Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Stokes Sticks Out!

I think one of the field guides I own has excelled many others: "The Stokes Field Guide to the Birds of North America."
The Stokes Field Guide to the Birds of North America
This guide, however, does not hold any history on the birds, like "The Young Birder's Guide to the Birds of Eastern North America," or "Birds of Illinois." It is strictly dedicated to six things: Shape, habitat, voice, subspecies, hybrid birds and range. There are eight hundred fifty-four species, from your backyard favorites, to those magnificent high-interest rarities that you are just dying to see. Updated range maps and spectacular descriptions make this guide excellent! With more than thirty-four hundred astonishingly good photos all by Donald and Lillian Stokes from every angle imaginable, this guide makes for easy identification and a great learning opportunity. All plumages from almost every bird are there, right at your fingertips:
  • Male
  • Female
  • Immature
  • Summer
  • Winter
  • Morphs
  • Notable subspecies
  • Birds in flight
If you purchase the full version (eastern and western region), you will also find a special downloadable CD at the back of the book, with over six hundred songs, straight from the backyard! In the front and back, there are two flaps. The front flap shows a quick identification guide, ABA birding codes and a range map "decoder." The back flap is a biography of the authors, Don and Lillian Stokes, "Parts of a Bird: The Basics" and a key abbreviation "dictionary." You can buy this book on Amazon for $16.49. I won't guarantee (just to be safe, o course), but this book is bound to take your birdwatching to the next level. Though, it does have its drawbacks. For one thing, it is a little too cumbersome for some people's tastes (myself included) out in the field. The other thing is, all of those high interest rarites get in the way! Overall, I would give it , out of ten stars, a deserved 8.75. Happy birding!

-Mr. Bird

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Young Birder's (Review of the) Guide to Birds of Eastern North America

The Young Birder's guide to Birds of Eastern North America, written by Bill Thompson III, is an excellent guide for birders eight and up. Even I use it! I received it as a gift when I had just turned nine. I had been birdwatching for about a year, but didn't really understand it.

The Young Birder's Guide to Birds of Eastern North America
One quote by Richard Louv says, "The Young Birder's Guide is a terrific gift of nature." In the front of the book, it shows lots of useful advice, such as:

  1. What is Birding?
  2. Getting Started in Bird Watching
  3. Identification Basics
  4. Field Skills
  5. Birding Manners
  6. Birding by Habitat
  7. Be Green: Ten Things You Can Do for Birds
  8. How to Use This Guide
  9. Ten Tips for Beginning Bird Watchers
  10. Species Accounts
  11. Resources
  12. Glossary
  13. Acknowledgments
  14. Index

Inside it is sorted by family (I believe, anyway), and at the bottom of every page is a checklist. Also, there is an illustration hand-drawn by Julie Zickfoose, a "WOW!" section that tells something interesting about the bird, and a tiny map that tells you where to find the bird. It is a great guide for finding the bird quickly! At the top of the page, it shows it's scientific name and the bird's length or wingspan. It also has a "Look For" section, a "Listen For" section and a "Remember" section. And last, but not least, is the "Find it" section. You can buy it on new for $20.00, or used for $12.00. If you're a kid birder, I suggest you get it. Happy birding!

-Mr. Bird

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Birdfest #2

Today was a birdwatcher's lucky day! We saw a TON of birds. Here's another list of the species we saw:

  • 0 House Finches (hooray!)
  • 1 Gray Squirrel (UGH!!!)
  • 1 Red-bellied Woodpecker
  • 1 Downy Woodpecker
  • 1 Brown Creeper (cool!)
  • 3 Northern Cardinals
  • 5 Black-capped Chickadees
  • 6 White-breasted Nuthatches
  • 20 or more Dark-eyed aka Slate Coloured Juncos (again with the Juncos!)
But there weren't as as many birds on the feeders as I might have expected. These are my favorite pictures:

There's a male Cardinal. Looking heroic, as usual

A cute little Junco
Now who can tell me what that is?
Aww, how cute!
It's the best (and only) picture I have of the Red-Belly
This is the second time I've ever seen a Brown Creeper!
Last time it was fall 2012
I just love Nuthatches. Have I ever told you that?
It's really, really, really hard to see, but sure enough, it's a Chickadee.
It practically posed for the making of the picture! The blurriness
is just frost on our super old window
A nice-looking female Cardinal
Normally, birds don't visit our birdbath in the dead of (snowless) winter,
but we got a water heater for our birdbath recently
Okay, last picture:
I got to see the male, but I didn't have my camera ready.
That's a lot of birds! I've never seen so many in my life! I hope you can have (so-called) birdfests like me. Happy birding!

-Mr. Bird

P.S.: Okay, I take it back. My camera isn't THAT terribly bad. :)

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The first birdfest of the year!

Wow! What happened in our backyard today was absolutely amazing! Me and my brother have seen lots of birds in one sitting before, but not like today. Here's a list of the species we saw:

  • 1 Red-bellied Woodpecker
  • 1 Downy Woodpecker
  • 2 White-breasted Nuthatches
  • 3 Pine Siskins
  • 3 Blue Jays
  • 4 Northern Cardinals
  • 10 or more Black-capped Chickadees
  • 10 or more House Sparrows
  • 15 or more Hose Finches
  • 15 or more Dark-eyed aka Slate-colored Juncos
That's a lot of birds in one day! They usually come for half an hour at breakfast, an hour before lunch and a couple minutes before dinner. Sorry I couldn't provide photos; my camera wasn't ready. Oh well. Happy birding!

-Mr. Bird

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Let the birdwatching begin! (what about the date?)

Hello to all! This is Mr. Bird speaking. I've been thinking lately about the date for the first birdwatching trip, and I remembered, we don't have a date for the trip. If you have a date that works for you, comment. On the right is a poll for where we should go for our first birding trip. Please vote! Happy birding!

-Mr. Bird

That's a lotta crows!

I looked out our window today, and guess what I saw? Two male Cardinals. Then, later, I glanced outside, and that was when I saw an absolutely massive flock of crows! I got out my Bushnell binoculars, and counted, "one, two, three, four..." I counted more than 25 crows, all sitting right next to each other! That was amazing! Then I saw a goose. Completely unrelated, I know, but I want to count every bird I saw. Happy birding, and happy New Year!

-Mr. Bird