Category Archives: birds

Cock of the Rock, the national bird of Peru

The first photo I took of a Cock of the Rock male in Manu, Peru
First photo of male Cock of the Rock (above)

I first heard of the Cock of the Rock years ago, after Merri led an impromptu expedition in Ecuador in search of the bird described as both showy and shy.

Last November, we were riding in a van for hours along miles of dirt road that skirt an edge of the Manu jungle region of Peru. Much of that day consisted of riding, stopping, getting out, standing by the road to look for birds while other vehicles roared pass. As we slowed for a turn before crossing a beautiful wide stream, the first Cock of the Rock male I’d ever seen landed on a branch, perhaps not 6 feet from my window (photo above). Snap! Be ready for your opportunities.

(The first female Cock of the Rock I saw was barely visible on a nest in shadow under an overhang above the Urubamba river in Aguas Caliente, near Machu Picchu. Dave Mehlman and I were wandering when a bus driver asked, “have you seen the Cock of the Rock on the nest?” Well, no actually.)

To me, the Cock of the Rock is simultaneously beautiful and ugly. The shape of the head defies logic. Look closely for the beak barely protruding from the feathers. The stark eyes are fish-like, or like the eyes pasted on stuffed animals. Yet the power of the intense red contrasting with the dapper grey and black is undeniable.

The next day, our group drove to a roadside viewing area adjacent to a lek, the competitive breeding grounds for Cocks of the Rock. Plastic tarps formed a wall to minimize dust and noise from passing vehicles. A local guardian kept the key to a locked gate that blocked the steep steps down to a narrow uneven path a dozen paces to a viewing stand, not a blind, but a rickety porch without other attachment, directly behind the plastic tarps. This viewing area looked down a hill that was dense jungle.

At the worst time, more than a dozen people jostled quietly on this platform for a chance to see and photograph one of the half a dozen or so Cocks of the Rock, mostly showy males. Viewing was very challenging through the tangle, though it’s easy to scan green for brilliant red. The loud sore-throat croak of the males also helps you find them.

Photographs required manual focus. There were just too many points to distract autofocus, but automatic exposure settings worked fine. Though the jungle was dim, these birds don’t move very fast.

Eventually, the flock of birders moved on, leaving just 3 of us to watch longer. During this time, the birds moved closer, still not as close as that first bird. It was a delightful moment.

Cock of the Rock males in Manu, PeruCock of the Rock males in Manu, PeruCock of the Rock males in Manu, PeruCock of the Rock males in Manu, PeruCock of the Rock males in Manu, Peru

More photos from Peru (about 170)

Why can’t we take the Crane Train to Bosque del Apache?

Imagine boarding the Rail Runner in Santa Fe or Albuquerque and riding south to Bosque del Apache. Wouldn’t it be fantastic? We have the tracks, we have the trains, we have the natural attraction. More than anything we lack imagination and determination to make it happen.

The people most likely to take this train don’t require a fancy stop. The Durango-Silverton rail simply stops in the middle of wilderness for hikers.

Eventually, I’d like to see a special Crane engine modeled after the lovely Rail Runner. But we could start this run in no time. We have trains going to the Wine Festival in Bernalillo. Why not to the Festival of the Cranes?

[reposted from 10/23/13 every year until we can do this]

Enjoy the birds while we have them …

Talk about your canary in a coal mine. Doom.

Global warming may mean bye-bye for some birdies | Albuquerque Journal News

The report says that in a few decades, 126 bird species will end up with a much smaller area to live in, which the society says will make them endangered. An additional 188 species will lose more than half their natural range but relocate to new areas. Those moves will be threatening to the birds’ survival, too, because they will be confronted with different food and soil, bird experts said.

Other birds, including backyard regulars like the American robin and the blue jay, will fly in even more places, the report says. And some of the biggest potential winners aren’t exactly birds that people like — species such as the turkey vulture, the American crow and the mourning dove, which will expand their ranges tremendously.

“If you want to know what the climate change future sounds like, it sounds a lot like a mourning dove,” Langham said. Some people find annoying the singing of the mourning dove, which will more than double its range.

Global warming may mean bye-bye for some birdies | Albuquerque Journal News

More from before (photos from the unnamed wilderness)

OK, I did name the wilderness in the photos themselves. These newest photos are the oldest. (I know, it sounds wrong, but it’s true.) We took a trip to the unnamed wilderness in June with friends Melissa and Lew. We camped in a campground, instead of the jack-camping we did in August. Follow the link for all photos (14 from June plus the previously posted 60 from August).

pale wild iris Western Tanager gray jay (not to be confused with a Clark's nutcracker) a snake in a stream (much smaller than it may seem)

all photos

Ranchers and Oil Industry demand the right to destroy everything for a profit. Government agrees. Win-Win?

So, ranchers and oil companies have destroyed 80% of the habitat of the lesser prairie chicken and want the other 20%? Greedy much? And the county government serves the money, not the public and certainly not the creatures that lived their long before we did..

Suit filed to stop listing of rare grouse | Albuquerque Journal News

Federal officials say the bird has lost more than 80 percent of its traditional habitat, mostly because of human activity such as oil and gas drilling, ranching and the construction of power lines and wind turbines.

The federal government said those states had fewer than 18,000 lesser prairie chickens in 2013, down almost 50 percent from 2012.

Ranchers and oil companies believe the listing will have a negative effect on the ranching, oil and gas and wind farm industries in New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Colorado. That’s where the chicken’s habitat is known.

Suit filed to stop listing of rare grouse | Albuquerque Journal News

Slaughtering wild creatures is “cruel and moronic” — and barbaric

In New Mexico, we have coyote slaughters by similar morons.

10,000 Birds | Rip Van Winkle’s Crow Killing Contest

The “Crow Down” is a “hunting contest” where both adults and children slaughter as many crows as they possibly can in two days. Why do they do this? Look at the Maryland-based website Crow Busters, although I warn you you’ll need a strong stomach for the photographs. Here is a direct (and unedited) quote:

“… keep in mind the main reason why experienced crow hunters got into the sport in the first place, Fun. Plain old fashioned Fun.”

Some people think it’s just plain fun to kill enormous numbers of animals and pile up their bodies, and when there’s no “bag limit” it’s legal to do so. …

[The King of the morons, may he rot in hell,] … lives in Kansas and in December 2013 celebrated killing his 150,000th crow. On the website he reminisces fondly about his “best hunt,” where he killed 3,125 crows in 9 days…

It also brings to mind the uncontested link between animal abuse and violent behavior toward fellow humans. …

“What I want to know is: a hundred feet away, how can these people tell the difference between a crow and a raven, which is a protected species?,” [Missy Runyan, director of the Friends of the Feathered and Furry Wildlife Center in nearby Hunter, NY] asks.

“And how do you keep the kids safe when you’ve got dozens of people in the woods, blasting away? You shoot a bullet up, sooner or later it has to come down. How do you know it’s not going to come down on some kid’s head?”

The Crow Down does not require non-toxic ammunition, either, which means soon the woods will be filled with lead.

10,000 Birds | Rip Van Winkle’s Crow Killing Contest

This is an environmental disaster brought to you by blood-thirsty fools. A pox on every one of them. A single crow has more decency than that entire gang of killers.

Neighborhood Merlin

Just this morning, as I walked Luke to the park, I thought about how we didn’t see our usual merlin (falcon) this winter. In years past, it occupied a particular telephone pole top almost every late afternoon from October to March. Not so this winter. Imagine my surprise when I spotted this merlin an hour later near the usual spot.

merlin (falcon) - mjh

merlin (falcon) - mjh
Death bows its head.

As I watched and photographed, the merlin left its prey and moved to a nearby tree. A scrub jay flew at it and the merlin flew around a bit before landing in another nearby tree. The jay went straight at the merlin and landed near it. A moment later, the merlin left the area. Drama on our street. Was the prey related to the jay?

The slack-jawed bird-gawker in Belize …

… stalking the Tawdry Motmot and Malodorous Blackbird

We made our first trip to Belize recently, staying there 9 nights. For five nights, we were in a jungle eco-lodge near the Guatemalan border. Three nights were spent in a luxurious condo on the beach. We traveled with two friends from Merri’s college days (Susan and Paul).

The jungle was my favorite location. DuPlooy’s was established years ago by Ken and Judy duPlooy. In many respects, they turned savannah into a jungle. The lodge ranges along a boardwalk from a veranda overlooking the Macal River at one end to our Casita at the other end, a sizeable two-story house with a large bedroom and bath on each floor. We had the upstairs which also had a wide, deep balcony porch wrapping around two sides facing the jungle. It felt very much like a posh treehouse, especially from the hammocks.

.down time is an upper

We’re mediocre birders. We know a lot more than people who don’t care about birds, but among people who do, we’re rather ignorant. Even equipped with a book, binocs, camera, and Internet access, we struggled to identify most of the birds we saw and we know we missed countless others. I think of myself as a bird gawker, rather than a twitcher (Brit slang for birders). But, we enjoy ourselves immensely and this was a great location for birds, bugs, and plants.

IMG_3444

It’s remarkable that I could go this long without mentioning the rain. It rained every day and at different times of day for different durations. The Belizeans frequently apologized for this but we always replied that for desert-dwellers rain makes a vacation more special. In fact, when the rain did pause, the humidity was overpowering. Let it rain and protect us from this cruel sun.

The jungle, the lodge, the rain, the birds were all fascinating but I also greatly enjoyed the Belizeans we met. When we travelled in Guatemala, my ignorance of Spanish was an embarrassing barrier that kept me from really connecting with people there. In Belize, English is the official language. Moreover, everyone we met speaks at least English, Spanish, and creole. Many also speak one of several Mayan dialects. Belizeans are a polyglot and gracious people. We were well taken care of.

Phillip of DuPlooy’s picked up Susan and Paul a few hours before we arrived and drove them an hour to the zoo. Some of the best photos any of us took were theirs at the zoo. Paul escaped a toucan with fingers intact. They saw a harpy eagle, one of the birds I wanted to see. (I hear Panama is the place to see harpies.) Then, they all drove back to the airport for our arrival. It was thrilling to wall down an old-fashioned rolling stairway to the tarmac (just as I did in Africa 40 years ago and in Albuquerque almost 30 years ago) to be greeted by friendly calls and hoots from the observation area.

Phillip drove us across country in two hours. Before night fell, he pointed out the Sleeping Giant, high ground in Belize that is actually a former reef pushed up. Driving through rain, we passed a few small towns which always had at least on open-aired room with a big screen TV and a crowd of people watching.

We left pavement and drove up a steep, narrow, winding dirt road arriving at the DuPlooy’s office. There Mason greeted us and checked us in. In a light rain, he led us along the boardwalk past half a dozen cottages with screened-in porches to our casita. Then we walked back past the other dwellings — all of which were unoccupied — to the dining room, beyond which were the open-aired bar, bird feeding station and a few tables under a roof. We spent time every day in each of these areas, watching birds, eating, drinking Belikin stout and talking to employees as well as just a few other guests. Most of that time, we were well-attended to by Albert. That first dinner was the best coconut shrimp we’ve ever eaten.

The first morning, I awoke to a strange, deep drumming. One end of our upstairs porch looked toward an large dead tree that served as a bird magnet. The drummer was a woodpecker, nearly as large as a pileated woodpecker. Over the next few days, we would see other woodpeckers there, as well as toucans and parrots. Up the hill on a tower, we frequently saw bat falcons.

DuPlooy’s includes half-day and full day activities in their package, but that first day we didn’t want to get in a car again, so we hiked the trail along the river. That afternoon, we tubed from Judy’s house back down to the beach, which was completely submerged by the rising Macal River. In fact, it kept rising all week, though the lodge is well uphill and unthreatened.

Adjacent to the lodge, the duPlooys also built a botanic garden full of domestic and exotic plants, which, in turn draw more birds and insects. We walked through the garden several times. My favorite hours may have been those I spent alone wandering the grounds while the others drove to butterfly farm and a cave tubing trip that had to be cancelled due to high water. During my hike, I climbed the tower built to honor Ken DuPlooy. From this high vantage I looked out over dense green canopy and observed three flocks of plain chachalacas (a drab pheasant-like bird I want to call Boom-chack-a-lakas — Wanna take you higher!). Each group crow at once, then each group in sequence, first one group, then another across the valley, then a third, and around again the same way, each cacophonous chorus in turn. I also repeated the river trail and stumbled over the rugged trail Phillip had cut by machete, making me appreciate just how dangerous the jungle could be.

Next morning, we rode horses with Eryn up to a great vista of the jungle and the Macal. After lunch, we left for an overnight trip to Tikal in Guatemala. I’d been there a few years ago, but Merri missed it because she was sick on that earlier trip. Tikal is stunning and spectacular. As with Chaco in New Mexico, what we see is nothing like what it appeared in its heyday but is no less grand. We made a brief excursion to the Gran Plaza where we saw a fox, the indigenous colorful ocellated turkeys and only a few people.

ocellated turkey in Tikal

At the Tikal Jungle Lodge, we practiced restaurant Spanish under the tutelage of a delightful and delighted waitress. Next day at breakfast, we showed how little we’d learned — except for Merri, by far the most comfortable in her efforts. Then our guide Walter led us for hours through rain, mud, humidity and history. And howler monkeys. Walter does an amazing howler monkey call, as well as being an over-educated former lawyer. On our way out from Tikal, we were stunned to encounter our guide from 3 years ago, Miguel. After lunch, we left the Tikal Lodge and rewound our way back across the border to DuPlooy’s for a last night.

Next day, we left the jungle. Noel of DuPlooy’s drove us across country a couple of hours to Belize City and the port. En route, he stopped to point out iguanas (they mate for life, but the male has to keep up his good looks or the female may choose another), black thick-billed anis, lesser yellow-headed vultures, Mayan ruins, and so much more, all the while regaling us with great nuggets of info about what we were seeing. He was the only person I met there who address the women as ‘milady,’ but he made it seem a charming eccentricity.

It was quite a shock to leave the laid-back largely empty jungle lodge for the big city and all it entails. Stout eased my transition. We took a ferry to the tourist town of San Pedro on Ambergris Caye (pronounced key), known to some as Little America. Though San Pedro has no high-rises, it feels like a resort town. We checked into our condo then walked a few short blocks to El Fagon. During a pounding rainstorm that caused us to move from one table to the next and back, we enjoyed our meal. Next we walked to a small market for groceries, including local coffee and cashew wine (awful). I also bought a pair of flip-flops to replace the sneakers I had to abandon because they smell so bad after tubing the Macal and never drying out.

Much of our time in San Pedro was spent strolling a few short blocks or the beach. We wandered between shops, visiting a frozen custard shop three times before we found it open. We bought chocolate several times. I bought a nice short-sleeved shirt. We ate at several nice restaurants. Susan and Paul borrowed bikes for a long ride north while Mer and I walked a long way south with minimal birding.

IMG_3770

We also took a glassbottom boat out to the reef that is a national park. Our guide led us snorkeling in a few places. The fish, the grass, the coral of every type were all beautiful. It was the sea turtles that almost made Merri cry. One moment of excitement came when the guide pointed out a moray eel. As Paul swam toward it the eel swam even faster toward Paul and the guide swam faster still to pull Paul back and repel the eel with a flipper. Our was also able to dive down and through a short coral cave.

For all the fun we had outside in San Pedro, we also spent time recuperating from the heat in the AC. And, of course, it rained here, too, although never enough to spoil an hour.

Our condos were a walkable block from the airport where where took a small plane to the mainland airport. Mer got to ride in the co-pilot’s seat. From the air, the keys look less like islands than like lagoons with small areas above water. Global warming may finish submerging this area in our lifetimes.

It is fitting that after all this, we encountered the heaviest rain of entire trip as we made our way to the plane. Recall, there aren’t any enclosed gangways. We lined up for umbrellas and the moment I stepped out from under a roof, I was ankle deep in water, glad I had my flip-flops. I laughed out loud, it was such fun. Up the rolling stairway to hand over an umbrella and return to the 21st century. They had to stop boarding the plane to keep water more water from entering the front and to return the stack of umbrellas for the next group of passengers.

She brought that smile home with her.

Now we are back a mile above sea level in a desert that once was underwater. Our miserly rain is bone-chillingly cold. Blue has replaced green and I can see a hundred miles again and, much closer, the mile-high Sandias that provide a backdrop for everything we do. It’s good to get out now and then. It’s good to come home.

Photos and videos

We know “improving access” to the Bosque hurts it

Protect our Bosque from the Proposed Rio Grande Vision Plan / Hawks Aloft Inc.

Hawks Aloft Blog

Protect our Bosque from the Proposed Rio Grande Vision Plan

September 4th, 2013

It is not often that we, at Hawks Aloft, take on an activist role in our community.  However, we have relatively recently become familiar with the details of the Rio Grande Vision Plan, proposed by Mayor Berry and his design team.   That site was updated only yesterday, therefore considerable detail has not yet been reviewed.   There is a public meeting tonight

Wednesday Sept. 4, 6 -8 pm

Albuquerque Museum
2000 Mountain NW
Albuquerque NM 87104

There will be a second public meeting on Wednesday Sept. 18, 6 -8 pm.

We encourage you to familiarize yourself with the plan, attend the meetings and express your opinions, either through the public meeting venue or by submitting written comments to via email to theplan@cabq.gov Comments may also be mailed to The Mayor’s Office, PO Box 1293, Albuquerque NM 87103. 

As an organization that cares deeply about the health of our bosque, we mailed a letter to the Mayor on September 3, 2013, the same date as the revised Plan was posted on the City website.  We urged Mayor Berry and his team to consider the effects of a similar management that has occurred in the Rio Rancho bosque over the past 10 years and the devastating impacts to bird densities as that reach of the bosque has become more ubanized.  A full copy of our letter to the Mayor follows below this chart.

Rio Rancho bosque Avian  Densities 2003-2012

Rio Rancho bosque Avian Densities 2003-2012

September 3, 2013

Mayor Richard Berry
City of Albuquerque
PO Box 1293
Albuquerque, NM 87103

Hawks Aloft, Inc. is deeply concerned that the City of Albuquerque’s Rio Grande Vision Plan, if enacted, will have a devastating effect on avifauna and other wildlife that depend on the natural habitat of the bosque. We base our concerns on scientific data collected by Hawks Aloft, Inc. We have conducted avian monitoring within the bosque, between Bernalillo and the La Joya Game Management Area since December 2003. The purpose of our study is to assess avian abundance and species richness (number of different species observed) relative to habitat and management entities. We currently monitor 78 (½ mile long) transects in various habitats. Each route is surveyed three times per month during the summer and winter months, when the birds present are resident, rather than migratory.

As greater detail has been released about the Rio Grande Vision Plan, it is apparent that large portions of the bosque within the Rio Grande Valley State Park will be developed to increase human usage, with hardened riverside trails up to as 8-10’ wide, viewing blinds, benches, and other park-like amenities,  many of which are proposed for installation along the river’s edge.  The Plan also calls for removal of non-native vegetation as part of a restoration process.  All of these sound very similar to the Willow Creek bosque management that has occurred in our neighbor to the north, Rio Rancho.

The Rio Rancho bosque has undergone significant changes, from an unmanaged wild area in 2003 to urban parkland between 2004 and 2012. (Changes have occurred in 2013, but data are still being analyzed).  We have documented a significant decline in avian abundance over time as this section of bosque has become increasingly developed.

We provide the history below as potential explanation for the change in bird densities in the Rio Rancho bosque.

2004-2005:      Mechanical clearing of non-native woody vegetation occurred in some areas. Sunflower crop was poor, resulting in relatively low bird numbers during winter.  Limited human use.

2006-2007:      Vegetation re-growth and presence of extensive sunflower patches. The sunflowers attracted large numbers of wintering birds, especially sparrows and finches.

2008-2009:      Crusher-fine loop trail installed.  Human use began increasing as soon as trail was completed.  No winter surveys conducted due to lack of funds.

2009-2010:      Clearing resumed, again using heavy equipment, resulting in removal of all woody vegetation except for coyote willow, cottonwoods, and a few, scattered New Mexico olives. Expanded wide, crusher-fine, walking trails, and smaller trails with classroom style seating.  Sunflowers were mowed prior to setting seed.

2011-2012:      Avian density among the lowest of all transects surveyed.

2013:               Additional crusher-fine trails and benches installed. Riverbed altered to shift water flow closer to the Rio Rancho bosque and provide benefit to silvery minnow. Fill from riverbed mounded on west edge. Fill area seeded; minimal planting of shrubs.

Human and dog use of the Willow Creek bosque has grown exponentially since the establishment of the wide, crusher-fine trail.  It is not unusual to encounter 20-30 people and up to 10 dogs, many of them off-leash, during a ½ mile long transect. This bosque has become a place for people and a de facto dog park, with little natural habitat for wildlife.  Birds that utilize the shrub understory and ground dwelling species have largely disappeared due to the lack of cover and persecution by unleashed dogs.  Those birds present are largely canopy dwelling species such as White-breasted Nuthatch, Downy Woodpecker, House Finch, and Black-chinned Hummingbird.

All Russian olive (non-native) and junipers (native) have been removed from the Willow Creek bosque. Russian olive is of vital importance to birds in the middle Rio Grande bosque. It is, in general, greatly undervalued by land managers, but provides important nesting substrate for sub-canopy and understory breeding birds as well as an important food and cover resource. While dense stands of coyote willow provide valuable cover for birds, they do not provide a substantial food resource, particularly for seed and berry eating animals; additionally, because coyote willow lacks a complex structure, it is of limited value to nesting birds.

We believe that the Rio Grande Vision Plan, if enacted in its current state, will have a similar, equally devastating effect on bird numbers, as that documented in the Rio Rancho bosque. We sincerely hope that we are able to have a voice at future technical science team meetings.  It seems rather odd that the research group that has monitored bird use in the bosque for the past 10 years has not been included in the planning process.  Thank you for your attention to our concerns.

Protect our Bosque from the Proposed Rio Grande Vision Plan / Hawks Aloft Inc.

Black Canyon Campground near Santa Fe, NM

We camped near Santa Fe in a great little campground near the bottom of the ski basin road. Black Canyon CG has paved sites with great separation, clean outhouses, no hook-ups. It’s barely an hour from Albuquerque and near 8500 feet. There is a good trail out out of the campground and another to Hyde Park CG. There were lots of birds, lots of hummingbirds, even one magnificent hummingbird (twice the size of more common hummingbirds). See 20 photos.

our camper rig in site #14

hanging out at camp

hummingbird

Black Canyon Park Service webpage

CG details, site map, and reservations

What does the Keystone XL Pipeline have to do with billions of birds? | 10,000 Birds

You should read the entire blog entry, which strengthens my conviction that this pipeline — and the strip-mining that goes with it — must be stopped. Canada, how could you even consider this? peace, mjh

10,000 Birds | What does the Keystone XL Pipeline have to do with Birds?

All four major flyways in North America — the aerial migration routes traveled by billions of birds each year — converge in one spot in Canada’s boreal forest, the Peace-Athabasca Delta in northeastern Alberta.  More than 1 million birds, including tundra swans, snow geese and countless ducks, stop to rest and gather strength in these undisturbed wetlands each autumn.  For many waterfowl, this area is their only nesting ground2.

Birds and Tars Sands Oil Map

About three billion birds fly north to the Boreal Forest each spring to build nests and lay eggs. These birds arrive in the Boreal Forest after spending the winter in South and Central America, Mexico, the Caribbean, and the United States. From the Boreal Forest Fact Sheet:

  • 325 bird species – that’s almost half of all the bird species in North America! – depend on the Boreal Forest.
  • About 3 billion of North America’s landbirds, 26 million of its waterfowl, and 7 million of its shorebirds breed here.
  • There are nearly 100 species of which 50% or more of the entire population breeds in the Boreal Forest.
  • Up to 5 billion birds – adults and their new babies – migrate south from the Boreal Forest each fall.

Back in 2008, the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) wrote a report titled “Danger in the Nursery: Impact on Birds of Tar Sands Oil Development in Canada’s Boreal Forest” which covers various ways tar sand development affects bird populations including:

  • Habitat loss
  • Trailings ponds and oiled birds
  • Fragmentation of habitat from drilling
  • Water withdrawals
  • Air and water toxins
  • High emissions and climate change

10,000 Birds | What does the Keystone XL Pipeline have to do with Birds?

Stokes: Birding blog and new books

If you’re in the market for a photographic birding guide, check out the new guides from Lillian and Don Stokes.

I have The Stokes Field Guide to the Birds of North America put out a few years ago. I like it a lot, although I was slightly disappointed that those photos aren’t nearly as dramatic as photos you’ll see on the Stokes blog. That may be different in the new guides. Be aware that there is an older version of the Western guide you don’t want — get the 2013 versions. peace, mjh 

To see the quality of Lillian Stokes’ photos, start by looking at the photos at the following link:

STOKES BIRDING BLOG: Swallow-tailed Kites have returned!

Then, check out:

Birding Is Fun!: The 10 Most Beautiful Birds

Finally, see the very detailed review of the books at the following link.

10,000 Birds | The New Stokes Field Guides to Birds, Eastern Region & Western Region: A Review of Two Books

I think these field guides will be a valuable asset to many birders’ field kits and libraries, especially if they have not yet invested in a photographic guide. Beginning and intermediate birders will find the abundance of clear, well-printed photographs of male and female birds, juvenile and adult, perched and flying, extremely helpful in the field, and the emphasis on shape a good teaching tool….

10,000 Birds | The New Stokes Field Guides to Birds, Eastern Region & Western Region: A Review of Two Books

Sam, Roady, and Hot Lips say we are not alone.

We knew others feed roadrunners. A neighbor feeds Spam or Vienna wieners to his pair, who could be Spike’s parents. They nest as close to his door as they can get and don’t roam far. Another neighbor fed “her” roadrunners raw chicken. But, we assumed we were the only ones foolish enough to pay for mice to feed to roadrunners — until we met Sam at Hawks Aloft. She has been feeding roadrunners for over 15 years. She believes Hot Lips, the crossbilled roadrunner, was over 20 years old. Roady lost a big part of his upper bill over 5 years ago, but with Sam’s help, Roady has raised several broods. Sam says she has hundreds of roadrunner grandbabies. Thankfully, she doesn’t have to feed them all store-bought mice. Even so, our rough guestimate of Sam’s running tab has us thinking twice. If Spike outlives us, do we have to provide for her? Maybe she’ll like Spam now and then. She gobbled up the mealworms we bought today.

Spike the Roadrunner