Hey lies!! Lies! Hey!! I’m so excited!! I just saw what i think was an adult female merlin outside my back door!! I opened my door and it was just there on the ground, and i looked at it, and it looked at me, and then it flew away. It must have just caught something because there were feathers strewn all around where it was standing (they were small and black, from a black phoebe i think??? we’ve got a lot of those). I didn’t know what it was at first because it was so small!! but it was cute!

Wednesday, October 18th, 2017

That is so cool! (Well, except for the phoebe. Kind of a bummer for them.) But yeah! Merlins are the best!

As it turns out I’m about 90 minutes away from giving a talk on birds of prey as part of my ongoing series of beginner birdwatching classes I’m doing, and my talk has Actual Merlin Content. There’s a Merlin (or maybe more than one; I’m not sure) that I’ve been seeing a fair amount in the last few weeks as I’ve been ramping up my birding obsession in anticipation of the Christmas Count. A few days ago I got to watch it chasing/being chased by a group of crows at the Carpinteria Bluffs. That ruled.

Fun fact (of which you may already be aware): A few years ago ornithologists were surprised to discover that falcons have more genetic code in common (and hence share a more-recent common ancestor) with parrots than they do with other birds of prey. The fact that falcons look and act like hawks is more a case of convergent evolution than actual close kinship.

So: Awesome fastest-creature-on-earth murder parrots FTW!

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tinysaurus-rex: THE TINIEST FEET

Wednesday, October 18th, 2017



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quickthreebeers: I’ve been on a brief hiatus because helping…

Tuesday, October 17th, 2017

A post shared by Rants & Aves (@rantsandaves) on


I’ve been on a brief hiatus because helping the people you care about is more important than birding. I had originally planned to leave South Jersey once I got my truck up and running, but I’ve stayed a week longer. I got extremely lucky as I heard reports of a White-winged tern in Philadelphia just as I was headed to Camden! I (naturally) forgot my camera, but did get a terrible-quality video of this rare visitor! (at John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge At Tinicum)

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thalassarche: Common Raven (Corvus corax) – photo by…

Thursday, October 12th, 2017


Common Raven (Corvus corax) – photo by

Eugenijus Kavaliauskas

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typhlonectes: A gorgeous male Yellow Warbler (Setophaga…

Wednesday, October 11th, 2017


A gorgeous male Yellow Warbler (Setophaga petechia) visits a yard in northern FL, during Spring migration.

photograph by Dick Bartlett

Part of my newfound effort to be better at fall warblers has been to become *much* better with these guys (and gals). It used to be that I could only reliably identify the ones that looked like this. Now, though, after a few weeks of concentrated warbler study at the local tams, I’m pretty solid at ID’ing them across the full range of their plumage variations (which are extensive).

It’s almost funny how dramatic a bright male like this now looks to me. I’m just like, whoa; no need to *shout* big guy.

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hiimlesphotos:Hopping Hey @jamberlies, it turns out there’s a…

Wednesday, October 11th, 2017



Hey @jamberlies, it turns out there’s a whole genre of magically levitating Black Phoebes! 😀

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thalassarche: Lazuli Bunting (Passerina amoena) – photo by…

Tuesday, October 10th, 2017


Lazuli Bunting

(Passerina amoena)

– photo by nickinthegarden

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lwhittie: Steller’s jay scanned version. This will be available…

Tuesday, October 10th, 2017


Steller’s jay scanned version. This will be available as a print soon.

Gouache and watercolor on illustration board

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lberghol:Thoughtful Yellow Rumped Warbler is thoughtful…. ❤️…

Sunday, October 8th, 2017


Thoughtful Yellow Rumped Warbler is thoughtful…. ❤️ #yellowrumpedwarbler #warbler #bird #birding #spring #migration #urbanbirding #urbannature #urbanbirds #urbanwildlife #birdwatching #nycparks #nycbirds #nycnature #nycwildlife #wildnyc #nycbirding #brooklynbirding #greenwoodcemetery #nycaudubon #audubon (at Green-Wood Cemetery)

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skabilan1974:A cheeky little #warbler popped by to say hello…

Sunday, October 8th, 2017


A cheeky little #warbler popped by to say hello during my last visit to #MudLake #ottawa @canoncanada @sigmacanada #sigmalens #eos5dmk3 #wildlife #birds #birding

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lberghol: Guys Fall Birding is HARD there are all sorts of…

Friday, October 6th, 2017


Guys Fall Birding is HARD there are all sorts of juveniles around and all the warblers have lost their spring colors…I can’t tell them apart anymore!! HALP! #warbler #vireo #birdidentification #warbler #nycaudubon #nycnature #nycparks #nycbirds #bird #birding #brooklynbirding #brooklyn #greenwoodcemetery #whodis #fall #migration #urbanbirding #urbanwildlife #nycwildlife #audubon #wildnyc (at Green-Wood Cemetery)

I think there’s a good chance that’s a Warbling Vireo. I’ve been seeing a lot of them lately out here in California, and that’s pretty much what they look like.

Out your way a drab Philadelphia Vireo would also be a good possibility, but I think this one looks a little more like Warbling. But maybe that’s partly because I’m familiar with the first and not so much with the second?

Either way, though, it’s a great picture of a cool bird.

And omg; I know, right? I’ve been making a push this year to really buckle down and get better at the fall migrants, and it is So. Hard.

Also: sparrows. Also: shorebirds. Also: immature gulls.

They all look the same! And especially with the warblers you get, like, a split second during which you can see one side of the flank, or maybe a piece of the tail, or the wing. And you you really want to see the eye, and the bird just won’t stop fiddling around in that thick clump of leaves and you’re waiting and waiting and waiting and… it flies off.

Aaaaaaahhhhhh! 🙂

Which is why I really love these photos. Because while it’s a little frustrating to just have that one view and nothing else, at least I *have* that view.

Thank you for the effort and patience that it must have taken to get this photo, and for sharing it.

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alithographica:With these simple tools you, too, can be a pedant…

Friday, October 6th, 2017


With these simple tools you, too, can be a pedant about corvids.

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lberghol: Confusing Fall Birds: Hi! I may or may not be a…

Friday, October 6th, 2017


Confusing Fall Birds: Hi! I may or may not be a Northern Parula. I look like an aged vintage photo of my spring plumage, not even remotely close to the same color palette! #northernparula #warbler #fallplumage #dull #nycaudubon #nycnature #nycparks #nycbirds #bird #birding #brooklynbirding #brooklyn #greenwoodcemetery #fall #migration #urbanbirding #urbanwildlife #nycwildlife #audubon #wildnyc #wildlifenyc #whodis (at Green-Wood Cemetery)

I’m thinking this works better as a first-year Magnolia Warbler. Problems with the Northern Parula ID:

  • Olive, rather than blue-gray/greenish-gray, upperparts
  • No obvious gray malar
  • A complete eyering, rather than pale eye-arcs
  • Yellow belly and flanks extending all the way back to the legs

The tail would be a great help if the photo showed it. But if I had to make a bet based on this photo alone, I’d go Magnolia.

Now if I could just do this from a brief view in the field, rather than after 20 minutes with a great photo and the big Sibley in my lap, I’d be a holy terror.

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thalassarche:Common Raven (Corvus corax) – photo by Łukasz…

Thursday, October 5th, 2017


Common Raven (Corvus corax) – photo by

Łukasz Gwiździel

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snailkites: Quality Bird Moment™️ When they sing really quietly to themselves

Wednesday, October 4th, 2017


Quality Bird Moment™️

When they sing really quietly to themselves

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snailkites: Inktober Day 2: Divided The Yellow-rumped Warbler…

Monday, October 2nd, 2017


Inktober Day 2: Divided

The Yellow-rumped Warbler complex (Setophaga coronata) has variously been split and lumped into several species. Three of the most distinctive are the Myrtle Warbler (above), Audubon’s Warbler (right), and Black-fronted Warbler (left). Recently there has been a proposal to divide them once again into separate species.

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sensitiveevolution:Northern Pygmy Owl by mikeo765 Fun story:…

Sunday, October 1st, 2017


Northern Pygmy Owl by mikeo765

Fun story: yesterday afternoon I was coming back from a hawk watch at which I saw my first Broad-winged Hawk (yay!), hiking down the Romero Canyon trail in Montecito with two other birders. One of them paused while we were passing through the big trees in the creek bottom and tried calling a Northern Pygmy-Owl by doing a really good impression of its hooting. He tried for a minute or so, then shrugged and we kept walking.

Today I was reading the sbcobirding mailing list, and another birder who’d been at the hawk watch and was behind us on the trail posted that while passing through the canyon around 6 p.m. he’d had a Northern Pygmy-Owl. That’s the same time we were there, and the location he gave was right where we’d been, so I wondered: had he ID’d the owl by ear, such that what he’d heard was actually our group member imitating the owl rather than a real one?

I emailed him to mention the possibility, all in good fun and haha; hope you’re not too bummed if that’s what happened. But the joke was on me: He wrote back to say that no; he’d ID’d the bird visually. He’d seen our group ahead of him on the trail, and just as we left the spot where we’d tried calling the owl one flew in behind us. He shouted “owl!” to us, but we didn’t hear him and just kept walking.

He got a cool photo of the bird. Those things are adorable. They’re less than 7 inches long; you could hold one cupped in the palm of your hand – if you didn’t mind its wee deadly talons! 😀

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notapoptosis: tilt-shift-blur: i love birds good post

Sunday, October 1st, 2017



i love birds

good post

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greenandflex:jump Still working on reliably distinguishing…

Sunday, October 1st, 2017



Still working on reliably distinguishing these from house wrens by voice. They both make so many different sounds, and there are sounds by each that I can definitely place – I’m solid on their respective songs, for example. But I remain unsure on some of their calls.

Just need more quality wren-time, by which I mean time when I’m listening to the mad little chatterboxen and they actually deign to give me a half-second view of their face and/or their tail.

You wouldn’t think that was asking a lot, would you?

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Friday, September 29th, 2017

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