Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Christmas (counts) are here!

With CBC season well underway I figured I'd post a few birds from some of the Berrien counts.

There's no time like CBC's to pin down your screech owl spots for Birdathon, and I do have a new spot that I think is going to be on the route this upcoming year.  This bird was at a traditional location however.
Quite possibly my best ever Eastern Screech shot.  I don't usually try to see them, but this one flew in silently to the tape.  It was an exciting morning

 Song Sparrow is always an exciting CBC bird, one that often will reward spirited pishing at cattail or waterside thickets

The swans were getting in the Christmas spirit.  It was a little unclear initially whether these birds were Tundras or Trumpeters, but then they were kind enough to fly directly to the near side of the pond.  The feathering of the jaw is the most useful feature here.  In Trumpeter it's more or less a straight line from the eye to the jaw; in tundra the feathering angles down about halfway out (like in these birds)

When Red-bellied Woodpeckers are dominating the soundscape it helps the Red-headed's stand out better.

Finally a Long-tailed Duck that would be a highlight bird in about 95% of Michigan CBC's, here semi-expected, hooray Lake Michigan.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Need a last second Christmas present?

Because Princeton Books has a suggestion!
No serious birder can have too many references from Steve Howell.  I think this is at least the 3rd that I own and I feel that his style is transitioning.  While Gulls of the Americas is a must-have reference, a lot of the text is in chapters of fairly dense description at the end of the book.  This book is much more Sibley meets Crossley with every page dominated by pictures, usually with text at the bottom of the page, and at times annotated with Peterson like arrows. 

Here's a sample for Parasitic Jaeger...
But it doesn't just cover birds we find now and then, it covers everything from all the penguins to all the albatrosses to all the storm petrels to all the boobies to ... you get the idea.

One of the best things about this book is that while overall the format is somewhat like Sibley (with photos instead of watercolors) with an intro plate showing small images of all the species in a grouping and then going into each individually with its own page more or less, he changes things up where necessary.  If he needs to depart from that format to do a specific comparison of a given set of birds he does.  Here's an example
 Seabirds are incredibly complex and not everything is yet known with regards to aging and taxonomy; the authors do a good job of laying out where uncertainties lie.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is going to be spending time on the ocean.  The photographs are excellent (apologies for the low quality reproductions here) and I think should give a person a reasonable gestault foundation from which to build in the specific points that the authors highlight.

And full disclosure, I got a free copy for writing a review! (though I've never seen any evidence that Princeton reviews the reviews).