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Kentucky Warbler! Garret Mountain – May 5th, 2015

Kentucky WarblerKentucky Warbler

Pretty good today! 19 Species including a First at Garret for me, Kentucky Warbler. (Forgive the awful documentation shot of this skulker. They rarely show well for pictures but these are especially bad. :)) Wilson Avenue was finally packed with birds including a FOS Tennessee Warbler, along with Cape May Warbler, Blackpoll Warblers and Indigo Bunting. Blackburnian, Hooded and Nashville were around again and finally good numbers of Chestnut-sided and Magnolia Warblers. Also a big flight of Common Yellowthroat in as they had been hard to find until today. I also had Yellow-throated, Blue-headed, Red-eyed and Warbling Vireos and Baltimore Orioles were in in good numbers as well.  Others had Worm-eating, Yellow, Bay-breasted as well that I missed. Nice day of birding!

A couple of other shots from today:

Black-throated Blue WarblerBlack-throated Blue Warbler

Scarlet TanagerScarlet Tanager

Magnolia WarblerMagnolia Warbler

Cape May WarblerCape May Warbler

Black-and-white WarblerBlack-and-white Warbler

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Spring and a Day of New Birds at Garret Mountain – April 29th, 2015

Blackburnian Warbler
Blackburnian Warbler

Spring Birding has definitely sprung in New Jersey as we wind through the final days of April. The Mourning Cloak, Eastern Comma and Cabbage White flutter past as the Trout Lily and Skunk Cabbage rise from below. All of the customary birds have appeared. The Eastern Phoebes along with Pine and Palm Warblers have been in for some time joined by Black-and-white and Yellow-rumped Warblers soon after. Their arrival is tailed closely by active Blue-gray Gnatcatchers and wonderfully dressed Blue-headed Vireo. First Golden-crowned Kinglets are common and then later completely replaced by their Ruby-crowned brothers. The ever present April stars, Louisiana Waterthrush, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, and Winter Wren, again called the park’s stream and exposed roots home for a while. They were joined this year by a number of lively Purple Finch, Rusty Blackbirds, a Prairie Warbler and later Northern Waterthrush. I am sure I have missed a few (many of the park regulars have tallied species I missed including Orchard Oriole, Nashville Warbler and Rose-breasted Grosbeak to name a few) but these are the memories of April 2015 that call to me so far. Garret Mountain remains an oasis for traveling birds and a splendid place for an early Spring walk.

Black-throated Green Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler

Today was a little different. North Western winds and unfavorable conditions in our area have kept larger numbers of migrants at bay. The huge helping of birds, no doubt on their way, sit waiting for things to turn in their favor. As I checked the radar last night I was happy to see the northern flyway lit up with migrating birds in the South Eastern part of the country. We had a blip of color in the center of New Jersey, but I expected this wouldn’t be much other than maybe more breeding regulars or shorebirds. As I arrived in the park I didn’t feel too far off about that as overall things still felt quiet.

“Lively Discussion”
I was happy to find that strong and maybe more aggressive birds keen to get on territory had apparently fought through the winds and put down in the elevated green peninsula that is Garret Mountain. I quickly noticed a trend that many male birds were around today. Bright and flashily adorned individuals were feeding and replenishing fat stores used up. There were even clashes as gleaning birds worked through the shared eating spots. Male Pine, Black-and-white and Yellow warblers all worked voraciously to fill their bird bellies. Northern Waterthrush showed (and the continuing Louisiana) along with at least 3 Ovenbirds testing out their best summer song. Not to be outdone completely, a beautiful female Black-and-white Warbler along with a few female Pine Warblers worked through the tops of the White Pine trees at the end of Wilson Ave.

Pine Warbler
Pine Warbler

The best was yet to come for me as I wound my way back up Garret’s paths towards my car. Just above the tiered lot (below the picnic grove) I heard the high pitched song of a bird I haven’t heard in months. There, working along with another stunning Blue-headed Vireo, was a brilliantly colorful male Blackburnian Warbler. Bright, wide wing-bars and a Fire-Orange head that could set tinder afire, moved quickly through the tree tops stopping only briefly to swallow particularly large mouthfuls. I enjoyed him for a while before being called to (in my mind that’s how it works doncha know! :)) by my final new arrival of the day, another male, a Black-throated Green Warbler! These birds were the tip of the Spring Warbler sword finally thrust into our park. On a day like today it was easy to be reminded of the wonder of bird migration and the strength of the birds who I got to visit with today.

Conditions seem to settle a bit tonight so maybe tomorrow will bring even more wonder to the incredibly important Garden State stop-over that is Garret Mountain.

Below are some pictures from today. I usually identify not as a photographer, but rather a Birder-with-a-camera, as I really know far less than I should about photography, lighting and such. Thankfully a blog allows me to share the images of birds that I see (the reason I even bought a camera) but I often feel the need to apologize in advance for not-so-great shots. I am really more concerned with documenting the birds I see but sometimes I get lucky with decent shots and they usually improve as the season goes along. :) Good Birding!

Pine and Black-and-white Warbler - Discussion
Pine Warbler & Black-and-white Warbler “discussion”

Black-and-white Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler

Palm Warbler

Palm Warbler

Ovenbird
Ovenbird

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Birding in New Jersey goes to Brazil! Day 1 – Itatiaia National Park


I was recently in Southeastern Brazil for two weeks of work and had the connecting weekend to myself. Of course this meant I had to find an effective and enjoyable way to do some Brazilian birding! First things first, I needed to get through the first week, and as the days ticked off I found myself enjoying the unique people and culture of Brazil more and more. After enough time passes in a new place, you start to feel comfortable and settle in and find your way into a routine. I felt welcomed each time I ventured slightly out into the enormity of the city that is São Paulo. However, after a week of workplace communication in a foreign country and language, paired with jaunts to local city eateries by night, I was looking forward to a weekend of being out in the forest listening to much more familiar sounds. While the calls and songs of birds a continent away would be new, the symphony of nature would no doubt be playing a well acquainted tune.

“While the calls and songs of birds a continent away would be new, the symphony of nature would no doubt be playing a well acquainted tune.”

As with most birding trips, good planning is a necessity and the unique nature of a trip out of the United States has its own challenges. Many birders utilize an array of well organized guiding outfitters and services to link up with other like-minded folk to find target birds. These trips can be expensive, but also incredibly rewarding, as careful planning goes into making the endeavor a successful one. These trips usually are made up of groups from 6-12 people and need to be scheduled months if not years in advance. Birding Tour Companies often publish a yearly program guide that hopeful attendees can pick and choose from. The tours are most often 2 or more weeks to account for travel time and allow for multiple opportunities at many targets and better overall coverage. Shorter trips happen, but the scope is less extensive and the total species on offer are far leaner.

This meant that my solo trip with a small amount of time and a large amount of target birds, with minimal advanced notice, would be hard to schedule. Especially in a foreign country! This is why I was very happy to find Carlos and was thrilled when he was able to not only accommodate my request for a individual guide for a weekend, but also offered up varying suggestions and possibilities to see some of Brazil’s wonderful birds! (If you are in Southeastern Brazil and want to see birds I highly recommend him! Professional, considerate, safe and an excellent birder. It was exactly as I hoped, and I hope others get to enjoy his passion and expertise. Check out his site and Flickr for tons of good content and contact details.)

We would be heading up to some of the few remaining pieces of preserved Atlantic Forest habitat to search out birds at elevation in this unique ecosystem.

Hitting the Road! Heading out to do my first South American, Brazil Birding!

I was picked up Friday evening at my hotel by Carlos and his wife Viviane who had traveled down from their home in Campinas. We hurled ourselves into the normally dodgy traffic out of town heading north west. We crawled along with the workers headed home, the happy hour crowd, and those seeking respite in the suburbs and farmsteads that run along the cities edge. A 45 minute trip on a Thursday can become a 2 and a half hour test of your sanity on a Friday, and this one was especially difficult. Late in the evening we finally made it to our hotel after winding up the climbing road into the Atlantic forests of Itatiaia National Park.  Sleep would come easy with a long day behind us and an exciting one to come.

Waking up surrounded by nature is always exhilarating and opening the curtains Saturday morning to views of the rising hills and vast forest surfaced a rush of adrenaline and excitement. We started the morning birding on the hotel property on its various trails and paths. We quickly saw the resident White-eyed Parakeets and local White-throated Hummingbirds there to greet us with calling Picazuro Pigeons on the phone wires in the distance while Blue-and-white Swallows swirled above. We added Rufous-collared Sparrow (or as the locals call them Tico Tico), Saffron Finch, and a flyover Chopi Blackbird before heading down the hill from the hotel to a small marsh area surrounded by excellent habitat that provided my first moment of awe of the day.  We came across three Warbler species in this area (White-browed and Golden-crowned Warblers and a Masked Yellowthroat) along with the jaw-dropping beauty of the Brassy-breasted Tanager. Color was not sparred on the Brassy-breasted and we added Diademed, Cinnamon, Fawn-breasted, and Ruby-crowned Tanagers for good measure. We got a great look at a Variable Antshrike and then popped onto a wonderfully vibrant and insanely active Rufous-crowned Greenlet! (A fav of mine for the trip for attitude alone!) On the walk back up we added Highland Elaenia, and a quick flyby Yellow-headed Caracara along with others. Whew. Its all wonderfully overwhelming. These are the days you dream about as a birder when you head to an all new place and we were just getting started.

Below are some of these amazing birds we saw in the morning:

Brassy-breasted Tanager

White-eyed Parakeet

 

Cinnamon Tanager

 

White-throated Hummingbird

The Road up to Pico das Agulhas Negras! (Black Needles Peak)


We headed out up towards the rising peak of Pico das Agulhas Negras to start our birding excursion on the upper part of the road. This oldest national park in Brazil has two sections that are often covered for birding & we would start our morning at the bottom of the upper section. It wasn’t long before we were greeted by the morning chorus and Carlos and his well trained ears were picking up & pointing out birds.  We saw Pallid and Spix’s Spintails, the delightful Ochre-faced Tody-Flycatcher & Mottle-Cheeked Flycatcher.

We then came across a White-spotted Woodpecker which briefly had all of my attention until multiple Red-breasted Toucans came flying just above us and stopped for pictures and closer examination.  I was jumping for joy inside. A Toucan, and a looker at that!

Red-breasted ToucanRed-breasted Toucan

We continued on this way coming across some peppy Black-capped Piprites and watched them dangle and flash about. Just wonderful birds! Then it was on to encounter a bird I had been very much looking forward to. The Plovercrest! In your mind, the birds you covet and have yet to see in nature can carry an almost mythical quality. This bird was one of those for me. The Plovercrest is a small iridescent green hummingbird with a vibrant purple flashy throat and this most fantastic long feathered crest.  The surprisingly loud singing males tend a Lek made up of a group of Plovercrests and we were right in the middle of them! The lighting wasn’t the best (for pictures), but I got amazing looks at a beautiful male holding court and marveled at this little ball of feathers and ferocity. Small tail, small stature, large style large spirit! YES. I was genuinely happy to add the Plovercrest experience to my best birding memory database.

Black-capped Piprites

Plovercrest

Still further up the hill, we paused and ate lunch overlooking a bridge above the expansive trees below. We reveled in the moment a bit, and listened to stories about the regions birds and an especially funny anecdote about an interaction between Carlos and a hill of ants.  While sitting, we also were lucky enough to marvel at the eery and beautiful vocalization of the Black-and-gold Cotinga heard just off in the distance.

“…I once again was reminded of the priceless value of a local experienced guide.”

As you advance in your birding experience, you become subconsciously more aware of bird whistles, chips, calls, songs and even types of movement in the space around you. Like a blip popping on to a monitored radar screen, the noise immediately draws your attention to a target area for further scrutiny. The song I heard there was unlike any I had heard (not any big feat mind you, with my limited travel outside the US) and one I wouldn’t have guessed was coming from a bird. The tonal whistle rises steadily and loudly for 3-5 seconds and sounds more like an overheating radiator pipe than an on territory calling bird. It’s overwhelming in its uniqueness as if natural selection rewarded the bird with a noise sure to be heard and impossible to confuse. The song adds to the want and desire of most birders who visit the area hoping for a peak at the Black-and-gold Cotinga.  In fact, we heard a few Black-and-gold Cotinga calling! One on either side of the road seemingly sounding off to announce the edge of their territory, we searched each high point  for a solid black bird with the golden splash, to no avail.

This is all a common experience for the Black-and-gold Cotinga, so we would not be deterred. Then, seemingly magically, Carlos pointed to a far off tall towering tree about 10 branches from the top to a small, unmoving target. There it is he said. I was both overjoyed and thoroughly impressed at the seemingly miraculous spotting from hundreds of yards away of a non-moving bird. “How in the world did you see that?” I said. That’s the Cotinga tree he said with a sly smile. This is a usual spot Carlos had seen the bird at before and I once again was reminded of the priceless value of a local experienced guide. So here he is in all his splendor, missing head and all. My Black-and-gold Cotinga thanks to Carlos and his Cotinga tree! (Yes, it is the black spot on the right side of the blurry, cropped picture. Proving even a “bad” picture can have a meaningful sentimental value)

Black-and-gold Cotinga

We pushed on and added more amazing birds like a striking female Blue-billed Black-Tyrant who sprung from her nest, nicely hidden in the rocky face of the wall lining the road to survey the current visitors and their intentions. “Just us friendly birders here to explore and take in your beauty” I thought! She had one small egg in her nest, and we moved on to allow mommy to come back and continue her campaign. After a bit of a walk we came up on a significant stand of Araucaria trees. (Beautifully unique evergreen coniferous trees that appear as though their top is adorned with a Palm Tree type growth of long branched evergreen that makes them stand out from all their surrounding tree peers) These fantastic and increasingly rare endemic trees held another highly anticipated bird for me the Araucaria Tit-Spinetail! Sure enough, within minutes of our arrival we were examining this little beauty and it’s long tail and bold crest. I couldn’t help but get excited and offered an exuberant fist bump to Carlos for his find. What a bird!

As we neared the end of the road (we didn’t got all the way up to the top of the rock formations but were essentially at the top at an altitude near 9000 Feet) we got a look at another gem. This long tailed, spotted beauty is called a Large-tailed Antshrike and Carlos mentioned our good luck at getting such great looks and photos. I certainly felt lucky. We tallied a few other birds and then got back in the truck headed back down. Luck hadn’t stopped shining on us though as Viv spotted an enormous Dusky-legged Guan on the roadside as we winded our way down! Reminding me of the Chachalacs I have seen in South Texas the Guan deftly climbed a nearby tree and took to watching us as we exited.

We got back to the hotel, did some more trail birding picking up the fantastic Blue Manakin and even got to share it with a family with children sharing our binoculars and directions to the bird back in the trees to their great enjoyment. Who knows, future birders may had just seen their “Spark Bird.” Those moments are super valuable. Light was dwindling so we headed back to the hotel restaurant for what was an outstanding meal! The hotel has a honest, real chef on site who produced a plate suiting the Brazilian cuisine with a tender steak and warm potatoes which seem to be a part of almost all meals in Brazil. And I wasn’t complaining! Everything we ate was phenomenal the entire time we were there. A perfect ending to a perfect day. A quick group review and tally had the day’s haul at 75 Life Birds! It simply doesn’t get much better than that! I felt like a kid on Christmas opening another presents every 5 minutes for the entire day. Truly a day to be thankful for in this wonderful country of Brazil.

Araucaria Tit-SpinetailAraucaria Tit-Spinetail

Large-tailed AntshrikeLarge-tailed Antshrike

Dusky-legged GuanDusky-legged Guan

Blue ManakinBlue Manakin

Lots more pictures from my trip on my Flickr Photostream. I will be putting up the Day two blog shortly which was an equally awesome day in Brazil! Check back soon. :)

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Whiskered Tern! – Cape May – September 12th, 2014

Whiskered Tern
Whiskered Tern

Today, I happily saw a notice online for a reported Whiskered Tern in New Jersey (found by Louise Zemaitis and Alec Humann) at Bunker Pond, right next to the Cape May Hawkwatch and decided to head down. These are the kinds of notifications that set a birder’s heart racing! This would be a third North American record and all three were seen at some point in New Jersey. The previous records were from the 1990s so, as you can imagine, this bird had local birders giddy! The Hawkwatch platform was full of birders and non-birders all eager to hear what all the fuss was about. This Tern, most similar to our Black Tern, is a European/African bird that is quite different from our “normal” New Jersey Terns. The flight was noticeably light and fluid and its twists and turns suited it well as it plucked bugs from the air above the pond like a Swallow.  The Tern elegantly worked around the pond and then to the beach and back, resting once in a while on a maintenance dock. It was all very pleasant, and I was left in a birder’s state of perpetual joy as the rest of the day played out. For 2014 I have yet to see a Sandwich Tern but I have a Whiskered Tern!

Below are a few shots:

Whiskered Tern

Whiskered Tern

Whiskered Tern

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Mourning Warbler – Garret Mountain August 18th, 2014

Mourning Warbler
Mourning Warbler

Always a great bird and one of my favorite less common species in New Jersey we had a wonderful Mourning Warbler today in the wet area down from the tiered lot. This guy even sat a preened for 5 seconds and let me get a couple photos (a feat in itself with skulky and quick Mourning Warblers)! Great Bird!

Mourning Warbler
Mourning Warbler

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Possible Neotropic Cormorant – DeMott’s Pond, Clinton – April 12th, 2014

Possible Neotropic Cormorant
Neotropic Cormorant

This past Tuesday a possible Neotropic Cormorant was found by Rob Fergus in a tree in the center of DeMott’s Pond, in Clinton New Jersey. (Read his account HERE) There has been much debate about the ID (as you would expect for a bird normally seen in Texas) with some of the “heavier” discussion over on the American Birding Association ID Frontiers website.  I had to go down and take a look for myself. Definitely a smaller bird with a longer tail and lacking the yellow facial skin that a Double-created would show. It will be interesting to see how/what the records committee determines. Either way congrats to Rob on the awesome bird!

Jeanette and I also went to Garret to see of the Yellow-throated was still around and to see if anything else new came in. No Yellow-throated Warbler but plenty of Pine and Palm and I saw two different Louisiana Waterthrushes sharing the stream behind the boat house. What a beautiful 70+ degree day today!

Louisiana Waterthrush
Louisiana Waterthrush

Louisiana Waterthrush
Louisiana Waterthrush

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Garret Mountain – April 8th, 2014

Mourning Cloak
Mourning Cloak

Quick Post for today. Nothing new for me for Spring at Garret other than 2 Wood Ducks sitting up in the trees on the hill at the end of Wilson. I did see the Louisiana Waterthrush on Wilson today with all the additional water and flow from all the rain from last night/this morning.  4 Palms, 1 Winter Wren and the Red-headed Woodpecker. A circling Osprey and quite a few Ruby-crowned Kinglets mixed in with the Golden-crowned. No Pines today.

Louisiana Waterthrush
Louisiana Waterthrush

Swamp Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow

Red-headed Woodpecker
Red-headed Woodpecker

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Book Review – The Warbler Guide

Time for another Bird Book review! I was excited about this one as it detailed one of my favorite bird species the Warblers! As a relatively newer birder, the process of working through which Bird Guide best suited me and allowed me to identify birds most accurately is still fresh in my mind. With all of the selections available today (to say nothing of the wonderful online/app choices) this process is loaded with options. As you progress in your birding, so too does the need for advanced clues to the tougher identification challenges that present themselves. The single colorful picture you sought to eliminate possibilities early, turns into a disadvantage as bird plumage and age make themselves known to you. This usually calls for multiple guides or, like in the case of The Warbler Guide, a single reference point packed with valuable information about a target set of species.

When I personally dove into Warbler identification (the species that helped bring me to birding in the first place! Could those colorful birds really be in my backyard in Central New Jersey?!) I pieced together multiple guides that had information on undertail covert colors and tail patterns, as well as song detail and plumage specification. I had to use multiple sources then for what this guide accomplishes itself. That, to be honest, is putting it mildly.

The first thing you come across is the standard (yet much more colorful and advanced overall) Parts of a Bird or “Topography” of a Bird. The “real” pictures of actual birds are well suited for this examination and new birders would be well to learn the lingo and terminology referenced within. The following sections start to “bake” out the basics of thoughts on identification with references to things like color, size, shape and behavior (Peterson has a similar, and I think valuable, introduction prior to the plates or bird pictures). Again, the use of real bird pictures provides wonderful examples to drive the ideas home. Specific references to the head, body, top of head, bill color, necklaces, side stripes and rump give the birder tons of identification points that other guides glaze over (or don’t go into as much detail) and this would again provide newer birders with key points of focus to add to their mental playbook.

I mentioned the undertail area earlier and once mastered (or for newer birders with photographs) the next section, combined with the Quick Finder shots of the undertail covert and tail patterns, surpass even the Peterson “Warblers” Guide in usefulness. (In my humble opinion of course) I often went to the pictures of the underside of different warblers all lined up together to differentiate a tough species that I wasn’t initially sure about. I’ll get into the usefulness of the Quick Finder in a bit.

A section on aging and sexing warblers is next and while I thought this expressed the concepts fine, it could have been even more beneficial had it included Fall pictures of Blackpoll and Bay-breasted to hammer the point home. (A nit-pick to be sure)

 photo Warbler_Guide_03_zps2907e6d9.jpg
Princeton University Press info on The Warbler Guide

The next section I found fascinating. As the specialized aspects of birding evolve quickly with technology, so too should the guides evolve that we use to interact with birds. Understanding Warbler song structure and Sonograms has it own, significantly long, section with harmonic details and structure references. This part has been the section I have read myself a few times as I have dabbled in song recording and identification of tough to ID birds (A possible Pine Flycatcher in Texas for example). I am curious how useful the birding community finds this as our hobby makes its way into the technological future.

After the hefty info on bird vocalization we come to the Quick Finder I mentioned earlier. These 16 pages (including the two on Western and Easter Undertails) alone should be greatly appreciated for those working through their Warbler ID fine tuning skills. I really liked the tough Fall Warblers and views of some of the odd positions you often view Warblers in. (A case of Warbler neck can often lead to unsatisfactory views of the bottom of the birds which is considered here!) Another quick reference grouping of some warbler song classification (Buzz/Trill/Rising and Falling) leads us to the meat of the guide and the individual Warbler species.

The spread given to each species (as can be done in specialized guides) is outstanding and it would be hard to come away from a review wanting for detail. Many views and photos, comparison species (I really liked this) and highly detailed age and plumage information hit their mark. I could see this being a lot to process for newer birders but again, if you have sought out a specialized guide for Warblers, you are probably looking for that edge to sharpen on to your identification tool kit. The plates and bird details are about as solid as it gets and the enhanced images of bird positions (similar to, but less thought out than the Crossley guide-type strategy to show mass viewing angles) further adds to the function of picking these guys out from whatever vantage point you’re in.

I also appreciated the detail on some of the more rare vagrants that show up occasionally on our side of the US border as this is often overlooked. I would look to others on the accuracy of the Range information, but from my perspective it seems sufficient and I like the attempt to display when in a migration band the bird would show up. (early in Spring and then late in Fall for example) The book closes with information on hybrids, highly useful flight shots (maybe these could have been with the main birds in their section?), and even a quiz and review! I love that the entire purpose of the book to identify Warblers is tied up with a bow in the delivery of a quiz to assess your comprehension of the wonderful information you have been provided. Perfect.

I obviously recommend this guide about as highly as I could and I look forward to utilizing it in my future birding adventures! Check it out!

Check back soon for more birding book reviews!

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Info Post – The World’s Rarest Birds

 photo 0a3565d5-88c4-4961-87c3-02d288896cf9_zpsbc51fbbb.jpg

With the arrival of Spring my mind once again returns to thoughts of tracking down wonderful and elusive birds.  While often those birds are local, I have allowed my mind to start wandering to places beyond.  Inevitably, the more experience one gets as a “birder” the more one yearns to learn about birds from around the world.  As you start to gain knowledge of these rare birds, you begin to understand the threats they face for survival and the amazing conservation efforts in place to help support them and their habitat. Threatened birds all over the world face similar challenges, and the best of us rise to face these challenges in the any way we can. To that end, Princeton Wild Guides (publisher), to help support BirdLife International‘s Preventing Extinctions Programme, have produced an outstanding book by Erik Hirschfeld, Andy Swash, and Robert Still entitled The World’s Rarest Birds.  The book highlights over 500 of the most critically endangered birds globally and is a dramatic collection of pictures, statistics (endemic densities, localized and global threats, and most impressively QRC codes for each bird that route you to the relevant species factsheet on BirdLife International’s website) and population information.

While I found the book amazingly detailed, I personally have little experience with most of the birds described (I did see one of the North American representatives in the highly localized Golden-cheeked Warbler in my trip to Texas in 2011).  I hope, over the rest of my life, to rectify that problem.  Jeanette and I took part in such an activity this past Fall in a trip to Hawaii.  Hawaii has an amazing ecosystem and its endemic birds are incredibly threatened by dwindling habitat and disease from Mosquitoes and human introduced animals to the archipelago.  It was an amazing experience for us and we were lucky enough to see and photograph two stellar representatives of this highly threatened group in the ‘Akikiki on Kaua’i and the Akiapola’au on the Big Island.  I was happy to find them listed and sad to be reminded of their plight.

If you are like me, it is hard not to get attached to the birds we seek out and it is impossible to avoid the predicament they face in the modern developing world.  Do yourself a favor, and become personally aware of the conservation priorities associated with the birds we have such a passion for. Learn not only more about the threats they face, but also more about the amazing birds themselves each at the edge of a dwindling populace around the globe.  Its a great read and a exceptional contribution the the global Ornithological community. Check it out!

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White-tailed Kite – Barnegat Township, New Jersey

White-tailed Kite
I
finally joined the many other avid NJ Birders who have seen the reported White-tailed Kite on Sunday. Although distant (uh very very distant), it was great to see this southern bird doing it’s namesake “kiting” above the Barnegat Township marsh. Didn’t think I would see a White-tailed Kite before I saw a Mississippi Kite in New Jersey! Guess thats how nemesis birds go!

White-tailed Kite

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