy Birding!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Birding this morning.

Jason Vidas and I spent the morning birding the (very foggy) SE part of the county.   We first stopped at Bob Hirschy's house to check for the Carolina Wren. No show.  Then we headed down to County JJ near Gotham and quickly found to Bald Eagles and a Red-tailed Hawk at the Cemetary on JJ.  The we swung down to Lone Rock and perused around on some of the backroads (finding almost nothing) before heading over to Bakken's pond.  At Bakken's we found some Red-breasted Nuthatches and some of the usual winter birds.  Finding nothing more at Bakken's, we "cut our losses" as Jason put it and headed over to the Avoca Prairie.  Once there we walked back on the snowcovered road looking for anything else. Some Cardinals showed up right away quickly followed by a young Bald Eagle. Then in the woods, we found a flock of easily pished in Juncos, Cardinals and Am Tree Sparrows. There were also lots of Blue Jays in the area. No Brown Creepers though.  

On the way to Madison this afternoon I spotted a N Harrier.  That made two birds added to my year list today, bringing it up to 32 species.  There's still another 20-30 species I need before winter leaves WI. At least I have a few months until winter gives out. plenty of time to find the winter gulls and specialty winter species. 

Happy Birding!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Bird #30! Red-breasted Nuthatch!

I saw the resident Red-breasted Nuthatch this morning. That's bird #30 for the year.

interestingly enough, it's exactly the same number as Andrea at Earthbirds has:

She's doing well for a relatively new birder (well, relative to me anyway). She's got some good birds.
It's nice to see another young bird blogger like myself.

Tomorrow, Jason Vidas and I are headed out in search of a Carolina Wren, winter Finches, Waxwings, and anything else we can lay eyes on.

So until then, Happy Birding!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Northern Goshawk!

Yesterday evening, I IDed a N Goshawk over on Cty OO near the middle school (mom found it for me)
It was clearly an Accipiter with a long tail and dark bluey-black back. The chest was grey rather than the reddish color of an adult cooper's or sharpie. You could also just barely make out the white supercilium of an Adult N Goshawk.

I'm glad I got that one out of the way. Goshawks are tricky to find at best. Especially around here and I'm not foreseeing any future trips to the northern rockies where they can be found. They are also one of the coolest N American Hawks. This one is the 3rd Goshawk that I have found in Richland County. I've only ever seen 5 of them. The other two being out west. One of them being this year when I was out visiting the Tetons and Yellowstone.

Now, on to the next bird. I still need Snowbuntings, Horned Larks and Lapland Longspurs.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Sauk city yesterday and the start of my big year.

Yesterday was Jan 1. It marked the start of my big year. My goal this year is to find at least 600 species or more. As many as I can find. The year is starting out well. I saw all the possible winter woodpeckers without even stepping outside. A quick walk around the neighborhood pushed the numbers up to 18 for the day. Then I convinced mom to run down to Sauk City to look for some rare gulls. That trip added 9 species to my list including the highlight of the day. A lone Lesser-black-backed Gull. That brought my year list to 27 species. I could find no other rare gulls among the Ring-bills and Herrings. I'm hoping to get back over there sometime soon. The 3 rare gulls reported there would be lifers. Glaucous, Glaucous-winged and Thayer's. I saw one gull that could have been a Thayer's but it didn't show the underwing clearly enough to be certain. That gull has eluded me again and again. I'll catch up with it someday. until then, keep studying that gull book.

Happy Birding!