Is This a Rare Bird?

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Ducks paddling, egrets darting for fish, cormorants spreading their wings in the sun, pelicans heading for splash down… I couldn’t wait to return to J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge last February. It was my third visit to the refuge, which is more than I’d ever expected, being that it’s 2,000 miles from home! Located on Sanibel Island, on the west coast of Florida, it’s the perfect spot for a birder to view most of the Florida regulars, plus a few special visitors. And this time, we had a very special visitor indeed. Or not.

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Birding Aiken Canyon

trail-aikencanyon-21apr07-lah-015rsWherever we live, we birders have a favorite birding spot (or two)—the place we’re sure to see that less common species, or that is exceptionally scenic. Maybe the trail is just right—some ups and downs, but nothing overly strenuous, and the perfect length to fill a morning, but not leave us exhausted at the end of a too-long day. It’s the place that we imagine when we think about going birding next weekend. Aiken Canyon has it all—interesting birds, beautiful scenery, and a well-maintained trail.

The Nature Conservatory owns this site, chosen because it’s “one of the last high-quality examples of the southern Front Range foothills ecosystem.”

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The Hummers are Coming!

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The bee balm (Monarda) and mint hyssop (Agastache) won’t bloom until mid-summer, and the flowers on my California fuchsia (Epilobium canum) appear even later. Yet, despite the lack of these hummingbird favorites, the birds are on the move, heading north to nest. While I like to think that I’m aiding their survival, I know they will do fine without me. Still, I’m hustling to fill and hang my feeders. It isn’t that the birds need me—I need them!

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A Return to Merritt Island NWR

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When I consider birding in Florida, Merritt Island NWR immediately comes to mind. While the state is filled with outstanding birding hotspots, this refuge, directly adjacent to Canaveral National Seashore and the Kennedy Space Center, is one of my favorites. The birds are accessible, the wildlife drive offers excellent views for a photographer, and there is plenty of variety.

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Thank You, Fellow Birders

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There’s something about a bunch of birders (or do birders come in a flock?) all fixated on the same rare bird. The smiles, the lifer dances, the high fives and slaps on the back. We may be perfect strangers, but the shared excitement overcomes all barriers.

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