Index to Rosyfinch Blogs Page 2
The Web Full Text of  Rosyfinch Ramblings  since Nov 2012

The Web Full Text of  Rosyfinch Ramblings  through Nov 2012

<VIEW Summaries and Links to All Posts (latest first)>
<Return to latest post>        <Return to>     <Subscribe to Ken's Blog>      <Contact Ken>


Featured Posts
BIRDWATCHER – The Life of Roger Tory Peterson

Rosy-Finches of Sandia Crest

Rosy-Finches Flock to Sandia Crest

The Capulin Spring "Bird Log"

Short Sad Saga of a Texas Horny Toad

Birders Start Young
Purposeful Infanticide?

Remembering Hurricane Camille (In 4 Parts)

High Fives to an “Awesome” Birder

500 Bird Milestone

Tame (and Dead) Robins

Pater Noster

“Greetings,” You’ve Been Drafted - (In 4 Parts)
How Mary Lou Became a Birder

Why It’s Called Medical "Practice"

Havasupai Reservation Adventure (In 4 Parts)

Finally, I Am Married to a Birdwatcher!

Habitats and Inhabitants

Chicken Killer

Discovering Birds
Summaries and Links to Posts (Latest on Top)
>>Click on Titles for full articles<<

Bald Eagle egg about to hatch

Our local pair of Bald Eagles are expecting a new arrival on or about January 11. We have monitored this nest, located about 2 miles from our home, since it was discovered in the spring of 2008. In December, 2007 we saw a pair of eagles copulating on the roof of a home across our lake. The nest was finally discovered in March, 2009. Adult eagles, presumably members of this pair, were sometimes

This Week's Crops & Clips: Living color

The rainy season has now extended through the entire month of December into early January. It produces glorious sunrises over the ocean, 18 miles to the east, but also limits our time afield. This was the view from our back patio on the morning of December 28. Late in the afternoon two days earlier, this full rainbow was a celestial delight. Soon after the rain stopped, the colors of the

Hungry cormorant babies

At Wakodahatchee Wetlands in Delray Beach, Florida, these two Double-crested Cormorant chicks beg incessantly for their parent to feed them. Adult males and female are indistinguishable, but I'll assume this is the mom. Instinctively, they peck at her yellow gular pouch to stimulate her to regurgitate. One chick thrusts its beak into her mouth. It reaches into her throat... ..

This Week's Crops & Clips: Northern Harrier

We recently visited Green Cay Wetlands in Boynton Beach, Palm Beach County, Florida. This is the nature center and the beginning of one loop of the well-maintained boardwalk.  As we walked a mile and a half along the boardwalk, a Northern Harrier made several passes over the area, but I failed to get very good images.   Then, just before we departed, it flew right towards us, into the

When birding gets slow...

For the past few weeks it has been relatively quiet on our local south Florida birding patch. Numbers and varieties of birds have decreased for several reasons.  The rainy season extended into November, maintaining high water levels in the wetlands. This disperses prey species. Sight feeders such as herons and egrets are not concentrated in the canals. Mudflats are not yet exposed to attract

The helpful monotony of patch birding

Birding is an exercise in statistics. Finding a certain bird depends upon the probability that the birder's path will intersect with that of the bird at a given moment in time. For more common birds, this probability is high because we are not looking for a single bird, but rather one that represents the species. A knowledge of birds' habits and habitats greatly increases the chance of a

This week's Crops & Clips: Blue Jay

After I captured these views of a Blue Jay busily foraging for acorns, I realized that I have far too few photos of this common yet beautiful bird. I caught this one in a baseline state. Several acorns can be stuffed into one gular pouch. Jays take up the highest perches, watching for intruders, ready to sound the alert. Blue Jays are so common that I don't feel an urge to

This week's Crops & Clips: Blue Jay

After I captured these views of a Blue Jay busily foraging for acorns, I realized that I have far too few photos of this common yet beautiful bird. I caught this one in a baseline state. Several acorns can be stuffed into one gular pouch. Jays take up the highest perches, watching for intruders, ready to sound the alert. Blue Jays are so common that I don't feel an urge to

Purposeful Infanticide:Birds killing babies

At Albuquerque’s Rio Grande Nature Center, the groups of school kids whom I guided as an interpreter rarely sighted any coyotes, but their tracks were often evident. To help distinguish them from domestic dog tracks, I went through the “3 P’s.” First, the “Paws,” their robust shape and minimal nail imprint. Second, “Perfect-stepping:” When walking, coyotes place their hind feet precisely into the

This Week's Crops & Clips: Painted Bunting

As a kid birder, I tried to imagine some day seeing a Painted Bunting. Living in New Jersey and rarely venturing beyond my own neighborhood, this seemed an unlikely possibility. It was only after I got drafted and eventually moved to New Orleans that my dream was realized. I think that most birders remember their first sightings of many species, but for me this event stands out. It was a

Looking back on a quiet fall migration

Prevailing winds made this autumn a rather disappointing one for the southeastern part of the Florida peninsula. Southbound birds were either driven towards the west coast or simply overflew us. When conditions were favorable they can make it from the northern part of the state to Cuba in a single flight.  As if to compensate for the lack of migrants, our local pair of Bald Eagles began

This Week's Crops & Clips: Anhinga

If your flair in fashions favors green goggles and corrugated tail feathers, you will just love the Anhinga. Male in breeding plumage. This is a classic pose, as this female Anhinga dries her wings. This is an exciting encounter that I had with an Anhinga at Green Cay Wetlands in Palm Beach County (Two minute slide show). If you cannot see the video, try this link:

Birding Rio Grande Nature Center

On our second day in Albuquerque, there had been light rain during the night, continuing into the morning, and reports of snow and high winds up at Sandia Crest. We therefore decided to begin our day at Rio Grande Nature Center.  There were reports on the Internet that a  Harris's Sparrow had been present there for the past three days.  As we entered the parking lot, we delighted in the beauty

This Week's Crops & Clips: Eastern Phoebe

Why does the image of a phoebe bring about a sense of peace and place within me? Is it the bird's association with old bridges and gently flowing streams, with childhood memories of long summers and the smell of moss and fresh grass? Or is it the attitude of the bird itself, placid, patient and unassumingly plain in plumage? With fresh fall feathers, in the dawn's light, the phoebe's breast

Missing the Rosy-Finches at Sandia Crest

Many birders were disappointed this past winter when the Sandia Crest House, located atop the Sandia Mountains in New Mexico, closed its doors. As related in Seeking our Signature Species, we started a bird feeding program there back in 1999. It attracted all three North American rosy-finch species. Each of the species (and the distinctive Hepburn's subspecies of the Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch)

This Week's Crops & Clips: Eastern Towhee-- the eyes have it

I grew up in New Jersey with towhees that had glowing red eyes. In fact, the earlier bird books called the species "Red-eyed Towhee."   The light was just right to display the eye color of this Eastern Towhee in northeastern Illinois. Towhees are large-bodied members of the sparrow family. They have the habit of scratching the leaves noisily, using both feet at once. This is an Eastern

Birding Palo Duro Canyon, Texas

We visited our son and his family in the Texas Panhandle this past week. It was great seeing how much our five grandchildren have grown in our absence. On the first morning after our arrival our familes jumped into two cars and headed for nearby Palo Duro Canyon State Park, the "Grand Canyon of Texas."  Carved out of the colorful mudstone, sandstone and limestone formations by the Prairie Dog

This Week's Crops & Clips: Indigo Bunting

How many shades of blue can there be? What color is indigo? We learned the spectral colors as ROY G BIV, and there was Indigo, nestled between Blue and Violet, two-thirds blue and one-third red. It is said to be the color of the deep midnight sky (which looks black to me). According to Wikipedia, there is no uniform agreement on this color's place in the visible or electromagnetic spectrum. More

Osprey:Another missed opportunity

My luck in trying to photograph an Osprey diving for a fish reminds me of the joke about a parking attendant who is guiding a driver backing into a tight space in a crowded lot: "OK, c'mon back... c'mon back... c'mon back..." CRASH "Stop!" We might be sitting in our back room and I would suddenly hear a huge splash just outside the back door, then looking out just in time to see an Osprey

This Week's Crops & Clips: Bald Eagles renovating nest

This is the seventh breeding season during which we have monitored a Bald Eagle nest near our south Florida home, the first recorded active Bald Eagle nest in Broward County in more than fifty years since before the use of DDT was prohibited.   Several  attempts to install a nest camera have been unsuccessful, so all our observations are from the ground. Local eagle-watchers report their

Earthworms versus Ovenbirds

The Ovenbird has an unusual enemy in the lowly earthworm. Ovenbird breeding populations have declined in the far northern areas of its range in the US, particularly in the Great Lakes states. They were quite common when I started birding in New Jersey, where I recorded my first Ovenbird,  #58 in my life list, on  May 5, 1949. Back then, their "Teacher-Teacher-Teacher" song filled the woods during

This week's Crops & Clips: Tricolored Heron

Around sunrise, a Tricolored Heron flew in and settled on an abandoned dock in the mitigation wetlands preserve next to our South Florida subdivision. It was too dark for decent photos, but I shot a sequence as it landed. They came out soft and blurry (ISO 1600, 1/800 sec at f/5.6) , but because the bird appeared so graceful, I could not bring myself to discard them. After much post-processing I

A blighted birding patch

As is evident to anyone who reads my posts, our recent birding has been carried out within fairly restricted boundaries. In Illinois, it was our now extinct and lamented "back yard" prairie (Remembering birds in a vacant lot). In Florida, a convenient wetlands preserve adjacent to our subdivision is a scarred but welcome haven for resident and migratory species. Since moving to south Florida in

This Week's Crops & Clips: Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Love 'em or hate 'em! Here in Florida we welcome the fall arrival of the Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, as it means that the warblers can't be far behind. Finding gnatcatchers often means that warblers may join them in a mixed-species flock, all benefiting from the many eyes to spot the insect prey. One also can grow weary of being distracted by an abundance of gnatcatchers when trying to pin down that

Birds, high water and Trema trees

This year's wet season, which began in Mid-May, has had record rainfall. July 2013 was the wettest in 45 years. Normally, Fort Lauderdale gets only 66.5 inches the entire year, but experienced 15.49 inches of rain in July, the most recorded since 1913. Lake Okeechobee and the Everglade marshes reached record high water levels. Our first couple of weeks since returning to Florida from Illinois

This Week's Crops & Clips: Waterthrush in dangerous encounter

While checking for waterthrushes at this flooded hole (created by ORV drivers doing donuts) I spotted a venomous Cottonmouth Water Moccasin. While I was photographing it, a Northern Waterthrush suddenly appeared in the viewfinder.  I focused on the waterthrush, expecting it to quickly fly away. Instead, the bird started walking towards the snake! It actually flew up a bit ahead

The Unfeathered Bird: A Review and Reflections on a kink

One evening years ago, while we were eating a chicken dinner, our youngest daughter came up with an idea for her grammar school science fair project . "Let's save the bones and I can put them all together and make a skeleton." This was much easier said than done. We collected the remains from dinner and afterwards picked away at the bones, ending up with a greasy mess. Neck vertebrae were a

This Week's Crops & Clips: Prairie Warbler

Upon our return from Illinois to our south Florida home, we were greeted by an influx of one of our favorite warblers. Some Prairie Warblers breed locally, but their numbers are reinforced by migrants, many of whom will spend their winter here with us. Although this is probably one of my most-photographed bird species, I never tire of capturing them in varied habitats and poses. As is the case

The Warbler Guide: Review and Reflections

My first field guide was Chester A Reed's 1923 Bird Guide: Land Birds East of the Rockies. This pocket-sized book helped me discover the names of common dooryard birds through toddlerhood and beyond. Regrettably, I defaced the little book, recording my sightings by scrawling "SAW" in big block letters across every bird I identified. Recently I purchased a clean copy, which rekindled childhood

This Week's Crops & Clips: Cooper's Hawk

Continuing the theme of featuring birds I have seen in our now-diminished Illinois"backyard," this week's choice is actually one that I photographed there for the first time only this past month. Mary Lou and I were on our way back home from one of our walks when I suddenly stopped the car only a few doors from our home. The camera was in the trunk, and I cautiously crept out the door and tried

Waiting for blue skies and birds

During our last two weeks in Illinois we endured a heat spell. Daily temperatures exceeded those in Florida, and the humidity was almost as high.  There were warnings about high ozone levels and a haze permeated the atmosphere. Most days the sky was fairly bright but generally lightly overcast, whether from the smog or clouds. This produced low light conditions requiring me to use a flash, but

This Week's Crops and Clips: American Golden-Plover

Last August we saw American Golden-Plovers at a sod farm in Kaneville, Illinois, not far from our second home. This year we visited the farm six times during late August and early September, hoping to see them again before we flew back to Florida, but each time we were disappointed. It is a thrill to see this species, a rare but fairly regular visitor to Illinois during its long migration flights

Angry Birds?

Birds' faces are frozen for a lifetime. They cannot grimace or smile or furrow their brows. Yet, a bird can exhibit a certain expression that may or may not appear appropriate to a situation or its personality or demeanor. This can cause us to misinterpret its feelings or intentions. Can a bird, such as the Mad Bluebird, make an angry face? This photo of mine shows a White-eyed Vireo with an "

This week's Crops & Clips: Dickcissel

A single pair of Dickcissels may have nested for a a couple of seasons in the fields surrounding our NE Illinois condo before the land was developed. I did not find a nest, but a male sang there vigorously early in at least two summers.  Funny-- when I searched for the title of their photos in my FLICKR collection I turned up only a handful of shots. I thought FLICKR had lost them until I

Woodpeckers and Waxwings

Fall migration is underway here in Kane County, Illinois. I've spent more time afield and less face time with the computer. Hoping my backlog of unprocessed warbler images will continue to build, so this week's post will be a potpourri of sightings as I rush back to one of our local forest preserves. As we awaited the arrival of what we hoped would be hordes of colorful warblers dripping off the

This week's Crops & Clips: Song Sparrow

True to its name, the Song Sparrow pours out its melody all through spring and summer. It has been the most persistent songster in our Illinois yard before, during and even after most of the land around us was developed. Yet I have obtained relatively few good photos of this species, as they generally stay hidden and do not let me get too close.    This Song Sparrow conveniently took a perch on

More Birding Bliss

Bliss Woods Kane County Forest Preserve and neighboring Hannaford Woods are parts of an extensive open space assemblage in Sugar Grove Township, only a few miles south of our second home in NE Illinois. The clear waters of Blackberry Creek run through varied habitats of meadows and woodlands. Last year, in early September, the preserve provided good warbler-watching. Hannaford Woods contains

This week's Crops & Clips: Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawks have raised families in several nests within a mile of our Illinois condo. They commonly brought their youngsters to hunt in the surrounding fields. Although the open space is now mostly gone, some still stop to roost on the light poles along our street, keeping a sharp eye out for voles and rabbits.

Waiting for fall migrants

We are now at our second home in NE Illinois, enjoying a respite from south Florida's heat and humidity. We wasted no time getting out on crisp and cool mornings, but found that this time of year is not ideal for birding. Local resident species are undergoing a post-breeding molt. With few exceptions, they are conserving energy and hiding out.  Some may already be heading south. To our distress

This week's Crops & Clips: Savannah Sparrow

It's easy to dismiss sparrows as nondescript little streaky brown birds that lurk in the bushes. Actually, the tenth bird I recorded on December 5, 1948, the day I started keeping a life list, was an "English Sparrow."  Now called the House Sparrow, it is not a member of the American sparrow family, but rather is classified as an Old World weaver finch or "true sparrow."  Until I matched it with

South Florida birding hazard

The weather eased up a bit before we returned to Illinois. This may have been partly due to the haze produced by dust that traveled 6,000 miles across the Atlantic from Africa's Sahara Desert. The dust arrives annually to south Florida in early summer and persists until autumn, when the tropical waves from Africa begin to deliver hurricanes. The dust cloud is believed to suppress cloud formation

This week's Crops & Clips: Eastern Meadowlark

One or two pairs of meadowlarks sang and nested on the grassy field that was next to our Illinois condo before the land was cleared and graded for the new construction. The clear whistled song of the Eastern Meadowlark is generally interpreted as "Spring of the year!"  They sing from the day they arrive in the spring until well into autumn, when most depart for points to the south.  When we lived

Birding while dodging raindrops

It was hot in Arizona, and as the locals say "It's a dry heat." True, in Phoenix on the first day of our RV trip the temperature reached 114 degrees (F), and yet I felt chilly emerging from the shady end of the hotel swimming pool.  In Tucson, it was "only" about 110 degrees early in the afternoon when we visited the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. This might conjure up visions of walking the halls

This week's Crops & Clips : Horned Lark

The Horned Lark is one of the breeding birds that I will miss most since their local habitat was destroyed in our NE Illinois neighborhood. They nested only steps away from our front door, and often posed on top of utility marking stakes. Of the dozens of lark species worldwide, this is the only one that is an established resident of the USA. Skylarks were introduced into British Columbia, Canada

Arizona wrap-up: Grand Canyon and Lake Powell

After three nights at the Grand Canyon, our motor home was on the move eastward and northward to Lake Powell. Just before we exited Grand Canyon National Park we stopped to enjoy one of the most majestic views on the South Rim-- Desert View overlook. Watch Tower at Desert View As we got out of the RV at the parking lot, I immediately spotted a Western Tanager in living color. It

This week's Crops & Clips: American Kestrel

The American Kestrel is one bird that I will especially miss seeing now that the fields surrounding our Illinois condo have been developed. They liked to perch on the stakes marking the utilities. These were the highest structures on acres of recovering prairie, great places from which to hunt for grasshoppers and mice. This one was only yards away from our front door. Now our neighbor's front

Grand Canyon wildlife

We continued our twelve day multi-generational journey in a 31 foot RV from Sedona to the south rim of the Grand Canyon, an easy 120 mile drive that took less than three hours. Near the entrance to the National Park, our granddaughters were excited to see an Elk grazing along the road.  After securing our rig in an ideal location at the north end of Grand Canyon Trailer Village, we wasted no

This week's Crops & Clips: Spotted Sandpiper

This post continues with the theme of remembering the birds that have now vanished from our Illinois "back yard" because of the grading, filling of low spots and construction. I plan to illustrate them one species at a time in "Crops and Clips."  While the new condos were being built, Spotted Sandpipers continued to breed in a small patch of undisturbed grass. You can hear their cries in the

Birding Oak Creek Canyon in Sedona, Arizona

Sedona, Arizona, our next objective after departing Tucson, was a 250 mile drive that took us about five hours. On the way, we passed through some breathtaking scenery. The winding road moved along Oak Creek Canyon, which appeared as a lush oasis in an otherwise parched landscape. As we approached Sedona, red rocks began to predominate. Two horizontal formations, the Schnebly Hill

This week's Crops & Clips: American Goldfinch

Back in Illinois, our first jaunt was to the north (prairie)  side of nearby Dick Young/Nelson Lake Forest Preserve in Batavia, Kane County.  The sun was hot and there were shadows and much glare. The Canon 100-400mm L f/4.0-5.6 IS USM lens I borrowed from our son-in-law had trouble with the way its autofocus worked with my Canon 60D, so I  am not happy with the quality of the images.   

This week's Crops & Clips: Sandhill Cranes in distress

As I have related in earlier posts, the area around our Illinois townhouse is being extensively developed. The surrounding former cornfields that were slowly turning back into prairie have now disappeared. A single 3 acre plot reserved for a future "park" has been freshly graded but contains a large pile of topsoil. This had been removed from the planned home sites about 10 years ago. This dirt

Seeing California Condors in the Grand Canyon

On the second morning of our stay in Grand Canyon Trailer Village, I did not need to stray far from the door of our RV to see some interesting wildlife. A Western Bluebird posed for one of my favorite images of the trip. A dripping faucet at an adjacent vacant RV parking space attracted birds and mammals, among them a pair of Hairy Woodpeckers. These western Hairy Woodpeckers have

Summer birding in Arizona heat

Our Arizona RV adventure began with a flight from Florida to Phoenix, where we met up with our daughter, her husband and their two daughters who had arrived from Chicago earlier in the day. We stayed overnight in a hotel near the airport. The temperature reached over 115 degrees (F) but our granddaughters had lots of fun on the shady side of the hotel pool. The next morning we picked up our 31

A pinyon-juniper woodland in Grand Canyon National Park

Mary Lou and I have just returned from a twelve-day 1300 mile trip in a 31 foot motor home with our daughter, her husband and their two daughters. We started out in Phoenix, Arizona and explored south to Tucson and Tombstone, then looped up to the northern end of the state, venturing into southern Utah. The campsites had either no WiFi or such limited bandwidth that the Internet was generally

Chapel Trail Nature Preserve

This view from our back patio just before sunrise showed rain clouds moving in from the ocean. Mary Lou and I stayed just ahead of the storms as we visited Chapel Trail Nature Preserve in Pembroke Pines. A Red-shouldered Hawk rested at the end of the boardwalk and allowed us to approach rather closely. When we moved just a little nearer it launched into flight. We had a fleeting look

Observations at the nest of a Common Nighthawk

The Common Nighthawk is the American Birding Association's 2013 Bird of the Year. In April they migrate through our South Florida neighborhood and some stay to breed here each year.  Our daughter visited the newly reopened Hall of Birds at the Field Museum in Chicago and took this cell phone photo of one of my nighthawk images that was used in their new interactive bird exhibit. Last year,

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron babies

South Florida has two seasons. Simply stated they are the Dry and the Wet seasons. Some would call them the Tourist and the Hurricane seasons. Fall and winter nights are usually cool and there is no great threat of rain, allowing us to sleep with the windows open, while air conditioning becomes a necessity during the hot and muggy summer. By any name we have entered the second season, which

Nighthawks and Night-Herons

These two birds illustrate a convention in the use of capitalization and hyphens in their names. Why not Night-Hawk and Nightheron, or nighthawk and night heron? In preparing an article for a popular publication I encountered a problem when I wrote of the Black Rosy-Finch, but the proofs came back as "black rosy finch," suggesting that I must have had difficulty in deciding the color of the finch

Heading back to Florida

Waiting at our door to be picked up by the limousine to the airport at 6:00 AM on our last day in Illinois, I pondered the evolution of our homesite, a former tallgrass prairie turned into a cornfield. Long ago it was covered by ice, then became a wet and barren land deeply scarred by glaciers, succeeded by a lush evergreen forest. As the climate warmed and the land dried up, hardwoods overtook

Peak migration but few warblers

As we entered the final week of our stay in Illinois at the peak of spring migration, we tried to get out every morning. The weather was mostly cooperative but temperatures varied wildly, going down to freezing one night and the next day we were in the mid-80s (F).  Although our hopes were high, we were disappointed at how few warblers we were seeing. Some birders were reporting well over a

First of season (FOS) birds

Rainy weather sidelined us for a couple of days during our second week in Illinois, but the month of May started out cool and clear. On May 2nd at 5:30 AM the Chicago weather radar images revealed massive migratory movement that filled the entire coverage circle. The base velocity display indicated birds were traveling due north. Ominous echoes moving in from the west portended the arrival of a

Catching up with migration in Illinois

We are back in Illinois and hoping to catch up with the northbound migrants that failed to visit our Florida neighborhood. Migration in southeastern Florida has been much quieter in spring than in the autumn, generally due to the prevailing southeasterly winds that steer migrants from Cuba towards the west coast and often allow them to continue non-stop over the Gulf of Mexico. We also departed

Change is inevitable

Each time we relocate between our first and second homes in south Florida and northeastern Illinois the time lapse of several weeks or months amplifies our awareness of changes that have taken place. Like Rip Van Winkle, we see the full impact but fail to perceive the gradual transition from what was then and what is now.  Change is inevitable, from the destruction of our quiet  sitting spot, 

Delightful birding on Florida ranches

You may have been following the adventures of the two captive-reared juvenile Whooping Cranes that visited our local patch. They were among the six that were allowed to find their own way south from Wisconsin. Part of the International Crane Foundation's "Direct Autumn Release" experiment, they were not assisted by the "Operation Migration" ultralight aircraft. This year their journey was

Grocery bag birding boots

Our granddaughter Graciela has contributed to my blog in the past, but this week I am letting her take over the whole thing. She wrote it the day after her ninth birthday. Early this morning when it was still dark my Grandfather said "I'm going out on a bird hike." I asked him if I could come along. He said to make sure with my parents first. I had to knock twice on their door to get their

Finding birds by not looking for them

One of my projects has been keeping watch over a Bald Eagle nest in neighboring Pembroke Pines. Over five breeding seasons, since 2008, I have collected information about their breeding activities. Dozens of other nest watchers who have an interest in protecting their habitat and learning about the eagles' behavior contribute their ground observations to my Pembroke Pines Eagle Nest Watch FORUM,

Birding Rookery Bay and Fakahatchee Strand

While we were staying on Marco Island we briefly visited Shell Island Road in Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. The former site of Briggs Nature Center has been closed and converted into an office of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and houses law-enforcement personnel. However, there was a volunteer interpreter available at the overlook at the far end of the

A Knot in Tigertail

There was a new moon on March 11, when large numbers of Horseshoe Crabs emerged to lay their eggs. Mary Lou and I saw this Red Knot at Tigertail Beach, Marco Island in southwest Florida. It has a blue flag on its left leg with the letters TNP and a yellow band on its right leg. Its plumage is quite faded, not showing any of the warm salmon hues that develop by May.  This species takes one of the

Corkscrew Swamp, March 10, 2013

We arrived back in Florida on Thursday, and on Saturday we drove out to stay on Marco Island for a couple of nights and meet up with some friends who are visiting family in Naples. We had planned time for birding while there, and on the way back and forth. On the first day our route took us out I-75 ("Alligator Alley") through the heart of the Everglades and Corkscrew Swamp. We always look

Mixed feelings about leaving winter behind

As our most recent visit to NE Illinois draws to a close, the visions of Snow Buntings, Northern Shrikes and Snowy Owls that danced in my head are beginning to fade. While time afield has been limited by the weather and our duties, we have had a few opportunities to drive out to vast areas of corn fields a few miles west of Batavia, where we have been staying in our daughter's home. She and her

Random images from a brief respite in Florida

We returned to Illinois in early February after only two weeks back in Florida. As I write we have experienced four days of flurries after being hit by a serious (by Florida standards) snowstorm. To fight cabin fever I have been reviewing a backlog of my most recent Florida photos, many of which remained in the camera until after our arrival in Illinois. Our brief stay back home in South Florida

A quiet morning on the wetlands

When we moved from New Mexico to South Florida in 2004, we resolved to spend all our winters there. Even after we purchased a condo in NE Illinois near our daughter's family we rarely ventured north after late October. This winter we scheduled an unusually late visit to celebrate our son-in-law's birthday, but it was marred by his serious accident in early November, when he broke both legs in a

Latest chapter in Whooping Crane saga ends with capture

Mary Lou and I got out about 15 minutes before sunrise on the morning of February 10th, hoping to see the male Whooping Crane #15-12 ("Cypress") that was the subject of my earlier post, A Lonely Whooping Crane. I had expressed concerns about the lone crane's survival skills, and thought it might be in jeopardy if left without others of its kind. We had missed sighting it the past 3 days, and our

A lonely Whooping Crane

Most mornings this past week we have gotten out early to check on the welfare of the juvenile male Whooping Crane #12-15 who now wanders alone in our local wetlands and residential neighborhood. The female # 12-13 that accompanied him in his migration from Wisconsin and subsequent wanderings in south Florida suffered a foot injury and malnutrition. She is receiving verterinary care and

Common Nighthawk is honored
What started my fascination with birds? When I delve deeply into the recesses of my memory, I find no sudden epiphany. I recall looking out the back window of our second story apartment onto the flat roof of the dry cleaner’s store, where a nighthawk was sitting on its eggs. My father had discovered it and pointed it out to me. It was interesting to see that the eggs were laid directly on the

Illinois back yard and neighborhood birds
These past two weeks in Illinois have flown by as we joined our two granddaughters (aged 7 and 8) to care for both of their injured parents. We have learned quite a bit about the challenges faced by folks who have limited mobility.They are confined to the ground floor of their home and have rented side-by-side hospital beds that occupy their living room. Simple things, like climbing up steps,

Whooping Cranes venture into South Florida

The new year got off to an exciting start. There were surprises, not all of them pleasant. First, our local Bald Eagles have hatched out at least one chick, now visible to many enthralled nest-watchers.. You may remember (as related in this earlier post) that in early November our son-in-law in Illinois suffered serious injuries to both legs in a fall from a tree stand while hunting deer in

Snipe hunt
I must admit that during the winter I'm always looking for snipe in our local South Florida birding patch. Up until now I had only gotten fleeting glimpses of single birds, usually flying away from almost underfoot at breakneck speed. Taken from a distance in poor light, this photo shows the characteristic shape and bold vertical markings on the sides of the breast of a Wilson's Snipe.

Shape-shifting Green Heron

Last season, in the Yellow-crowned Night-Heron rookery along a canal at the north end of the wetlands birding patch next to our south Florida home, a pair of Green Herons selected a secluded spot for their nest.  Unfortunately, this tree, which extends over the water, had been treated with herbicides by the agency that maintains the canals, and by the time the eggs hatched almost all the leaves

Bald Eagles switch incubation duties

In late December, 2007 I observed a pair of Bald Eagles courting on the roof of a house across the lake from us. I had just acquired a first generation Canon Digital Rebel, my first DSLR camera, a gift from our son-in-law after he had upgraded to a Canon 30D. The eagles were about 175 yards away. Hand held and without image stabilization, my heavily cropped images were fuzzy, but I captured the

Remembering birds on a wire

In October, 2005, just a little over a year after we moved to south Florida, Hurricane Wilma hit us directly.  Although we went without power for a few days, lost a couple of trees and had minor roof damage, we were relatively unscathed. Several days later, we visited the wetland patch near our home. This is actually a wetlands preserve set aside by developers to mitigate some of the loss of

Limpkins and eagles near home

We had to go to the Post Office one morning this past week, so it gave us the excuse to get out early and visit a couple of birding spots along the way. It rained very hard, but only briefly just after sunrise, and a double rainbow appeared as the skies cleared. Our first stop was Chapel Trail Nature Preserve in Pembroke Pines, the next city north of us. As we pulled into the parking area

Beauty revealed in scarred land

Our South Florida weather has turned from cool and dry to muggy and unsettled. Some of our forays were cut short by "pop-up" rain showers. This is the view from our patio one morning this week.   That day, rather than venture out into the wild, we decided to take the car to Chapel Trail Nature Preserve. Almost as soon as we started out on the boardwalk, a heavy rain fell for about five minutes.

Pelicans and spoonbills!

On Saturday morning, November 24 we departed Chicago Midway Airport where the temperature was 20 degrees (F), and at noon we were treated to a balmy 74 degrees at Fort Lauderdale Airport. Put away the fleece and back into T-shirts and shorts! Now is when I love living in Florida! South Florida enjoys two seasons: Hot and wet from June through September, and mild and dry from October through May

Parting shots-- eagles, owls and longspurs

With this post I have begun migration of my blog to this new site: (Note the hyphen in "rosy-finch" to avoid visiting a Japanese site!) My previous blog archives will still be available at, but I have had to turn off the comment feature because the other ISP lacks effective defense against comment spam. It has gotten so bad that I ...

Contact Ken