American Robin

I cropped away quite a bit of sky on this one… Still, I like the way it came out:

American Robin

Chautauqua Mini-Vacation

On Tuesday, I spoke at the Bird, Tree, And Garden Club at Chautauqua Institution.  What a delightful group of people!  I gave my slide show called “Confessions of a Reluctant Birder” which is really about my birding heros – the people who are working their magic to get me hooked on birds:  Elaine Crossley (the Bluebird Lady), Tom LeBlanc (and his assistant J), Chuck Rosenberg, and Scott Stolson (and his team: Emily, Linda, Don, and Mike)… among others.

I got to Chautauqua early and gave my new lens a walk around the grounds.  Still need much more practice!  But here are a couple of shots I liked:

Purple Martins
Purple Martins

American Crow
American Crow

I also took dozens of garden flowers… but none were all that spectacular…


And now for some shameless advertising about an event at the nature center where I work and another area event – both happening the same weekend!

Art In The Woods 2009

Audubon Center and Sanctuary
Visit 43 featured artists including painters, photographers, potters, jewelers, glass, fiber & paper artists at the Art in the Woods art show and sale at the Audubon Center and Sanctuary in Jamestown, New York, on July 18 and 19, 2009. The Art in the Woods program will welcome visitors from 10:00 to 6:00 on Saturday and from 10:00-5:00 on Sunday. The Audubon Center, a 600-acre wetland preserve, has hosted nature art shows since 1992 and has a strong following of art lovers and nature lovers alike.

The Audubon Center and Sanctuary is at 1600 Riverside Road, off Route 62 between Jamestown, New York, and Warren, Pennsylvania.  Center hours are 10 am-4:30 pm daily, Sundays 1-4:30 pm. The trails and Bald Eagle viewing are open dawn to dusk.  For more information about the Center and Art in the Woods, call (716) 569-2345 or visit
 Art in the Woods:
===========  Added bonus !  ===========

Scandinavian Festival

Save your Art in the Woods artist map as it gives you HALF-OFF entrance to the Scandinavian Festival also on this weekend at JCC.
If you start at the Scandinavian Festival then save your entrance ticket as that gets you HALF-OFF at the Art in the Woods festival.
The festival features musical entertainment, Scandinavian foods and products, exhibits, a Midsummer celebration, Swedish folk dancing and more!  See their website for more details:

Oops… the ISO setting!

I bumped up the ISO to take a few shots inside without flash… Then forgot to put it back down again… So these shots are a little grainy, but, still, I was excited to think my lens could “reach” them!

Eastern Cottontail
Eastern Cottontail Rabbit

American Bullfrog

Painted Turtle and Mosquitoes
Painted Turtle

Do you notice the black specks on the turtle photo?  Those are mosquitoes.  On Tuesday, we suddenly had a big hatch of some species of mosquito that is voraciously hungry for blood.  I have not been bothered by mosquitoes all summer… until this week!  It was comical to watch this turtle trying to swat the pesky buggers away!  (And yes, despite practically bathing in insect repellent, I came away with more than a few bites myself!)

Parents and Babies

At this time of year at the banding stations, it is not uncommon to catch newly fledged birds.  Often we catch adults and babes in the net at the same time, like the sparrows I posted yesterday, and these Yellow Warblers:

Yellow Warblers - Juvenile and Adult

Yellow Warbler - Juvenile

Another fun capture was a female Rose-breasted Grosbeak baby.  We were loaded up with birds and I didn’t get a picture.  Here’s a picture of siblings from last year at SWAT:

Rose-breasted Grosbeak - Female and Male Juveniles

Last Saturday at CLDC we caught just the one female baby, and she squawked like crazy the whole time we had her.  Mom came very close to the banding station with her bill full of food.  When we released Baby, Mom flew after her, ready to stuff that food down her throat, no doubt.  I hope we didn’t traumatize Baby or Mom too much.

Here is another set of parents and babies I happened to catch on “film” the same day:

The Proud Parents, Aunts, and Uncles (except me)

The Cousins

Are these babies as cute as the Yellow Warbler?

A Sparrowful Day

I went bird banding with Tom on Saturday.  We had lots of neat birds, but the bird species we saw the most of was… Song Sparrow.  We banded several adults and juveniles, and had several re-captures, too.

Song SparrowLittle Brown Birds are the bane of all new birders.  It can be really tough to figure out what you are looking at.  I wish I could say with confidence that I’m getting better at it… but it is still very hard for me to distinguish the differences.  Tom seems always to know, and Kyle (a Canisius College student who also helps band) is getting better and better – already way better than me!  (You go, Kyle!)

I felt a little better when I read about Song Sparrows at the Cornell website.  Turns out this very widespread bird can look different from region to region:

Scientists recognize 24 subspecies of Song Sparrows and have described some 52 forms: they are one of the most regionally variable birds in North America. In general, coastal and northern birds are darker and streakier, with southern and desert birds wearing paler plumages. (Cornell)

No wonder it’s so hard.  I have less trouble identifying the Song Sparrow in the field when I can’t see it, but can hear it.  Go to the Cornell site and you can listen to Song Sparrow songs:

The baby was very cute… not quite grown into its bill.

Song Sparrow Baby

We had to let one sparrow go, unbanded, because even Tom was unsure of the species.  I guess the experts have a hard time sometimes, too.  (We were pretty busy at that point and didn’t have time for pictures.  Darn.  You can’t band a bird if you aren’t 100% sure of the ID.)