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.

Amazing kestrel wood carving

Posted on August 15th, 2012 in Art, Products, Video

This video shows a beautiful American Kestrel wood carving by artist Lona Hymas-Smith. Click the gear icon to view in HD and then make the clip full screen to see the detail on this amazing work. To learn more about the artist, visit Wood Carvings and Sculptures from Lona Hymas-Smith.

Contest alert: Guess the fledge date!

Posted on August 14th, 2012 in Contest, Giveaway

Guess the fledge date and time of the final Osprey chick at the Hellgate nestcam nest in Cornell’s latest giveaway. Submit your entry here for your chance to win a frameable 5×7 print.

Book Review: How to Be a Better Birder

Posted on August 13th, 2012 in Book Review, Books

How to Be a Better Birder by Derek Lovitch. Published 2012. As reviewed and pictured: softcover, 192 pages.

I haven’t been out birding as much as I would like lately. That means it has been very good time to catch up on my bird reading. What better place to start than this book with its no-nonsense title?

Unfortunately for me, the last weeks have not been my first birding drought. During times like these, I start to feel like I’ve read a lot more about birding than I’ve actually done it. Therefore, a few concepts covered in How to Be a Better Birder were very familiar to me – at least in theory, if not already in practice. The book is divided into nine chapters, covering topics like Birding by Habitat, Birding with a Purpose, and Patch Listing. Lovitch covers all the bases for anyone looking to improve their craft, no matter the personal birding goals.

There’s no denying the wealth of resources available to birders online. This is true of any pastime (or anything at all) today, I suppose, but still it’s refreshing to read a book where the author embraces these sources rather than pretending they don’t exist. Lovitch does a great job of explaining topics using real-world personal examples while offering links to websites for further study. This is perhaps most evident in the chapter which covers Birding and Weather. Here, Lovitch provides detailed instructions on how to use several different online sources to further understand how weather patterns impact bird movements (a topic much too great to be discussed in depth in the book) and how to use modern tools to plan birding outings no matter where one is located.

I was also especially interested in the last chapter in the book, which covered Patch Listing. Patch listing is something I have really come to embrace since moving to Florida last year. This last chapter in the book ties together all of the skills and concepts laid out in the previous chapters, and spells out how they can all be applied to local patch birding to improve a birder’s overall skill.

Lovitch writes in a familiar tone which makes even the most technical topics easy to follow and understand. Each chapter discusses skills that build upon previous concepts, tying everything neatly together in the end. I feel like I learned some new general skills, and I am looking forward to trying out some of the weather/radar and other topics just as soon as I can get out regularly birding again!

I enjoyed reading this book and highly recommend it to other birders who want to go further in this hobby. I did find a few editorial errors (typos, unclosed parentheses, etc) a bit distracting, for which I am deducting a half star. Therefore, I give How to Be a Better Birder 4.5 Goldfinches out of 5.

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

Upcoming movie: Birdemic II

Posted on July 30th, 2012 in Movie

Ok everyone, get ready for a fall theatrical release of Birdemic II, the followup to 2010’s Birdemic: Shock & Terror. The sequel, subtitled The Resurrection, is being filmed in 3D. A fun teaser trailer spoofing an Avengers post-credits scene was recently posted:

Follow Birdemic II on Facebook to stay updated.

Event Alert: Dixon Waterfowl Refuge Ramar Dedication

Posted on July 29th, 2012 in Festivals & Events, Illinois

The Ramsar Convention of 1971 established a treaty between international governments to

maintain the ecological character of their Wetlands of International Importance and to plan for the “wise use”, or sustainable use, of all of the wetlands in their territories.

As of today, there are 2,040 recognized sites designated by the treaty as Wetlands of International Importance. 34 of these are in the United States, including the Sue and Wes Dixon Waterfowl Refuge at Hennepin & Hopper Lakes.

Dixon Waterfowl Refuge
Entrance to Dixon Waterfowl Refuge, March 2011

The deserved designation was bestowed in February of this year, and a special dedication ceremony will take place on August 8th.

The public is invited to attend the event, which is free. Attendees should RSVP to organizers; contact information and other details may be found here: Upcoming Events Ramsar Site Dedication.

Giveaway alert: Zeiss binoculars

Posted on July 11th, 2012 in Giveaway

This July, Eagle Optics is giving away two pairs of Zeiss binoculars to subscribers of their Weekly Specials email list. See this blog post for details.

Dinner Bell & Bark Butter Revisited

Posted on July 7th, 2012 in Backyard Birds, Products

It’s been over six months since I first reviewed the EcoClean Dinner Bell bird feeder. While I was super happy with the feeder and the bag of Bark Butter that came with it, it took a while for the back yard birds to catch on. It seems in the rule of 2s game, this feeder and food fell into the “2 weeks” category.

I’m happy to say that both the feeder and the suet bits got a lot more action following my initial review. With the help of my WingScapes BirdCam I can report that at least nine species visited and used the feeder during the winter months. The Bark Butter was especially popular with Yellow-rumped Warblers; I must have hundreds of photos from the BirdCam just like this one.

Yellow-rumped Warbler

When there was a spike in visits from Common Grackles, I lowered the upper dome, to mixed success. While hopping down from the feeder pole is impossible for them with the dome lowered, the large birds figured out they could access the feeder when approaching laterally, by flying in. This photo shows the dome before I lowered it.

Common Grackles

Here are few more happy visitors.

Carolina Wren
Carolina Wren

Carolina Chickadee
Carolina Chickadee

Northern Cardinal
Northern Cardinal

Tufted Titmouse
Tufted Titmouse

After several months of use, the feeder is holding up very well and I’m still quite pleased with it. The large upper dome, which continues to keep the food dry and fresh, may not keep out every last grackle, but I don’t mind at all.

Giveaway alert: Kindle Fire w/ birding apps

Posted on July 7th, 2012 in Books, Giveaway

Bird Watcher’s Digest is giving away a Kindle Fire loaded with two birding apps (including the Bird Watcher’s Digest app). Enter before the August 1, 2012 drawing date for your chance to win; see BWD’s Contest Central page for details.

American birder

Posted on July 2nd, 2012 in Video

Enjoy beautiful birds and lovely banjo work in this new short film by Daniel Roca.

American birder from Daniel Roca on Vimeo.

Contest alert: BirdWatching Magazine’s Leica giveaway begins tomorrow

Posted on July 1st, 2012 in Contest, Giveaway

UPDATE: A recent newsletter from BirdWatching Magazine indicated this contest has been postponed for an unknown amount of time.

BirdWatching Magazine is hosting weekly contest on their website Each Monday, beginning July 2nd, until the end of the year, participants will have the chance to win a pair of Leica binoculars. Three pairs of binoculars will be given away. Details should be posted on soon.