A personal awareness of one’s natural surroundings can provide daily discoveries, wonder, and even stir the soul. It also make’s one keenly aware of the natural seasons. Even though the official “first day of spring” on the calendar is listed as March 20th, “spring” from a birding perspective is defined differently as it relates to a specific set of behaviors shown by the animals that surround us. Since these birds may migrate from distant points even birds within the same area may show entirely different cycles at the same time of year.
Birds have wings and many migrate great distances, so there is always a chance that a “rare bird” could show up far away from where it normally occurs, just like the Curlew Sandpipers that the US-based Leica Birding Team ran into at multiple birding events this spring (Biggest Week in American Birding, Ohio & Cape May Bird Observatory Spring Weekend).
The TV, or Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura) as it is more formally known, is a common and widespread New World species that birders largely take for granted. In terms of identification, beginners enjoy learning the differences between TV and BV (or Black Vulture), and later on the TV is a potential confusion species when looking for a Golden Eagle or Zone-tailed Hawk.
Whether Pink-footed Shearwater has a (very rare) dark morph, or whether occasional individuals are melanistic, are interesting semantic questions. But the bottom line for field observers is that apparently dark-plumaged Pink-footed Shearwaters are out there, and they could be confused with Flesh-footed Shearwater.
Leica team member Steve Howell is back recently from a ten-day pelagic trip off northwest Mexico, where he saw plenty of ‘Leach’s Storm-Petrels’ – including the enigmatic Ainley’s Storm-Petrel, endemic as a breeder to Mexico’s Guadalupe Island (about 170 miles west of the Baja California Peninsula), described as new to science as recently as 1980, and never before photographed at sea! Here’s the story…
The thought of spring may seem like a fairy tale for those in the Northern US buried under record amounts of February and March snowfalls, but here in sunny Florida, spring has definitely sprung and believe it or not, it’s coming your way!
When you live in Ontario Canada, you see lots of Black-crowned Night-Herons. I’ve seen so many individuals over the years I couldn’t begin to try giving you a number here. What I remember most about them is the bird next to it in my old Golden Field Guide to Birds of North America, the Yellow-crowned Night-Heron (YCNH).
Sharp-shinned & Cooper’s Hawks are 2 of the most mis-identified birds in North America based on their similar markings & structure. The smallest members of the Genus „Accipiter“ in North America, these birds are woodland hawks characterized by long tails & short wings, which aid them in chasing avian prey through dense cover. Some field guides in the past have sought to simplify the ID process by looking for a short cut to ID, by relying on a single characteristic – the shape of the tail, „Is it square or round?“.
If it looks like a sandpiper, acts like a sandpiper and flies like a sandpiper it must be a sandpiper, except when it’s a duck. There is only one duck that regularly and artfully pulls off a sandpiper impersonation: the Green-winged Teal.