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: November, 2009

T-Shirt Tuesday: Bin There Done That

Posted on November 17th, 2009 in T-Shirt Tuesday

This week’s highlighted t-shirt design is perfect for anyone who wears a pair of binoculars around her neck more often than not. Been There Done That text is shown around a pair of binoculars. Already seen the latest rarity? Counted all the breeders in your local patch? Bin There Done That (and now you can say you’ve) Bought The T-Shirt. Shown here on a hoodie, this design is available on a wide range of t-shirts and other gift items, as usual!

Bin There Done That Hoodie

Book Review: Beware the Tufted Duck

Posted on November 12th, 2009 in Book Review, Books

Beware the Tufted Duck

Beware the Tufted Duck: A Lucy Wayles Mystery by Lydia Adamson. First published 1996.

Tufted Ducks are probably my favorite species of duck. I might even prefer them over any other kind of fowl. Who can resist a cute little black and white duck with an adorable tuft of hair-like feathers hanging off the back of its head? Not me. I was always happy to see them when we lived in Holland, where they were fairly common, and I miss them now that we’re living in the American midwest. We’ve got two species of Scaup here that come close with their black-and-white plumage, but they are maddening to tell apart from each other, plus they lack the all-important tuft. Tufted Ducks are aggravation-free.

All this praise for my beloved Tufted Duck is an attempt to say something nice rather than say nothing at all about Adamson’s Beware the Tufted Duck. Duck is the first in Adamson’s series of “Birdwatcher Mystery” whodunits featuring birder/crime-solver Lucy Wayles, a New York City birdwatcher with an extremely eccentric personality, and an odd circle of friends. Duck is told through the eyes of Lucy’s friend and romantic hopeful Markus Bloch. When one of their estranged birding buddies is found murdered in Central Park… oh, who cares? The story is convoluted, the characters are incomprehensible, and the writing is… I think the word I am looking for is: distracting. Lucy is supposedly a transplanted southerner, while Markus presumably is a lifelong New Yorker. Then why do they sound like they belong in a Ruth Rendell novel? The characters in this book didn’t sound anything like Americans to me, let alone New Yorkers. I can’t really put my finger on it, but the dialog and text just didn’t flow naturally to me. Do New Yorkers typically eat brisket, or drink ale? Would they cavort with a character named Emma Pip? I don’t know, maybe I’m being picky. Maybe I’ve been out of the United States for too long. Either way, I had been looking forward to reading a series of books about a crime-solving birdwatcher but ended up horribly disappointed with Beware the Tufted Duck. Needless to say, I will not be reading the rest of the books in the series. This one was enough of a chore to get through.

I give Beware the Tufted Duck: A Lucy Wayles Mystery one and a half Goldfinches out of five, and I strongly urge you to beware Beware the Tufted Duck.

T-Shirt Tuesday: Birding With Others

Posted on November 10th, 2009 in T-Shirt Tuesday

This week’s highlighted t-shirts have to do with birding alone versus birding with a group. Birds Well With Others is made for those who enjoy birding with a group. The design is done in shades of blue and has a retro feel complete with an old-fashioned image of a winking woman.

Birding Tag Cloud T-Shirt

For those who prefer birding alone, we have this funny Does Not Bird Well With Others t-shirt design. A skull with crossbones completes the sentiment.

Birding Tag Cloud T-Shirt

Book Review: The Curse of the Labrador Duck

Posted on November 4th, 2009 in Book Review, Books

The Curse of the Labrador Duck

The Curse of the Labrador Duck: My Obsessive Quest to the Edge of Extinction by Glen Chilton. First published September 2009.

The Labrador Duck, Camptorhynchus labradorius, was a striking black and white eider-like sea duck that was never known to be common, and is believed to be the first bird to become extinct in North America after 1500. The last Labrador Duck is believed to have been seen at Elmira, New York on December 12, 1878; the last preserved specimen was shot in 1875 on Long Island. It was thought to breed in Labrador, although no nests were ever described, and it wintered from Nova Scotia to as far south as Chesapeake Bay. [Wikipedia]

Little is known about the Labrador Duck, and only fifty-some stuffed examples of the bird remain. The quest to discover, see and study each of the existing Labrador Duck specimens in the world is recounted in Glen Chilton’s amusing The Curse of the Labrador Duck. Chilton was an obsessive child, he says, who grew up to be an obsessive adult. That obsession turned a short article on an extinct duck “that went extinct almost before anyone noticed that it was alive” into a nearly decade long on-and-off adventure to seek out every last remaining specimen of Labrador Duck in the world.

The tale is written by a renowned ornithologist but reads a bit like an adventure novel. I’ve been reading a lot of bird- or birding-related natural history books lately, but travel is my all-time favorite genre (I have even been known to read Rough Guides from cover to cover – whether a trip to the book’s subject locale was on the agenda or not). The story told in Curse is a great mix of ornithological history, museum lore with a big dose of fun-filled globe-trekking adventure. I’ve missed reading travel tales and this book was just what I needed for a fix.

Chilton travels on a budget and some of his money-saving shortcuts lead to interesting predicaments. He also comes off as a bit of a cad, what with skinny dipping and sharing hotel beds with women who are not his wife, not to mention the flirting. The adventurer-ornithologist obviously enjoys the journey of discovery, meeting new people, trying different experiences, and his enthusiasm makes the book a very enjoyable read.

Chilton’s enthusiasm was also evident during the lecture he gave at the Field Museum in Chicago a few weeks ago. I was pleased to meet him briefly when he signed our copy of the book, and chat with him about his time in our old hometown, Leiden.

I give The Curse of the Labrador Duck: My Obsessive Quest to the Edge of Extinction five Goldfinches out of five.

T-Shirt Tuesday: Is That A Scope In Your Pocket…?

Posted on November 3rd, 2009 in T-Shirt Tuesday

This week’s highlighted shirt has a cute cartoon LBJ (Little Brown Job) asking a somewhat risque question: Is that a scope in your pocket or are you just happy to see me? You have to admit, some birders become very excited upon seeing particular birds. Oh, if the birds could talk! Scope In Your Pocket is shown here on a men’s organic shirt; available on many other apparel styles and other fun stuff like hats, bags, buttons & magnets. See them all here.

Scope In Your Pocket? T-Shirt

Bird blog & online contests for November

Posted on November 2nd, 2009 in Contest

Here’s a list of current (as of November 2nd) 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.


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!)