Wednesday, June 29, 2011

#58 Conservation Tip: Duck Stamp

It's time for Duck Stamps again!  On July 1st you'll be able to purchase the new federal Duck Stamp, valid July 1, 2011 through June 30, 2012.

This year's stamp features Greater White-fronted Goose, a species that overwinters in Southern Texas and the Central Valley of California. It is an uncommon winter visitor to the east.

Your $15 Duck Stamp purchase not only gets you free access to National Wildlife Refuges for a year, but supports acquisition and conservation of critical wetland habitat.  This is quite a bargain for saving the future of America's wetlands.

You can also purchase a $5 federal Junior Duck Stamp to benefit student educational conservation programs.

Click here for further information about Duck Stamps 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

#57 Field Tip: Basic Birding Equipment

Be prepared! This is a good motto to follow to maximize enjoyment and productivity while out birding.  Binoculars, field guide, notebook and pen are essential.

In addition, I suggest a hat, sturdy footwear, layers of outerwear that can be added or removed as conditions warrant, and a compact umbrella for unexpected rain. Sunscreen and insect repellent are also useful to have on hand. I never leave home without a water bottle and a snack!

All of these items can be stored in a grab-and-go daypack, or in the trunk of your car (except binoculars, which should be stored at room temperature), so that you always have them on hand.
photo © adrian binns

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

#56 Field Tip: Study the Bird, Not the Book

Out in the field, when you see a bird and you do not know what it is, it is tempting to immediately look in your field guide and try to identify it. Don't do this! Instead, study the bird in your binoculars or scope for as long as possible, before opening a book or IPhone.

Note the head, bill, wings, tail, legs and overall shape and structure in much detail. You'll need a clear picture in your head before the bird flies away. Then you can look in the book! This will also give you a better understanding of what you are trying to identify.
photo © adrian binns

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

#55 Keeping an Eye On.... Waxwings

They are beautiful and sleek, with pointed crest, striking black eye-mask, and yellow-tipped tail.  There is rarely just one - they are most often found in flocks. Distributed widely across the United States, Cedar Waxwings inspire awe and intrigue.

Unique to this family of birds are the red waxy-looking "droplets" found on their secondary wing feathers, extending beyond the feather veins.  This characteristic is most pronounced on adult males. It is from their eye-catching, red, wax-like feather tips that Waxwings get their name.

Look for these lovely birds in neighborhoods, parks or locations with abundant fruiting trees, their favorite diet.
 photo © adrian binns

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

#54 Field Tip: Use Naked Eye before Bins

You’re out birding with a friend, when he/she exclaims out loud with an exciting find.

You are eager to see what they are seeing and might be tempted to pan around with your binoculars. But trust me, it’s far easier to find the bird with your naked eye before lifting binoculars to your face for a closer view.

Your eye naturally has a wider field of view, enabling you to locate a small bird in a large area, especially if it is moving.

Always be ready! Keep your eye on the bird, hands on your bins, then lift your bins up to your eyes, this way the bird should now be in view in your binoculars.
photo © adrian binns