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, 2010

T-Shirt Tuesday: 2 for Twitchers

Posted on November 30th, 2010 in T-Shirt Tuesday

This week’s highlighted t-shirts are two more for twitchers. First up is the collegiate-style Property of Twitching Dept, shown here on a kelly green tee. Next we have Through Rain or Sleet… I Twitch, shown here on a women’s hoodie. This one is particularly appropriate for anyone who has bad luck with the weather when it comes to twitching a rarity!

Movie Review: Rare Birds

Posted on November 24th, 2010 in Movie, Movie Review

Rare Birds, starring William Hurt, Molly Parker and Andy Jones, tells the story of a down-on-his-luck chef and restaurant owner. William Hurt is Dave, owner of The Auk, a small establishment in coastal Newfoundland. Dave’s neighbor, Phonce (Jones), hatches a plan to get more patrons for The Auk: fake a super-rare bird sighting by calling in to an ornithological radio program. The birdwatchers will come in droves and business will boom, according to Phonce.

I really wanted to like this movie. I am a fan of William Hurt and I was looking forward to seeing him in this somewhat birder-themed film. And the acting, by Hurt and others, is indeed fine. But the motivations of the main characters are a mystery throughout the film. There are also some extremely bizarre side stories, some of which involve an elaborate, unbelievable invention by Phonce, along with his inexplicable conspiracy theories. Other secondary plots (there are several) don’t make much more sense, and the relationships between Dave and his neighbor and employees are beyond weird. I don’t have anything against odd characters (being one myself), but the writing didn’t give these oddballs any depth and the inexplicable actions were just frustrating. It finally occurred to me that the rare birds in the movie are the main characters.

The fact that birdwatchers are the brunt of the characters’ silly stunt isn’t a bother. After spending the day in the field, it didn’t really ring true to me that those seeking to view the rare bird would be dressed for and up to dining in a fine restaurant, but okay. The search for the one-hit-wonder bird seems to go on longer than I would expect – business is fairly booming at The Auk for what seems like several weeks after just one day of reported sightings. These minor birding missteps aren’t the problem, though. It’s everything else in the movie.

I give Rare Birds two goldfinches out of five.

Rare Birds is available for purchase via Amazon, and as a rental (DVD or Instant Watch) via Netflix. I watched it via Netflix Instant Watch, and the quality was only fair.

Parrot Week T-Shirt Tuesday

Posted on November 16th, 2010 in Parrot Week, T-Shirt Tuesday

Parrot Week here at continues with this week’s edition of T-Shirt Tuesday, where I invite you to have a look at the selection of parrot-themed tees available at sister site Birdorable. With over 60 parrot species represented, there is something for everyone!

Parrot Week Book Review: Parrots of the World

Posted on November 15th, 2010 in Book Review, Books, Parrot Week

Parrots of the World by Joseph M. Forshaw, illustrated by Frank Knight. Published 2010. Softcover, 328 pages.

Wildly colorful, intelligent, popular, beautiful. These words are often used to describe birds belonging to the parrot family: Psittaciformes. This lovely book illustrates and describes all 356 species.

Parrots of the World presents this widespread family of birds in field guide format; indeed, in the preface the author writes that the book is designed primarily for field use. The species are arranged geographically using three major regions: Afro-Asian; Australasian; and Neotropical.

The color illustrations are crisp and clear as aids to identification. For the most part, the birds are presented on a plain white background, which is a bit boring. They are shown perched naturally on branches. In addition to the standard perched pose, many birds are shown in flight, with both upper- and underparts illustrated. This is done stylishly, with the body of the bird shown with one upper wing and a separate image of the bird’s body and under wing. Each color plate presents one to four species.

Some plates seem a bit too busy, showing too many birds together, or having overlapping illustrations. Other plates leave so much white space that it seems that some images may be missing – or that someone forgot to enlarge the images that are there. About a third of the plates have the bird illustrations arranged “just right” to me. This inconsistency isn’t really a problem; it’s just something I noticed.

The descriptive texts accompany the color plates, which is a big plus. The description for each species is concise and clear, with clearly marked blocks of information. Parrots of similar appearance are mentioned when appropriate, with key identification tips to help distinguish them. Distribution, sub-species (when indicated), and conservation status are also noted for each species. Range maps appear by the descriptions, and they are large and clear.

There is an index of scientific names and a separate index of English names. The English index lists the birds twice, under the family name and again using the entire name. So, for example, the Black Lory appears under B and again under Lory, Black. I really, really like this handy feature.

It’s wonderful to have one guide book that has all of the world’s parrots in it, and the fine illustrations, informative texts and clear range maps make this book a great addition to any birder’s library. I give Parrots of the World 4 Goldfinches out of 5.

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

Book Review: The American Bird Conservancy Guide To Bird Conservation

Posted on November 12th, 2010 in Book Review, Books

The American Bird Conservancy Guide to Bird Conservation by Daniel J. Lebbin, Michael J. Parr, and George H. Fenwick. First published 2010. Hardcover, 456 pages.

As a reader of this blog, chances are that you do something to help birds. There are a lot of ways to help, and every little bit can make a difference. Maybe you volunteer for a bird rehabilitation center, or help with citizen science projects. Maybe you feed your backyard birds, or advocate to keep cats indoors. You’ve probably also heard of the American Bird Conservancy, and the amazing work they do to help the birds of the Americas. This new book from the ABC aims to “outline current priorities in bird conservation throughout the Americas, to identify the places where gaps currently exist and need to be filled, and to point to areas where future problems may arise so they can be preempted.”

I had the pleasure last night to attend a presentation given by one of the authors of The American Bird Conservancy Guide to Bird Conservation, ABC President George H. Fenwick, at a meeting of the DuPage Birding Club. Dr. Fenwick’s talk was lively, informative, and, somewhat surprisingly, not depressing as hell, considering the current state of many American bird populations (hint: it’s not good). But the ABC, founded in 1994, has a lot of victories under its belt, despite the typical stumbles experienced by all new organizations. If you have the chance to see Dr. Fenwick speak, go! He’s a great speaker.

Back to the review. This beautiful new book discusses the strategies the ABC and other organizations use to achieve their goals. High priority watchlist birds are presented with beautiful color illustrations, details on their conservation status, habitat and distribution, the threats they face, and what is being done or what must be done to help them. The sample image here shows four different threatened finch species.

Bird habitats of North America are also discussed, with important bird areas highlighted (international habitats are discussed separately). The habitats are shown using beautiful color composite mural-style drawings, showing several threatened bird species and the some of the dangers found in each habitat. General threats to birds are presented in detail as well. The small sample image here illustrates the Flint Hills IBA in Kansas and Oklahoma. An example of the large mural-style illustration of a bird habitat, Eastern Forests, is shown below.

With the turn of every page, the important information in this book is beautifully presented and illustrated. The text is informative and clear without being dry. I give The American Bird Conservancy Guide to Bird Conservation 5 Goldfinches out of 5.

T-Shirt Tuesday: Peregrine Falcon sketch

Posted on November 2nd, 2010 in T-Shirt Tuesday

I’m posting this week’s highlighted t-shirt, Peregrine Falcon Sketch, in light of a neat story I saw on the news this morning. It seems the British Olympic sailing team has been suffering from nuisance gulls hanging around their ships. The noise disrupts the athletes’ rest and acidic gull droppings damage the vessel. They have a new teammate on board to help them with the problem – Felix, a Peregrine Falcon. You can read all about Felix here: Olympic sailors get help from a feathered friend .

Peregrine Falcon Sketch is a black-and-white pencil-style drawing of a Peregrine Falcon in a stoop. Peregrines are the fastest creatures on earth, reaching speeds of up to 200 mph while diving for prey. This stylish design looks great on both dark and light apparel. On light apparel, you can also choose a weathered design for a vintage look.

Peregrine Falcon Sketch t-shirts; L – Ladies Destroyed T-Shirt, R- Burnout Fitted Tee

Bird blog & online contests for November 2010

Posted on November 1st, 2010 in Contest

Here’s a list of current (as of November 1st) 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 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.


Bill of the Birds has another caption contest on his blog. Caption Contest #17 was posted on October 27th with no deadline mentioned – so enter soon! The winner will receive an autographed copy of Bird Watching For Dummies.

Cornell’s Celebrate Urban Birds project is running a photo-video-art contest to showcase wild birds eating. Visit the Bird Chow Challenge contest page to learn more. Submit your entry by November 1st; prizes include bird feeders, books, and more!

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 November 30th! See the contest page for details.

ONGOING CONTESTS of interest to birders

Birder’s World magazine runs a Photo of the Week Contest. Check out the rules page to find out how to enter. Prizes include gear from Zeiss optics.

Subscribers to Birding Adventures TV’s digital newsletter may enter the regularly-occurring BATV quiz for a chance to win $10 Nikon gift vouchers or other prizes. You’ll need to subscribe to the BATV News mail list to see the bird ID quiz photos.

Members of 10,000 Birds’ Conservation 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! Membership costs $25 per year and the funds go towards various conservation causes.

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!)