Early spring birding in the front yard

It may be only Presidents’ Day on the calendar, but the weather down here in south Florida is nice and the birds are enjoying it. Was outside doing some early morning gardening on this blessed day off work and I heard the R2D2-like witchety watchety-doo of a White-Eyed Vireo across the street. Ran inside for [...] [...]

Birds of Green Cay

Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps), Green Cay Nature Center, November 30, 2013.

Every Saturday after Thanksgiving for the last several years I’ve led the local Audubon Society’s field trip to one of the constructed wetlands in central Palm Beach County: Green Cay. It’s always fun to visit there because the birds know that the people never leave the boardwalk so they’re very tame. Photographers, well aware of [...] [...]

New yard bird: Green Heron

Green Heron (Butorides virescens), Boca Raton FL, November 26, 2013.

The week before Thanksgiving continues to be busy at the homestead. On Tuesday and Wednesday—both rainy, windy mornings—we had a special visit from a new bird for the yard: Butorides virescens, the Green Heron. It’s a nice little marsh bird, but rather uncommon here so far from the nearest canal or other permanent wetland. We [...] [...]

New backyard bird: Nyctanassa violacea, the Yellow-crowned Night-Heron

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron (Nyctanassa violacea). Boca Raton, FL, June 11, 2013.

You never know when something new and unforeseen is going to drop in, but that’s what keeps you going back outside. My back yard is small. Not tiny, but small. There isn’t a lot of lawn, and there isn’t any water apart from the pool, which is completely surrounded by a rather inhospitable (to birds) [...] [...]

Chimney Swifts return (no photos this time): UPDATE: Now with photos!

Chimney Swift (Chaetura pelagica). Boca Raton, FL, May 6, 2013.

For the past few days I’ve been out in the back yard trying to track down as many of the abundant damselflies as I can (four species so far: fragile and Rambur’s forktails, and Everglades and southern sprites). All this time in the great outdoors has been accompanied by some great natural soundtracks—the piercing call [...] [...]

Shooting through glass doors

Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis). Boca Raton, FL, March 1, 2013.

When you have the opportunity for a photo of a bird in a nice setting, you run for your camera. This Northern Cardinal was singing in the starburst and bougainvillea on our neighbor’s property, in perfect view of our glass doors in back. So I went and grabbed my camera and fired off a few [...] [...]

Bird on a wire

Juvenile accipiter. Boca Raton, FL, February 14, 2012.

This Valentine’s Day I was prowling around the back yard at lunch time as usual, camera in hand. I had the insect-shooting rig (macro lens, flash kit) because noon is normally a pretty poor time for shooting birds. But you never know… I was in the corner near the firebush when I heard the rapid [...] [...]

Mob scene, Screech-Owl style

ScreechOwlMob 003

Everyone’s heard of flash mobs by now—you know, those social media–inspired and -coordinated events where a group of smartphone-wielding people with too much time on their hands descend on an unsuspecting locale and do something silly/creative/fun/tragic? Well, birds have been doing mob scenes since long before our hominid ancestors descended from the trees. And photographers [...] [...]

Spread your wings at Pondhawk


The Monday after Thanksgiving is a great time to get out to a nearby natural area. While most folks are back at work after a four-day weekend, those of us who have the foresight to request this day off get to experience something fairly rare around this time of year: solitude! The prospect of some [...] [...]

New backyard bird: Chimney Swift


A bird that’s probably familiar to many of you is Chaetura pelagica (Linnaeus, 1758), more commonly known as Chimney Swift. It’s been described by Alexander Sprunt (1954) as “resembl[ing] in appearance a cigar on wings” because of its tubular body and long, long wings. Most of the time you see it on the wing, flying overhead [...] [...]