The Crossley Bird ID Contest: The Results!

We’re delighted–or rather, happy as a lark–to announce that we’ve drawn the lucky winner of the Crossley Bird ID Contest, featured in BBC Wildlife Magazine, December 2013 issue. Thank you to BBC Wildlife and to all of the keen birders who flocked to submit their entries for a chance to win a copy of The Crossley ID Guide: Britain and Ireland by Richard Crossley & Dominic Couzens.

Could you tell a Bullfinch from a Chaffinch? Are you able to spot a Starling? The answers are below!

BBC Wildlife
The winner is picked from the Princeton bag!

Jenny pecks the winner out of a bag

Draw 2

Jenny chirps with delight as the winner is selected

Congratulations to Clare Adams from Nottingham who correctly identified all of the featured birds. A copy is “winging” its way to you now!

And here is the answer key. How many did you get right?

#1 Coal Tits
#2 Great Spotted Woodpecker
#3 Great Tit
#4 Common Buzzard
#5 Wood Pigeon
#6 Robin
#7 Great Tit
#8 Song Thrush
#9 Chaffinch
#10 Goldfinch
#11 Chaffinch
#12 Bullfinch
#13 Pied Wagtail
#14 Starling

Win a copy of Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World app (#BarringtonAtlasApp)

Scrambling for gift ideas for the archaeology buff who seems to have everything? Or eager to immerse yourself in the terrain and geography of the ancient world over the winter break? Enter our giveaway for a chance to win one of five free copies of the Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World app for iPad2+!

The giveaway ends on December 23 at 10:00 AM. Winners will be notified by noon on December 23 and supplied with promo codes that are transferable (good for gift giving if you’re still shopping for Christmas or are shopping for a December birthday!).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Details:

Please note — this giveaway is for an app available on the iPad platform only. The app is not compatible with earlier versions of iPad and will work only on the iPad2 or higher. The prize will be supplied in the form of a promo code that can be used to download the app in the iTunes gift store, but this giveaway is not affiliated with iTunes or any of their related companies. If you prefer to email your entry in, please send an email to blog@press.princeton.edu with “Barrington App Giveaway” in the subject field. The promo codes expire on January 2 and must be redeemed before this date. No replacement promo codes will be supplied if winners miss the expiration date.

Uniting For A Feathered Cause

While Derek Lovitch, author of How to Be a Better Birder, spends a lot of his time birding and enjoying the great outdoors, he is also very passionate about protecting our feathered friends, which is why in a recent blog post, Lovitch addresses a serious issue he has noticed in Portland, Oregon that could seriously affect the bird population there:


Today I wanted to take a moment to discuss one of the local issues that we have decided to wade into.  As most Portland – at least – residents may know, there is a proposal to transfer a portion of Congress Square Park to private development for a conference center.  The city needs a conference center, and the park needs some attention.  I’ll leave it to the residents of Portland to weigh the costs and benefits of this particular plan, but one aspect that concerns me greatly is the current blueprints that show a massive glass wall facing a smaller park with limited vegetation.

Here’s a link to what I believe to be the most recent development proposal; I don’t think any significant updates have been made.  Jeannette and I believe that we can use our store as a vehicle to promote bird conservation, and although we certainly don’t stick our nose into every project, sometimes we feel that we need to be the voice for birds, birding, and bird conservation.  Capisic Pond Park, the Eastern Promenade, Sandy Point, and now development at the fringes of Florida Lake have been projects we have worked on.  While we may not go too much further with our efforts in this case, we thought it was best to offer expertise to point out a potential issue with this projects design.  I have sent this letter to city officials and the new group, Friends of Congress Square Park.  I post it here for your information, and if anyone has suggestions on whom else to send this to, don’t hesitate to let us know.

September 18, 2013

RE: Congress Square Redevelopment plans

To whom it may concern:

I am writing you today not to take a stand for or against the current proposal at this time, but instead to bring to your attention a couple of aspects of urban parks, construction, and wildlife interactions that has raised a significant amount of concern with me.

First, a little bit of background.  Migrating birds that stream over Portland every spring and fall face a myriad of risks.  Many of our favorite songbirds, such as warblers, orioles, and tanagers all fly at night.  For reasons unknown – likely due to the use of stars for navigation – birds can become disoriented by lights.  Lights on communication towers, lights on buildings, lights at stadiums, lights left on in office buildings, and even lights in people’s homes.  Especially on cloudy and foggy nights, birds will be drawn to this artificial lighting, and many will meet an untimely death as they collide with structures or even drop dead from exhaustion as their bodies metabolize their muscles in order to fuel the last gasps of flight as the bird circles, and circles, and circles, confused by the light, drawn in by its grasp.  The cumulative light pollution of cities, towns, and even single-family homes, results in perhaps hundreds of millions of deaths of migrating birds each year.

However, not every bird disoriented by city lights will die.  Some find refuge in a well-landscaped park and find enough food to survive, refuel, and eventually move on. Most others find just enough refuge to move on come sunrise, when the direction of the sunrise and visual landmarks can usher a bird in the right direction.  In order to avoid predators, many of these birds will fly low through the city streets, dropping in to the next tree, the next park, or even the next garden as these birds – in what is termed “redetermined migration” attempt to correct for the errors of their ways overnight.  These errors could result from disorientation from lights, “groundings” from severe weather, or even from drifting too far on strong winds behind a cold front.

Especially for those birds exhausted from their travels or their disorientation, every single tree in an urban environment can be a life-saver.  A place to rest, a place to forage for just a little food or at the very least a place to avoid predators.  Working from some part of the city, the birds will work their way inland (in the case of a coastal city such as Portland) looking for more extensive habitat where they can refuel.

I have watched flocks of White-throated Sparrows winging it down side streets, landing in potted plants at the first sight of a possible threat.  I’ve seen an American Woodcock walking down a sidewalk near Monument Square.  I have seen waves of Blackpoll Warblers streaking by just over the treetops of Deering Oaks Park.

As the birds work their way to quality habitat, such as Evergreen Cemetery, many of these birds are more than strong enough to avoid predators, avoid traffic, and fly at full speed over the course of the first couple of hours of daylight.

Thud.

The migrant lays still on the sidewalk; dead.    It has hit a window.

It has flown hundreds of miles from the forests of Canada.  It has survived ever-changing weather, dodged hawks at every turn, and found enough food to pack on enough fat to fuel an epic journey to the rainforests of South America for the winter.   A shift in the wind the prior night resulted in foggy conditions as it arrived in the airspace over Portland.  Attempting to orient itself, it circles the red blinking light on the top of a building until it is too tired.  But this bird is lucky.  Below this building there is a small park with a handful of trees.  Good enough, and the bird alights.  The sun rises, and the bird, not finding much food in a few ornamental plantings, decides to head further inland.

Flying from tree to tree, the bird sees the next tree just ahead.  But that tree was only a reflection in glass.  Its journey ends.

Glass kills as many as 1 billion birds per year in North America. Urban light pollution may kill as many as 31 million birds per year.  Lighted communication towers may kill upwards of 100 million.  Only free-roaming cats are estimated to kill more birds per year than any of these other anthropogenic causes.  You can see why glass in lighted urban areas is such a problem.

The current proposal for a new Event Center in what is now Congress Square Park includes a massive glass façade, with “doors” that open, putting glass walls out at multiple angles.  All of this glass will be reflective.  Architects and admirers like that about glass.  But whatever trees remain will be reflected by that glass.

Thud.  Another migrant is dead.  How many dead birds will people pick up on the sidewalk before anyone takes notice?  Or will the rats clean up the mess before the morning rush?

Is the new CongressSquareEventCenter going to be a death trap for exhausted and confused migrants?  Probably.  Can this risk be minimized or avoided?  Yes.  Does anyone care?  That, to me, is always the toughest question.

But there are solutions out there.  There are treatments that make glass less-reflective, or ways to break up the reflection so birds will not be drawn to it.  Glass can be positioned to reflect the ground, and trees can be positioned to minimize reflection.  There are certainly plenty of materials that don’t cast a reflection as well.  There are even city-wide efforts to reduce bird collisions that range from lighting standards to simple programs to get people to turn off the lights as they leave their office for the night.

My only goal with this letter is to raise awareness about a significant problem, but one that might well be avoided.

For the sake of brevity – I think you will agree that this letter is long enough already – I will simply point you towards two sources for more information, from background to solutions.  The first is the “Birds and Collisions” page from the American Bird Conservancy: http://www.abcbirds.org/abcprograms/policy/collisions/glass.html

The second is the home page of the Fatal Light Awareness Program: http://www.flap.org/

I sincerely hope that you will recognize my concerns and take them under consideration.  I would be happy to offer more first-hand observations to describe why this issue is real in Portland, and why a glass façade facing some of the few trees that exist in the center of an urban area could result in significant avian mortality.

I thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Derek Lovitch
Freeport Wild Bird Supply

To see this post in its entirety, click here.

We Have a Winner!

As our 2013 Fall Migration Giveaway comes to a close with over 1,000 entries, we have a winner! Randomly selected from the hundreds of tweets, likes, and emails that were submitted, the winner is… (drum roll please) ….

Lisa Hessler Stinnett!!

Lisa has won a copy of The Warbler Guide, The Crossley ID Guide: Raptors, and How to Be a Better Birder, a pair of Zeiss TERRA binoculars, and the audio companion for The Warbler Guide. Congratulations Lisa!

Thank you to everyone who entered and keep your eyes peeled for the next time we offer a giveaway!


But wait! You don’t have to be a winner to get free stuff! To check out the free downloads we’re currently offering, click on the links below:
Crossley ID Guide Raptors : A sampler raptor guide in PDF format
Quick Finders from The Warbler Guide : A ‘quick finder’ designed to help you identify over 50 warblers faster with targeted color photos.


The Warbler Guide Lectures: Where To Go and What You’ll Hear

Tom StephensonBefore everyone flies south for the winter, you might want to consider a couple pit stops along the way. In two separate locations this month, Tom Stephenson will be speaking about his newest book (co-written with Scott Whittle), The Warbler Guide and how to better identify these diverse birds in a lectured entitled “The Warbler Guide: The Overlooked ID Points that Make Identifying Warblers Easy”.

His first appearance will be with The Linnaean Society of New York on October 8th at 7:30. For more information about the event and other events with LSNY, click here.

His second appearance will be with the Los Angeles Audubon Society on October 16th at 6:30. The event will include a book sale and signing after the discussion. For more information about the event and other events with the LAAS, click here.

Stephenson will also be with the LAAS on October 19th to hold a warbler vocalization workshop. The flyer for this event can be found here.

Stephenson_WarblerGAnd if you still haven’t gotten your warbler fix yet, both Tom Stephenson AND Scott Whittle will be at the 67th Annual Cape May Autumn Birding Festival on October 25-27.
October 25th: From 3-4pm the two will be at the Festival for a book signing.
October 26th: From 3:30-6pm the two will be at the Festival for a lecture and a book signing.
October 27th: From 7:30-9:30am the two will be at the Cape May Warbler Walk Higbee’s Beach

To learn more about this event and how to register, click here.

2013 Migration Giveaway: Last Chance To Enter!

Stephenson_WarblerGSince today is the LAST day you can enter, don’t forget to check out our Rafflecopter giveaway event! In honor of the 2013 bird migration, we’re celebrating all through fall with some of our best books on birding, some of our best experts on identifying them, and with a giveaway with a chance to win some free stuff!

The Crossley ID GuideOur prize package includes a copy of three our our best books about birding: The Warbler Guide, The Crossley ID Guide: Raptors, and How to Be a Better Birder, a pair of Zeiss TERRA binoculars, and the audio companion for The Warbler Guide.

How To Be A Better Birder

How to enter? There are numerous ways to enter, including liking any of the three books Facebook pages, emailing us at blog@press.princeton.edu, signing up for our email alerts for Bird and Natural History Titles at http://press.princeton.edu/subscribe/,or tweeting at @PrincetonNature or at any of the author’s Twitter pages (@IDCrossleyGuide or @The WarblerGuide). Just follow the steps in the Rafflecopter box below.

The winner will be selected TOMORROW!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Remember, the giveaway ends TONIGHT at midnight, so enter now!

And to check out the free downloads we’re currently offering, click on the links below:
Crossley ID Guide Raptors : A sampler raptor guide in PDF format
Quick Finders from The Warbler Guide : A ‘quick finder’ designed to help you identify over 50 warblers faster with targeted color photos.

 

Migration Quiz Monday: Can you identify this Warbler?

In case you weren’t getting enough high-flying fun with this year’s migration series, Tom Stephenson and Scott Whittle, authors of The Warbler Guide, are now getting into the tweeting game. No, not Twitter (you should follow @TheWarblerGuide though), we’re literally posting a bird call identification quiz. From their blog, TheWarblerGuide.com, we’re posting a fun opportunity for bird lovers to get involved with Migration Quiz Mondays!
Plus, don’t forget to scroll to the bottom of the page and check out our giveaway, which closes tomorrow night!


Audio Quiz: Trills Question

WILWAR quiz sono.JPG
Click here to listen

Singing from a short brushy area in the west is a hidden bird. We can see that it has some and maybe a lot of yellow. We think it must be Orange-crowned, Nashville or Wilson’s Warbler. Which is it?

 ORCWAR_121108#08-2.jpg

NASWAR100425_07.jpg

WILWAR_102107#03-2.jpg


Stephenson_WarblerGDon’t forget to check out our Rafflecopter giveaway event!

Our prize package includes a copy of The Warbler Guide, The Crossley ID Guide: Raptors, and How to Be a Better Birder, a pair of Zeiss TERRA binoculars, and the audio companion for The Warbler Guide.

How to win these awesome prizes? Visit this post for details, but there are numerous ways to enter, including liking any of the three books Facebook pages, emailing us at blog@press.princeton.edu, signing up for our email alerts for Bird and Natural History Titles at http://press.princeton.edu/subscribe/,or following/ tweeting at @PrincetonNature or at any of the author’s Twitter pages (@IDCrossleyGuide or @The WarblerGuide). The winner will be selected at the beginning of October.

And to check out the free downloads we’re currently offering, click on the links below:
Crossley ID Guide Raptors : A sampler raptor guide in PDF format
Quick Finders from The Warbler Guide : A ‘quick finder’ designed to help you identify over 50 warblers faster with targeted color photos.

Author Derek Lovitch Blogs On

Derek Lovitch, author of How to Be a Better Birder, has been birding like crazy this week, keeping his eyes to the skies and his fingers on a keyboard to keep these blog posts rolling in during this migration season. While he claims to have spotted a whopping 2,905 birds the other morning, we had to cut down his list a little (that’s A LOT of birds!), but the full list can be found here on Lovitch’s blog.
Be sure to check out Lovitch’s blog, MaineBirdingFieldNotes, and to scroll to the bottom of the page to check out our Fall Migration Giveaway.


Huge Morning Flight at Sandy Point!

My last blog entry ended with a little bit of foreshadowing, did it not? But before we get to Sandy Point this morning, let us take a moment to review the radar images from the weekend for comparison.

This is the 12:00am image from Sunday.  This is what “no migration” looks like on the radar.  You can also see the rain approaching from the west.
12am radar, 9-22-13

Now this is the midnight image from Saturday.  This is what “I have no idea what’s going on” looks like on the radar.  While anything from some weird warping of the radar beams from changes in air temperature to a simple malfunction could result in this, what it is NOT is a lot of birds.  It’s too irregular…and bird’s don’t “explode” in narrow bands!
IMG_1575_edited-1 IMG_1576_edited-1

So, compare those to what “a whole boatload” of birds looks like.  Here are the 10pm, 12am, 2am, and 4am base reflectivity and velocity images from last night.

10pm radar, 9-22-13 10pm velocity, 9-22-13

12 am radar, 9-23-13 12 am velocity, 9-23-13

2am radar, 9-23-132am velocity, 9-23-13

4am radar, 9-23-134am velocity,9-23-13

Yeah, it would have been nice to be on Monhegan this morning.  But I was in my other sanctuary – my office at Sandy Point.  And this is what happened:

6:28 – 10:05am.
43F, increasing W to NW, clear.

1338 Unidentifed (*2nd highest)
416 Northern Parulas (* Seriously, how are there any more parulas to come through!  This is the second highest count of all time, and now all three of the highest tallies are from this year!)
179 Black-throated Green Warblers (*2nd highest)
43 Black-and-white Warblers (*record high)
21 Scarlet Tanagers (*record high)
17 Nashville Warblers (*record high)
12 Eastern Phoebes (* ties record high)
2 TUFTED TITMICE (rarely seen crossing)
1 CONNECTICUT WARBLER (My third of the season here; it’s the fall of the CONWs in Maine!)

1 DICKCISSEL (third of the season here)

Total = 2, 905 (4th highest tally all time for me)

DSC_0016_REVIonAlternate-leafedDogwood,Sandy Point, 9-23-13DSC_0026_SWTH_onWinterberry2,Sandy Point,9-23-13
Some of the migrants pause long enough at Sandy Point to do a little snacking.  Here’s a Red-eyed Vireo eating Alternate-leafed Dogwood fruits, and a Swainson’s Thrush stepping out into the sun to dine on Winterberries.

DSC_0034_WISN,GreelyRoad,9-23-13_edited-1
A little post-Sandy Point birding yielded two Wilson’s Snipe trying to stay hidden along the edge of a puddle along Greely Road in Cumberland.

And tonight looks just as good…perhaps even a little better with a more northwesterly flow.  See ya at the bridge at sunrise!
wind forecast, 9-23-13


How To Be A Better BirderDon’t forget to check out our Rafflecopter giveaway event!

Our prize package includes a copy of The Warbler Guide, The Crossley ID Guide: Raptors, and How to Be a Better Birder, a pair of Zeiss TERRA binoculars, and the audio companion for The Warbler Guide.

How to win these awesome prizes? Visit this post for details, but there are numerous ways to enter, including liking any of the three books Facebook pages, emailing us at blog@press.princeton.edu, signing up for our email alerts for Bird and Natural History Titles at http://press.princeton.edu/subscribe/,or following/ tweeting at @PrincetonNature or at any of the author’s Twitter pages (@IDCrossleyGuide or @The WarblerGuide). The winner will be selected at the beginning of October.

And to check out the free downloads we’re currently offering, click on the links below:
Crossley ID Guide Raptors : A sampler raptor guide in PDF format
Quick Finders from The Warbler Guide : A ‘quick finder’ designed to help you identify over 50 warblers faster with targeted color photos.

2013 Bird Migration Giveaway- Only Four Days Left!

Stephenson_WarblerGWith just four days left to enter, don’t forget to check out our Rafflecopter giveaway event! In honor of the 2013 bird migration, we’re celebrating all through fall with some of our best books on birding, some of our best experts on identifying them, and with a giveaway with a chance to win some free stuff!

The Crossley ID GuideOur prize package includes a copy of three our our best books about birding: The Warbler Guide, The Crossley ID Guide: Raptors, and How to Be a Better Birder, a pair of Zeiss TERRA binoculars, and the audio companion for The Warbler Guide.

How To Be A Better Birder

How to enter? There are numerous ways to enter, including liking any of the three books Facebook pages, emailing us at blog@press.princeton.edu, signing up for our email alerts for Bird and Natural History Titles at http://press.princeton.edu/subscribe/,or tweeting at @PrincetonNature or at any of the author’s Twitter pages (@IDCrossleyGuide or @The WarblerGuide). Just follow the steps in the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at the beginning of October.

 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Remember, the giveaway ends Tuesday night (October 1st) at midnight, so enter now!


And to check out the free downloads we’re currently offering, click on the links below:
Crossley ID Guide Raptors : A sampler raptor guide in PDF format
Quick Finders from The Warbler Guide : A ‘quick finder’ designed to help you identify over 50 warblers faster with targeted color photos.

 

The Raptor Round-Up: Identifying Birds of Prey

Whether you’re an avid birdwatcher or not, the sight of a raptor in the sky is an impressive image. From hawks, to falcons, to our illustrious bald eagle, raptors are the kings of the sky, so it seems only right to pay homage to them during this fall migration season.

Listed below we have five of Princeton University Press’ best titles about raptors, including The Crossley ID Guide: Raptors, which you can win a free copy of (along with some other cool bird-watching gear) by checking out our fall migration giveaway. There are multiple ways to enter, all of which are outlined at the bottom of this page, or by clicking here. Enjoy!

The Crossley ID Guide
The Crossley ID Guide: Raptors

By: Richard Crossley, Jerry Liguori & Brian Sullivan
Part of the revolutionary Crossley ID Guide series, this is the first raptor guide with lifelike scenes composed from multiple photographs–scenes that allow you to identify raptors just as the experts do. Experienced birders use the most easily observed and consistent characteristics–size, shape, behavior, probability, and general color patterns. The book’s 101 scenes–including thirty-five double-page layouts–provide a complete picture of how these features are all related. Comprehensive and authoritative, the book covers all thirty-four of North America’s diurnal raptor species.

Hawks At a Distance
Hawks at a Distance: Identification of Migrant Raptors

By: Jerry Liguori
With a foreword by Pete Dunne
Hawks at a Distance is the first volume to focus on distant raptors as they are truly seen in the field. The field guide’s nineteen full-color portraits, 558 color photos, and 896 black-and-white images portray shapes and plumages for each species from all angles. Useful flight identification criteria are provided and the accompanying text discusses all aspects of in-flight hawk identification, including flight style and behavior. Concentrating on features that are genuinely observable at a distance, this concise and practical field guide is ideal for any aspiring or experienced hawk enthusiast.

Raptors
A Photographic Guide to North American Raptors

By: Brian K. Wheeler & William S. Clark
Whether soaring or perched, diurnal birds of prey often present challenging identification problems for the bird enthusiast. Variable plumage, color morphs, and unique individual characteristics are just some of the factors bird watchers must consider when identifying the different species. In this authoritative reference, two of the world’s top experts on raptors provide an essential guide to the variations in the species, allowing for easier recognition of key identification points. All the distinguishing marks described have been exhaustively tested in a wide range of field conditions by the authors as well as the colleagues and students who have learned from them.

Hawks
Hawks from Every Angle: How to Identify Raptors In Flight

By: Jerry Liguori
Foreword by David A. Sibley
Across North America, people gather every spring and fall at more than one thousand known hawk migration sites, yet a standard field guide, with its emphasis on plumage, is often of little help in identifying those raptors soaring, gliding, or flapping far, far away. Hawks from Every Angle offers a fresh approach that literally looks at the birds from every angle, compares and contrasts deceptively similar species, and provides the pictures (and words) needed for identification in the field. Jerry Liguori pinpoints innovative, field-tested identification traits for each species from the various angles that they are seen.

Raptors
Raptors of Eastern North America: The Wheeler Guides

By:Brian K. Wheeler
Raptors of Eastern North America–together with its companion volume, Raptors of Western North America–are the best and most thorough guides to North American hawks, eagles, and other raptors ever published. Abundantly illustrated with hundreds of full-color high-quality photographs, they are essential books for anyone seeking to identify these notoriously tricky-to-identify birds.

Raptors
Raptors of Western North America: The Wheeler Guides

By:Brian K. Wheeler
Raptors of Western North America–together with its companion volume, Raptors of Eastern North America–are the best and most thorough guides to North American hawks, eagles, and other raptors ever published. Abundantly illustrated with hundreds of full-color high-quality photographs, they are essential books for anyone seeking to identify these notoriously tricky-to-identify birds.


The Crossley ID GuideDon’t forget to check out our Rafflecopter giveaway event!

Our prize package includes a copy of The Warbler Guide, The Crossley ID Guide: Raptors, and How to Be a Better Birder, a pair of Zeiss TERRA binoculars, and the audio companion for The Warbler Guide.

How to win these awesome prizes? Visit this post for details, but there are numerous ways to win, including liking any of the three books Facebook pages, emailing us at blog@press.princeton.edu, signing up for our email alerts for Bird and Natural History Titles at http://press.princeton.edu/subscribe/,or tweeting at @PrincetonNature or at any of the author’s Twitter pages (@IDCrossleyGuide or @The WarblerGuide). The winner will be selected at the beginning of October.

And to check out the free downloads we’re currently offering, click on the links below:
Crossley ID Guide Raptors : A sampler raptor guide in PDF format
Quick Finders from The Warbler Guide : A ‘quick finder’ designed to help you identify over 50 warblers faster with targeted color photos.

Author Derek Lovitch’s Birding at Monhegan Island

Keeping with this feathered trend, Derek Lovitch, author of How to Be a Better Birder, has been blogging full steam ahead about his birdwatching this fall, including his adventures on Monhegan Island earlier this week. While there weren’t too many birds to be spotted this week, it didn’t stop Lovitch from taking some cool pictures and having a few rare sightings!

Be sure to check out Lovitch’s blog, MaineBirdingFieldNotes, and to scroll to the bottom of the page to check out our Fall Migration Giveaway.


Monhegan Island, 9/20-22/2013

On a morning with a big overnight migration in the fall, there’s no where I’d rather be than SandyPoint.  I just wish there was a direct ferry from there right to MonheganIsland.  Any other time, I would just rather be on Monhegan.

While our annual MonhegZEN Fall Migration Weekend coming up this weekend (still some space available), Jeannette and I headed to the island Friday through Sunday for a few days of birding and visiting with friends.  It was kinda odd being there without a group!  Not surprisingly, I did not bird much less hard.

I’ll post some radar images from the weekend on a forthcoming blog entry that I hope to post by day’s end.  A decent flight Thursday night into Friday produced a fair amount of birds on the island, even after our late (relatively speaking) arrival at 10:00am, and even though it seemed – as is often the case on calm mornings – birds that arrived at dawn continued on to the mainland.  Three of our first handful of species, however, were Philadelphia Vireo, Cape May Warbler, and Yellow-billed Cuckoo.  Welcome (back) to Monhegan.

The birding improved in the afternoon, highlighted by a Western Kingbird.
_MG_9983_edited-2
A Lark Sparrow and two Dickcissels – all present for a few days – were enjoyed (here, one of the Dickcissels with the Lark Sparrow and a White-throated Sparrow in the background). Typical “Monhegan Trash Birds:” birds that are noteworthy anywhere else in the state but are fully expected in an autumn visit here.
_MG_0050_edited-2
We ended up with 67 species of birds on the day, including 11 species of warblers.  Yup, a slow day of birding on Monhegan beats a good day of birding almost anywhere else.  Light southerly winds that developed over the course of the day became calm by nightfall, and call notes early in the night were suggestive of birds departing the island.
IMG_1571
With a southerly flow aloft, I didn’t have high hopes of a lot of new arrivals for the next morning.  The radar image, simply put, was weird – some sort of temperature anomaly or perhaps a malfunction, so I couldn’t use that to confirm or alleviate my concerns.  A mere handful of bird overhead at dawn on Saturday morning confirmed it though – there was not much on the move overnight.

Fog rolled in and out for most of the morning, clearing out in the afternoon on an increasing south to southwesterly breeze.  We beat the bush hard, and covered a lot of ground, but birds were hard to come by.  There were quite a few more Yellow-rumped Warblers around than on previous mornings, Kristen noted, and we added plenty of species to our trip list over the course of the day.  While the Dickcissels apparently departed, the Lark Sparrow continued, and the island was now up to three Clay-colored Sparrows.
_MG_0160_edited-2
Clay-colored Sparrows, Dickcissels, and Lark Sparrow, check:  the triumvirate of Midwestern regular-rarities out here.  Two adult Lesser Black-backed Gulls, a tarrying Eastern Kingbird, a Semipalmated Plover, and a good afternoon Northern Gannet show were the other highlights of what amounted to be an exceptionally slow day of birding for Monhegan in the fall.  Nevertheless, complaints were not uttered – we were on Monhegan! – and besides, I got to mooch a TV (Thanks Paul and Sue!) to watch Rutgers come from behind to defeat Arkansas in an exciting finish, and we visited the Monhegan Brewing Company.  Yup, tough day.
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This young Peregrine Falcon – with a bulging crop from its last meal – also had a good day.

Unfortunately, an increasing southerly wind overnight precluded much in the way of any migration.  Take a look at the next blog to see what “almost nothing” looks like on a radar image.  Clouds were thick by dawn, too, but the rain held off until after breakfast.  After another fulfilling and scrumptious breakfast at the Trailing Yew, Jeannette, Kristen, and I headed down to Lobster Cove for a bit of seawatching.  We could see the wall of rain on the radar, and we could now see it on the horizon.  But as it marched closer, tubenoses joined the gannets.  In a mere 15 minutes or so, 20+ Great Shearwaters and 6+ Sooty Shearwaters zoomed through my scope.  And then the skies opened up.  This is what a line of rain – ahead of a cold front – looks like on the radar.
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The southerly winds were diminishing as the rain tapered off rather quickly over the course of the morning, but seawatching was less productive before lunchtime – apparently those tubenoses were all on the move just ahead of the precipitation.  But with the sun beginning to peak out after lunch, at least more birds were more visible again: two of the Clay-colored Sparrows, a Philly Vireo, etc.  Joined by Paul and Doug, we encountered a – or the – Yellow-billed Cuckoo, and then a calling flyover Lesser Yellowlegs became my 202nd species on Monhegan.

Moments later, Paul spotted a night-heron in a narrow drainage, and Doug soon relocated it.  A juvenile Yellow-crowned Night-Heron!  Once a more regular bird in Maine, and even on Monhegan, it had been about a decade since one had made an appearance on the island.  But this bird showed up a couple of weeks ago, and was often seen foraging on grasshoppers in lawns.  Rumors of its continued presence were circulated, but there were no confirmed sightings for over a week.  Until today.
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Monhegan bird #203!  And two island birds in about 10 minutes.  Now that’s the way to finish strong.

When it was time to go, we were very happy to see the waves were rapidly dropping off.  Seven foot seas this morning had been reduced to 3-4 at most as we hopped on the Hardy Boat for the trip back.  A Great Cormorant on the Outer Ducks was our 88th species for the Monhegan tally for this trip, but 88 –including a mere 13 species of warblers – was a fairly low total for three days out here at this time of year.  That being said, it could have been much lower had we not continued to beat the bush.

Two juvenile Lesser Black-backed Gulls joined some hopeful Herring Gulls following the boat to shore, and westerly winds were increasing as the cold front pushed through.  There would no doubt be a lot of new birds come morning on Monhegan.  While I would be sorry to miss them, I knew fun was going to be had at SandyPoint, so I was not upset.

And I was right…


How To Be A Better BirderDon’t forget to check out our Rafflecopter giveaway event!

Our prize package includes a copy of The Warbler Guide, The Crossley ID Guide: Raptors, and How to Be a Better Birder, a pair of Zeiss TERRA binoculars, and the audio companion for The Warbler Guide.

How to win these awesome prizes? Visit this post for details, but there are numerous ways to win, including liking any of the three books Facebook pages, emailing us at blog@press.princeton.edu, signing up for our email alerts for Bird and Natural History Titles at http://press.princeton.edu/subscribe/,or tweeting at @PrincetonNature or at any of the author’s Twitter pages (@IDCrossleyGuide or @The WarblerGuide). The winner will be selected at the beginning of October.

And to check out the free downloads we’re currently offering, click on the links below:
Crossley ID Guide Raptors : A sampler raptor guide in PDF format
Quick Finders from The Warbler Guide : A ‘quick finder’ designed to help you identify over 50 warblers faster with targeted color photos.

West Coast Warbler

Following up with another crosspost from TheWarblerGuide.com, the news today is a visit to Crater Lake and a cool bird sighting to match it. Check out the fun post below (and keep scrolling to the bottom to check out our cool giveaway)!


West Coast Warbler

On a recent trip with my girlfriend, I visited Crater Lake in Oregon.  What a cool place!  Crater Lake was formed by a massive eruption about 7000 years ago, and it’s the deepest lake in North America at about 1900 feet.  It took us all morning to drive around the rim.

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Aside from the fascinating history and geology, there were lots of great birds, including Clark’s Nutcracker, Prairie Falcon, tons of Juncos, Western Tanagers, and so on.  One little feeding flock we came across had kinglets, chickadees and warblers, and I got a shot of this bird:

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Pretty cool!  This is definitely a west coast warbler…if I look at the West Coast Finder in the Warbler Guide (p. 113), I see that the plain, all yellow face with a dark cap and nape and white throat and body is a unique combination – Hermit Warbler.

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Just to take it a step further, I went to the Aging and Sexing section for Hermit Warbler – looks like this bird is a not an adult male (no black throat), and probably not a first-year female (pronounced streaking in the back), but I think that’s as far as I want to take it – adult females and first year males are similar, and this photo makes it hard to see any more useful details like the centers of the median coverts.   So it looks like an AdF/1yM Hermit – that was fun!


The Warbler GuideDon’t forget to check out our Rafflecopter giveaway event!

Our prize package includes a copy of The Warbler Guide, The Crossley ID Guide: Raptors, and How to Be a Better Birder, a pair of Zeiss TERRA binoculars, and the audio companion for The Warbler Guide.

How to win? Visit this post for details, but there are numerous ways to win, including liking any of the three books Facebook pages, emailing us at blog@press.princeton.edu, signing up for our email alerts for Bird and Natural History Titles at http://press.princeton.edu/subscribe/,or tweeting at @PrincetonNature or at any of the author’s Twitter pages (@IDCrossleyGuide or @The WarblerGuide). The winner will be selected at the beginning of October.

And to check out the free downloads we’re currently offering, check out the links below:
Crossley ID Guide Raptors : A sampler raptor guide in PDF format
Quick Finders from The Warbler Guide : A ‘quick finder’ designed to help you identify over 50 warblers faster with targeted color photos.