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: June, 2010

T-Shirt Tuesday: Nest In Peace

Posted on June 29th, 2010 in T-Shirt Tuesday

For T-Shirt Tuesday this week I’d like to highlight talented Oregon blogger Murr Brewster, and her Nest in Peace t-shirt. The shirt was designed to help artist Debby Kaspari and her husband, who lost almost everything in a tornado in May 2010. You can read about Debby on Julie Zickefoose’s blog here, here, here, and here.

Since the shirts are being fulfilled by Zazzle, there is a huge range of apparel styles from which to choose. From sweatshirts to strappy tank tops, fitted tees to baseball jerseys, Zazzle has over 50 different shirt styles. Many tops have color choices, too, but this design looks best on a white background. I picked up the Performance Micro-Fiber Long Sleeve (to keep ticks away while bird banding!).

Book Review: To See Every Bird on Earth

Posted on June 27th, 2010 in Book Review, Books

To See Every Bird on Earth: A Father, a Son, and a Lifelong Obsession by Dan Koeppel. First published 2005.

In To See Every Bird On Earth, Dan Koeppel tells of his father’s lifelong obsession with birds. It’s a well-written biography of an average man who excelled within an elite group of birders. The personal story of his father is seamlessly interwoven with background information on the origins of American ornithology, the development of birding as a hobby, and the first birders who went on to join the ranks of “big listers.”

Koeppel delves deep into his family history, beginning with his grandparents’ hopes and dreams for their only child, Richard, the author’s father. Young Richard went from looking for birds around his New York home to becoming a serious big-lister later in life. Family pressures led Richard away from a career in birds and instead towards a degree in medicine. Still, birds remained an important part of his life, through school, raising a family, and beyond.

The biography is told chronologically, a running tally of Richard’s life list increasing chapter by chapter. The momentum from casual birder to obsessed lister builds slowly while the reader gets to know the complicated, conflicted protagonist. Unfortunately, without giving too much away, I found the resolution to the story’s buildup to be a bit of a let-down. Still, the bulk of the book was an enjoyable and well-written read. I give To See Every Bird On Earth 3.5 Goldfinches out of 5.

T-Shirt Tuesday: Gulls! Gulls! Gulls!

Posted on June 22nd, 2010 in T-Shirt Tuesday

This week’s highlighted shirt has a retro feel and spoofs the Elvis movie Girls! Girls! Girls! Here the text reads Gulls! Gulls! Gulls! and includes silhouettes of several gulls. Great for gull fans and larophobes alike.

T-Shirt Tuesday: Marquee Birder

Posted on June 15th, 2010 in T-Shirt Tuesday

This week’s highlighted t-shirt is called Marquee Birder. The word BIRDER is spelled out using alternating aligned squares in shades of blue, purple, lilac and salmon.

Bird blog & online contests for June 2010

Posted on June 7th, 2010 in Contest

Here’s a list of current (as of June 7th) 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, 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.


Etsy artist Helix Elemental Jewelry is giving away a cute Fused Glass Owl Pendant. The winner will be drawn on June 21st. See the contest page for details.

Two-Fisted Birdwatcher is giving away a blog-branded hoodie. Find this month’s hidden bird to be eligible for the drawing. This monthly giveaway usually ends by the end of the month, so submit your answer before June 30th to be safe! See the contest page for details.

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

Enter to win fabulous prizes in Swarovski’s Digiscoper of the Year 2010 contest. Enter your photo by October 31st. Be sure to read all the details on the contest page.

ONGOING CONTESTS of interest to birders

10,000 Birds’ Conservation Club is a great way to raise money for bird conservation causes. Members of the club are eligible to enter giveaways offering prizes from Conservation Club sponsors. Have a look at the current and past giveaways, and then sign up!

Each month WildBird on the Fly runs a First Friday fiction contest. If your 500-word story is chosen, you’ll win a recently-published bird book. Submissions are due before 5 p.m. PST on the first Thursday of the month (so the June contest ended last week). See WildBird on the Fly for all the details.

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.

WildBird on the Fly periodically gives away books and other prizes with fun, short-notice contests. Follow her blog and her Twitter account @WBeditor to get in on the prize giveaways.

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.

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!)

Book Review: How to Be a Bad Birdwatcher

Posted on June 4th, 2010 in Book Review, Books

How to Be a Bad Birdwatcher by Simon Barnes. First published 2005.

Look out the window. See a bird. Enjoy it. CONGRATULATIONS! You are now a bad birdwatcher.

Throughout How to Be a Bad Birdwatcher, Simon Barnes shares his premise that birdwatching should simply be done for the joy of it. His ideas reminded me a lot of Alvaro Jaramillo, a professional bird guide whom I’ve had the pleasure to see speaking twice now. Alvaro is a world-class birder, with excellent field skills, but beyond that you can really tell he enjoys the birds. If you’re not enjoying yourself, after all, what is the point?

This enjoyment of birds was the recurring theme in Bad Birdwatcher; if you’re to truly enjoy the birds, there’s no room for identification anxiety or optics envy. On the latter matter, his advice for your first pair of binoculars? “Ah, shut up — any old pair, cheapest you can find, don’t worry about it. […] Birdwatchers can be the most crashing bores on the subject of optical glass.” The point is to watch the birds, learn from them, and enjoy them.

Barnes tells of how he first became interested in birds (on binocular-less walks in the country with his father), and how his fondness of birds developed into a lifelong avocation and part-time vocation. Barnes’ writing is natural (his primary career is sports journalist) and the book was an easy read. It is also filled with downright hilarious anecdotes of a birding career, but the overall message is no joke.

I’ll leave you with one of my favorite lines from the book:

People always whisper in a blind, not because they don’t want to disturb the birds or the birdwatchers, but because they don’t want to be overheard misidentifying a bird.

I give How to Be a Bad Birdwatcher 4 Goldfinches out of 5.

T-Shirt Tuesday: Singer With a Band

Posted on June 1st, 2010 in Banding, T-Shirt Tuesday

After the fun I had banding birds yesterday, I couldn’t resist posting a banding-themed t-shirt for this week’s highlighted design. An illustrated bird proclaims “I’m a Singer with a Band“. Experienced banders in our group yesterday said that Baltimore Orioles have sung while they were being examined. Have you ever had a bird sing in your hand?