Amy
ABOUT ME - My name is Amy and I'm a birder living in central Florida. On this blog I post book and birding product reviews as well as birder gift ideas and announcements related to my birder gift shop on this site. I also have a personal birding blog called Powered By Birds.

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Unless otherwise stated, all books and other products reviewed on this blog were purchased or independently acquired by the reviewer. Readers who make a purchase by clicking on links in product reviews or featured t-shirt posts (T-Shirt Tuesday) may result in the blogger receiving a commission or referral fee.
Archive: December, 2011

Book reviews revisited 2011

Posted on December 26th, 2011 in Book Review, Books

My birding library grew by leaps and bounds in 2011, with a high number of books acquired and a very short list of books traded out. In 2011 I only managed to review 11 books (out of a goal of 20) and got rid of less than that. *gulp!* Here’s where those 11 came from, and where they are now.

Purchased new or used [1/3 remain in library]
* Flyaway (new) [January blog giveaway]
* The Stokes Field Guide to the Birds (new) [remains in library]
* Wesley the Owl (used) [March blog giveaway]

Received from publisher [4/4 remain in library]
* The Crossley ID Guide: Eastern Birds [remains in library]
* The Birding Life [remains in library]
* Hawks at a Distance [remains in library]
* The Atlas of Birds [remains in library]

Received via PaperBackSwap or BookMooch [1/4 remain in library]
* The Feather Quest (PBS) [traded out via PBS]
* Pigeons (PBS) [signed book remains in library]
* Dial B for Birder (PBS) [traded out via PBS]
* A Supremely Bad Idea (PBS) [traded out via PBS]

WBU Giveaway winner!

Posted on December 20th, 2011 in Giveaway

Thank you to everyone who entered the WBU giveaway! I used a random name picker to select the winner. Congratulations to Jeremy M on winning the WBU prize of his choice, the WBU Medium Quick-Clean™ Seed Tube Feeder. Jeremy, I’ll contact you via email for further details.

EcoClean Dinner Bell Review & WBU Giveaway!

Posted on December 13th, 2011 in Backyard Birds, Giveaway, Products

Since moving house in June, I’ve been trying to get the hang of back yard bird feeding here in Florida versus what I was used to in northern Illinois. I made the mistake of keeping unsealed bags of bird seed in the garage (hello meal moths), of offering nyjer bird seed in summer (no takers), and of using uncovered feeders in the rainy season (leading to a wet block of spoiled seed). I’ve gotten rid of the moths but I’m still working on using different feeders to offer appropriate seed to the regulars.

The EcoClean Dinner Bell Feeder from Wild Birds Unlimited is just what I need in our yard now. The small open feeding tray is covered with a sturdy, over-sized, clear plastic dome. The dome can be raised or lowered depending on the type of birds you’d like to attract. I’ve left it about as high as possible to offer the contents to any bird who wishes to visit. The dome protects the seed from the elements, which means the seed stays fresh longer when it rains. The tray has small drainage holes, which would be especially handy in case I ever decide to use the feeder without the dome. Click any photo for a larger view.

Easy to assemble

The EcoClean Dinner Bell is sold disassembled; assembly was extremely easy and only involved screwing the dome and the tray onto the metal wire.

A versatile feeder

This feeder came with a bag of Bark Butter Bits, which I have been offering along with some other general wild bird seed.

The EcoClean Dinner Bell is also compatible with WBU’s seed cylinder system, and is appropriate for almost any other type of bird food. The following video from WBU shows birds feeding on live mealworms and on a seed cylinder, both from this great feeder:

Bark Butter Bits are small suet balls (kind of like Dippin’ Dots for birds!). Bark Butter is known to attract over 100 species of bird (wow!) and these little balls of suet are perfect to offer a small amount to our small-but-growing group of back yard birds.

Cleaning is easy

According to WBU, the EcoClean products “feature a patented technology that inhibits the surface growth of damaging bacteria, mold and other microbes. This protection won’t wash or wear away, and it uses environmentally friendly technology.” This means that there’s no need to use bleach when cleaning this feeder. And cleaning is a breeze with this open feeder. While it’s extremely easy to completely disassemble the unit for cleaning, it’s not really necessary with such an open-style feeder.

WBU giveaway!

In addition to providing me with the feeder-bark butter combo for review, WBU has generously offered my blog readers the chance to win a product of choice (valued up to $50) from their great catalog of back yard birding supplies and gifts.

Here’s how to enter the giveaway:

1. Mandatory entry: Visit http://shop.wbu.com/ and then leave a comment on this blog post telling me which product you’d like to win (up to $50)
2. Get one extra entry by becoming a fan of Wild Birds Facebook Page. Leave an additional comment on this post to let me know you’ve done this.
3. Get one extra entry by signing up for the Wild Birds Unlimited Newsletter (sign up in the sidebar box here: http://www.wbu.com/). Leave an additional comment on this post to let me know you’ve done this.

So go ahead and browse through the WBU online shop catalog and pick out your favorite product. Here are some links to feeders and seeds to get you started:

Wild Bird Feeders
Window Bird Feeders
Finch Feeders
Thistle Bird Seed
Hopper Bird Feeders
Black Oil Sunflower Seed
Peanut Feeders

This contest is open to anyone with a U.S. address. The winner will be picked via random drawing next Tuesday, December 20th, so all entries must be received by 11:59PM EST on Monday, December 19th. Good luck! Even if you don’t win, visit http://shop.wbu.com for great holiday gifts! For standard shipping, place your order before 9AM PST for holiday delivery.

I’ll leave you with a Wingscapes BirdCam image of the very first visitor to my EcoClean Dinner Bell: a Carolina Chickadee – keeping dry along with all that seed in the rain!

Bird blog & online contests for December 2011

Posted on December 5th, 2011 in Contest

This is a list of current (as of December 5th) blog & online contests by birders, for birders, and/or offering bird- or birder-themed prizes. Click on the links to learn more, check eligibility, and enter to win! If you are running a contest or know of something that should be added to this list, let me know by leaving a comment or sending me an email. This is the latest in regular series of monthly posts appearing on the first Monday of the month. However, I question the value of this regular post to the general birder community, so this will likely be the last (I may keep a list of contests elsewhere on the site, just not in monthly-blog-post form).

CONTESTS WITH DEADLINES near and far

Bird Watcher’s Digest is giving away a BirdCam 2.0 by Wingscapes. Enter before December 14, 2011; see contest page for details.

Visit Jamaica is giving away a birding trip to the island nation. Fill in the contest entry form for a chance to win. Enter by December 15th.

Birds and Blooms’ Great Backyard Giveaway runs through December 19th (separate entries for each day). Prizes include spotting scopes and bird feeders. See the contest page for more information.

Leica Sport Optics is giving away a pair of Ultravid HD 10×42 binoculars. Like the Leica Sport Optics Facebook Page and then see the Prize Draw app for details; enter by December 20, 2011.

Two-Fisted Birdwatcher is giving away a blog-branded hoodie. Find this month’s hidden bird (Scarlet Ibis) to be eligible for the drawing. This regular giveaway usually ends by the end of the month, so submit your answer before the year is over! See the contest page for details.

ONGOING CONTESTS of interest to birders

BirdWatching Magazine runs a Photo of the Week Contest. Check out the Photo of the Week page to find out how to enter. Prizes include a BirdWatching magazine subscription.

Duncraft hosts a caption contest on Facebook every week. Become a fan of Duncraft to see each contest posting. Enter to win a $10.00 Duncraft Gift Coupon. New caption contests start each Monday.

Each month the Birds & Blooms website runs the Where’s Webster? contest. Find Webster the duck on the website and enter to win. Prizes vary and the contest runs month to month.

The Eagle Optics Email Contest is ongoing for anyone subscribed to their newsletter. A new winner is chosen every month and prizes vary. Click here for details.

Book Review: The Atlas of Birds

Posted on December 3rd, 2011 in Book Review, Books

The Atlas of Birds: Diversity, Behavior, and Conservation by Mike Unwin. First published 2011. As reviewed and pictured: softcover, 144 pages.

The Atlas of Birds is an engaging book that covers a huge amount of information on bird diversity and distribution, avian life cycles, bird conservation, and much more, in a relatively small volume.

The book is divided into eight parts, each filled with short two-page articles on a wide range of bird topics. The subjects are covered generally, with specific examples emphasized by photographs, maps, charts, and illustrations.

The information is interesting and presented in a visually appealing way and in a comfortable tone, and in this way the book is a great introduction to a wide variety of avian topics. However, it is just an introduction and many of the short articles will surely leave most engaged readers wanting more.

For example, just two pages devoted to the entire life cycle of all birds (“From Egg to Adult”) is surely not enough, though the specific examples (paternal care of Emperor Penguins, Mallefowl incubation chambers, etc) are truly interesting and informative.

That said, as someone with a huge and still growing interest in almost all things avian, I really enjoyed going through this book. Many of the bite-size articles prompted me to seek further information. In my case it’s easy to turn to other books already in my library; others could just as easily turn to the Internet for further exploring on most of the topics presented in the book.

The Atlas of Birds is a great introduction to a huge range of topics related to birds, including life cycle, habitat, distribution, and conservation. Young or budding birders will appreciate the short articles and engaging graphics; more experienced bird lovers will enjoy the variety of topics presented in an appealing way. I give The Atlas of Birds 4.5 Goldfinches out of 5.

Disclosure: This is my own original, honest review of The Atlas of Birds, a copy of which was provided to me free of charge by the publisher.