CFO for Mother’s Day!

White Pelicans_LakeMeredith-CO_LAH_6144Some moms receive roses for Mother’s Day. Others are given chocolates, dinners out, or photos of their adoring children. While I did enjoy dinner in a restaurant on Mother’s Day, I wasn’t dining with my family. Rather, I spent the day—actually five days over a long weekend—attending the annual Colorado Field Ornithologists (CFO) convention, held this year in Lamar (almost to Kansas and Oklahoma), Colorado.

My family knows what makes me smile.

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Saturation Birding

2015-06-07 14.06.33I just spent five days in one of the prettiest parts of Colorado. Even better, those days were spent looking for birds. Over 200 birders gathered in the charming town of Salida to talk about birds, learn more about birds, and best of all, see birds! Yes, it was the annual Colorado Field Ornithologists’ convention.

Imagine five days of total avian immersion: a banquet with an entertaining guest speaker, tempting vendors, scientific papers, an evening game of Jea-birdy (I’ll take “Avian Newcomers” for $200 please), and the primary reason everyone came—birding, birding, and more birding!

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Fall Birding

Vesper Sparrow_RamahSWA-CO_LAH_1899-001Imagine that every bird you see is brown. Little brown jobs. Big brown jobs. Streaky, plain, identical. They’re no longer in their bright (and easily identified) breeding duds. Rather, they’re playing hard to see—and hard to identify.

Now imagine that they’re all far, far away—at the water’s edge on the far side of the reservoir, waaay out in the field, sitting on that distant fence rail—and if you try to sneak up for a closer look, they fly away.

And finally, imagine that an entire summer’s worth of baby birds have all left their nests and joined the crowd, sporting their juvenile plumage.

Got it? That’s the downside challenge of fall birding.

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Bird Nerd Heaven

CFO GroupBirding and Nature Festivals are springing up all over the country. Start in January at the Wings Over Willcox Birding & Nature Festival in Arizona, or the Morro Bay Bird Festival in California, and continue to the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival and New Mexico’s Festival of the Cranes in November—if you have the airfare and the time, you can spend an entire year flitting from festival to festival, returning home just in time for the Christmas Bird Count.

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The CFO Convention: Part 3

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Saturday morning. Wakened by my alarm, I snuggled down into my sleeping bag and  listened. Trucks rumbled by on the nearby highway. The bird in the trees overhead kept up a constant chatter. But no drops were hitting the tent. The rain had stopped!

Thankfully, our field trip this morning departed at a leisurely 6:30 a.m., the first of two days photographing birds with Bill Schmoker. This was my primary reason for attending the convention, and I was eager to get started.

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The CFO Convention: Part 2

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The saga continues…

The alarm on my phone chirped into the pre-dawn blackness. My friend Debbie and I both groaned. Between the 18-wheelers on near-by Hwy. 50 and the louder truck parked across the narrow driveway from us—the truck whose owner decided to idle for ten minutes, then rev the engine for another ten, and then finally to drive around the crunchy gravel loop a few times at 2:40 am!—we hadn’t slept at all well.

Still, an exciting day was waiting. We had each signed up for different trips, and mine was headed up Grand Mesa to look for (among other species) Chukar, Gray Flycatcher, Gray Vireo, eight warbler species, and Black-throated and Fox Sparrows. Since several of these would be new birds for me, the anticipation was enough to get me up at 4:30, and into the car by 4:45.

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