Birding in Barnes & Noble

While my family was in New York City in July, my parents found out that author Mark Kurlansky would be giving a talk on his newest book at the nearby Barnes & Noble near our hotel, so that evening we all had a night at Barnes & Noble. While my parents listened to the reading, I found the nature and bird sections, where I plunked myself down and created a pile of bird books around me to photograph to help me remember them when I returned (we had lots of my grandfather’s books to take home with us so no room for purchased books). Some of the books I’d heard about but had never seen in person, and others I’d never seen or heard about.

I spent most of my time looking through two of the newest birding books on the market — The Warbler Guide by Tom Stephenson and Scott Whittle, with drawings by Catherine Hamilton; and The World’s Rarest Birds by Erik Hirschfeld, Andy Swash, and Robert Still. (This last book is great, but I wish it didn’t have to be published).

Here’s the bird identification shelf with lots of my favorites,IMG_0885

These are some of the books I’ve heard a lot about, but never had a chance to look at in person (there isn’t a good bookstore within two or three hours of our house),


And here are some of my very favorite bird books, just because,


Feathers on Friday

If you would like to join me for my Feathers on Friday meme, please put the link to your blog post in the comments and I’ll add the link to my post.

A Black-crowned Night Heron hunting in a Central Park (NYC) lake in early July,



More Feathers on Friday Posts:


From babsje at Great Blue Herons: Feathers on Friday: Great Blue Heron Fishing in Waterfall


Birding in Central Park

We arrived in New York City on Saturday, July 6th, and on Sunday morning at 9 am I went on a bird walk with Bob DeCandido (“Birding Bob”) and Deb Allen in Central Park. It was a very hot day (we found at the end of the day there had been an extreme heat and humidity warning for City), but we saw some great birds including an early migrant — a female Black-and-white Warbler, which was very exciting.

I counted 27 species in total on the Central Park walk, and added Chimney Swift, Great-crested Flycatcher, Black-crowned Night Heron, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Northern Cardinal, and Black-and-white Warbler to my “Year List”.

The walk started at the Turtle Pond dock and it was very nice to be greeted by about 15 Red-eared Sliders,


A Red-eared Slider,


A Red-bellied Woodpecker,


Part of the group watching a Great-crested Flycatcher,


I saw three Black-crowned Night Herons throughout the walk ,


A Northern Flicker nest,


What would Central Park be without seeing a squirrel?


A shy Carolina Wren,


A pair of Mallards at the boat pond,


A Double-crested Cormorant drying off at the Boat pond,


I was only one foot away from this Mallard. That’s the beauty of Central Park — the birds are so used to people,


I had an excellent time with the other birders, got some good photos, and saw some great species. Central Park is such a wonderful place, and Bob and Deb are great park guides!

Here we are at the end of our walk, with Bob and Debra on the right. Thank you again for such a wonderful time (and the only real birding I got in while in NYC)!


Off to the Big Apple!

On the second week of July my family is taking a trip to New York City. Unfortunately, it’s not a pleasure trip (more of a “family business trip”) so birding is low on the list. I won’t have lots of time for birding, but I hope to see some new species and meet some New York birders. I’ve never birded in Central Park in the Summer (just in the Fall and Winter, and I know Spring and Fall are the best seasons), so I’m hoping to see something new. If I don’t, I’m sure a lot of the regulars will be great subjects to photograph!

I’m planning to go on one another one of Robert DeCandido and Deb Allen’s Central Park bird walks (I’ve been twice before), so if I do I’ll post on it. I would love to meet some NYC birders and go birding together.

I won’t have my laptop with me so I probably won’t be able to post while I’m there, but I’ll try to have some posts lined up before I leave.

My 10 Favorite Birds of 2011

2011 was a great year for birding for me. This year I saw eastern birds I had never seen before. I was able to see 145 year birds and 61 life birds. I was hoping to break the 200 barrier, so I’ll try for that next year (starting tomorrow!).

1. Long-tailed Duck (Toronto, Lake Ontario)

2. Tufted Titmouse (Central Park, NYC)

3. Great Gray Owl (our farmyard)

4. Wilson’s Snipe (across the road from our farmyard)

5. Western Meadowlark (the pasture across the road from our farmyard)

6. Yellow-rumped Warbler (the woods down the road)

7. Ruddy Duck (the slough across the road)

8. Common Merganser (the slough across the road)

9. Turkey Vulture (provincial park near town)

10. Pine Grosbeak (the woods down the road)


Happy New Year and happy birding in 2012!

Happy Birthday, Mr. Audubon

Happy Birthday, John James Audubon!  It is the 226th anniversary of his birth, today the 26th.

(Happy birthday also to my mother!)

This is the home page picture on Google today,

226th Birthday of John James Audubon

Several years ago when we were in New York visiting my grandparents, we went to the NY Historical Society, around the corner from my mother’s first apartment. Although the NYHS has the biggest collection of Audubon illustrations in the world, at the time they had hardly any on display, which was disappointing. Now they have a series of exhibits called “Audubon’s Aviary”.

When we were learning about early American history a few years ago (we home school), my mother read us the following children’s books about J.J. Audubon. They are all picture book biographies good for kids up to about age 10 or so (older if you are really interested in Audubon and birds),

The Boy Who Drew Birds: A Story of John James Audubon by Jacqueline Davies, illustrated by Melissa Sweet

Into the Woods: John James Audubon Lives His Dream by Robert Burleigh, illustrated by Wendell Minor

Audubon: Painter of Birds in the Wild Frontier by Jennifer Armstrong, illustrated by Joseph A. Smith

Dover also has some nice, cheap activity books for kids:

Audubon’s Birds of America Coloring Book

Audubon Bird Stickers

Audubon Bird Seals (these would be nice on wrapping paper to gift wrap a bird book for your favorite birder!)

We also have a vintage out-of-print “double” book from the Dandelion Library for children, published by Grolier. On one side is “Audubon’s Birds” and the other side is “Audubon’s Animals”.  Very neat if you can find a copy.  I think my  mother found a bunch of these books at a garage sale when we were little.

Another one of my hobbies is stamp collecting, so I was excited to find these Audubon bird stamps.

I also like to listen to podcasts, here is a good one on Audubon’s Birds of America, from Yale University.

John Burroughs was an American naturalist.  He was born in 1837 and died in 1921.  In 1902, he wrote a biography of John James Audubon. You can find the book at Project Gutenberg, and it is also available as a free audiobook at LibriVox.

Here is a nice catalogue of Mr. Audubon’s “Birds of America”.

We don’t get PBS (we have only two TV channels and both are Canadian) and the DVD isn’t available any more, but one day I would like to watch the American Masters documentary about JJ Audubon, “Drawn from Nature”.  Here is a preview I think, and here is the web page. Maybe some stations will show it again today for his birthday!

Last, here is a quotation from him: “As I grew up I was fervently desirous of becoming acquainted with Nature.”

Our trip across North America

I haven’t been writing any posts lately, because my family and I drove across Canada to New York City to clear out my late grandparents’ apartment. We left Alberta with our cargo trailer on Saturday, January 15th, spent that night in Regina, and the next day drove through Manitoba and spent the night in Kenora, which was beautiful. But our truck started making funny noises and we needed to get it fixed at the Ford dealership there.  Then we drove on to Thunder Bay, and spent the night there.  The next day we started driving to Sault Ste. Marie, but about 60 km outside of Wawa a chunk of ice from a passing truck hit the driver’s side window and knocked it out completely. It was so loud and scary. It was also very cold, around -25C and very windy. We drive in to Wawa where we got the window taped up, which was warmer but then my dad couldn’t see out of his window, or see his mirror, so I had to lean out my window and tell him when it was okay to change lanes.  The man at the autobody shop was very nice and made some phone calls for us about a new window.  There wasn’t anything in Sault Ste. Marie but there was in Sudbury, so we drove on to Sault Ste. Marie and spent the night there in a very nice hotel, the Algoma Water Tower Inn.  They had an outdoor heated jacuzzi, and it was warm in the water even though it was very cold (almost -30 C) outside!

We left Sault Ste. Marie early yesterday morning and drove to Sudbury, where we found a used window at an auto wreckers and had it put in at an auto glass shop.  It is great to have a window again.  Then we kept driving, and made it to my aunt and uncle’s house in Toronto, in the Beaches neighborhood.  We got to NYC late on the 22nd, and since then have been busy cleaning out the apartment, taking things to the Salvation Army, the Housing Works thrift shop, and loading our trailer.

When we first arrived, I hadn’t seen many birds on our trip, mostly ravens, some crows, magpies, pigeons, starlings, and sparrows.  On the way out of Sudbury I saw a hawk, and an eagle, and my aunt and uncle in Toronto have a pair of budgies, who are very sweet.

Today I went on a bird walk in Central Park with Bob DeCandido (Birding Bob) and Deb Allen.  My dad came with me and it was lots of fun.  I’ll write a separate post about the walk and the birds I saw as soon as I can.  We are planning to leave NYC in a few days.