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January 100 Species Challenge

Well January is finally, and mercifully over for this valiant birder. For my last day in January I wanted to try Cowen Lake State Park and see if any new ducks were there. Well the lake is still frozen over and except for a patch of some Canadian Geese and a couple lone Bald eagles sitting on the ice, the park was a big bust when it came to new birds.

It was while I was about to change location when Jon called me and said he was on his way to Caesar Creek and wanted to know if I’d meet him. “Sure, why not”.

We met up and after several hours of driving around I was able to tick off 2 more birds for my January list, which now gives me a grand total of 70 birds. Not very good considering the birds I missed, which I shouldn’t have.

Well there’s always next year, just like the Red’s.

  1. Purple Finch
  2. Bonaparte’s Gull

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January 100 Species Challenge

Despite the fact that this blog post may be a few days late, I’m just glad I remembered before I went out of town to Michigan this weekend to visit my daughter and son-in-law.

Last weekend had me traveling to both Fernald Preserve and Gilmore Ponds. And since I have some serious holes in my January list I had to make the most of this long weekend.

Unfortunately I was only able to tick off 6 new species, which now brings my total for the month to a paltry 68.

  1. Brown-headed Cowbird
  2. Bald Eagle
  3. Herring Gull
  4. Pine Siskin
  5. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
  6. American Pipit

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Big Year Blogs

At the beginning of every new year I search for new blogs that follow the exploits of the big year birder. Last year it was Noah Stryker and his record setting world big year, and this year I’ve found 3 blogs which I’ll follow. In the past the most big year blogs I’ll follow at one time is two, however the format that each big year birder is using this time is a little different.

The first “Big Year Blog” I’m following is “Olaf’s Bad Weather Big Year” This is your traditional big year. One man against the elements, time, flight delays, bad luck, good luck, bad hotels, and equally bad hotels, chasing after the record total of ABA birds in North America.

With impressive numbers so far, and loads of pictures, it can be a struggle reading this blog. I don’t consider myself the best of writers by any stretch of the imagination, however I do re-read each blog post and try to correct any spelling or grammar error. It would do Olaf well to click on the “spelling and grammar check” button prior to publishing.

Despite that, it’s a great little blog and well worth following, just for the sake of seeing how close he gets to Neil Hayward, and Sandy Komito.

The next big year blog I’m following is “Lynn Barber’s Alaska Big Year“. This is the one I’m most interested in. If you’re not familiar with Lynn Barber, she’s one outstanding birder. Besides being a  regular contributor to the “ABA Blog“, she did a Texas Big Year in 2003, and 2005, where her record of 522 species still stands. Her ABA Big Year in 2008 produced 723 species. Her book “Extreme Birder: One Women’s Big Year” takes the reader on her ABA Big Year as she recounts that incredible year. And in 2011, while a resident of South Dakota, she posted 350 species for her SD Big Year.

Now she’s living in Alaska and doing her Alaska Big year, while I eagerly await for each and every posting. I would highly recommend this blog to follow, especially if you only have time to follow one blog, this would be the one.

The 3rd and final blog is really different than any big years I’ve heard of, and it’s being brought to you by none other than Greg Miller. Yes, the same Greg Miller who  who was one of the three main characters in the book and movie titled “The Big Year”.  But this time Greg is doing his big year a little differently. Instead of traveling all over North America willy-nilly searching frantically for every bird, including rarities, he’s doing his big year as a series of 11 tours. Titled “Greg Miller: 2016 Big Year Tours“, Greg has set up these tours so others can join him for a week of all out birding fun. Each tour destination has already been determined, with a set price $1,750.00 per tour. You do save a few bucks if you book multiple tours. And with the first tour finished, their Southern California leg netted them 208 species. Quite a respectable number.

So this is what I’m reading this year, how about you?

 

January 100 Species Challenge

Two trips out into the cold this weekend yielded me an additional 6 new birds for January. Saturday I visited Fernald Preserve, which is a sure thing to find Northern Harriers and clean up on a few ducks absent from the list. Then Sunday I was off to Gilmore Ponds where I struck out totally on any new birds. Other than any deep reservoir or quarry will be totally ice free, everything else from what I’ve observed are all frozen over.

  1. Northern Shoveler
  2. Ring-necked Duck
  3. Mute Swan
  4. Northern Harrier
  5. Savannah Sparrow
  6. Brown Creeper

Total for January: 63

Happy Thanksgiving

A few years back around Thanksgiving I did a series of blog posts with some fun facts about that noble bird, the Wild Turkey. And as families gather together to break bread and give thanks I thought besides just filling ourselves with wonderful food, I’d try to fill our birding brains with some info about this great Upland Game Bird.

Only found in North America, the Wild Turkey has 6 distinct sub-species that I’d like to share.

There are subtle differences in the coloration, habitat, and behavior of the different subspecies of wild turkeys. The six subspecies are:

Eastern wild turkey

Eastern wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo silvestris) (Viellot, 1817)

This was the turkey species Europeans first encountered in the wild: by the Puritans, the founders of Jamestown, and by the Acadians. Its range is one of the largest of all subspecies, covering the entire eastern half of the United States from Maine in the north to northern Florida and extending as far west as Michigan, Illinois, and into Missouri. In Canada, its range extends into Southeastern Manitoba, Ontario, Southwestern Quebec (including Pontiac, Quebec and the lower half of the Western Quebec Seismic Zone), and the Maritime Provinces. They number from 5.1 to 5.3 million birds. They were first named ‘forest turkey’ in 1817, and can grow up to 4 ft (1.2 m) tall. The upper tail coverts are tipped with chestnut brown. Males can reach 30 lb (14 kg) in weight. The eastern wild turkey is heavily hunted in the Eastern USA and is the most hunted wild turkey subspecies.

Osceola wild turkey or Florida wild turkey (M. g. osceola) (Scott, 1890)

Most common in the Florida peninsula, they number from 80,000 to 100,000 birds. This bird is named for the famous Seminole leader Osceola, and was first described in 1890. It is smaller and darker than the eastern wild turkey. The wing feathers are very dark with smaller amounts of the white barring seen on other subspecies. Their overall body feathers are an iridescent green-purple color. They are often found in scrub patches of palmetto and occasionally near swamps, where amphibian prey is abundant.

Rio Grande wild turkey (M. g. intermedia) (Sennett, 1879)

The Rio Grande wild turkey ranges through Texas to Oklahoma, Kansas, New Mexico, Colorado, Oregon, Utah, and was introduced to central and western California, as well as parts of a few northeastern states. It was also introduced to Hawaiʻi in the late 1950s. Population estimates for this subspecies range from 1,022,700 to 1,025,700.[53] This subspecies, native to the central plain states, was first described in 1879, and has relatively long legs, better adapted to a prairie habitat. Its body feathers often have a green-coppery sheen. The tips of the tail and lower back feathers are a buff-to-very light tan color. Its habitats are brush areas next to streams, rivers or mesquite, pine and scrub oak forests. The Rio Grande turkey is gregarious.

Merriam’s wild turkey (M. g. merriami) (Nelson, 1900)

The Merriam’s wild turkey ranges through the Rocky Mountains and the neighboring prairies of Wyoming, Montana and South Dakota, as well as much of the high mesa country of New Mexico, Arizona, southern Utah and The Navajo Nation, with number from 334,460 to 344,460 birds.[citation needed] The subspecies has also been introduced into Oregon. The initial releases of Merriam’s turkeys in 1961 resulted in establishing a remnant population of Merriam’s turkeys along the east-slope of Mt. Hood and natural immigration of turkeys from Idaho has established Merriam’s flocks along the eastern border of Oregon.[54] Merriam’s wild turkeys live in ponderosa pine and mountainous regions. The subspecies was named in 1900 in honor of Clinton Hart Merriam, the first chief of the U.S. Biological Survey. The tail and lower back feathers have white tips and purple and bronze reflections.

Gould’s wild turkey (M. g. mexicana) (Gould, 1856)

Gould’s wild turkey

Native from the central valleys to the northern mountains of Mexico and the southernmost parts of Arizona and New Mexico. Gould’s wild turkeys are heavily protected and regulated. The subspecies was first described in 1856. They exist in small numbers in the U.S. but are abundant in northwestern portions of Mexico. A small population has been established in southern Arizona. Gould’s are the largest of the five subspecies. They have longer legs, larger feet, and longer tail feathers. The main colors of the body feathers are copper and greenish-gold. This subspecies is heavily protected owing to its skittish nature and threatened status.

South Mexican wild turkey (M. g. gallopavo) (Linnaeus, 1758)

The south Mexican wild turkey is considered the nominate subspecies, and the only one that is not found in the United States or Canada. In central Mexico, archaeological M. gallopavo bones have been identified at sites dating to 800–100 BC [10], [11]. It is unclear whether these early specimens represent wild or domestic individuals, but domestic turkeys were likely established in central Mexico by the first half of the Classic Period (c. AD 200–1000). Late Preclassic (300 BC–AD 100) turkey remains identified at the archaeological site of El Mirador (Petén, Guatemala) represent the earliest evidence of the export of the Mexican turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) to the ancient Maya world. The Mexican subspecies, M. g. gallopavo, was domesticated, either in Mexico or by Preclassic peoples in Mesoamerica, giving rise to the domestic turkey.[55] The Spaniards brought this tamed subspecies back to Europe with them in the mid-16th century; from Spain it spread to France and later Britain as a farmyard animal, usually becoming the centerpiece of a feast for the well-to-do. By 1620 it was common enough so that Pilgrim settlers of Massachusetts could bring turkeys with them from England, unaware that it had a larger close relative already occupying the forests of Massachusetts. It is one of the smallest subspecies and is best known in Spanish from its Aztec-derived name, guajolote. This wild turkey subspecies is thought to be critically endangered, as of 2010.

All this information was copied from the internet.

So my question to all my loyal readers, how many different sub-species have you seen? For myself, and just recently been birding in Texas, that would be 2 for me.

In closing I’d like to leave you with one of my favorite hymns that always seems to pop into my head this time of year.

On The Road: RGVBF Day 2- Upper Rio Grande Valley

Todays field trip took us 2 hours by bus up the Rio Grande valley in search of habitat specific birds that differ from the tropical lower valley. It was still another hot day but the air seemed drier and the birds were harder to pick up on. After this trip I waited around for another field trip that involved 4 vans driving around town looking for roosting Green Parakeets and Red-crowned Parrots.
Life birds today include
Green Parakeet
Red-crowned Parrot
Red-Lored Parrot
Verdin
Black-tailed Gnatcatcher
Zone-tailed Hawk
Olive Sparrow
Pyrrhuloxia
Hooded Oriole
Black-throated Sparrow

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