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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Blog Disclosure

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: October, 2009

T-Shirt Tuesday: Anti-Squirrel

Posted on October 27th, 2009 in Backyard Birds, T-Shirt Tuesday

This week’s highlighted t-shirt design, made for back yard birders, was inspired by an angry rant I had recently. When we first moved in here back in February, I noticed one squirrel visited our back yard a couple of times a week. I found this kind of hilarious, since I’d never really seen one squirrel by itself before (except for some exciting sightings in the squirrel-deprived Netherlands), especially not at a back yard feeding station. My parents, for example, regularly have a practical infestation of at least 6 squirrels at a time. So our lone squirrel would come by a few times a week and that was fine with me. About a month ago I had my first double squirrel sighting and things went downhill from there, very fast. Two weeks ago these bold little furmonsters were spotted regularly on our suet log, methodically removing the bark and gnawing through the wood while pilfering every last smear of suet. Finding the log on the ground the other day set off my angry rant and I was chasing squirrels away every chance I had, cursing and babbling like a madwoman. After months of peaceful coexistence I have to admit we join the ranks of those suffering from a ‘squirrel problem.’ And so I had to make this simple design as a statement of this fresh war.

Anti-Squirrel is shown here on a Long Sleeve Raglan, modeled by an anti-squirrel sufferer with hands up in the air in exasperation. More products with this design are here.

Birding Tag Cloud T-Shirt

Book Review: The Big Year

Posted on October 25th, 2009 in Book Review, Books

The Big Year

The Big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature and Fowl Obsession by Mark Obmascik. First published in 2004.

I joined PaperBackSwap a few months ago. Having been a huge fan in a former lifetime, I had a very large collection of X-files-related books in which I was no longer interested, and the book swapping site seemed like a great way to get rid of them while also allowing me to bulk up my bird library.

One of the first books I swapped into my collection was Mark Obmascik’s The Big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature and Fowl Obsession. In it, Obmascik tells the story of three birders going for a Big Year. The three were trying to see the most birds in all of North America from January 1st through December 31st, 1998.

The story is told chronologically, following the three Big Year competitors month to month and jumping from one to the other as time progresses. Obmascik does a great job filling the reader in on each participant’s back story, providing telling anecdotes and other important historical contexts.

For most people the idea of devoting an entire year to a personal passion is irresistible, regardless of how one feels about a North American Big Year. As I follow our state birding email listserv, I enjoy reading of local rarities and the people who chase them. I can see the appeal of listing, and I get a kick out of following rare birds vicariously via the listserv emails, but I haven’t done much to chase rare local birds so far. Even so, I can definitely relate to the triumphs and defeats experienced by the three heroes of this book. Obmascik had me laughing out loud and tsking in sympathy while the Big Year participants juggled personal issues and the occasional logistical snafu during their year of the most intense birding.

I give The Big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature and Fowl Obsession 5 Goldfinches out of 5.

T-Shirt Tuesday: Stylized Bird Illustrations (3)

Posted on October 20th, 2009 in T-Shirt Tuesday

We have a collection of Stylized Bird Illustration designs. This week I’d like to highlight another group of three from the series: Stylized Stork; Stylized Horned Lark; and Stylized Swallow-tailed Flycatcher.

Each bird is drawn in simple black or white outlines. These are original, artistic bird designs that look great on a variety of our apparel styles.

Stylized Stork T-Shirt

Stylized Lark Infant Tee

Stylized Swift Yellow T-Shirt

T-Shirt Tuesday: 3 for Pishers

Posted on October 13th, 2009 in T-Shirt Tuesday

Do you use pishing when out birding to get birds to come in closer? The idea is that curious birds hear you saying “pssh pssh pssh” or some other strange noise (kissing one’s hand is another method of pishing) and come in closer to see what’s going on.

Today’s highlighted shirts are all based on the practice of pishing. Since a lot of non-birders will have no idea what it means to pish, these could prove to be great conversation starters!

First up is a text-based design inspired by another hobby: fishing. It reads Wanna hear my big pish story? Shown on the Junior Hoodie.

Big Pish Story Jr. Hoodie

Pish is a funny word. The fact that it rhymes with fish helped with the first design. It also kind of sounds like the word piss being said with a lisp. The idea for this t-shirt, Pish off! came from Birdchick. Shown here on the Melange Ringer.

Pish off! T-Shirt

Finally we have pishing taken at its basic elements. Pisher Made of Elements is shown on the Baseball Jersey.

Pisher Made of Elements Baseball Jersey

My birding bag

Posted on October 12th, 2009 in Products

When I went out birding I used to always carry a backpack with my field guide(s), hat, notebook, tissues, extra batteries, etc. I also transported my bins and camera in the pack but when out walking these remained around my neck. Last spring I was starting to get sick of the backpack. It’s especially annoying to have to dig into the pack (or ask a companion to dig) for a field guide while you’re actually looking at the bird you want to look up. By the time I’d get the book out the bird would be long gone. I looked around for something more convenient that I could use to carry my field guide. There are a few different things I see my birding buddies using: vests with huge pockets, fanny packs (vertically oriented) or book satchels. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to get until I came across a small messenger bag at a Columbia outlet store.

The Medium Azza Messenger Bag measures 10″ x 6″ x 2.5″ and fits everything I want to carry on a short outing.

The front flap of the messenger-style bag has a small pocket where I keep a pack of tissues.

Azza Medium Messenger

Lifting the flap accesses the main pouch for books plus a small zippered pocket where I keep extra batteries, memory cards, a pen and a small notebook.

Azza Medium Messenger

The back of the bag has another wide open pocket where I can fit my wide-brim floppy hat. This makes the bag a bit bulbous on the back but that’s just some extra padding between Sibley and my hip. 😉 This photo shows the empty bag with a few things I might bring with me on a walk. Everything fits inside.


I can carry more books if I want to, too.

Azza Medium Messenger

Here’s the bag in action. I really love the long strap but it’s totally adjustable and can be worn much shorter.


I looooove this bag! Do you have a favorite birding bag? How do you carry your field guide? Do you use a backpack, a fanny pack, a vest, or something else? Or do you go commando?

I give the Medium Azza Messenger Bag four and a half Goldfinches out of five.

Bird blog & online contests for October

Posted on October 5th, 2009 in Contest

Here’s a list of current (as of October 5th) blog & online contests by birders, for birders, and/or offering birdy 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, please let me know by leaving a comment or sending me an email. This is a monthly post appearing on the first Monday of every month. I will add any updates I find during the month as a comment on this post. If you’d like to stay updated, you can subscribe to the comment RSS feed for this post.


The Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Celebrate Urban Birds project is running a fun contest through October 31st called “A Murder of Crows and other Spooky Bird Tales.” Share stories or images of a bird doing something strange. Prizes range from Eagle Optics binoculars to books, posters and more.

The Swarovski Digiscoper of the Year Contest runs through 31 October. First prize is an EL 32 binocular. Be sure to read the rules before entering.

The Rainforest Alliance is running their 2nd Annual Picture Sustainability Photo Contest. Enter photos to win prizes including a trip for two to Costa Rica. Click here for the rules. Contest ends 1 November.

Enter to win a Duncraft $500 shopping spree and other prizes. Visit the website for details. Ends December 14, 2009.

Ornithologist and author Glen Chilton is offering a $10,000 reward for finding a previously unknown sample of a Labrador Duck. See Dr. Chilton’s website for all the details. Ends September 1st 2010. Send your claim to

ONGOING CONTESTS of interest to birders

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. Click here for details.

Birder’s Lounge runs a monthly ID Challenge. Contestants play for their favorite bird/nature/conservation charity. The prize is a $10 donation to the winning charity, in the winner’s name. (Thanks to Amber for the details!)