Archive for April, 2014

Who ever heard of National Poem in Your Pocket Day?   The concept is to keep a poem on hand to share if someone asks you.

I was sent the poems below and plan to keep them in my pocket should someone ask.

Feel free to share them yourself




Three Things to Remember
A robin redbreast in a cage
Puts all Heaven in a rage.
A skylark wounded on the wing
Doth make a cherub cease to sing.
He who shall hurt the little wren
Shall never be beloved by men.

— William Blake

Trying to understand the words
        Uttered on all sides by birds,
I recognize in what I hear
        Noises that betoken fear.
Though some of them, I’m certain, must
        Stand for rage, bravado, lust,
All other notes that birds employ
        Sounds like synonyms for joy.

— W. H. Auden

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Spring has been highly anticipated this year because of the harsh winter. People are anxious for the slightest hint of spring. The first signs of early spring flowers is like a miracle.  Life is suddenly better.

I’ve heard joyful reports of returning spring migrants being seen. Phoebe, Tree Swallows, Pine and Palm Warblers are all present. Goldfinch are turning yellow. Birds sing in the early morning. After our bleak winter the first glance of these early birds lifts one’s spirit and hints at better times ahead. Birders eagerly await the first sight of a returning migrant.

But hardly anyone notices the sudden absence of our winter visitors. Juncos and White-throated Sparrows have quietly left town for their northern breeding grounds not to be seen again until fall. No one misses them. We are too busy anticipating spring.

The birds are simply following their normal pattern but human look forward to spring.

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Spring means warblers are coming. Birders get excited. 28 species of little yellow birds return from their wintering grounds and pass thru for only a brief period of time on their way to breeding grounds farther north.

Every year I have to prepare, re-checking my field guide to get reacquainted with these spring visitors. It is like starting over every year. I haven’t seen even the most common warbler since last spring.

It is time to re-learn the basic warbler ID. 

 Warblers - Head Comparison

Otherwise, they all seem like little yellow birds flitting around.


Warbler ID

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Hummingbirds are headed north from their winter down south. This charts shows their progress. Each point identifies a location where they were first report this spring. There is a different color dot for each month. You can trace their northern trip. First they were only seen in the very southern states. By late March and early April they had moved as far north as Virginia.
The first hummingbirds appear in Westchester around the first of May, not far off. Keep your eyes open. Clean your hummingbird feeder and put it in the yard

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After the terrible winter we had, any excuse for being outdoors is welcome. Fresh air is the best cure for cabin fever. So our monthly birdwalk was perfect medicine for 17 deprived birders. It was officially spring. The birds knew. People sensed it. Even the weather was spring like. Everything combined for a pleasant morning walk.

The official tally of birds seen was 38 species, a nice total. Many of these were the same winter hardy species we have been seeing for the past few months – wintering ducks, Juncos, White-throated Sparrows, Cardinals.

But we also celebrated the return of several early spring arrivals, friends who had travel south for winter and were just now returning home. Friends we haven’t seen for months.

Early Spring Arrivals : E. Phoebe, E. Wood Pewee, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Tree Swallow, Great Egret,
Waterfowl: Mute Swan, Canada Goose, Mallard, N. Shoveler, Hooded Merganser, Red-breasted Merganser, Double-crested Cormorant, Gadwall,
Backyard Birds: Cardinal, Titmouse, White-breasted Nuthatch, Robin, Mourning Dove, Blue Jay, House Sparrow, Goldfinch
Woodpeckers: Downy, Hairy, Red-bellied
Birds of Prey: Osprey, Red-tailed Hawk
Common Birds: Grackle, Starling, Red-winged Blackbird, Ring-billed Gull
Others: Great Blue Heron, Brown Creeper, Song Sparrow, Carolina Wren, Junco, White-throated Sparrow.

No single sighting or species stood out above the crowd. The real highlight of the day was the return of spring and (hopefully) the end of winter.

Particpants included: Avril Armstrong, Billy and Joanne, Bill Anderson, Johnny, May, Bernadette, Issac, Fred and Liz, Don and Sue, Sandy, Larry & daughter,

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Bird TV

Not your typical backyard birder feeder.
Birds star in Reality TV program in Norway


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Birds look better through binoculars and every bird lover owns binoculars. I recall one participant on my bird walk who was very proud and boastful of his binoculars. And he should have been. He had super-expensive, top-of-the-line binoculars. He smugly allowed everyone to look through them to appreciate the image quality. And the image was great, much better and brighter than average. However, what struck me most was the fact his lenses (both objective and ocular lenses) were dirty. Absolutely filthy. Filled with smudges and fingerprints. Cloudy. If the inherent optic quality was not so good he probably would not have been able to see anything.

After that experience I began to observe everyone’s binoculars. Whether they are old or new, top-of-the-line or bargain basement they all have one characteristic in common — the lenses all need a good cleaning. It always surprises me that people will spend hundreds or thousands of dollars for the very best optical quality, but never clean the lens. Cleaning the lens on even average, run-of-the binoculars greatly improves their image. You don’t need to buy better binoculars, you just need to clean the ones you already have.

I have become a fanatic on clean lenses. A simple task with great rewards

The Wrong Way to Clean Binoculars
I am sure you have seen birders trying to remove dust from their binoculars by breathing on them to create a fog on the glass and then rubbing them with a sleeve or handkerchief. That is the worst thing you can do. The major ingredient in dust is silica— or, in other words, tiny rocks. Silica is harder than glass. If you are too vigorous rubbing dust across your eyepiece, you gouge microscopic scratches into the glass or the ultra-thin coatings on lenses. You can’t see the scratches. They are really tiny. But they effect the light transmission. And so over time the image in your binoculars is not quite as crisp and sharp.

The Right Way to Clean Binoculars
In order to clean binoculars correctly you need either a Lens Pen (for quick cleaning) or a full Lens Cleaning Kit. I stock both of these inexpensive items in the store. The first step is to remove all the loose dust and debris from the lenses. Hold the binocular upside down so any dust and dirt detached will fall down away from the lens. Then use a soft brush to gently brush away any loose dirt. Don’t use your breath — it includes minute droplets of water that will spot your lens. And, unless the binoculars are truly waterproof, could fog up the inside of lens.

Moisten a Q-tip or a lens tissue with photographic lens cleaning solution and float off any remaining dust. Do not use cleaning sprays designed for cleaning eyeglasses or windows, which may contain chemicals that could attack the coatings on the lens.

When the dust is gone, wipe the lens with lens tissue or a special micro fiber lens cloth. Start in the center of the lens and work your way in a circular fashion to the outside of the lens. Do not use paper towels or facial tissue, which will be too rough. They often include wood fiber that will scratch your lenses or the coatings on the lenses.

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