Saturday, May 24, 2014

NEW! Hummingbird Gardening in Tennessee

Just in time for the return of our Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, a new publication is available free as a pdf download!

Hummingbird Gardening in Tennessee is published by the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture.  The book is co-authored by Marcia Davis, Master Gardener, member of the Knoxville bird club (Knoxville Chapter of the Tennessee Ornithological Society) and the Bird Life columnist for the Knoxville News Sentinel, and Emily Gonzalez of the UT Extension.

The fifteen page booklet is full of useful information about creating hummingbird habitat in your garden and lists the kinds of flowers and native plants that are particularly attractive to hummingbirds.  I am excited to have my hummingbird image of a juvenile Ruby-throat nectaring a Cardinal Flower featured on the cover and three more images included inside!

The free pdf can be downloaded from this link:  Hummingbird Gardening in Tennessee.

Links and resources:

Hummingbird Art
Hummingbird Notes
More about Ruby-throated Hummingbirds
Tennessee's wintering hummingbirds

Monday, May 19, 2014

Whooping Crane Ultralight Migration Featured on Outdoor Wisconsin

The world's Whooping Crane population reached a low of only 15 birds in 1941, bringing this species to the brink of extinction. The Eastern Whooping Crane Partnership began the reintroduction of Whooping Cranes to the eastern United States in 2001 when Operation Migration began the first ultralight-led migration south teaching juvenile Whooping Cranes their migration route. 
"Flying South", a watercolor by Vickie Henderson, 2013.  This image is one of four of Vickie's watercolor images that appear on banners at the entrance and exit to the Whooping Crane Exhibit at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park.

Watch the video and learn more about this project and how Whooping Cranes learn their migration route in the east. To begin the video with the Operation Migration story, move the video cursor to minute 9:16.

To see my blog posts on the Smithsonian National Zoo project visit:  Whooping Crane art
To see more Whooping Crane art visit:  Whooping Crane Watercolor Gallery
For more about the organizations helping Whooping Cranes:
Operation Migration
International Crane Foundation
Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership

Friday, May 16, 2014

Tennessee Wildside Reports on Tennessee's Sandhill Cranes

In April, Tennessee Wildside aired a report on Tennessee's sandhill cranes with some very nice footage on the cranes that migrate through the Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge, near Dayton, Tennessee.  The video includes a great report on the Tennessee Sandhill Crane Festival, the sandhill cranes that migrate through and winter in Tennessee, and the controversy over Tennesse's sandhill crane season.

To see more sandhill cranes wintering at the Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge, visit wintering sandhill cranes.

Tennessee Wildside

Monday, May 12, 2014

Fun Shorebirds at Stinson Beach

After spending time with the birds on the deck, I enjoyed a walk on the beach in search of shorebirds. Stinson Beach isn't exactly warm in February.  There is generally a cold wind blowing off the ocean that makes you appreciate your jacket.
Despite the chill, I took most of these photos lying down in the sand and feeling giddy about it.  How could I not?  This isn't something I get to do everyday!  A marbled Godwit, above and below.  Don't you just love that pink bill?
The Marbled Godwit breeds in northern prairies in the US and Canada and winters along the coast of California and western Mexico.  It feeds on crabs, bristle worms and small bivalves that it extracts from the ocean water and sand with that long probing bill.
A Whimbrel, above and below, a large shorebird in the curlew family, and another inhabitant of shores, mudflats, marshes, prairies and tundra.
Amazingly, Whimbrels visit the coastal shores of North America in the winter and breed in artic and subartic areas.  Some travel as far as 2500 miles without stopping.
Whimbrels forage the beach in search of marine invertebrates, including crabs, other crustaceans, marine worms and mollusks.  Sometimes they grab them as they tumble in the tide, other times, they probe in the sand with their uniquely curved bill.

A bird with spectacular markings.
The waves look gigantic from this perspective, don't they?
Above and below, a Willet also walks the tide foraging.  
A special way to enjoy the beach!

Visit all my posts on Stinson Beach, California

Cornell All About Birds:
Marbled Godwit

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Stinson Beach, CA--Life Birds on the Deck

Isn't this heavenly?  Spending time hanging out around the yard and deck offered plenty of opporutnity to see western bird species.  
Beyond the house you can see the scrub hills that are part of the Dipsea Trail we hiked on our first day in Stinson Beach.  If you turn around from this spot, you will see the beach and Pacific Ocean.  
This is my idea of a winter vacation (February)!    Below are some of the birds that frequented the deck area where seeds were scattered.  
The Spotted Towhee, above, was the first new bird I encountered and a steady visitor to the deck feeding station.    
Above and below, Fox Sparrows.  The fox sparrows along the coast have a sooty gray appearance and are known as "sooty" Fox Sparrows.
Western Scrub Jays appear as soon as peanuts are offered! Fun to watch, they are bold, full of expression and mischief, and manage to carry off one or two of the peanuts to hide so they can come back for more!

Western Scrub Jay
Another view of the house and yard, above.
Above, a Golden-crowned Sparrow.
Dark-eyed Junco, "Oregon" race.
White-crowned sparrow.
Lesser Goldfinch
California Towhee
Male Brewer's Blackbird
Female Brewer's Blackbird.

Next:  Shorebirds on the beach!

Click the link to see all the posts on my February visit to Stinson Beach, California.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

More Stinson Gulch Birds with Keith Hansen

On our visit to Stinson's Gulch, (February 18th), we encountered a flock of Purple Finches. This is a familiar wintering bird in Tennessee, as well, though I usually see them either at feeders or high in the trees. These finches were conveniently foraging in shrubby foliage closer to the ground.

Above, Keith Hansen spotting a Bewick's Wren, below.

--a Bewick's Wren that was very cooperative, giving us great looks as he sang.      
Above and below, Hairy Woodpeckers.

Keith referred to this portion of the trail as the "enchanted forest".  Firs and snarling live oaks cloaked in moss provided a tangle of foliage that fit the description and provided dense habitat for birds that like to hide.
There he is hiding, one of the species I had hoped to see--a Varied Thrush!  This thrush is generally found in western coastal areas in the winter and breeds in the damp evergreen forests of the northwest.
Though, we moved around to look at other birds in the area, our Varied Thrush moved very little, remaining in one spot holding an "invisible" pose. Below, I moved just enough that you can finally see all of his bill! Take the time to listen to this thrush's song at Cornell's All About Birds.
In a clearing, on top of a wire, an Allen's Hummingbird guarded his territory.  You can see the distinctive green plumage on his back that helps to distinguish the Allen's from the Rufous species.

Above and below his bright orange gorget flashes in the light.  The small patch of white feathers behind his eye gives him an intense expression.    
 Below, a Black Phoebe, showing his recognizable flycatcher shape.    
In all, we saw more than 90 species in a morning of birding.  Since I don't keep a list, the numbers don't matter as much to me as the excitement of enjoying new birds--the Varied Thrush, Black Phoebe, Bewicks Wren and Allen's Hummingbird in this post were all new bird acquaintances!

Next:  Life birds on the deck!  

Visit all my posts on Stinson Beach, California
Stinson Gulch
Keith Hansen
Birds of the Sierra Nevada by Beedy and Pandolfing--illustrated by Keith Hansen
Great book! Full of detailed life histories. As you might guess, I brought home an autographed copy!
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Ocean Trail at Palos Verdes Nature Preserve, California--2015

Ocean Trail at Palos Verdes Nature Preserve, California--2015

Bird-banding at Seven Islands State Birding Park--2014

Bird-banding at Seven Islands State Birding Park--2014
Photo courtesy of Jody Stone

Bird-banding at Seven Islands

Bird-banding at Seven Islands
Photo courtesy of Karen Wilkenson

Enjoying Gray Jays in Churchill!--2014

Enjoying Gray Jays in Churchill!--2014
Photo courtesy of Blue Sky Expeditions

Smithsonian National Zoo with one of my Whooping Crane banners and son, John--2014

Smithsonian National Zoo with one of my Whooping Crane banners and son, John--2014

The Incredible Muir Woods near Stinson Beach, CA--2014

The Incredible Muir Woods near Stinson Beach, CA--2014
Photo courtesy of Wendy Pitts Reeves

Me and Denali--2012

Me and Denali--2012
Photo courtesy of Bob King

For the Love of It...

...the sage sees heaven reflected in Nature as in a mirror, and he pursues this Art, not for the sake of gold or silver, but for the love of the knowledge which it reveals.
Sendivogius (1750)

Your Uncapped Creativity...

Your Uncapped Creativity...
"There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action; and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. If you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. You must keep that channel open. It is not for you to determine how good it is, nor how valuable. Nor how it compares with other expressions. It is for you to keep it yours, clearly and directly." ----the great dancer, Martha Graham