Saturday, April 30, 2016

Five (non-WARBLER) reasons to bird ALL of May

5. Red-headed Woodpecker

4. Baltimore Oriole

3. Rose-breasted Grosbeak

2. Indigo Bunting

1. Scarlet Tanager

Are you sold yet?

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Meadowlarks: Impossible Identification?

Can anyone even identify these things?

Point Pelee - April 25th - Serengeti Tree

I feel a little too close to this thing to bother trying to dive into the ID, so instead I send out the challenge to someone more skilled to put a name on it. Obviously I didn't take all these photos because I was hopeful it was an Eastern mind you... Looked quite pale. Didn't vocalize. Not able to say either way... It could be a Lilian's for all I know...

So?! What is it?!

Added a few more:

10 Fish Crow photos from Point Pelee

This beauty Fish Crow flew around the tip of Point Pelee several times (reverse migration!) on Monday... The handful of birders present were treated to a handful of nasal "uh" calls as it circled about. It was quite low, and as far as a "boring, black, crow" goes, it was actually a pretty exciting observation. 

I snapped a bunch of photos (as it was often quite low) and gave several passes. I've converted a few different 'looks' here.

Visual ID of these birds is pretty darn tough in my opinion - and it's a bit of a cop-out to talk about it (when we heard it call) - but I really did think that I could see some structural/GISS differences from this bird and the numerous AMCR I watch/photo flying past my condo each spring...

Some rough thoughts:

1. Long head
2. Long narrow (more rectangular than square) wings
3. tail seems more "pinched" at the base
4. Tail seems long and narrow. 

I put my amazing artistic skills to the test and did an exaggerated example of the differences on the left...

Also - there's that issue of the "primary formula" that everyone loves... I find it very unreliable without the best photos (and a number of examples) - but it works out ok with this bird (despite the damaged feathers):

I don't have a great AMCR to compare with, and have struggled with this in the past (thanks to those who have helped) - but with FICR you have a bird that has P9 a bit shorter than it looks on AMCR, with P8 and P7 looking rather long compared to the other "fingers"... Then P6 and P5 once again look shorter on the FICR than they would "appear" on an AMCR... 

P5 especially starts to "blend into the wing" and barely stand out as a "finger"... Whereas it should still be rather obvious and longer on AMCR...

It's not great, but there you have it!!!


Weather note:

My Sunday/Monday forecast and expectations fizzled a bit, despite both days being quite good. I was just thinking it would be better.... Then Tuesday (today) broke expectations by having rain hit Pelee overnight... I'm dying to hear if there are lots of birds around or not... Looking at Radar, I think Ohio will be reaping the benefits more than Pelee - but you never know until someone in the field reports!... 

The next week (or even two weeks) would be AMAZING weather... If it were early September... But it's not early September... So I'm a bit bummed out at the prospects of weather-related-birding... I guess we'll see how it plays out. 

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Back to the "good old days" - TOP TEN

Back in the day, 75% of what I published on this blog was just random things I wrote down in my spare time - that had no bearing on anything... It's time to do that again:

TOP TEN rarities I want to see this year (spring migration)

10. Violet-green Swallow

Why? - Several ways to see one (N winds, strong winds, active migration, reverse migration, cold weather events) and they're really pretty.

9. Black-headed Grosbeak

Why? - 100% I want this one during a "reverse migration".. Edges out Lazuli, Western Tanager and Bullock's Oriole as a mixture of beauty, rarity, ability to identify, and likelihood of occurrence.

8. Least Tern

Why? A rare tern would be off the hizzay, and Least is the most likely to occur...

7. Lark Sparrow

Why? A bird I need on my "self found" list - several ways to find it, and a regular vagrant to boot.

6. Bell's Vireo 

Why? Primarily wanted during a reverse migration, where a challenging ID becomes more challenging... But I'd settle for one on the ground too. Also not terribly outlandish...

5. Garganey

Why? Beauty mega-rare duck that shows up in May... 25% chance of seeing a stunner male flyby somewhere, 75% chance of a cryptic female lurking around in plain sight.

4. Black-necked Stilt

Why? Do want!!!!! What a beaut. Also getting near-regular on Lake Erie...

3. Painted Bunting

Why? A male - is my #1 most wanted reverse migrant... Species biology may not let it happen, but a guy can dream... Wouldn't be heartbroken with a female type...

2. White-winged Dove

Why? I have a dove curse, and this a beauty dove that isn't super outlandish...

1. Black-throated Gray Warbler

Why? Dave Bell promised me one... I made a similar deal year for a White-faced Ibis...

What do you think? Good list? What do you have on your hypothetical list? Eh? EH?!?

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The 10 BEST Warblers

In Ontario:

10. Prothonotary Warbler

9. Golden-winged Warbler

8. Black-and-White Warbler

7. American Redstart

6. Yellow-rumped Warbler

5. Northern Parula

4. Blackburnian Warbler

3. Yellow Warbler

2. Magnolia Warbler

1. Cerulean Warbler

Hon. Mention: Common Yellowthroat

No comments or debate necessary. This list is without fault!