Thursday, September 25, 2008

Monterey Bay Birding Festival

Friday, September 26, begins the Monterey Bay Birding Festival. I've been looking forward to this weekend since last year. The photo above is from last year's trip.

This year Red will be attending along with my husband and me. I've considered Red to be my professional (or at least semi-professional) photographer. Tomorrow's event is called California Specialties. It begins at 7 a.m. and we have about an hour's drive to get to the check-in place in Watsonville. This is a full-day's trip focusing on birds like yellow-billed magpie, Calif Thrasher, snowy plover, Lawrence's goldfinch, etc. We will be traveling from the Pacific beaches to the foothills of the Salinas Valley (think John Steinbeck's "Grapes of Wrath").

Saturday's trip starts even earlier, 6:30 a.m., which means we will have to leave home around 5:30 a.m. Ugh! Oh well, it's for a good reason. The morning event is called Rancho Del Oso which will give us the opportunity to bird in riparian areas around Monterey pines and mixed evergreens and the coastal redwoods. We should hopefully see wrentit, pygmy nuthatch, hermit warbler, northern pygmy-owl, marbled murrelet and various woodpeckers. We may even see raptors. Since this is a half-day event we also signed up to attend a couple of afternoon lectures given by Jon Dunn. Each lecture is 90 minutes long focusing on honing one's birding skills. The first one is on identifying large shorebirds, and the second lecture will be on identifying small shorebirds. I'm sure glad the lectures are split up regarding small and large shorebirds.

Then on Sunday we will be attending another full-day trip to Pinnacles National Monument. This will be a super exciting trip for me because I am hoping to get a look at some of our California Condors that have been residing there. We should also hopefully see other birds like canyon wrens, greater roadrunners, prairie falcons and loggerhead shrikes.

Hopefully I will have lots of photos to post. I'm also expecting Red to post to her blog, too. I hope everyone else will have a great birdy weekend. I know I'm planning on it.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Backyard visitors, old and new

This entire spring and summer we have daily seen a flock of about 15 pigeons (rock pigeons) perched on the wires from early morn to dusk. They are always perched in the same spot all day long. They are of various colors, but one that really stands out is the all-white pigeon. These birds are perched a couple of yards over from our back yard and they never visit our yard. The photo below shows a crow perched amongst the pigeons. I found it quite strange and amusing. Shortly after I took this shot the crow started harassing a couple of the pigeons. Too bad that photo didn't turn out.
But I sure do get my fill of mourning doves visiting my yard. They are so good at cleaning up spilled seed on the ground. They have help, too, from the juncos and California towhees. This year I have had as many as a dozen mourning doves at one time in my yard. And this year, for the first time, I have had them visiting the feeders. Note the photos below. Can you believe what you see here? A mourning dove in my window feeder. And this has happened repeatedly for the past two weeks. I tend to think these goofy birds are juvies. When a couple of doves started to visit my platform feeder I thought it was amusing. And it was understandable that they could easily "fit" at that feeder. But once they started to figure out how to "fit" themselves into my window feeder I thought it was hilarious.

And two weeks ago I found a new visitor at my platform feeder. A black-headed grosbeak. This is a first for me. I saw a black-headed grosbeak perched on the wire above my backyard last year about this time of year, but it never came to visit the feeders. This year I had as many as four of them at one time. Again, I think these birds are juvies. They visited my yard for only a week, but it was a thrill to see a new species in my back yard. I did not see these grosbeaks all week this week, so I guess they have already migrated.
I do hope they will come back next year. I wonder what other migrants I might see yet this year. What have you seen so far now that fall is upon us?

Friday, September 19, 2008

Views wanted on wild bird feeding

Did everyone see the announcement about Project Wildbird in their Wild Birds Unlimited newsletter? Somehow I missed it and a friend from church showed it to me.

Project Wildbird is a study being done on feed and feeder preferences of wild birds, both in the U.S. and Canada. Apparently this study started 3 years ago and will end this December. It is being conducted by graduate student Stacey Shonkwiler and Dr. David Horn, assistant professor of biology at Millikin University (Decatur, IL). And it is being funded by the Wild Bird Feeding Industry (WBFI) Research Foundation.

Anyone in the U.S. or Canada who feeds wild birds is asked to participate in this online survey located at Dr. Horn says, "The questionnaire asks people about why they feed wild birds, the challenges they face, and what will make the bird feeding experience better for them."

The reason behind this project is to see if there are feeder and seed preferences according to one's geographic region and the season of the year. The survey should take about 15 minutes (but it took me about 30 minutes) and can be accomplished by going online to the link above or by calling 1-866-WILDBIRD.


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