Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Western Tanager and other Montana Birds

Western Tanager

 Cedar Waxwing

Brewer's Sparrow in the sage brush (I think...)
Brewer's Sparrow

Dark-eyed Junco

The Cedar Waxwing picture was also taken at the side of the nature preserve along Teton Park Road (Grand Teton National Park). The Brewer's Sparrow pictures were taken at while we were camping with some friends at Taylor Fork, near Big Sky. Sparrows are by nature tricky to identify (especially for me!) but I did my best to narrow down the list, and feel like it's a close  match.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Tree Swallow Preening- Montana Birds

Tree Swallow Preening

 These pictures were taken in Wyoming on our drive from Grand Targhee Resort to Jackson Lake. We were passing by a beautiful view of the Grand Tetons and on the right-hand side of the road was a fenced-off preserve, which must have been part of Grand Teton National Park. While we were stopped to take pictures of the Grand Tetons I also got pictures of this Tree Swallow, and a Swainson's Hawk, which I'll post separately. I'm pretty sure we saw Sandhill Cranes while driving, but didn't stop to take pictures.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Mountain Bluebird- Pictures from Montana Trip

Female Mountain Bluebird

Female Mountain Bluebird

Male Mountain Bluebird

Male Mountain Bluebird

I'm catching up on posting pictures from my trip to Montana in July 2012. These pictures of a Mountain Bluebird were taken in Big Sky. The ones at a distance were taken from the backyard of the condo some of our friends rented. We were all in Big Sky for Steve's friend Kevin's wedding. We stayed at the lodge where the wedding took place- up on the mountain-side. The female Mountain Bluebird pictures were taken up there. She was making lots of noise while we were packing up the rental car for our drive to the airport to go home. It took a long time to clean the car and pack our bags for the airport since we had been in Montana-Wyoming-Idaho for a week and a half! The Mountain Bluebird kept us company.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Mallard Hybrid Hen in New Jersey

I'm not the greatest at identifying hybrids- I've blogged about them twice before with mixed results (one was likely some kind of domestic duck hybrid, and the other was a Green-winged Teal, which was actually a rarity for the time of year I saw it)- BUT I'll give it a shot anyway. I'd love to know everyone's thoughts!
I was in Beach Haven, NJ this past June for a friend's wedding. As part of the festivities we went to the rehearsal dinner, which was hosted by another one of their friends with a canal-front home. There were two different families of mallard ducks swimming close to the dock- looking for a free meal. I noticed that one of the female mallards (or "hens") had an unusual amount of white on her neck and wing. Does anyone have any idea what type of mallard hybrid this might be?

Mallard Hybrid:


Thursday, September 20, 2012

My Interview on

Perry from reached out to me a few weeks ago to do an interview for his Birder's Corner. is a binocular review site and includes a section on birding binoculars. I'm always happy to connect with other bloggers and writers so this was right up my alley. It took some time and thought but I'm glad he asked me to do it--it made me really reflect on my experiences as a birdwatcher.

Check it out:

Also, fellow BwBTC blogger Larry from the Brownstone Birding Blog did an interview too: Larry's my go-to source when it comes to shopping for binoculars- he helped me pick out my first pair. Actually, I'm overdue to get a new pair since I'm still using the Nikon Action 8x40s I bought back in 2008 before my first Bird-a-thon. I'll have to check out Perry's site, and will probably ping Larry again.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Blue Hills Toads and Frogs

Here are some more pictures from our hike at Blue Hills Reservation in Canton, MA back in May. Toads and frogs are fun to try and spot while you're hiking. We tend to take the trails that don't see as much foot traffic so we usually have a better chance of seeing wildlife. With frogs & toads you'll see a flash of movement and then it's fun to try and locate them on the side of the trail since they're so fantastic at camouflaging.

American Toad

Wood Frog

Indigo Bunting at Blue Hills Reservation

Back in May Steve and I made a trip to the Blue Hills Reservation in Canton, MA. When we go for hikes we usually don't have much time to stop and bird, but luckily I got some downtime when we reached the top of a hill to eat lunch. I first heard, that noticed this beautiful Male Indigo Bunting singing atop a pine tree.

He was very far away, but at least I was able to zoom with my camera to a certain degree. I believe this was only my second time seeing an indigo bunting. The first time I saw an indigo bunting was at Mt. Auburn Cemetery in May of 2009.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Tropical Mockingbird Habits in Mexico

This is the Mexican companion to my Northern Mockingbird Habits post from 2008. We had a lot of fun watching the Tropical Mockingbirds at our resort in Cancun, Mexico. They were very noisy, and actually had a very similar repertoire of songs to our Northern Mockingbird. I was able to pick them out by their sound first before I spotted them. This one was flying all around the back edge of our all-inclusive resort, and enjoyed landing on the fancy stonework of the Excellence Club room balconies. Note the long tail feathers and prominent  eyebrow markings. Mockingbirds are one of my favorite species and these ones in Mexico did not disappoint!

Brown Pelican Pouch Stretching

According to the research I've done so far, Brown Pelicans periodically stretch their gular pouch by putting their heads back and stretching it over their breast. In some cases, they turn their pouch inside out, which is what can be seen in these pictures here. You can see the pink, fleshy inside of the pelican's pouch as he completely inverts it. I thought I'd leave you with at least one presentable picture of the Brown Pelican, looking dapper and smiling. It's the least I can do after intruding on his pouch stretching ritutal! These pelicans we saw relaxing on the abandoned pier at our resort in Cancun, Mexico. The birds enjoyed relaxing and sunning themselves on it. And it made for some easy birdwatching for me!

Great-tailed Grackle in Mexico

Male Great-tailed Grackle

Great-tailed Grackle at our resort in Cancun, Mexico

Female Great-tailed Grackle in a Palm Tree

Female Great-tailed Grackle

Female Great-tailed Grackle gathering nest materials on the beach

There were lots of Great-tailed Grackles at our resort in Cancun, Mexico. Although they're common and kind of a noisy, nuisance bird I enjoyed watching them. Like the female, shown here on the beach, gathering nest materials. I almost thought it was a male at first since it looked so dark in the direct sunlight here on the beach, but it didn't make sense for the male to be working on the nest. All I had to do was compare the pictures side-by-side and then the differences between the male and the female were very apparent.

These grackles seem almost prehistoric the way they maneuver and use their legs to grab at stuff. I especially like the male's long tapered tail that fans out. They're more interesting than our common grackles here in the Northeast. For more information on common grackles, and the difference between grackles and starlings you can check my blog post from June 2008.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Sandwich Tern in Mexico

These Sandwich Terns were part of the dilapidated pier gang (which included brown pelicans, laughing gulls and double-crested cormorants). They chose to hang out at the very end of this old, out of commission pier at the Excellence Resort Cancun Riviera. At first I thought they were gulls, but the more I researched the more I had trouble finding one with the distinct long, black narrow beak with the white tip at the end. That's when I found pictures of the Sandwich Tern in non-breeding plumage that were a close match!

Hooded Oriole in Cancun Mexico

This was one bird I had a tricky time identifying. At first I thought it as an Altamira Oriole because it seemed to match the pictures, but then the closer I looked at the I looked at the ID notes provided on All About Birds, and the concentration of these two species in the part of Mexico I was in on ebird range map, the more confident I felt that it was a Hooded Oriole.

As you can see in these pictures, the Coconut Palm is a favorite tree for these birds- they like to forage on the clusters of green flowers and generally just sit here as a good lookout spot. I saw these orioles from time to time around the resort grounds, and also heard them. Their call is very similar to our Baltimore Oriole and sure enough, every time I heard it and looked up sure enough there was the Hooded Oriole.

Tropical Kingbird in Cancun Mexico

Earlier this month we went to Cancun, Mexico for my good friend Lori's wedding. We had a fantastic time relaxing at the all-inclusive resort she and Mark got married at. As an added bonus, I got to do some birdwatching in a tropical location! This is going to be the first of several bird posts from Mexico.

I noticed this tropical kingbird while we were laying out at the beach. I saw it flying around and landing on the roofs of various structures. This is probably my favorite bird from the entire trip. I love the bright yellow breast, contrasted against the subtle grey. Grey and yellow are a great color combination!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Great Blue Heron Roosting in Japan

My friend Phil shared these pictures of a Great Blue Heron roosting in Japan. According to him- there are lots of them roosting in the trees near where he lives and they make a lot of noise and are pretty annoying. I decided to see if I could get more information about Great Blue Herons in Japan, and found this great blog from Jeffrey Friedl with pictures of an urban Great Blue Heron, who is essentially domesticated by the people who live on that block since they feed him platefuls of fish. Definitely check it out because his pictures are fantastic and the story is interesting: