Swarovski
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WEDNESDAY, JULY 18, 2018
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BACKYARD BIRDING
Specialty Seeds Such as White Millet Attract Specialty Birds  

To attract vividly colored seed-eaters like Blue Grosbeaks and Indigo Buntings to your yard, the best bet is to add a white millet feeder to your feeding station. The tiny millet seeds are a favorite of doves and native sparrows, and they attract species that I don’t think would otherwise visit our yard.

 


BIRDING LIFESTYLES
Even at Work, Surprise Birding Opportunities Arise  

While working as an onsite biologist with a construction crew that was working in sensitive species habitat, I noticed a small group of workers starting to gather in the middle of the work area. A gopher snake had emerged from vegetation and as it was moving across an open area. Suddenly, a desperately hungry first-year Red-tailed Hawk dived in to attack the snake.

 


BIRDING NEWS
Swarovski Optik Digiscoper of the Year Contest Opens August 1  

The 13th international Digiscoper of the Year contest will be even more exciting this year with entrants invited to submit photos and videos of wild animals in their natural habitats. Photos or videos must be taken with a digital camera or smartphone through the eyepiece of a spotting scope or binoculars. First prize is a complete set of Swarovski Optik digiscoping equipment and a trophy crafted by Swarovski.

 

Birds Eat 500 Million Tons of Insects Annually  

A team of scientists has calculated that worldwide, birds consume billions of potentially harmful insects that conservatively weigh about ½ billion tons! The scientists highlight the ecological and economic benefits these insect-eating birds provide, suppressing potentially harmful insect pests on a global scale, especially in forested areas.

 

Delaware Bird-A-Thon Proceeds Help Protect 635 Acres of Bird Habitat  

The Delmarva Ornithological Society’s annual Bird-A-Thon smashed previous records and raised $35,000 to help protect the 635-acre Passmore Farm. This acquisition helped to create 16,000 acres of contiguous habitat important for a host of bird species.

Audubon Photography Award Winners Announced  

Wow! This year, more than 8,000 photos were entered in Audubon’s 9th annual contest. That's almost 2,500 more than last year, and entrants came from all 50 states and 10 Canadian provinces. Yet wherever the photographs were taken, all the images evoke the splendor, resilience and ingenuity of birdlife.

 

Outdoor Alabama Photo Contest Now Open

The 14th Outdoor Alabama Photo Contest is now accepting entries through October 31. A joint project between the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Alabama Tourism Department and the Alabama Bicentennial Commission, the contest is open to residents and visitors, but the photos must be taken in Alabama. 

 

  Indiana Young Birder’s Conference Comes to Indianapolis August 18

The Indiana Audubon Society and Indiana Young Birders Club will hold its 6th annual Young Birders Conference at the Cool Creek Nature Center in Carmel on August 18.  The event includes early morning birding, presentations by young birders, quizzes and raffle prizes as part of the daylong event.
 

American Bird Conservancy: Migratory Bird Treaty Act Centennial Worth Celebrating  

Passed in the nick of time, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act helped restore populations of many birds, ranging from egrets and herons to waterfowl and shorebirds. The original Actimplemented the 1916 treaty between the United States and Canada that was intended to ensure the preservation of migratory bird species.

 


BIRDS OF THE WEEK
Birds of the Week:  House Finches  

House Finches are one of the most common birds at feeders and in the field across the United States, but their distribution and ecology have been dramatically altered by people. Historically a bird of dry habitats in Mexico and the American Southwest, these colorful finches were popular with pet dealers who marketed them as “Hollywood Finches” in the early 1900s.

 


CONSERVATION
National Wildlife Refuges – Our Finest Public Lands for Wildlife – Minus One?  

Building on last week’s Conservation essay underlining the importance of Duck Stamps for purchasing property for America’s National Wildlife Refuge System, let’s look a little closer at this remarkable collection of more than 560 national wildlife refuges. Each refuge is managed by the government as public land dedicated to protecting and, in some cases, enhancing exceptional and necessary lands for breeding, migrating, feeding and wintering animals, especially birds.

 


EDITORS AFIELD
Join the Editors for a Discussion of This Week’s Birding Highlights  

Join the Editors for a Discussion of This Week’s Birding Highlights

 


OPTICS
Spotting Scope Lenses – To Zoom or Not?  

With one slight twist of the lens, the image in the spotting scope went from “perched dark bird, maybe a rare pigeon,” to White-crowned Pigeon. Cranking the magnification from 20x to 45x made the difference for the identification, and the clarity and brightness of the image didn’t suffer one bit as the magnification increased. A zoom lens on your spotting scope can be invaluable for bringing in a distant image to reveal the field marks you want to see.

 


PHOTOGRAPHY
A Telephoto Lens is a Must for Bird Photos  

The key to taking photos of most birds is a good telephoto lens. During my decades of bird photography, a 400mm lens has made all the difference – in the quality of the images, and the fun I have when photographing.

 


RARE BIRDS
This Week’s ABA Rare Bird Alert  

Florida birders were thrilled last week when the national bird of Anguilla, a Zenaida Dove, appeared near Miami. Zenaida Doves range throughout much of the Caribbean and the tip of the Yucatan Peninsula, and usually show up in the Florida Keys when they appear in the United States.

 


YOUR LIBRARY
Book Review: The Joy of Bird Feeding  

If you want to attract more birds to your yard and enjoy those birds better yet, this is the book for you. And there is no better authority to teach us than author Jim Carpenter, founder of the wildly successful Wild Birds Unlimited retail stores. Carpenter’s expertise and insight have been honed not only through study, but through interactions with thousands of backyard birding and nature enthusiasts.

 


BIRDING LIFESTYLES
Even at Work, Surprise Birding Opportunities Arise

While working as an onsite biologist with a construction crew that was working in sensitive species habitat, I noticed a small group of workers starting to form in the middle of the work area. A gopher snake had emerged from vegetation and as it was moving across an open area. Suddenly, a desperately hungry first-year Red-tailed Hawk dived in to attack the snake.

A young Red-tailed Hawk tried to subdue a gopher snake


The attack quickly turned into an intense battle. At first, the outcome seemed uncertain with the snake wrapping around one of the hawk’s upper wings. But eventually the young hawk gained the upper hand, repositioned the snake in its talons and dispatched the snake. Without a pause, the hawk began ravenously eating the head end of the snake to about one-third of its length.

All this in the midst of construction workers who were filming the action with their cell phones with the sound of heavy equipment rolling by many yards away. I try to keep my camera within reach, but the moment I saw the snake I happened to have it in hand.

The young Red-tailed Hawk mantling its prey while dispatching the gopher snake


This exciting incident was a good illustration of the challenges a young hawk faces when transitioning from the post-fledging period when it relies on the adult pair for regular meals to becoming a proficient hunter on its own. It’s also a good illustration of how you never know what to expect next – even at work.

Article and photographs by Benjamin Smith, Mission Viejo, California



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July 21
Vermont's 36th Annual LoonWatch Day
Vermont
July 21 - July 22
Montpelier BioBlitz 2018
Montpelier, Vermont
July 25
An Evening with Richard Crossley - Crossley ID Guide Series
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
July 28
Annual High Country Hummers Festival
Eagar, Arizona
Aug. 1 - Aug. 4
Southwest Wings Annual Birding and Nature Festival
Sierra Vista, Arizona
Aug. 8 - Aug. 12
Southeast Arizona Birding Festival
Tucson, Arizona
Aug. 11
Indiana Audubon Hummingbird Migration Celebration
Connersville, Indiana
Aug. 18 - Aug. 19
RaptorFest
Silt, Colorado
Aug. 19 - Aug. 26
Vancouver International Bird Festival
Vancouver, Canada
Aug. 23 - Aug. 26
Davis Mountains Hummingbird Celebration
Fort Davis, Texas
Aug. 24 - Aug. 26
Plumas Audubon Society Grebe Festival
Chester, California
Aug. 30 - Sept. 2
Yampa Valley Crane Festival
Steamboat Springs & Hayden, Colorado
Sept. 3
Labor Day Observed, No Wires
Sept. 7 - Sept. 9
Hummingbird Migration and Nature Celebration
Holly Springs, Mississippi
Sept. 7 - Sept. 9
Princeton Whooping Crane Festival
Princeton, Wisconsin
Sept. 8 - Sept. 9
Audubon Society of Rhode Island's Nature Center and Aquarium Raptor Weekend
Bristol, Rhode Island
Oct. 8
Columbus Day Federal Holiday - No Wires
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