Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Little Bird

                                                         Orange Crowned Warbler

Harv and I were just outside the Wheelhouse restaurant in Bandon and there on the sidewalk was a little dead bird.  A beautiful Anna's Hummingbird.  I picked him up and he was still warm.  The accident had just happened!  It was easy to figure out the cause of death.  The window just above his body (a vacant business with very clean windows) had little feathers stuck to it, and a spot of blood.  Another victim of Widow Strike Death.  

Amazingly, the whole scenario was repeated just a half hour later in my own back yard!  This time it was a little Orange-crowned warbler, stunned and crouching in the grass.  We watched over him for a few hours, but it was getting dark, and I was worried about predators in the night.  The only option seemed to be overnight protection in a little box, so I scooped him up, and just to be sure, we called Free Flight for assistance.  Nancy called us right back, and agreed with the plan to keep him safe overnight in a shoe box with holes cut out for air, and in a warm place.  Nancy said he wouldn't be eating at night anyway, and this would give him a chance to safely recover.  The hard part was the warning to keep the lid closed to avoid stressing him out.

I didn't sleep well at all.  I kept getting up to see if the area was warm enough, and to see if he "needed anything."  I put my ear to the box, but didn't hear a sound.

At sunrise I worried it might still be too cold to release him, but other birds were singing in the trees nearby, so I took the box outside for the release.  Alas, my friend was dead.  Oh, my heartache.

So, the next day I researched window strikes, and set off to the hardware store to order provisions so this doesn't happen again.  I got those gel stickers for the windows, and three streamer wind socks.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Duckstamps: Create a Bird Stamp Collection

Duckstamps to Preserve the Wetlands 

In the olden days, pre 1993, I loved writing letters. The paper, the pens, the enclosures, and most of all the stamps. Tiny works of art to add the finishing touch to each letter. Now, we send emails with virtual stationery, and we can have a virtual stamp collection as well. I’ve just added two links to help you start your bird stamp collection and if you don’t want to just settle for the virtual in life, the very tangible Federal Duckstamp will go on sale late June 2010 (see more below).

Some of my favorite stamps from the Smithsonian.  Create your own virtual collection.

2009 Duck Stamp Contest winning art - Robert Bealle, Waldorf, MD 
American Widgeon by Robert Bealle

Mark Your Calendars for First Day of Sale

The 2010 - 2011 Federal Duck Stamp and Junior Duck Stamp will go on sale June 25, 2010 at Bass Pro Shops in Hanover, Maryland. The Federal Duck Stamp Office is pleased to partner with Bass Pro Shops once again to host this annual event. Please join us at the event and meet 2010 Federal Duck Stamp artist Robert Bealle and the newest Junior Duck Stamp artist, who will be selected April 23, 2010 at the 2010 Junior Duck Stamp Contest in St. Paul, Minnesota. Both will be available for stamp signing and photo opportunities.

Winner of the 2009 Federal Duck Stamp Contest

October 19, 2009
Robert Bealle an artist from Waldorf, Maryland, took top honors today at the 2009 Federal Duck Stamp Art Contest. Bealle’s painting of an American wigeon will be made into the 2010-2011 Federa Duck Stamp, which will go on sale in late June 2010. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service produces the Federal Duck Stamp, which sells for $15 and raises about $25 million each year to fund wetland habitat acquisition for the National Wildlife Refuge System.

2009 Federal Duck Stamp Contest Winner
Robert Bealle, Waldorf, MD
American Wigeon

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Pelican Peccadillos: A few pelicans linger

After the storm on Friday, a few pelicans were here yesterday, lumbering and loitering about on the Coquille river.  Only a few dozen after the thousands we rubbed elbows with in November and December.  An amazing number when you consider the population had dropped in California to fewer than 100 breeding pairs in 1972.   That total has now risen to more than 6,000 and the overall Pacific brown pelican population is at 70,680 breeding pairs, according to the USFWS’ Lois Grunwald.

Unlike these photos from December, the pelicans are now showing their winter breeding plumage with a distinctive dark brown nape, yellow head feathers and red gular throat pouch.  Non-breeding pelicans have the white hind-neck without the dark brown stripe.   Like other birds, these guys were not only threatened due to the high levels of DDT in the fish they eat, but also due to indiscriminate slaughter for their feathers.

Well, birding is a little slow right now, it's dark, dank, wet and really windy.  A glimpse of pelicans bathing in the river and preening on the pilings cheers me up and gets me racing home for the camera.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Tern's Terrific Travel: 50,700 miles a Year

Back in September, 2009, Harv and I took a trip to Newport for his niece's wedding and of course, some birding.

These Caspian Terns were spotted in the estuary near Hatfield Marine Center. The images are highly cropped as I stayed far away (behind the 600 mm with the 1.4 extender) so as not to disturb the family. There were two adults and a constantly begging juvenile. He must have been really hungry and not about to let anybody forget it. Both adults took turns swooping over the water, fishing for dinner, while the other adult stayed with the perpetually peeping pesterer. After a long flight, dinner must still be caught and presented to the chick.

More news on this subject (1/20/20)

Excerpt on the tern's trip from the NY Times :

In The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers report on the journeys of 11 terns fitted with transmitting devices. The birds, which began their trips in Greenland or Iceland in August, took two routes south, some hugging the African coast and others crossing from West Africa to Brazil to follow the South American coast. They stopped for about three weeks in the mid-Atlantic east of Newfoundland, a rich feeding zone.

Once they reached the Southern Ocean, they spent four months flying primarily east and west, again in areas that are rich in food. They returned in May and June having traveled, on average, about 44,000 miles. One tern totaled 50,700 miles, which is the longest animal migration ever recorded electronically.