New yard bird: Green Heron

New yard bird: Green Heron
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 ...

Shooting through glass doors

Shooting through glass doors
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 ...

Spread your wings at Pondhawk

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

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 ...

Flowering trees

Flowering trees
Flowering trees add visual interest to your home landscape, sure. Some of them, like this Tabebuia tree (Tabebuia chrysotricha), that’s about all they do: And they only do it for about three weeks a year. The picture above, taken in my front yard in late March, shows a beautiful yellow trumpet-flower tabebuia; today that tree ...

Happy (belated) birthday, John James Audubon

Happy (belated) birthday, John James Audubon
I’ve been sick, and preoccupied with a new house and new baby, so I missed it: yesterday was the 226th birthday of John James Audubon. Google did a very nice special logo of it: In celebration of the event, I thought long and hard about rereading one of the many fine biographies of the man, ...

Bird on a wire (er, palm frond)

Bird on a wire (er, palm frond)
In the spirit of just getting out there, here is one of the cool birds (well, the only cool bird) Eric and I saw on our morning stroll down to pick up the last-minute pre-Thanksgiving groceries: As you can tell by the blurriness of the image, I don’t bring my tripod along with me when ...

Mockingbird snacks out back

Mockingbird snacks out back
According to Tom Lodge, “the flora and fauna present when Columbus arrived in what he called the New World (the Western Hemisphere) had arrived in the region by their own modes of dispersal, and had succeeded based on their tolerance of the climate, the habitats, competition, and numerous other factors” (183). And that’s why we encourage ...

When is a burrowing owl like a prairie dog?

When is a burrowing owl like a prairie dog?
So I was riding my bike Saturday morning with Eric. It was hot. Hotter than last weekend, when the nice west wind and cloud cover brought a noticeable (not strong, just noticeable) coolness to one or two shady areas along the ride. This morning there was no such thing. It was hot. Anyway, the heat ...

Upland Sandpiper, a new life bird

Upland Sandpiper, a new life bird
On last weekend’s scouting expedition to western Palm Beach County we found a new life bird for me: Upland Sandpiper. Finding a life bird is getting to be a rarer and rarer event. Now that my Florida list is over 250 species (nowhere near the “full count” of 500+ that have been documented in the ...