Back to Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

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Home to birds, mammals, reptiles, and very nice people—Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary has it all. Last winter I made my second visit there, five years after the first. It may have been snowing at home in Colorado, but southern Florida was supposed to be warm—wasn’t it? The day before had been lovely, but this morning dawned damp and gray, with tendrils of fog creeping over the wetlands. I arrived at 7, just as the admissions office opened, knowing I had to be done to meet Pete for lunch. Well, a late lunch, at least! I wanted to make the most of my time as I walked the 2.25 mile boardwalk.

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A Different Kind of Birding Blog

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Birding travel. Recent sightings. Ornithological news. Most birding blogs cover these and similar topics. That’s fine—it’s always enjoyable to hear about someone else’s birding adventures. But Birder’s Rules, written by Nicholas Lund, takes a totally different approach.

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Presidential Birds

What do Lincoln’s Sparrow and Wilson’s Warbler have in common? Do you know? Can you guess? You’re right—they were not named after presidents. However, since they do share a last name with a former president, it seems appropriate to learn about this Lincoln and this Wilson on President’s Day.

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Lincoln’s Sparrow is a cute little bird. Its brown feathers are suffused with a coppery tint. (I use the copper color as a handy mnemonic—coppery bird, copper penny sporting a profile of Lincoln.)

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Birding the City

Western Scrub Jay_CBC_COS_LAH_8753-001“Two juncos.”
“OK, what kind?”
“One Grey-backed, one Pink-sided—oops, there go half a dozen more! Were they Slate-sided?”
“Oh, I can’t tell! Just write down eight Juncos!”
“Over there—that looks like a Bushtit. And another, and… there must be 50 of them in that bush!”

Counting birds isn’t always easy, but that what I did Saturday. I was participating in Audubon’s 114th Christmas Bird Count, something I’ve done off and on for the past ten years, ever since I discovered the joys of birding.

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How to Help Hummingbirds

Anna's Hummingbird_EdmondsMarsh-WA_PLH_7848I was out birding last weekend, scanning the foliage for a glimpse of feathers or the movement of a leaf unexplained by the light breeze, when I heard a high-pitched twit twit. It was a familiar sound, but one I hadn’t heard since early last fall—the call note of a hummingbird!

If I was in Colorado, I’d be quite surprised to find a hummingbird this early in the season—my first Broad-tailed hummer consistently shows up at my feeders on April 30 or May 1. However I’m not in Colorado, I’m currently in Washington. I was birding at Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge, located between Olympia to the west and Tacoma to the east. (My trip includes a little bit of birding and a lot of our new baby granddaughter!)

Here, Anna’s Hummingbirds linger year-round. What a treat! Continue reading “How to Help Hummingbirds”

Available Now: Aiken Audubon’s 2014 Calendar

Calender coverIn light of their successful 2013 calendar, Aiken Audubon is offering a “Birds of Colorado” calendar for 2014. They sell for a suggested donation of $12. Any profits over the cost of printing go toward the chapter’s education fund, used primarily to pay high-caliber speakers for their free monthly programs. It’s a great calendar for a good cause.

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The 2013 Aiken Calendars Are Coming!

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Are you a Colorado birder? Do you know a Colorado birder? Do you just like birds? The Aiken Audubon Society of the Colorado Springs area has created a gorgeous 12-month 2013 calendar to raise funds for education, field trips, and conservation. Printed in full-color, the photographs are of birds found in state, and I’m pretty pleased to say that more than half the shots are mine!

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Join the Club

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Do you want to be a better birder? Would you like to meet more people who share your interest? Are you curious about some near-by birding hotspots, but you’re not sure exactly where they are, or how to get there?

While birding is fine as a solo pursuit, there are times when hanging around other birders is just a lot more fun.

One day, about eight months after I first became interested in birds, I was finishing up a walk around the ponds at our local nature center. I stopped by the visitor center to see if anything special had been sighted recently. The volunteer behind the counter saw my binos and asked if I was a birder.

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What I Did Last Saturday

rise-and-jackie_cos-cbc_lah_3179Once again, it’s time for Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count (CBC). And once again, I was out with some friends (right), surveying our section of the Colorado Springs count area. Part of our route just involved driving slowly through residential neighborhoods. Other times we parked the car and hiked through various segments of Palmer Park, a large natural area of Ponderosas, yucca and grasses in the middle of town.

santa-flamingo_cos-cbc_lah_3190This being Colorado, the weather is just a tad unpredictable. A few years ago we were dealing with temperatures that reached all of 6 degrees and heavy snowfall that created near-whiteout conditions. We kept expecting to encounter a penguin or two. This year the weather was lovely—sunny and relatively warm (with a high of 50 degrees). After our recent cold spell, it seemed almost tropical… so we weren’t too surprised to see a pair of flamingos, all decked out for the holidays.

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Christmas is for Counting Birds

2008dec20-cbc-392rThis Saturday I’m heading out on Audubon’s annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC). I’ll be joining tens of thousands of other birders around the world in a tradition that is in its 110th year.

December isn’t exactly the best time to be outside birding. A few years ago, our group experienced blizzard conditions and a toasty high of six degrees F. (Amazingly, we saw over 200 American Robins in our count area that year! I kept expecting penguins.) Other years have been somewhat milder, but December in Colorado Springs is never for sissies. Why do we bundle into multiple layers of clothing and get up in the dark to spend most of the day outside counting birds?

The holiday season is also incredibly busy. Shopping, decorating, baking, parties—who has time to tally birds? Why use up a precious Saturday right before Christmas in order to take a bird census?

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