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, 2011

Favorite Owl T-Shirts

Posted on November 23rd, 2011 in Pop Culture, Products

One of my favorite t-shirts is this Barred Owl design from Threadless. It’s called Owl Nebula and I just got an email newsletter telling me it will be on sale for just $10 tomorrow, November 24th.

Threadless shirts are designed by members; anyone registered with the site can vote on t-shirt concepts. After the voting process, some designs are printed by Threadless. New tees come out each week and there are often some great bird shirts in the mix. I have a lot of favorites but many of them are sold out right now. Here are a few that are available now (I’m not sure if they will also be on sale tomorrow).

Mechanic-owl King

Night Grooves (just a couple of guys tanks available at $10 right now)

Owltical Illusion (this one’s new to me, might have to get it!)

Besides Threadless I have some awesome owl shirts from Birdorable in my closet, too. Owls are Cool is my absolute favorite. There are currently nine owl species on Birdorable so check them out to see if your favorite species is there. With the code ZBLACKFRIDAY you can save $5 off the t-shirts shown below on Friday, November 25th; shipping is free on orders over $50.

Owls are cool

Owl Fan

Snowy Owl Face

Book Review: Hawks at a Distance

Posted on November 15th, 2011 in Book Review, Books, Hawk Watch

Hawks at a Distance: Identification of Migrant Raptors by Jerry Liguori. First published 2011. As reviewed and pictured: softcover, 194 pages.

As a raptor handler volunteer with FCWR, I got to work up close and personal with several different raptor species. Holding a beautiful bird of prey on my arm is and always will be an amazing experience, and it is always an extreme privilege to be able to share my knowledge about and respect for these incredible creatures with others.

Unfortunately, the kind of intimate knowledge I acquired by volunteering with Flint Creek’s birds of prey didn’t do much to help my field craft when trying to identify raptors at a distance. That’s where Jerry Liguori’s new book comes in handy. Hawks at a Distance is a special kind of field guide, featuring crisp photographs of raptors as they would be seen during migration (think Hawk Watch).

The book begins with an extremely helpful introduction. While a reader’s instinct might be to jump to the photo section and start memorizing, the information presented in the introduction is invaluable and provides a strong starting point for any budding hawk-watcher. The author has years of experience in identifying migratory raptors, and in the intro he shares advice based on his richness of knowledge in a very easy-to-read, somewhat informal tone.

The species accounts are fairly straightforward, with an overview page for each family of raptor (Accipiter, Buteo, Falcon, etc) and then several pages devoted to each species.

The species photos are certainly the main attraction, but the text descriptions accompanying each bird are well-done and include important identification tips which add a lot to a hawk-watcher’s understanding of how to differentiate between similar species. The photos themselves are grouped by age and/or sex where appropriate, and certain species also include comparison shots of similar birds in similar flight positions.

Overall this is a very strong addition to the library of any birder who wants to increase their identification skill of a difficult group of birds. I’m not quite able to identify every dot I see in the sky just yet, but with Hawks at a Distance, I’m definitely getting better. I give Hawks at a Distance 4.5 Goldfinches out of 5.

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

Book Review: The Birding Life

Posted on November 7th, 2011 in Book Review, Books

The Birding Life: A Passion for Birds at Home and Afield by Laurence Sheehan, William Stites, Carol Sama Sheehan and Katheryn George Precourt. First published 2011. As reviewed and pictured: hardcover, 240 pages.

If birds are “God’s nervous system,” as someone once observed, bird watchers are their EKG, electrified by each new discovery. (excerpt from Prologue)

People express their love of birds in many ways. Birders observe them in the field, or attract them to their yards. Scientists study them. Designers and artists use beautiful bird forms in their work. And the authors of The Birding Life have shared the world of different bird lovers through short stories and beautiful photographs.

In the prologue, the author outs himself as a non-birder, not that there’s anything wrong with that. He joins a field trip at the Prairies and Potholes Birding Festival and describes both birder and bird behavior with a bemused but respectful voice (I was delighted to read about blogger friends Lynne and Wren experiencing the magic of the festival).

The rest of the book is divided into three parts: Birders in Birdland, Bird Houses, and At Home with Birds. Each section is broken into chapters that describe a particular person or family or place and their connection with birds. Rather than generalizing the different ways people enjoy birds, each chapter deals intimately with its subject, which are wide-ranging and include “wildlife ranchers” Jan and Jack Cato in Texas Hill Country, a young birder’s family and impressive ornithological library in Manhattan, a giant-bird-nest-artist in the Hamptons, and naturalist-fashionista-designer sisters in New York.

The individual stories are accompanied by beautiful color photographs, many full-page. Images show beautiful birds in natural habitat, or birders and their paraphernalia, or stylish interiors designed with an avian theme.

The Birding Life is an unusual mix of field trip reports, birder observation from an outsider’s point of view, and birds in art and design, all accompanied by beautiful photographs. The book is coffee-table sized, and is worth more than just a thumb-through. The stories are short, just a few pages each, which makes it ideal for picking up and reading in short bursts – perfect for the birder’s coffee table – or birding library.

I give The Birding Life 4.5 Goldfinches out of 5.

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

Bird blog & online contests for November 2011

Posted on November 7th, 2011 in Contest

Here’s a list of current (as of November 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, 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 National Audubon Society is running a super-fun campaign / competition called “Birding the Net.” The top prize is a trip to the Galapagos Islands. See the Society’s Facebook page for details; the contest runs through November 7th. That’s TODAY!

Cornell’s Celebrate Urban Birds has issued a new challenge: Close Encounters of the Bird Kind. Entries should be submitted before November 15, 2011 and prizes include binoculars and bird feeders.

U.K. birders have a chance to win bird books including Birds of Seychelles and Avian Survivors from A&C Black publishers. Enter by emailing the title you’d like by November 15, 2011. See this blog post by The BirdBooker Report for more information, including all the titles up for grabs. is having their 4th photo contest. Prizes include Endeavor binoculars. Enter by November 21st; see the contest page for details.

Two-Fisted Birdwatcher is giving away a blog-branded hoodie. Find this month’s hidden bird (cardinal) to be eligible for the drawing. This regular giveaway usually ends by the end of the month, so submit your answer before November is over! See the contest page for details.

Bird Watcher’s Digest is giving away a BirdCam 2.0 by Wingscapes. Enter before December 1, 2011; see contest page for details.

ONGOING CONTESTS of interest to birders

BirdWatching Magazine runs a Photo of the Week Contest. Check out the Photo of the Week page to find out how to enter. Prizes include a BirdWatching magazine subscription.

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.

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.