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12 October 2005
I and the Bird #8

I and the BirdWelcome to the 8th edition of the biweekly I and the Bird blog carnival! Come on in, have a seat, kick off your shoes, and make yourself comfortable! I'm honored to be hosting this weeks carnival of superb bird-oriented blog posts. Past editions of IATB have been stellar and the list of participating bird-lovers grows with each additonal event. I believe we're adding 3 new participants this time around.

It's mid-October already, and here in the upper Midwest US the weather is turning chillier, the brightly colored foliage is beginning to drop and seasonal bird migrations are in full swing. It's a busy time for bird geeks all around the world. This week's selection of 23 blog posts includes submissions from writers in the US, Canada, Australia and Europe. Writer's homes extend from above the Arctic Circle south to Victoria, Australia.

Regardless of where our homes may be, we all seem to have similar motivations and habits when it comes to birding and bird-blogging. Always the overly-analytical one, I've attempted to categorize our birding behaviors, efforts, writing, and today's posts, into 5 tidy groups:

Direct and purposeful birding. Many of the most avid birders among us will schedule time and plan travel with the specific objective of bird observation. This type of birding activity often includes recording numbers of bird species and individuals observed, regional and life lists as well as photographs and maps. Observation records can be compared and constrasted with historical data. This type of birding contributes much to our collective pool of bird knowledge. I know you'll agree when you've read these cool stories about purposeful birding experiences:

From Duncan at Ben Cruachan Blog (Victoria, Australia): A red-cap day. After some lunchtime birding at work, Duncan returned home to grab his dog and his binoculars and head out for some more birding along a nearby river. He had quite a day and lists quite a few sightings.

From Lené at Leaning Birch (Vermont, US): Another walk. Lené has assembled a photo essay from a recent hike in the Vermont woods. The collection of photos features a very nice image of a handsome cedar waxwing.

From John at DC Birding Blog (Washington DC, US): Chimney swifts. An evening stroll around the neighborhood yields a late season chimney swift flock. John also provides some additional information about chimney swifts attraction to population centers and their seasonal migrations.

From Mike at 10,000 Birds (New York, US): Uncertain Savannah. The Core team bags the “Most Frustrating Sparrow in North America” with some final identification help from Charlie and Nuthatch. Well done Core Team!

From David at Search and Serendipity (Texas, US): Where dinosaurs had trod. David describes a very productive trip to Dinosaur Valley State Park in northern Texas for bird watching and dinosaur tracking. Yes, dinosaur tracking.

Indirect or accidental birding. This category is dear to my heart as I do a lot of birding while I am wading or floating along a trout stream flyfishing. Another example of indirect or accidental birding might be that time last summer when a sharp-shinned hawk chased a chickadee into the back of your head while you were mowing the lawn or the time you noticed a hummingbird nest in the tree next to the garage. This type of unplanned birding often is very exciting and personal and makes excellent story material as you'll see in the following accounts:

From Tom at Sphere (New York, US): Hooting Back at the Owls. If there’s nothing good on TV or in the fridge in the middle of a sleepless night, Tom recommends that you step outside and enjoy the midnight barred owls in your underwear.

From Alan at The Raven's Gazette (Pennsylvania, US): A Penobscot Fishing Tale. Alan recounts a trip on the Penobscot River in Maine that is near and dear to my heart, birding while on a camping and fishing trip.

From T. Beth at Firefly Forest Blog (Arizona, US): Curve-billed thrashers. T. Beth seems to attract these inquisitive, trouble-making thrashers. Despite her need for upholstery cleaner, she has remained an admirer.

From Clare at The House & Other Arctic Musings (Nunavut, Canada): South. Clare is working on building a bed-and-breakfast house in Arctic Bay and his handiwork is, apparently, being scrutinized by the local raven population. Do they require you to fill out a lot of paperwork Clare?

From TroutGrrrl at Science and Sarcasm (Michigan, US): Birding on borrowed time. A description of a hurried and casual bird outing and dog walk in central Michigan.

From Rexroth's Daughter at Dharma Bums (Washington, US): The Steller's Jay - RD was able to photograph this handsome jay at her backyard feeder, snacking among the flowers. Very nice photos RD!

Professional birding. A few of our birder friends are lucky enough to have bird-related jobs. They are able to observe, handle, care for, photograph and write about the animals we spend so much attention on. These folks work for local, state or federal wildlife agencies, non-profit organizations or are self-employed naturalists. They work with birds on an individual basis or as whole communities and ecosystems. We appreciate the detailed, contextual and complete information they provide to our volume of understanding. Here are three superb examples from bird pros:

From Cindy at WoodSong (Michigan, US): A Meal Fit for a King(let). Wow, I have a difficult time identifying small birds like the kinglet, but Cindy is able to identify not only the kinglet, but the small red spider mite on the kinglet's breast. Yikes!

From Dave at Bird Treatment and Learning Center (Alaska, US): The most common owl. One of Dave's recent charges is a small Short-Eared Owl in need of recuperation. I am so glad to know there are people like Dave and places like the Bird TLC in this world.

From Nature Writers of Texas (Texas, US): Great Egrets are Grrrrrrrreat. A Texas wildlife biologist has written a synopsis of the Great White Egret and the populations historical challenges and legal protections. This piece was brought to our attention by Tony G. from milkriverblog and Nature Writers of Texas.

Retrospective assessments and summarized birding observations. Fortunately, some of our bird-oriented bloggers take the time to write commentary and summaries of their observations and viewpoints on birding subjects. More than just facts and data, these stories and essays blend the opinions, emotions, expertise and humor of the author with bird observations and analysis. Here are some wonderful examples:

From Rurality (Alabama, US): Warbler Neck. How can you spot a birder from 50 paces? Look for nice binoculars and a stiff neck among other things. Rurality builds a 'yard list' at home in rural Alabama. Backyard birding appears to be returning to normal after the recent hurricanes passed through.

From Bro. Chaplain at The Blurry-Eyed Birder (Texas, US): Alone. Brother Chaplain has written a short poem about birding and enjoying nature in solitude. He’s happy and he's all alone. Well, except for the teeming birdlife.

From Deb at Sand Creek Almanac (Minnesota, US): I try to forgive people, BUT... A tragic and disturbing story about the abusive behavior of some local citizens in response to a Great Gray Owl irruption a year ago. Deb is a serious Great Gray Owl aficianado and protector. Thanks Deb.

From Nuthatch at Bootstrap Analysis (Michigan, US): Transition. Nuthatch tells us what she admires in the dapper little red-breasted nuthatch and why she chose it as her nom de plume. In observation of the fall migration, she has changed her masthead image from a white-breasted to a red-breasted nuthatch. She apparently lives by the motto "Be the bird."

From Charlie at Charlie's Bird Blog (Wiltshire, UK): Orange-headed thrush. Charlie is a fan of the orange-headed thrush. Once you've read his post and enjoyed his pictures, you will be too. What a beautiful bird. Thanks for sharing Charlie.

From Pamela at Thomasburg Walks (Ontario, Canada): Confusing Fall Warblers. Pamela describes a common difficulty that seems to go relatively unmentioned - the waxing and waning of birder confidence. If you reconsider your bird ID long enough, you can talk yourself into or out of anything. I know I can.

From Tony G. at milkriverblog (Texas, US): On Birds and Molluscs, Part I. Tony has assembled a comprehensive piece exploring the relationship between kites and snails. Parts 2 and 3 are planned for Circus of the Spineless, the new blog carnival focused on invertebrate animal blogging, in addition to milkriverblog. Bravo Tony!

Humorous/Celebrity/Other. Well, anytime I attempt to categorize things, I inevitably find a that I can't pigeon-hole everything and that I need to have an 'other' category. This topic is no different. Though these two stories both feature a celebrity of sorts:

From Birdchick at Birdchick Blog (Minnesota, US): Birding with Neil. Birdchick goes birding and banding with her famous friend, Neil Gaiman, accomplished author. Really!

From Mary Ann at Five Wells (New York, US): Art Show. Mary Ann has assembled and matted an exhibit of paintings by her good friend, Dr. William C. Dilger, for an upcoming art show at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Well, I hoped you enjoyed reading this edition of I and the Bird as much as I enjoyed preparing it. I feel like I know a few of our ever-expanding circle of bird geeks a bit better. Thanks for your great posts and friendly emails. And I strongly recommend that you consider taking a turn at hosting - it's a lot of fun.

Next time, IATB #9 will be hosted by Hedwig of Living the Scientific Life on October 27th. Remember to send your submissions to Hedwig or to Mike at 10000 Birds before Oct. 25th.

Edited to link to the TTLB Ubercarnival page.

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