2014 is shaping up to be a great birding year.

This is about as mudane and pointless as it gets, but. . .

In the the past couple of weeks I’ve seen a Sinaloa Wren (I was told by some other way more competant birds that it is only the 5th one ever seen in the US) in Sierra Vista, AZ, a Streak-backed Oriole close to Carlsbad Caverns, a Tropical Parula and Hook-billed Hawk in Mission, TX.

Four pretty rare birds. I’m feeling pretty good.

Keep looking! Last year I had a Bald Eagle visit our bird feeder here in Atlanta!
Well, it’s a big platform feeder, and I suspect he dropped in to dine **on **the regulars, not with them…

We don’t have many unknowns around here; I get excited when the Cedar Waxwings stop by every year!

And a couple of months ago I almost wrecked my truck. A (possible) Ivory-Billed Woodpecker flew right in front of me. Yes, I’m fully aware of the lottery-type odds of that even being possible, but there it was. I parked and watched a pair flying back and forth from a nest about 220 yards from me. Even when they flew overhead, I couldn’t be sure that the bill wasn’t non-black.:eek:

I rushed home to get some binoculars and my son with his young eyes, almost crashing in my hurry.

When he was able to get them in binocs, he told me the bill was almost a light to medium gray, and not ivory at all. Dammit. I was already working on what I would say on Leno and Letterman, asking Nikon to send me a nice 400/f4 and the new 800f/5.6…

Then, as if to torment me, a pair of Pileated woodpeckers have taken up residence across the street from me. One, or both will sit in my next-door neighbor’s tree and cluck their damn cluck for an hour or more straight. I walk out on my front porch to see them, but they’re always on the far side of the tree, so I can’t even get a good picture of them! Then, after I’ve set my camera down, they’ll zip across the road and disappear in the woodline across the way.

Spring is coming, so I’ll get out soon and try for more.

Nothing too exotic around these parts, with the exception of a rather astonishing snowy owl influx. Generally you might get a couple of snowy owls setting up shop in the local marshes over a winter and, with sufficient waiting and walking around in the cold, even get a photo or two. This year, snowies showed up in abundance and you can head over to the local state park and get, without fail, good looks at the three owls that have taken up residence right on the main access road.

A snowy owl would be something, owls of any sort are just plain cool.

Ms Hook and I did see three grove-billed ani yesterday at Santa Ana NWR, a first sighting for me.

What have you seen?

I’m going birding in Cape May, NJ, in late March… Any chance of snowies there/then? That would be so cool!

You’ve got a shot –they’ve certainly been in Cape May and I’ve seen snowy owls as late as April.

A snowy ended up down here (Florida)-one of the most indelible images of my entire life was when she took wing after hiding behind a dune for 10 minutes.

Eurasian Widgeon all around and I keep missing them :mad:. Someone spots one here one day, there the next and whenever I can get time free to check out those spots ( days or a week or two later ) they’re off hiding or wearing their American Widgeon disguises.

I’ve seen one before and I don’t bother to keep a life list anyway, but I’ve been on sort of a low-key duck photography kick this winter and I’d kinda like to shoot one. Ah, well.

Well I’ll be damned, Tamerlane, I just checked eBird and there they are - Eurasian Widgeons on Tomales Bay. I’ll have to see if I can make it out there sometime soon.

…and Garretson Point in the MLK regional park in Oakland…and Lake Merrit in Oakland…and Radio Road in Redwood City ( before an Avian Cholera plague shut that down for the interim* ). I just can’t catch a break ;).

  • Poor Radio Road. I was there several days before the AC epidemic was confirmed and was idly wondering why there were a number of dead ducks about ( several gulls were having a feast, no doubt to their detriment - I took shots of a couple gulls ripping into a Northern Shoveler ). But it wasn’t that obviously huge a number and like an idiot I didn’t think to report it to anyone. Thankfully someone else was quicker on the uptake, so hopefully the damage wasn’t that bad.

Eee! That would be awesome!

Funny how a vagrant owl is much more appealing than a vagrant duck! (I’m in the Bay Area too, and would never even bother to look up how to tell a Eurasian from an American wigeon!)

I’ve been watching Eurasian doves take over Albuquerque–this seems to coincide with a decline in mourning doves. A local Cooper’s hawk is working on reducing the white winged dove population. I keep finding her kills in the yard. Otherwise it’s slim pickings–I went down by the river and even our usual assortment of ducks was a bit low. I haven’t seen any cranes this year either, though I did spot a grouchy looking porcupine.

I pretty much ignored ducks because they’re generally just drab brown blobs on the water, too far away for photography. Then I saw some pictures of wood ducks. Now they’re my nemesis species – they’re spectacular but also small, fast and extremely shy.

But it’s true about owls. Even when they’re not doing much (which, frankly, pretty much describes a snowy owl’s day), they’re pretty awesome.



I guess I’d rather see a Snowy Owl too ;). But I really rather like ducks, most drakes in particular are quite handsome fellows. But then I’ll admit to liking most birds - the other day a couple of people were looking at me like I was nuts as I was shooting profiles of a bored Ring-billed Gull ( a friend: “it’s a gull” ).

For your edification:
American Widgeon

Eurasian Wigeon drake

I find even some of the plainer species like Gadwall can be rather handsome in breeding plumage. Getting close is possible in the right spots - for example the above mentioned Radio Road ponds were once awesome for close-ups of waterfowl and certain wading birds.

Bald eagles are a dime a dozen around here this time of year.

However there’s about a thousand trumpeter swans at the Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary in West Alton, Mo. Very impressive!

We’re going to make it a point this year to see some Whooping Cranes.

I have a birdwatching question and this seems like a good thread to ask it in…

I was thinking of running up to the Chicago Botanic Gardens this weekend to look for and photograph birds (trying to get a cardinal against the snow, specifically). I wouldn’t be able to get there until afternoon though. Would this be too late in the day for it to be worth my time? Should I wait until I can get up there earlier in the morning?

Birds don’t necessarily get up early, Bob Ducca. This article suggest late afternoon might be an active time in the winter for small seed eaters. Also, great light for photography too! Good luck!

Ms Hook and myself are off to Laguna Atascosa NWR north of Brownsville, TX. An Aplamodo Falcon has been spotted there. Don’t have one on my life list, but hope abounds.

Good luck, Sandy! This guy did a big year last year, and the Aplomado falcon is his white whale - should he count it or not? ABA rules are ambiguous, since there was a captive release program for this species…

Just one of the reasons I don’t really keep a list… :slight_smile: