Category Archives: birds

International Migratory Bird Day

International Migratory Bird Day

What is International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD)?
IMBD celebrates and brings attention to one of the most important and spectacular events in the Americas – bird migration.  Bird Day is celebrated in Canada, the United States, Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean.

When is International Migratory Bird Day??
IMBD officially takes place on the second Saturday in May in the U.S. and Canada and in October in Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean each year.

International Migratory Bird Day

Hat tip to Mike’s Birding & Digiscoping Blog, a great site for bird photos.

What is the GBBC? — Great Backyard Bird Count

What is the GBBC? — Great Backyard Bird Count

The 2011 GBBC will take place Friday, February 18, through Monday, February 21. Please join us!

The Great Backyard Bird Count is an annual four-day event that engages bird watchers of all ages in counting birds to create a real-time snapshot of where the birds are across the continent. Anyone can participate, from beginning bird watchers to experts. It takes as little as 15 minutes on one day, or you can count for as long as you like each day of the event. It’s free, fun, and easy—and it helps the birds.

What is the GBBC? — Great Backyard Bird Count

Read It and Weep

pelican photo by mjh You have to read this, ripped from

Thursday, June 10, 2010
Our Greed Speaks Louder Than Brown Pelicans
By Amy D. Estelle
Albuquerque resident
       I am sad beyond belief today.
    The photo of an oil-coated brown pelican gasping for air on the front page of Friday’s Albuquerque Journal brought home the abstraction of the Gulf oil spill.
    My heart broke again.
    This is surely not the only magnificent species that will pay the price of no-holds-barred offshore drilling. I have heard similar reports of other birds, dolphins and fish.
    But brown pelicans are a favorite of mine. Their ungainly prehistoric appearance on land is matched by their ability to glide in graceful unison inches above the surf and to dive like arrows shot into the sea to gulp a fish swimming just beneath the surface.
    Thirty years ago on the coast of Georgia I had an experience with a brown pelican that Gulf coast residents may now unfortunately share: an immature pelican died in my arms.
    It wasn’t oil, but a sudden cold spell that doomed the bird’s already impaired immune system.
    An island resident phoned the environmental education center where I worked to report that a brown pelican had landed in their backyard and was unable to fly. A colleague and I drove over to pick up the bird.
    The veterinarian did what he could and sent us back to the environmental education center with instructions to hold the hypothermic bird close to my body and once we arrived to put it in a small warm room. Just as we drove through the center’s gate, the bird stretched its long neck and took its last breath.
    I am not ashamed to say that I cried then and I cried today.
    There is nothing ordinary about a brown pelican. With a wingspan of nearly seven feet, it looks like it descended directly from a pterodactyl.
    Right now in the height of the breeding season, a striking stripe of Hershey-bar-brown feathers outlined in white cloak the bird’s neck and a pastel sunny yellow tops the head. The iris is a pale blue, and the tip of the beak yellow-orange.
    No time would be a good time for an oil spill, but with eggs or hatchlings in the nest, the death rate will be compounded.
    After surviving the widely used pesticide DDT, a comeback which took nearly half a century, the brown pelican, newly removed from the federal endangered species list, faces a 21st century nemesis: corporate power and a timid — if not corporate-owned — U.S. Congress.
    Why do the United States and the United Kingdom not require the same fail-safe measures for offshore oil wells that Norway has successfully mandated for decades?
    An excerpt from Joe Conason’s article at makes clear that there is an alternative arrangement:
    "What makes Norway so different from the United States — and much more likely to install the most protective energy technology — is that the Norwegian state can impose public values on oil producers without fighting off lobbyists and crooked politicians, because it owns and controls the resources. Rather than Halliburton-style corporate management controlling the government and blocking environmental improvement, Norway’s system works the other way around. It isn’t perfect, as any Nordic environmentalist will ardently explain, but the results are considerably better than ours."
    No one knows for sure the impact the BP oil spill will have on the long-term fate of the brown pelicans in the Gulf. Like the fate of the commercial and sport fishing industries, the tourism industry, and the human families who live, work, and play on these shores, the future is as opaque as the Gulf water.
    What I know, living in the New Mexico desert, is that these fibers of life are intertwined. As the brown pelican survives or dies, so will the human families dependent on the Gulf ecosystem.
    But there is a more disturbing message in the photograph the Journal published, and it sickens me to face it and to hear it: A silent scream. A demand for justice.
    As Henry Beston in 1925 wrote so poignantly and radically in "The Outermost House: A Year of Life On The Great Beach of Cape Cod," our relationships with animals are international:
    "We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals. In a world older and more complete than ours they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth."
    This time the travail was preventable: Deregulation, lack of government oversight, powerful lobbyists and corporate greed — there is more than enough blame to go around.
    The BP-TransOcean-Haliburton Gulf oil spill is an unprovoked and entirely preventable attack on another nation, one who has no seat at the U.N.
    Who will speak for the brown pelicans if you and I do not? Who will hear its silent call to act if you and I do not?
    This is our Silent Spring. This is our time to respond.

ABQJOURNAL OPINION/GUEST_COLUMNS: Our Greed Speaks Louder Than Brown Pelicans

Lucky Timing (from the Photo Archive)

American avocets

I go to Chaco Canyon every year (except for this one). In 2008, I also traveled to a couple of outliers west of Chaco. The road into Kin Bineola (“where the wind whirls,” Navajo) crosses a dirt dam. I had never seen any water on either side of that dam before, but on this trip in May, there was a small pond near the dam, well below the road. I saw something circle over the pond. I stopped on the dam to consider taking a picture. The two adult avocets were cute enough – and seemed out of place enough – to warrant a photo. I just got lucky that the babies flew in just as I clicked. I respect photographic skill, experience, and equipment, but lucky timing is the most valuable asset a photographer can’t buy. I never expected to photograph shorebirds in the desert.

mjhinton's items tagged with chacocanyon More of mjhinton’s stuff tagged with chacocanyon

The Builder (from the Photo Archive)

nesting material

I watched this robin gather grass for nesting material in our small sideyard a few years ago. It was a windy day and the robin kept dropping what it already had in its beak as it tried for more. (Called to mind Aesop.) After numerous attempts, the robin gathered up a good bundle. It took off from the grass and paused just long enough in a gap in the fence. Click. Thank you. With all the wind, I didn’t expect this photo to be in focus.

Robins love to bathe, perhaps moreso than any other birds I’ve seen in our yard.

robin bathes

[From the Photo Archive is an irregular series of photos I’ve taken some time ago but want to revisit.]

mjhinton's Birds (Random) photoset mjhinton’s Birds (Random) photoset