Greetings, young birders! It’s February, and although the weather may still be wintry, the birds are starting to awake from the winter doldrums and get ready for spring. In northern Wisconsin, where I am currently snowed in, the chickadees have been fee-beeing and the goldfinches started singing today!
Compiled by Sarah Toner
young birders! It’s February, and although the weather may still be
wintry, the birds are starting to awake from the winter doldrums and get
ready for spring. In northern Wisconsin, where I am currently snowed
in, the chickadees have been fee-beeing and the goldfinches started
singing today! I’ll chronicle some of my adventures in an
upcoming post about Conserve School, where I am spending a semester
studying in the north woods. In our fifteen inches of snow, I did not
expect to see a lost, out-of-place Chipping Sparrow on our feeders
during class. This seasonal rarity was quite an exciting break during
the school day.
At Birding Banstead and Beyond, Devil Birder finds a rare bird as well: a Harlequin Duck on a trip in Scotland.
ferry wasn't a bad ride and served a decent enough breakfast – upon
docking up we drove straight towards Balrandald RSPB – the hundreds of
geese feeding by the side of the road were tempting to scan through but
had to wait until we'd seen our main quarry! After crossing several
fields and variously negotiating a series of fences we reached the beach
where the bird had been seen that morning. No more than five minutes
passed before the beautiful first-winter drake HARLEQUIN
was picked up, and it was a fine duck indeed! It wasn't far offshore
and a rocky protusion allowed closer views but you had to mind your step
as it would have been just so easy to break an ankle… or your neck.
The tide was beginning to slowly come in so we retreated and had further
views from back on the beach, at which point the bird had landed itself
on a rocky island. It tried to preen and rest but needed to go higher
up as the waves kept sweeping it off its feet.
Bill of Bill’s Birding gets some gorgeous shots of another rarity in the UK, a Bonaparte’s Gull:
What's that? You want more images of that Bonaparte's Gull in Eastbourne? Fine, if I have to.
John Mark Simmons, one of the Two Birders and Binoculars, tells some of his birding stories from a trip north to Indiana and Illinois:
All our target birds for the day had been checked off, except for one more bird: the Short-Eared Owl. It had been about three hours since our birding at Kankakee began, and the time for Short-eared’s to be out was soon to come. The
golden hour was on. The sun turned all the grass into a beautiful
golden color as we searched for the Owls either sticking their heads up
over the grass, or flying on the horizon using their moth-like flight
Kristina Polk, from Wild At Heart, describes the push to save one of the rarest birds in the world, which few people have seen:
the small broad nose. The Spoon-billed Sandpiper’s scientific name is
accurate in portraying its namesake physical characteristic, their
unique spatulate bill, yet says nothing about the heartbreaking decline that this tiny shorebird is suffering. Listed on the IUCN Red List as Critically Endangered, the last possible listing before ‘Extinct’, the global population of Spoon-billed Sandpipers tentatively rests at a dangerous level— a meager 100 breeding pairs remain.
The Prairie Birder interviews wildlife photographer Mia McPherson, pairing stellar shots with a fascinating dialogue:
PB: What is your most memorable birding experience?
I have had so many memorable experiences while photographing birds that
it is quite a challenge to pick just one! I think one of the most
amazing for me though took place on Fort De Soto County Park’s north
beach in Florida one morning while I was photographing a Great Blue
Heron perched on a snag. In the distance I caught sight of a bird
hovering over the mangroves to the east, I took some rather cruddy
images of that bird which turned out to be a White-tailed Kite, a
species which had not been seen in that county in 98 years!
February transitions into March and signs of spring begin to appear,
I’ll be looking for any other rare or common birds that cross my path in
Wisconsin. Be sure to share your birding adventures and stories over
the next month as the seasons and the birds change!