Some video I took with my phone yesterday while hiking around in…

Sunday, December 20th, 2015

Some video I took with my phone yesterday while hiking around in Rancho Monte Alegre for the Christmas bird count.

When I was 12 I lived with my grandparents in Florida for six months. I remember one day I spent bird watching at the Bok Tower Gardens, and how pretty it was when a light rain started falling and all the other visitors left.

I thought of that yesterday, when I drove past the locked gate into the private estate development of Rancho Monte Alegre in the hills above Carpinteria. It was raining off and on as I hiked around, and there was no one else there; just me, the birds, and the tree frogs I frightened into silence with my galumphing.

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matterofawesome: lies could you help me with this? I’m trying…

Thursday, July 16th, 2015


lies could you help me with this? I’m trying to identify this fellow who serenades me in the morning but as you know I know zero about actual bird sounds because I’m way too urban for my own good. 

We’re in luck, because while I’m pretty good with the birds around where I live, I’m not expert enough to be that good in other parts of the world. But in this case I think I recognize that as a bird that’s common near both of us.

I think it’s probably a male House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus). The song is a little different from the version of it I’m used to hearing in Southern California, but it’s reasonably close, and it’s normal for birds to have different regional “accents”. When I listen to the samples of House Finch songs in my Sibley app, there are some that sound quite similar to your recording.

House Finches are common and widespread throughout most of North America, and they’re particularly abundant in urban/suburban habitats.

One of the first apartments my wife and I lived in had a vacant lot next to it with a big patch of wild radish growing just outside our window. The House Finches _loved_ it, and I remember lying in bed listening to them singing. I like their song a lot.

Interestingly enough, if you listen to the Shipwrecked Podcast, a recent episode includes a House Finch singing in the background. So it sounds like Sinead and her roomies have them around too. :-)

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lifeinanrv: Swainson’s Thrush I love these birds. I once spent…

Tuesday, June 9th, 2015


Swainson’s Thrush

I love these birds. I once spent an hour or so carefully working my way down a wooded hillside because one was singing on the opposite side of the valley, and I needed to see what was making that beautiful sound.

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acryptozoo: Rose-breasted Grosbeak (Pheucticus…

Monday, May 25th, 2015


Rose-breasted Grosbeak (Pheucticus ludovicianus)

Saw one of these in Santa Barbara County yesterday! It was my first-ever time seeing one. There was what I thought was a black-headed grosbeak singing in the top of our neighbor’s sycamore, so I grabbed the binoculars for a quick look, and there he was, plain as day, rose breast and all. :-)

I annoyed my fellow Getty-bound companions by taking the time to submit a sighting report via eBird before we left.

That’s the thing about bird-watching: You just never know.

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anonsally: MacKerricher State Park, just north of Fort Bragg,…

Sunday, July 20th, 2014


MacKerricher State Park, just north of Fort Bragg, California. I took this photo in December during my family vacation. (click on it for better resolution; it looks a bit pixely on my dash)

Haha. I looked at this and thought, “there have to be some coots in there.” So I zoomed in and panned around… and there were!

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anxiouswren: I would like to keep a “bird journal”, where I…

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014


I would like to keep a “bird journal”, where I record every bird I see during the day and do a quick little sketch of it, but I don’t think I’d have the time to keep up with it. Maybe I’ll just do them intermittently, on days where I see notable birds and/or have time! :)

Today I saw the first goldfinches of spring, partaking of the birdfeeder outside the kitchen. :) At the same time, there was a dark-eyed junco, which my brain categorizes as a “winter” bird for my area. Then there were my regulars, a song sparrow and a mourning dove, with a robin skulking in the distance.  I saw the mockingbirds on my way to run errands—they flew right over my window as I was at a red light. Lovely animals!

Something I didn’t really appreciate until I took up bird watching again as an adult, after getting way into it as a kid and then burning out on some of the weirdly competitive humans I encountered doing it, was how wonderful it is to appreciate the “ordinary” birds you see every day.

My wife taught me that (though we weren’t yet married at that point) on our first bird-watching outing together. We went to Will Rogers Park off Sunset in the Palisades, and right as we stepped out of the car she noticed some birds flitting on the ground.

“Oh, they’re so cute! What are they?” she said.

“Dark-eyed juncos,” I said. I assumed we’d be moving on to look for more-interesting birds. But what I learned that day was that spending time looking at an everyday bird with someone you love is about as much fun as you can have bird-watching.

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imaginarycircus: bunnyfood: (via tastefullyoffensive) ERIN….

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013



(via tastefullyoffensive)


Because I can’t help compulsively attempting to identify any North American bird that appears on my dash…

First thought is that it’s clearly a vireo, but which one? A few minutes with Sibley leads me to think this is probably a red-eyed vireo (Vireo olivaceus). It’s not a clear enough picture to be sure, but what you can see of the plumage and the structural cues (flat head, relatively long beak) seem good for red-eyed. It’s common and widespread, and this looks like the right sort of habitat.

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whoiskatherine: My mother A pair of Downey Woodpeckers nested…

Friday, May 24th, 2013


My mother

A pair of Downey Woodpeckers nested in the Sweet Gum in our front yard this year; that’s the first time that’s happened in the 16 years we’ve been in this house. This morning when I went out to get the paper I could hear one of the babies calling from the nest entrance, so I got my binoculars and got a good look at it, sticking its head out to yell at its parents. I don’t think the babies are going to be in there much longer.

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lifeofjardini: Look how some of them are just called Bird. And…

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013


Look how some of them are just called Bird. And then some are just called Another. Definitely cataloged by a professional ornithologist. ahahaha hilarious.

As a child I tended toward loneliness. Being able to identify birds by ear was a comfort; I could enjoy their varied personalities and feel a little less alone even when an outside observer would have been unaware that the shy kid in the corner was actually surreptitiously birdwatching.

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