Thursday, January 17, 2013

Cabin fever internet round up

Since I've been stuck inside all week with a horrendous head cold I've been spending more time reading nature blogs and birding books. This is of course not a bad thing, but given that I have a job I love and would also like to be adding new birds to my year list, let's just say I'd rather not be sitting at home all day, where in addition to a sinus headache, nasal congestion and a cough, I've managed to contract a a rather severe case of cabin fever. That being said, I wanted to share links to some interesting things online, so, here goes ...

The American Birding Association blog ran a post today on birding "taboos," a list of topics that aren't necessarily discussed aloud among birders, but can raise the hackles, nonetheless. One of the topics mentioned which caught me by surprise was a mention of the use of laser pointers by birding guides to indicate the location of birds in the field. I have never seen anyone do this, but then again, I tend to do the majority of my birding either on my own or with a few friends, none of whom have ever suggested bringing along a device which might injure the very creatures we are out there trying to enjoy. Also, it seems kind of lazy to me. So you can see where I come out on the whole debate about whether or not people should be using these things to point out birds. Another topic raised on the list was the possibility of including Hawaii in the ABA area - here I'm a bit more ambivalent - on the one hand, adding new territory would expand the geographic range of birders and likely add new birds to the list. On the other hand, it would mean that anyone who wants to set or beat a record for a big year would now have to travel to Hawaii. In fact, the ABA did an earlier blog post on the potential merits of including Hawaii in the ABA area, which you can check out here. I would, of course, also highly recommend checking out the blog post on taboos, which you can view by clicking here.

Another post I came across that I liked a lot was by Jeff Cooper, on the Birding is Fun website. In this post he writes about the joys of "office birding" and how he was able to observe the natural world from inside his office, and get some great photos too. From his perch inside an office building he was able to see foxes, Golden Eagles, Magpies and other wildlife. You can see the photos and read the post for yourself by clicking here.

Something else which caught my eye this week was a story about the oldest known Northern Shrike, which was first caught and banded in Wisconsin in 2006. The bird apparently showed up again this year, earning it a place in the record books. I read about this story on e-bird, as well as other sites, including Laura's Birding Blog (a recent discovery). The Northern Shrike is a bird I have yet to add to my list, although I have been keeping an eye on the list serves to see where I might be able to spot one in  Massachusetts this winter. For those who don't know much about this species, it's a bird of the frozen north which preys on other songbirds, dispatching them in what sounds like a rather unpleasant manner, based on what I have read, and often caching its kills for later consumption on barbed wire fences or thorns. Yes, it's kind of brutal, but nature can be that way sometimes (often?) In any case, this is a bird I would really like to add to both my year and life lists.

Well, that's all I've got for now. Thanks for reading !

Copyright Daniel E. Levenson 2013.


  1. I once got great photos of a Cooper's Hawk that was sitting on the ground right under the windows -- probably recovering from a strike. Now I sell cable door-to-door, so I get to see an awful lot of birds as I walk around. That's how I saw my first White-winged Crossbill and Common Redpoll -- at someone's feeder!

  2. Hope your feeling better by now. that laser pointer thing is weird. I haven't seen that but I can't say I'm surprised.