Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Bird Chow Challenge Contest

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has an ongoing contest that ends this week called the Bird Chow Challenge. I know this is short notice (sorry!) but if you have an interesting, funny or unusual photo of a bird chowing down, now is the time to share it!

I’m currently going through my photos to see what I may have for submittal. I’m finding a few photos captured by my Wingscape BirdCam that may work. That’s the great thing about this cam, just set it up and walk away.

Here’s a BirdCam captured photo of a curious Red-Bellied Woodpecker eating at my peanut feeder.

Here’s another photo courtesy of BirdCam of a momma Eastern Blue Bird feeding her young. Both of these photos were taken last summer.

It’s simple to enter, just go to the link below and follow the instructions. Be sure to have your entries in by Monday, November 1st to qualify. There’s lots of cool prizes being offered.

Have a look at some of the entries received so far:

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Another Year Older and a New Bird Feeder

 This past week I turned another year older. Forty-one years to be exact. Each year seems to go by faster than the last. I remember when older adults used to tell me to slow down and enjoy your youth because it will pass by before you know it. I definitely understand that now - not that being in your forties is that old... Oh well, I guess we're never to old to received birthday gifts, right? I look at them as  a way to help ease the pain of growing older.

My wife and daughter gave me a wonderful gift from one of my favorite stores: Wild Bird Unlimited (WBU). It was a new hopper bird feeder; but not like any other feeder, it's the EcoTough Classic Feeder. The Eco feeders are a line of feeders sold by WBU that are environmentally friendly and made of recycled plastic. It's a wood-free feeder that actually looks like real wood. These feeders won't crack, fade or rot and carries with it a lifetime guarantee. As with any good quality product, the price is a bit high but it's hard to beat the lifetime guarantee.

Hopper bird feeders look similar in shape to a bird house but offer feeding areas on either side of them while food storage is contained in the center housing. It attracts a wide range of birds. I've gone through several of these feeders in my "short" lifetime that were made of various wood  materials, and some were good quality ones, but over time the wood ones just don't hold up in the weather.

While this probably wont be the last bird feeder I purchase it hopefully will be the last hopper feeder that I have to buy.

After taking down the old and putting up the new I decided to dust off my Wingscapes BirdCam to see which birds would be the first to visit the new feeder.

As I expected, the house finches were the first to arrive. Lots of these birds in my backyard this time of year.


Here are a couple of female house finches posing for the camera.


Here's a neat photo. The male house finch just left his perch and looks like he is just floating in air.


It wasn't long before the Northern Cardinals found their way to the new feeder.


If you're thinking about feeding birds in your yard the best feeder to start with, in my opinion, would be a hopper feeder filled with black-oiled sunflower seed. Black-oil sunflower seed is the most popular choice of seed eating birds and will attract the largest variety of birds. I normally alternate my feeders with sunflower and safflower seed, sometimes mixing the two.

BirdFreak blog host Bird Photography Weekly every Sunday. Be sure to stop by their to see more interesting bird photos - and post yours there too!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Shorebird Season

 Late summer and fall are the peak season for viewing shorebirds in many parts of North America. Many species that breed in North America journey from their arctic nesting grounds to winter here in the United States and all the way into South America, and then return to the Arctic the following spring. Some travel more than 15,000 miles in this annual circuit. Remember the whimbrel project?

A few weeks ago I got the opportunity to photograph a few of these birds along the coast of  North Carolina. Here are just a few I encountered. the the Semipalmated Plover. They breed along the sandy beaches of the tundra and winter along coastal California and the Carolinas south.


The word in their name "semipalmate" means having the front three toes partly webbed.


Look closely at this next photo and you can see the webbing between it's toes. (click the photo to enlarge)


Up next is the Ruddy Turnstone.


Ruddy Turnstones breed on coastal tundra in northwest Alaska and other islands of the Arctic. They winter in various areas along the US coast (east and west).


Another winter visitor is the Willet. Willets breed from central Canada to Northern California and winter further south along our coastlines.


Here they are feeding on some type of sand crab. A favorite food for may shorebirds.


Sanderlings are also popular here this time of year.


Sanderlings are long-distance migrants from the arctic. They often form in large flocks along mudflats and beaches. They are fun to watch as they are constantly bickering with each other.


If given the chance, get out and see what shore birds may be wintering in your area.

BirdFreak blog host Bird Photography Weekly on Sundays. Be sure to stop by their to see more interesting bird photos - and post yours there too!