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: North America

Raptors as Education Ambassadors

Posted on March 20th, 2013 in Books, Florida, Illinois, Rehabilitation

Crossley ID Guide Blog Tour

Thanks for visiting this stop on the Crossley ID Guide Blog Tour! I hope you’ll enjoy this look at some raptors I have come to know personally. Check out the bottom of this post to find a chance to win a signed copy of The Crossley ID Guide: Raptors.

The goal of wildlife rehabilitation is always to return the patients to the wild, but sometimes the injuries sustained by the animal are too severe. In the case of non-releasable birds of prey, life as an education ambassador may be in order. I am very lucky to be able to volunteer with a couple of great rehabilitation centers where permanently injured birds of prey are in residence. Let me introduce you to some of my feathered friends…

DARWIN the American Kestrel

Darwin

This is Darwin, a male American Kestrel. He is imprinted on humans and cannot be released into the wild. Darwin is the first bird of prey I got to meet up close and personal.

Darwin

It is always a joy for me to be able to handle a bird of prey on the glove like this. To see and study Darwin’s feathers up close is really special, and something I also love to be able share with others. During informal education programs, I have been able to talk with members of the public about birds like Darwin and the others in this post. I always hope that the time I spend sharing these raptors with interested people results in a positive impact on them and their outlook on birds, wildlife, and the environment in general.

Hopefully they come away with a new appreciation for birds — and they will seek them out in their future outdoor adventures. American Kestrels are found in both locations where I have had them in programs (northern Illinois and central Florida). Sometimes people are surprised to learn that these beautiful little raptors are indeed native to where they (the people) live, and that kestrels aren’t too hard to find. I love telling people where to look for kestrels and how to identify them.

Crossley-American-Kestrel-small
Click to embiggen

ZEN the Cooper’s Hawk

Zen

This is Zen, a male Cooper’s Hawk. He has a permanent injury to his right wing, making him unreleasable.

Zen and me

Cooper’s Hawks are notoriously high-strung — as bird-eaters (and so bird-chasers!) it is just in their nature. So Cooper’s Hawks are not often glove-trained. Bringing Zen to a program is always special. Cooper’s Hawks are common visitors to back yard bird feeding stations, but people sometimes overestimate their size. So it’s especially fun to share beautiful Zen with back yard birders.

Cooper's Hawk-small
Click to embiggen

PICASSO the Red-shouldered Hawk

Picasso the Red-shouldered Hawk

This is Picasso. Picasso is a male Red-shouldered Hawk, and I have not yet had the pleasure to handle him. I hope that will change soon! Picasso is missing his right eye, and has a permanent injury to his left wing.

Red-shouldered Hawks are abundant here in Florida. Even though they are common, people are sometimes surprised to learn some of their basic facts: they are monogamous; females are larger than males (as with most birds of prey); they typically weigh no more than 1.5 lb.

Crossley Red-shouldered Hawk-small
Click to embiggen

0511 the Red-tailed Hawk

0511

This lovely female Red-tailed Hawk is named 0511. She is also an imprint; she was found begging for food while perched on a car mirror as a juvenile bird. She is the first Red-tailed Hawk I was able to hold on the glove.

It is fun to speak with the public with 0511 on the glove. People relate to her, since Red-tailed Hawks are quite common. She is mostly correctly identified by passers-by — especially if I turn her around so her beautiful tail is visible. During programs, lots of people want to share their own stories about seeing Red-tailed Hawks in the wild. It is always fun to hear of their encounters, answer their questions, and encourage them to love raptors as much as I do.

Crossley Red-tailed Hawk-small
Click to embiggen

These are just a few of the raptors I have been able to meet up close and share with others. Of course, I love them all!

GIVEAWAY

Crossley ID Guide: Raptors

Thanks to Princeton University Press, I am excited to announce that I have a signed copy of The Crossley ID Guide: Raptors to give away to one lucky reader!

To enter, just leave a comment on this post below. Be sure to include a valid email address where you can be reached in case you win the random drawing. I will use a random name selector to pick the winner on Wednesday, March 27th, so please have your comment entry posted by 12 midnight EDT Tuesday, March 26th.

THE BLOG TOUR CONTINUES

And after you’ve left your comment, be sure to visit the other great blogs participating in the raptor love-fest known as The Crossley ID Guide Blog Tour!

Yesterday the following blogs …

Greg Laden’s Blog and Birdfreak

… handed off to myself and today’s co-hosts …

Another Bird Blog and Radley Ice

… who next pass on the tour to tomorrow’s blogs …

BRDPICS; Thermal Birding; and NatureShare

The blog tour wraps up with a fun live online event on Friday. Click to learn more about the Raptor Happy Hour Shindig Event!

Thanks again to my readers for visiting this post. And a big THANK YOU to Jessica Pellien at Princeton University Press for arranging this mega raptorfest blog tour!

Event Alert: Dixon Waterfowl Refuge Ramar Dedication

Posted on July 29th, 2012 in Festivals & Events, Illinois

The Ramsar Convention of 1971 established a treaty between international governments to

maintain the ecological character of their Wetlands of International Importance and to plan for the “wise use”, or sustainable use, of all of the wetlands in their territories.

As of today, there are 2,040 recognized sites designated by the treaty as Wetlands of International Importance. 34 of these are in the United States, including the Sue and Wes Dixon Waterfowl Refuge at Hennepin & Hopper Lakes.

Dixon Waterfowl Refuge
Entrance to Dixon Waterfowl Refuge, March 2011

The deserved designation was bestowed in February of this year, and a special dedication ceremony will take place on August 8th.

The public is invited to attend the event, which is free. Attendees should RSVP to organizers; contact information and other details may be found here: Upcoming Events Ramsar Site Dedication.

App Review: Nature Viewing

Posted on February 21st, 2012 in App Review, Florida

Last month I downloaded a new, free iPhone app called Nature Viewing. The app was developed for budding naturalists who explore the great outdoors in Florida. I learned about this app from the new “On the Trail” with FWC blog, which I highly recommend for anyone interested in learning more about wildlife viewing and natural history events in Florida.

Three sections are devoted to field identification. Users can search for Flowering Plants, Butterflies, and Birds based on simple field marks like color, size, shape, and season.


The example below shows a search for a very small white flower with the petals arranged in a roundish shape. As it stands there are 13 results; they could be filtered further by picking the way the flowers are arranged.


The results are photos shown in a clickable list. Each flowering plant has supplemental information like typical habitat, life cycle through the seasons, and if the plant is native to Florida and how it may be beneficial to wildlife. This part of the app includes 247 of the most common plants (including invasives) found in various Florida habitats.

The identification flow for butterflies and birds works in roughly the same way. There are 200 birds and 106 butterflies in the searchable database. Here are some screen shots of a search for a perching bird with black and orange coloring that is found in my back yard in winter.


click to embiggen

I’m a novice when it comes to butterfly and plant identification, so these two sections of the app are quite useful to me. The identification flow works well for these, and it seems to work well for birds, too, though the limited number of species here proves a bit less useful to me (especially considering I have five fully loaded bird identification apps loaded on my iPhone). The flowering plant and butterfly sections are useful enough and I would love to see these expanded to other groups like mammals and reptiles in the future.

Another section of the app is devoted to 493 sites in the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail. Sites can be searched by name or by location by using the map option. With all of the information available about the sites on the GFBWT website, I was disappointed by the lack of information available on the app. Each site has one or two photographs and only the most basic location information, usually only providing the managing organization, plus county, city, and contact phone number. In the screenshot showing Chesnut Park below, there are two photos (indicated by the two dots under the photo) but no other information than what you see.


The location is detailed in the map feature, but I was hoping for the kind of useful data found on the website, like habitat, amenities, accessibility, best times, target species, etc. Even if these aren’t available in the app, a link from the app to the location’s page on the GFBWT site would be extremely useful.

In the final section of the app, users can add their favorite species and birding locations to the “my stuff” folder. This is a bookmark-like feature, allowing users to save species or trail locations for future viewing.

I applaud the creators (the application was developed by the Florida Museum of Natural History, the University of Florida, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission) for introducing this Florida-centric nature app. I’m looking forward to using the flower and butterfly identification sections more in the future. This is a fine app for anyone looking for help in field ID of birds, butterflies, and flowering plants. The birding trail portion of the app has the most potential and I hope this will be developed more in future versions. As the app stands today, I give it a hopeful 3 Goldfinches out of 5.

Info: Starved Rock Bald Eagle Watch 2012

Posted on January 15th, 2012 in Festivals & Events, Illinois, Illinois Audubon

The annual Bald Eagle Watch at Starved Rock State Park is coming up later this month. I am posting this as a public service to all of the visitors who land on my blog looking for updated information about this event. You can find the details on the Illinois Audubon Society site, or read on.

Bald Eagle Watch Weekend
2012 Dates: January 28-29

Location: Starved Rock Lodge and Illinois Waterway Visitor Center
Admission: Free

Events include live raptor programs by the World Bird Sanctuary and the Illinois Raptor Center. There will be other vendors and programs at the event, which takes places at the two different spots noted in the map below. The Illinois Waterway Visitor Center is north of the river; Starved Rock is to the south. See the IAS Bald Eagle Watch Brochure for other events and further details.


View Bald Eagle Watch in a larger map

I’m sad I can’t attend this wonderful event this year. If you go, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for young Bald Eagles sporting leg bands!

T-Shirt Tuesday: Ventana Wildlife Society

Posted on July 29th, 2008 in Endangered, North America, T-Shirt Tuesday

The Ventana Wildlife Society is the only organization in California working to restore the critically endangered California Condor population. Located in Big Sur, the sanctuary was severely damaged by the California fires. The Society has updates on the Big Sur Fire here.

The group needs donations in order to rebuild after the fires. You can donate online.

The Society also has an online boutique with logo gear and other merchandise. This week’s Tuesday t-shirt is their Condor in Flight Jr. Raglan.


Condor In Flight