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  • Decision | Coyote Crossing
    And the sunrises and sunsets and the mountains and the plants and the birds even the snakes vida December 21 2014 at 12 49 pm Once upon a long ago time i made a different decision can t say i regret all the places i ve seen But as they say you can take the rat out of the desert Very very glad you are still there Aloha Leave a Reply Cancel reply Search for On the Coyot es Network On Forgetting My Field Guide Birds and Words Published on September 16 2015 by Julia Zarankin My Hit Single Are Warblers Less Important Than Tigers Reconciliation Ecology Published on September 12 2015 by Madhusudan Katti Making Friends With Crows The Corvid Blog Published on August 2 2015 by The Corvid Blog The Heart of Freedom Cecil the Lion Wild Within Published on July 29 2015 by Jennifer Molidor There s Gold in Them Hills Dispersal Range Published on June 28 2015 by Meera Lee Sethi California note 1 Slow Water Movement Published on July 7 2015 by slowwatermovement Joe Eaton calls Fowl A Review Toad In The Hole Published on July 4 2015 by Joe Eaton The other invisible hand View from Elephant Hills Published on 5 June 2015 by T R Shankar Raman The Silurian Valley spared but will it be conserved Miracle or Mirage Published on December 5 2014 by Patrick Donnelly Lone Pine s lone pine Is Dead InyoOwnWay Published on August 13 2014 by Mike Prather A Good Defense Is Not Enough The Not Essential List Published on August 18 2013 by Shaun G Nevada Part 2 Basin and Range Watch Published on July 17 2013 by Basin and Range Watch Recent Posts Some reasons I have been called a radical environmentalist And this is his sofa is it Let Er Drift Louis Sahagun makes it into the Joshua Tree book Moon s up Recent Comments cithra on Some reasons I have been called a radical environmentalist katrinkavt on Some reasons I have been called a radical environmentalist chigau on Some reasons I have been called a radical environmentalist Dale Favier on And this is his sofa is it eamon knight on Social media isn t Get my free email newsletter Enter your email address powered by TinyLetter On Twitter Tweets by canislatrans Feeds RSS Posts RSS Comments My writing at Beacon Napping In the Belly Of The King August 27 2015 The Central Valley s Second Coming May 27 2015 The Desert Is Not Your Blank Canvas April 19 2015 Cynicism and Sentiment In The Desert February 17 2015 Coyote Hunting January 14 2015 What Kind Of Jerk Kills Coyotes For Fun December 10 2014 Permanence December 5 2014 My writing at KCET You Can Help Clean Up Ocean Plastic on Coastal Cleanup Day September 18 2015 It s Up To You to Keep Your Home Fire Safe Here s How September 17 2015 7 Things You Need To Know About El Niño and the

    Original URL path: http://coyot.es/crossing/2014/11/23/decision/ (2015-09-25)
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  • Photography | Coyote Crossing
    s quail pay no heed to looming end of Opposite Marriage Share this Email Like this Like Loading This entry was posted in Garden Photography Photos Wildlife on June 28 2013 by Chris Clarke Silhouetted by Chris Clarke Leave a reply Near the mouth of Pinole Creek December 2006 Share this Email Like this Like Loading This entry was posted in Photography Wildlife on June 24 2013 by Chris Clarke Open tonight by Chris Clarke 3 Replies A dozen in our yard this week open throated flowers gargling happy bees Share this Email Like this Like Loading This entry was posted in Desert Natural History Photography Wildlife on June 19 2013 by Chris Clarke The dreaded Mojave Green by Chris Clarke 3 Replies What did I see lying along the trail I walked tonight its sinuous body curled in the dirt just waiting for me to pass The dreaded Mojave Green bungee cord Share this Email Like this Like Loading This entry was posted in Desert Photography The Neighborhood on June 17 2013 by Chris Clarke Downwind from the Hathaway Fire by Chris Clarke 1 Reply Share this Email Like this Like Loading This entry was posted in Desert Photography Photos The Neighborhood on June 12 2013 by Chris Clarke Post navigation Older posts Search for On the Coyot es Network On Forgetting My Field Guide Birds and Words Published on September 16 2015 by Julia Zarankin My Hit Single Are Warblers Less Important Than Tigers Reconciliation Ecology Published on September 12 2015 by Madhusudan Katti Making Friends With Crows The Corvid Blog Published on August 2 2015 by The Corvid Blog The Heart of Freedom Cecil the Lion Wild Within Published on July 29 2015 by Jennifer Molidor There s Gold in Them Hills Dispersal Range Published on June 28 2015 by Meera Lee Sethi California note 1 Slow Water Movement Published on July 7 2015 by slowwatermovement Joe Eaton calls Fowl A Review Toad In The Hole Published on July 4 2015 by Joe Eaton The other invisible hand View from Elephant Hills Published on 5 June 2015 by T R Shankar Raman The Silurian Valley spared but will it be conserved Miracle or Mirage Published on December 5 2014 by Patrick Donnelly Lone Pine s lone pine Is Dead InyoOwnWay Published on August 13 2014 by Mike Prather A Good Defense Is Not Enough The Not Essential List Published on August 18 2013 by Shaun G Nevada Part 2 Basin and Range Watch Published on July 17 2013 by Basin and Range Watch Recent Posts Some reasons I have been called a radical environmentalist And this is his sofa is it Let Er Drift Louis Sahagun makes it into the Joshua Tree book Moon s up Recent Comments cithra on Some reasons I have been called a radical environmentalist katrinkavt on Some reasons I have been called a radical environmentalist chigau on Some reasons I have been called a radical environmentalist Dale Favier on And this is

    Original URL path: http://coyot.es/crossing/category/photography/ (2015-09-25)
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  • Photos | Coyote Crossing
    with lots of Mucrospirifer and other Spirifer genera Share this Email Like this Like Loading This entry was posted in Paleontology Photos on March 4 2005 by Chris Clarke Riverbed sand by Chris Clarke Photo by Anne Rohrer large image A few years ago I was on the banks of the Green just inside Utah in Dinosaur National Monument watching the tears of the Wind River and Wasatch ranges flow past The river bottom was a broad stretch of smooth shallow ripples in the blonde sand The current carried trace amounts of darker sand iron oxide or something similar Slowly a few grains at a time the dark sand would spill into the ripples there to gather on the bottom until a stray current lifted them back into the flow I laid on my stomach on the sandbar watching the sand beneath the water Slowly slowly lines of dark sand gathered bent around the traces drifted one into the other I realized after an hour or so that I d been trying to read the patterns as if they were Arabic or Japanese characters assembling on the river bottom scattering just as I felt I was about to comprehend their intent This is a collaborative post with Anne Rohrer of Yellowstone Wolf Share this Email Like this Like Loading This entry was posted in Desert Photos Travel on March 1 2005 by Chris Clarke Post navigation Older posts Search for On the Coyot es Network On Forgetting My Field Guide Birds and Words Published on September 16 2015 by Julia Zarankin My Hit Single Are Warblers Less Important Than Tigers Reconciliation Ecology Published on September 12 2015 by Madhusudan Katti Making Friends With Crows The Corvid Blog Published on August 2 2015 by The Corvid Blog The Heart of Freedom Cecil the Lion Wild Within Published on July 29 2015 by Jennifer Molidor There s Gold in Them Hills Dispersal Range Published on June 28 2015 by Meera Lee Sethi California note 1 Slow Water Movement Published on July 7 2015 by slowwatermovement Joe Eaton calls Fowl A Review Toad In The Hole Published on July 4 2015 by Joe Eaton The other invisible hand View from Elephant Hills Published on 5 June 2015 by T R Shankar Raman The Silurian Valley spared but will it be conserved Miracle or Mirage Published on December 5 2014 by Patrick Donnelly Lone Pine s lone pine Is Dead InyoOwnWay Published on August 13 2014 by Mike Prather A Good Defense Is Not Enough The Not Essential List Published on August 18 2013 by Shaun G Nevada Part 2 Basin and Range Watch Published on July 17 2013 by Basin and Range Watch Recent Posts Some reasons I have been called a radical environmentalist And this is his sofa is it Let Er Drift Louis Sahagun makes it into the Joshua Tree book Moon s up Recent Comments cithra on Some reasons I have been called a radical environmentalist katrinkavt on Some reasons

    Original URL path: http://coyot.es/crossing/category/photos-2/ (2015-09-25)
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  • Desert | Coyote Crossing | Page 2
    West and especially in the Southwest are what you might call cowburnt Almost anywhere and everywhere you go in the American West you find hordes of these ugly clumsy stupid bawling stinking fly covered shit smeared disease spreading brutes They are a pest and a plague They pollute our springs and streams and rivers They infest our canyons valleys meadows and forests They graze off the native bluestem and grama and bunch grasses leaving behind jungles of prickly pear They trample down the native forbs and shrubs and cacti They spread the exotic cheatgrass the Russian thistle and the crested wheat grass Weeds I suggest that we open a hunting season on range cattle I realize that beef cattle will not make sporting prey at first Like all domesticated animals including most humans beef cattle are slow stupid and awkward But the breed will improve if hunted regularly And as the number of cattle is reduced other and far more useful beautiful and interesting animals will return to the range lands and will increase From Free Speech The Cowboy and His Cow 1985 Share this Email Like this Like Loading This entry was posted in Desert Politics Wildlife on April 11 2014 by Chris Clarke Beacon project is up and running by Chris Clarke Leave a reply Here s my inaugural effort Imagine that someone you love is dying needlessly You make one plea for help after another but to no avail Instead the health care providers you consult tell you that your loved one s completely curable illness doesn t exist Or that her health is a lower priority than the other things they re working on Or even that she needs to be allowed to die so that her illness doesn t spread to other more important people That s what it s like these days for environmentally concerned people who love the desert Subscribers can read more here You can keep track of new stories on my Beacon page though I ll post pointers here as well Share this Email Like this Like Loading This entry was posted in Beacon Desert on February 9 2014 by Chris Clarke Desert journalism campaign update by Chris Clarke 3 Replies My project on Beacon is funded and I ll be writing a story a week for the joint on issues affecting the desert from Idaho to Sinaloa and Texas to Gorman California You ll need to subscribe to read them if you haven t already but the subscription rate 5 a month is dirt cheap and it brings you everything by 65 other writers as well But because there is more than a week left in the campaign my colleagues at Beacon have added another hurdle for us all to jump And frankly it s a pretty cool hurdle Here s the update text from the campaign page We hit our goal with more than a week to spare Thanks for your support Here s my stretch goal At 85

    Original URL path: http://coyot.es/crossing/category/desert/page/2/ (2015-09-25)
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  • Julia Zarankin | Birds and Words | Page 2
    at their reddish orange breast and the brilliant black and white bands on its tail and from below the wings alight like a checker board Red shouldered hawk Buteo lineatus Not the hawk I saw but a decent approximation Photo from here An unexpectedly freezing spring day brilliant sun and not a cloud in sight And the hawks soared above me As if for the first time Share this More Email Press This Share on Tumblr Like this Like Loading This entry was posted in Birding Life nostalgia seeing and tagged binoculars outdoors persistence on March 31 2015 by Julia Zarankin Small Confession by Julia Zarankin 2 Replies Dearest birders I have a small confession to make We ve had a long and hard winter and I ve loved every minute of it particularly the birding The other day a friend innocently asked whether winter birding was better than spring birding Her question didn t come from sheer ignorance but rather in response to my overblown outsized enthusiasm for birding in freezing conditions I started laughing because of course here in southern Ontario nothing compares to the delights of spring birding neither in terms of quantity or quality Spring is where things are at warblers thrushes sparrows raptors an embarrassment of riches really Don t get me wrong Birding has skewed my internal calendar I now live for the month of May But it s with a tinge of anxiety that I approach this high season because I know how short lived it is and I also know how daunting things get when the sky alights with birds when I m faced with so many songs at once that all I start to hear is warbling cacophony I ll be honest here spring birding intimidates me Every year it reminds me that I haven t quite done enough homework when I fail to ID songs of even the most common of warblers Among many other things Spring is all about re learning humility about accepting where I m at and working from that place about not giving up about re learning patience about process Although I look forward to May madness much of spring birding hovers around frustration that s the downside of sensory overload And here s where winter birding enters the equation For me winter birding revolves around pure pleasure The stakes are lower I m thrilled if I see anything and the number of species is reduced to something more or less manageable I m a little ashamed of my disproportionate love of winter birding because I think my adoration might be a byproduct of my ego I don t feel as much like a bumbling beginner in the winter I m at the point where I can easily identify over a dozen waterfowl species and where I can even go out by myself and actually find birds I almost feel like a bona fide birder I suppose rather than feel ashamed about it I ll continue to embrace it and relish every Snowy owl sighting that s left of 2015 Here by the way is my panegyric to Winter birding published on Ontario Nature s blog And now just might be the time to start listening to those warbler song cd s Maybe I am ready for spring after all Share this More Email Press This Share on Tumblr Like this Like Loading This entry was posted in Birding Life and tagged ducks humility outdoors Snowy owl warblers on March 12 2015 by Julia Zarankin Introducing Charlotte Wasylik aka Prairie Birder by Julia Zarankin 3 Replies Beloved Birders The people who bird fascinate me I ve written about this here and I continue to explore the people angle of birding on this blog I m interested in the compulsion to bird what drives birders out into the field what inspires them what they re reading and how birding intersects with the rest of their lives To that end I ve decided to start an interview feature here on Birds and Words If you re a birder at any stage of your birding career and would like to be interviewed let me know To inaugurate the series I interviewed Canadian young birder extraordinaire Charlotte Wasylik You may know her as the author of the fabulous blog Prairie Birder or you may have even heard her recently on the broadcast of Ray Brown s Talkin Birds radio show I ve been following Charlotte s blog for the past three years and am consistently impressed by her knowledge trust me it s vast her community involvement and commitment to conservation issues I also love that Charlotte is sharing her enthusiasm for all things avian and I admire her all round creativity She was gracious enough to answer a few of my questions and has great advice for beginning birders Charlotte Wasylik aka Prairie Birder from Vermillion Alberta How did you start birding I ve always liked birds and nature and I knew some of the common species around our part of Alberta including Western Meadowlarks Black capped Chickadees and Green winged Teals But until about six years ago I didn t pay that much attention to them I became hooked when lots of American Goldfinches visited our yard in the spring 2009 after my mother decided to put some nyjer feeders around the garden More and more goldfinches visited our yard and they were such fun to watch What was your spark bird Definitely those American Goldfinches they are such cheery little birds with a beautiful song but feisty when sharing a feeder with others Did you have a birding a ha moment when you knew you were hooked What when was it I can t remember exactly when I became hooked on birding but I think seeing the goldfinches at our feeders had that a ha feeling to it What do you love most about birding Birds are everywhere so if you travel to a different city or different country you ll see birds Birds are beautiful fascinating and often challenging There have been times when birds were so co operative and then other times when I d catch just glimpses of a bird I love the search for difficult to find species as well as the regular reliable species like Black capped Chickadees and Tree Swallows And then there s the challenge of trying to capture them in a photograph or a field sketch It s something I keep working on What have some of your birding highlights been Some highlights have been helping to tag Turkey Vultures banding a Ruby throated Hummingbird and getting the chance to see Common Cranes Black throated Blue Warblers Cinnamon Teals and Piping Plovers And because I m a lister getting to 100 species on my life list which is now at 333 species In August 2012 I was selected to be part of the Young Ornithologists Workshop at the Long Point Bird Observatory in Ontario so I got to spend a week banding birds making a study skin and meeting other young birders from across Canada Until that time I hadn t met any birders my age In August 2013 I went back to Long Point for a four week Young Ornithologists Internship helping with migration monitoring and working on a personal research project a Monarch Butterfly census It was a wonderful opportunity to spend so much time in such a beautiful part of the country to devote so much time to a passion and to learn more about how Bird Studies Canada which oversees the programs works This past November I was invited to Washington DC to be a part of a special 500th show broadcast of Ray Brown s Talkin Birds a radio show I started listening to in 2010 I had a wonderful time with the Talkin Birds crew and meeting everyone in person for the first time You can listen to the show here And I just got back from four weeks in Europe with my family Although it wash t primarily a birding trip I did get to do lots of birding in France and Germany and saw more than 70 lifers I m impressed at how you ve been able to cultivate a birding community what have you learned about birders All the birders I ve met online and in person have been so welcoming and generous with their time and knowledge they re always happy to see a young or teenage birder show an interest in birds and nature When I started the Alberta Birds Facebook group in 2012 I never imagined that in fewer than three years the group would have over 2 500 members from across Alberta Canada and even other parts of the world Members post their birding questions photos provincial bird news and anything bird related I m so glad so many people enjoy the group How does birding intersect with the rest of your life Birding is just a part of my life I m happiest going out for a bird walk around our farm with my scope binoculars and camera Birding has also been helpful to me during the difficult times my family has had to face in the past few years both of my maternal grandparents died in 2010 my paternal grandfather had a serious stroke last year and my father had cancer I ve learned that going birding often also helps to relieve stress because whether I go around our farm or the provincial park nearby it means very long walks And because we home school I m able to incorporate extra biology and bird reading into my studies which is great I m working through the Cornell Home Study course of bird biology What s next for Charlotte bird wise and otherwise I m in Grade 12 and not sure what I d like to do yet Even if my career later in life doesn t involve birds or birding I ll still enjoy birding as a personal passion Who are some of the birders ornithologists conservationists who have inspired you Sharon Stiteler is one birder I look up to She s funny and makes birding cool which is something I hope I ll be able to do I ve also been inspired by Kenn Kaufman and his book Kingbird Highway about his decision in 1973 to drop out of high school at 16 and hitchhike across the United States for a Big Year It s a wonderful book and a fascinating read and I hope to have such a grand adventure before too long What advice would you give a birder who is starting out Put up some bird feeders in your yard I think this is one of the best and easiest ways to start learning about the different kinds of birds in your area and observing their behaviour Get to know experienced birders in your area since they are some of the best resources for new birders and they re always encouraging It s also fun to go birding with others and you might learn about new hot spots and new species in the area Keep a notebook to write down your observations or make quick sketches You don t have to write a lot at first just list the species you see and keep notes about the details of your outings You can then look back and remember what species you saw and when Whether you re waiting for the first birds to visit your feeders or seeing that nemesis bird on your list be patient It might take a while to see a certain species but when you do it will be worth the wait Thank you Charlotte Share this More Email Press This Share on Tumblr Like this Like Loading This entry was posted in Birding Interview Life seeing and tagged American Goldfinch binoculars outdoors persistence on February 24 2015 by Julia Zarankin An Ookpik in an Ookpik by Julia Zarankin Leave a reply Dearest Birders You may have missed the big news around here but Birds and Words got a new winter coat Believe it or not this is actually tremendously birdy information just bear with me While out on one of my many outings to find the Painted Bunting I ran into a woman wearing a gorgeous yet sporty red knee length coat that I instantly began to covet It turned out the brand was a Montreal based company called OOKPIK And once I learned that Ookpik is the Inuktitut word for Snowy Owl I knew there was no turning back Oh yes you read that correctly I based my winter coat decision solely on avian criteria As luck would have it the coat also turned out to be both warm and semi stylish which helps but it s quite possible I might have bought anything from a company called Ookpik And on Saturday it finally happened I saw an Ookpik in an Ookpik Truth be told I saw three Snowy Owls In fact it ended up only being a five species day Snowies were preceded by a million Red Tailed Hawks our most common Buteo which I finally learned to ID by the black belly band a few crows not anywhere near a murder and a delightful Northern Shrike affectionately known as the butcher bird given its predilection for impaling its prey on thorns but even so I couldn t have been happier The majestic miraculous magnificent wonder bird Photo from here I m not sure what it is about Snowies It might be their regal stature their fierce yellow eyes and this time I even noticed a hint of black bangs on the juvenile specimen Magical feels like an understatement Or maybe it s the allure of the Arctic yet another indicator that I m a child of Northern climes Whatever it is I m entirely smitten My fearless leader found our first snowy sitting atop a barn displaying its dramatic head rotations I could have sworn the snowy winked at me but I was in a bit of a trance so my narrative may not be 100 reliable I found the second snowy in a most improbable location he was resting atop a pine tree treating the upper branches as if it were an ottoman The top of the pine tree cradled the bulky owl and I stared and yelped etc in disbelief I could have watched that bird for hours The third and final Snowy was hanging out on an irrigation structure in the middle of the fields likely on the lookout for rodents of all and every persuasion It was a glorious day My snow tires got a workout and I can finally say that seeing an Ookpik in an Ookpik is quite possibly the best thing ever Share this More Email Press This Share on Tumblr Like this Like Loading This entry was posted in Birding Life seeing and tagged binoculars fashion outdoors Snowy owl Zeiss on February 9 2015 by Julia Zarankin My First Twitch by Julia Zarankin 1 Reply Beloved birders I had a feeling I would one day wake up and decide to chase after a bird but I had no idea the day would be today There s been a Painted Bunting Passerina ciris in Oakville Ontario for the past 6 weeks or so and I ve been to see it twice and missed it both times after standing in freezing climes for over an hour I was pretty calm about the whole thing and just assumed that I d see the Painted Bunting one day in its natural habitat either in Florida or Texas or somewhere in between But then this morning I woke up the sun was shining for those of you not in Southwestern Ontario sun shining are two words that have not graced us that often this winter fall it s been remarkably grey out here I picked up my binoculars and decided to drive out to Oakville on a whim I had a feeling today might be the day I travelled by way of Kipling Spit where I walked for an hour and attempted to find the Harlequin Duck in vain but watched a Red breasted merganser for about twenty minutes marvelling at the duck s phenomenal hair and utterly amazed that this duck which only a few years ago had seemed so mysterious to me was now entirely familiar What continues to surprise me the ease with which our eyes and brains grow accustomed and the constant effort it takes to remind ourselves that the familiar is worthy of a second look and that it remains spectacular To marvel at the things we see daily that might be the single most important lesson birding continues to teach me The exotic so often lies right there buried deep in the familiar After a bracing 90 minute walk it s minus 8 degrees Celsius I hopped in the car and drove out to Oakville I was in no hurry to get there partly because I feared the two scenarios that had already happened I had stood in the freezing cold waiting for the bunting hoping staring and seeing absolutely nothing apart from a dozen ravenous chickadees I got to the Painted Bunting s stomping ground only to learn from a group of photographers that the bird had been seen ten minutes prior By this point it was getting so cold that I nearly hopped back in my car and abandoned the quest assuming it just wasn t meant to be But I waited around awestruck by a faraway scarlet Northern Cardinal that seemed to light up the bare trees around him And then I caught up with a White breasted nuthatch and followed him with my binoculars for a few minutes At that point there was commotion because of a coyote down below in the mini ravine and a few photographers departed

    Original URL path: http://coyot.es/birdsandwords/author/birdsandwords/page/2/ (2015-09-25)
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  • banding station | Birds and Words
    my hat matches the Bufflehead s plumage What a presentiment I must have had while picking out my outfit and rifling through my closet at 5am As I said senselessly happy Share this More Email Press This Share on Tumblr Like this Like Loading This entry was posted in Birding Life seeing and tagged banding station binoculars ducks outdoors Zeiss on April 19 2015 by Julia Zarankin Search for On the Coyot es Network Some reasons I have been called a radical environmentalist Coyote Crossing Published on September 19 2015 by Chris Clarke My Hit Single Are Warblers Less Important Than Tigers Reconciliation Ecology Published on September 12 2015 by Madhusudan Katti Making Friends With Crows The Corvid Blog Published on August 2 2015 by The Corvid Blog The Heart of Freedom Cecil the Lion Wild Within Published on July 29 2015 by Jennifer Molidor There s Gold in Them Hills Dispersal Range Published on June 28 2015 by Meera Lee Sethi California note 1 Slow Water Movement Published on July 7 2015 by slowwatermovement Joe Eaton calls Fowl A Review Toad In The Hole Published on July 4 2015 by Joe Eaton The other invisible hand View from Elephant Hills Published on 5 June 2015 by T R Shankar Raman The Silurian Valley spared but will it be conserved Miracle or Mirage Published on December 5 2014 by Patrick Donnelly Lone Pine s lone pine Is Dead InyoOwnWay Published on August 13 2014 by Mike Prather A Good Defense Is Not Enough The Not Essential List Published on August 18 2013 by Shaun G Nevada Part 2 Basin and Range Watch Published on July 17 2013 by Basin and Range Watch Recent Posts On Forgetting My Field Guide And Just Like That Beginnings of Fall Back from the land

    Original URL path: http://coyot.es/birdsandwords/tag/banding-station/ (2015-09-25)
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  • binoculars | Birds and Words
    them were total strangers So very odd and yet so very dare I say human Share this More Email Press This Share on Tumblr Like this Like Loading This entry was posted in Birding Life seeing and tagged binoculars ducks outdoors on April 10 2015 by Julia Zarankin The Defamiliarization of Hawks by Julia Zarankin Leave a reply I ve been thinking a lot about transformation both here and elsewhere How is it that we become the people we are Some of it is of course planned and meticulously executed a step by step approach I knew early on for instance that I wanted a higher education and I worked toward that goal logically with purpose What I m talking about though are the transformations one never could have imagined or planned for or conceptualized in our wildest dreams That my home office would have not one but two bird calendars a diptych by the Inuit artist David Morrisseau depicting you guessed it mythological birds and an oversized poster of Sibley s backyard birds and that I would stare at these while I type and that my closet to the left of my desk would be home to a scarf with wild hens bird tshirts by the talented Paul Riss an owl skirt and my latest and greatest acquisition a sandpiper dress I never could have predicted It s the strangest thing this process of scrutinizing one s own becoming or the recognition that the person we once were wouldn t have the imagination to fathom the person we d become This weekend we went to Beamer s Conservation area in Grimsby to see the red shouldered hawks and I was initially skeptical Two things about hawks they terrify me and I can t seem to tell any of them apart Luckily whenever I see a hawk in the city I alternate between calling it a Cooper s and Red tailed and often I m correct in my ID because Cooper s like to hang out at feeders and red tailed seem to be all the rest Not a great system for ID ing I recognize What can I say this birding thing is an eternal work in progress And then I recently read Helen MacDonald s H is for Hawk a brilliant memoir that manages the impossible the author a falconer weaves together a narrative about grieving for her father s death training a goshawk and T H White s tormented life and misadventures in hawk training Reading about MacDonald s experiences training Mabel the charmingly named ferocious goshawk both the hawk and falconry as an age old artform came to life Half the time she seems as alien as a snake a thing hammered of metal and scales and glass But then I see ineffably birdlike things about her familiar qualities that turn her into something loveable and close She scratches her fluffy chin with one awkward taloned foot sneezes when bits of errant down get up her nose And when I look again she seems neither bird nor reptile but a creature shaped by a million years of evolution for a life she s not yet lived Those long barred tail feathers and short broad wings are perfectly shaped for sharp turns and brutal acceleration through a world of woodland obstacles the patterns on her plumage will hide her in perfect camouflaging drifts of light and shade The tiny hair like feathers between her beak and eye crines are for catching blood so that it will dry and flake and fall away and the frowning eyebrows that lend her face its hollow rapacious intensity are bony projections to protect her eyes when crashing into undergrowth after prey Helen MacDonald is a master of prose rhythm but beyond that she s internalized what Viktor Shklovsky so admired in Leo Tolstoy the ability to defamiliarize an object or experience so as to make the reader perceive it as if for the first time Here reading about the goshawk MacDonald has forced me to see the bird anew she s jarred my senses estranged me from all former notions of what I thought of as hawk like and replaced them with something fascinating full of torrential energy and utterly new This was a close up of a hawk unlike any I had ever imagined H is for Hawk has entirely coloured my understanding of birds of prey and even before finishing the book I found myself warming to the idea of spending time at a hawk watch An aside Sometimes when I m out watching birds staring at a cedar waxwing s perfectly nonchalant hairdo I imagine what life might have been like had I pursued the natural sciences rather than literature and had I learned the names for things earlier I imagine how things might look through a scientific lens and how much richer my knowledge might be if I weren t so prone to anthropomorphizing the world around me And then I stop and realize that it couldn t possibly be any other way Words are what lured me toward birds in the first place if it hadn t been for Jonathan Franzen s casual mention of Phoebe Snetsinger and the coincidence that we had all spent time in Missouri and if that synchronicity hadn t surfaced on my radar in the form of his essay My Bird Problem at a particular time when I felt at my most fragile and desperate for access to new ways of seeing I might have never even considered looking at a bird in earnest Truth is I am not a natural scientist nor will I ever be narrative threads lie at the root of all perception for me no matter how much I may dream of it being otherwise I ve seen a Cooper s hawk in the hand at the banding station and much as I marvelled at the bird s physiognomy I couldn t bear to touch it or even entertain the thought of examining it up close A ravenous beast she seemed to me Why is it that a literary device defamiliarization in the right hands of course has the power to slowly acclimate me to hawks to teach me to appreciate them and see them anew At Beamer s we saw three red shoulders a sharpie and at least two dozen turkey vultures The sharpie terrified me he shot out of the woods just slightly above my head pierced the air with such precision I feared he might take out my nose thankfully he was headed for something to the left of my head and had absolutely no interest in my olfactory organ We watched the red shouldered hawks flying in along the escarpment from a viewing platform and I got great looks at their reddish orange breast and the brilliant black and white bands on its tail and from below the wings alight like a checker board Red shouldered hawk Buteo lineatus Not the hawk I saw but a decent approximation Photo from here An unexpectedly freezing spring day brilliant sun and not a cloud in sight And the hawks soared above me As if for the first time Share this More Email Press This Share on Tumblr Like this Like Loading This entry was posted in Birding Life nostalgia seeing and tagged binoculars outdoors persistence on March 31 2015 by Julia Zarankin Introducing Charlotte Wasylik aka Prairie Birder by Julia Zarankin 3 Replies Beloved Birders The people who bird fascinate me I ve written about this here and I continue to explore the people angle of birding on this blog I m interested in the compulsion to bird what drives birders out into the field what inspires them what they re reading and how birding intersects with the rest of their lives To that end I ve decided to start an interview feature here on Birds and Words If you re a birder at any stage of your birding career and would like to be interviewed let me know To inaugurate the series I interviewed Canadian young birder extraordinaire Charlotte Wasylik You may know her as the author of the fabulous blog Prairie Birder or you may have even heard her recently on the broadcast of Ray Brown s Talkin Birds radio show I ve been following Charlotte s blog for the past three years and am consistently impressed by her knowledge trust me it s vast her community involvement and commitment to conservation issues I also love that Charlotte is sharing her enthusiasm for all things avian and I admire her all round creativity She was gracious enough to answer a few of my questions and has great advice for beginning birders Charlotte Wasylik aka Prairie Birder from Vermillion Alberta How did you start birding I ve always liked birds and nature and I knew some of the common species around our part of Alberta including Western Meadowlarks Black capped Chickadees and Green winged Teals But until about six years ago I didn t pay that much attention to them I became hooked when lots of American Goldfinches visited our yard in the spring 2009 after my mother decided to put some nyjer feeders around the garden More and more goldfinches visited our yard and they were such fun to watch What was your spark bird Definitely those American Goldfinches they are such cheery little birds with a beautiful song but feisty when sharing a feeder with others Did you have a birding a ha moment when you knew you were hooked What when was it I can t remember exactly when I became hooked on birding but I think seeing the goldfinches at our feeders had that a ha feeling to it What do you love most about birding Birds are everywhere so if you travel to a different city or different country you ll see birds Birds are beautiful fascinating and often challenging There have been times when birds were so co operative and then other times when I d catch just glimpses of a bird I love the search for difficult to find species as well as the regular reliable species like Black capped Chickadees and Tree Swallows And then there s the challenge of trying to capture them in a photograph or a field sketch It s something I keep working on What have some of your birding highlights been Some highlights have been helping to tag Turkey Vultures banding a Ruby throated Hummingbird and getting the chance to see Common Cranes Black throated Blue Warblers Cinnamon Teals and Piping Plovers And because I m a lister getting to 100 species on my life list which is now at 333 species In August 2012 I was selected to be part of the Young Ornithologists Workshop at the Long Point Bird Observatory in Ontario so I got to spend a week banding birds making a study skin and meeting other young birders from across Canada Until that time I hadn t met any birders my age In August 2013 I went back to Long Point for a four week Young Ornithologists Internship helping with migration monitoring and working on a personal research project a Monarch Butterfly census It was a wonderful opportunity to spend so much time in such a beautiful part of the country to devote so much time to a passion and to learn more about how Bird Studies Canada which oversees the programs works This past November I was invited to Washington DC to be a part of a special 500th show broadcast of Ray Brown s Talkin Birds a radio show I started listening to in 2010 I had a wonderful time with the Talkin Birds crew and meeting everyone in person for the first time You can listen to the show here And I just got back from four weeks in Europe with my family Although it wash t primarily a birding trip I did get to do lots of birding in France and Germany and saw more than 70 lifers I m impressed at how you ve been able to cultivate a birding community what have you learned about birders All the birders I ve met online and in person have been so welcoming and generous with their time and knowledge they re always happy to see a young or teenage birder show an interest in birds and nature When I started the Alberta Birds Facebook group in 2012 I never imagined that in fewer than three years the group would have over 2 500 members from across Alberta Canada and even other parts of the world Members post their birding questions photos provincial bird news and anything bird related I m so glad so many people enjoy the group How does birding intersect with the rest of your life Birding is just a part of my life I m happiest going out for a bird walk around our farm with my scope binoculars and camera Birding has also been helpful to me during the difficult times my family has had to face in the past few years both of my maternal grandparents died in 2010 my paternal grandfather had a serious stroke last year and my father had cancer I ve learned that going birding often also helps to relieve stress because whether I go around our farm or the provincial park nearby it means very long walks And because we home school I m able to incorporate extra biology and bird reading into my studies which is great I m working through the Cornell Home Study course of bird biology What s next for Charlotte bird wise and otherwise I m in Grade 12 and not sure what I d like to do yet Even if my career later in life doesn t involve birds or birding I ll still enjoy birding as a personal passion Who are some of the birders ornithologists conservationists who have inspired you Sharon Stiteler is one birder I look up to She s funny and makes birding cool which is something I hope I ll be able to do I ve also been inspired by Kenn Kaufman and his book Kingbird Highway about his decision in 1973 to drop out of high school at 16 and hitchhike across the United States for a Big Year It s a wonderful book and a fascinating read and I hope to have such a grand adventure before too long What advice would you give a birder who is starting out Put up some bird feeders in your yard I think this is one of the best and easiest ways to start learning about the different kinds of birds in your area and observing their behaviour Get to know experienced birders in your area since they are some of the best resources for new birders and they re always encouraging It s also fun to go birding with others and you might learn about new hot spots and new species in the area Keep a notebook to write down your observations or make quick sketches You don t have to write a lot at first just list the species you see and keep notes about the details of your outings You can then look back and remember what species you saw and when Whether you re waiting for the first birds to visit your feeders or seeing that nemesis bird on your list be patient It might take a while to see a certain species but when you do it will be worth the wait Thank you Charlotte Share this More Email Press This Share on Tumblr Like this Like Loading This entry was posted in Birding Interview Life seeing and tagged American Goldfinch binoculars outdoors persistence on February 24 2015 by Julia Zarankin An Ookpik in an Ookpik by Julia Zarankin Leave a reply Dearest Birders You may have missed the big news around here but Birds and Words got a new winter coat Believe it or not this is actually tremendously birdy information just bear with me While out on one of my many outings to find the Painted Bunting I ran into a woman wearing a gorgeous yet sporty red knee length coat that I instantly began to covet It turned out the brand was a Montreal based company called OOKPIK And once I learned that Ookpik is the Inuktitut word for Snowy Owl I knew there was no turning back Oh yes you read that correctly I based my winter coat decision solely on avian criteria As luck would have it the coat also turned out to be both warm and semi stylish which helps but it s quite possible I might have bought anything from a company called Ookpik And on Saturday it finally happened I saw an Ookpik in an Ookpik Truth be told I saw three Snowy Owls In fact it ended up only being a five species day Snowies were preceded by a million Red Tailed Hawks our most common Buteo which I finally learned to ID by the black belly band a few crows not anywhere near a murder and a delightful Northern Shrike affectionately known as the butcher bird given its predilection for impaling its prey on thorns but even so I couldn t have been happier The majestic miraculous magnificent wonder bird Photo from here I m not sure what it is about Snowies It might be their regal stature their fierce yellow eyes and this time I even noticed a hint of black bangs on the juvenile specimen Magical feels like an understatement Or maybe it s the allure of the Arctic yet another indicator that I m a child of Northern climes Whatever it is I m entirely smitten My fearless leader found our first snowy sitting atop a barn displaying its dramatic head rotations I could have sworn the snowy winked at me but I was in

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  • ducks | Birds and Words
    every Snowy owl sighting that s left of 2015 Here by the way is my panegyric to Winter birding published on Ontario Nature s blog And now just might be the time to start listening to those warbler song cd s Maybe I am ready for spring after all Share this More Email Press This Share on Tumblr Like this Like Loading This entry was posted in Birding Life and tagged ducks humility outdoors Snowy owl warblers on March 12 2015 by Julia Zarankin My First Twitch by Julia Zarankin 1 Reply Beloved birders I had a feeling I would one day wake up and decide to chase after a bird but I had no idea the day would be today There s been a Painted Bunting Passerina ciris in Oakville Ontario for the past 6 weeks or so and I ve been to see it twice and missed it both times after standing in freezing climes for over an hour I was pretty calm about the whole thing and just assumed that I d see the Painted Bunting one day in its natural habitat either in Florida or Texas or somewhere in between But then this morning I woke up the sun was shining for those of you not in Southwestern Ontario sun shining are two words that have not graced us that often this winter fall it s been remarkably grey out here I picked up my binoculars and decided to drive out to Oakville on a whim I had a feeling today might be the day I travelled by way of Kipling Spit where I walked for an hour and attempted to find the Harlequin Duck in vain but watched a Red breasted merganser for about twenty minutes marvelling at the duck s phenomenal hair and utterly amazed that this duck which only a few years ago had seemed so mysterious to me was now entirely familiar What continues to surprise me the ease with which our eyes and brains grow accustomed and the constant effort it takes to remind ourselves that the familiar is worthy of a second look and that it remains spectacular To marvel at the things we see daily that might be the single most important lesson birding continues to teach me The exotic so often lies right there buried deep in the familiar After a bracing 90 minute walk it s minus 8 degrees Celsius I hopped in the car and drove out to Oakville I was in no hurry to get there partly because I feared the two scenarios that had already happened I had stood in the freezing cold waiting for the bunting hoping staring and seeing absolutely nothing apart from a dozen ravenous chickadees I got to the Painted Bunting s stomping ground only to learn from a group of photographers that the bird had been seen ten minutes prior By this point it was getting so cold that I nearly hopped back in my car and abandoned the quest assuming it just wasn t meant to be But I waited around awestruck by a faraway scarlet Northern Cardinal that seemed to light up the bare trees around him And then I caught up with a White breasted nuthatch and followed him with my binoculars for a few minutes At that point there was commotion because of a coyote down below in the mini ravine and a few photographers departed in search of said coyote And before I knew it forty minutes had gone by a few more people had assembled one birder said this was his 14th attempt to find the bunting and suddenly out of nowhere the Painted Bunting appeared in the brambles hopped about from branch to branch and flew down to the ground where he fed happily on seeds looking entirely otherworldly Painted Bunting in Oakville Photo by Philip Waggett The bird was more magnificent than I had even imagined Blue head sparkly orange breast lime green back it s the kind of bird I might have drawn as a child only to be told by my parents that the bird wasn t entirely realistic How utterly magical this avian world is And how perfect this insistent first impulse of mine to twitch Share this More Email Press This Share on Tumblr Like this Like Loading This entry was posted in Birding Life seeing and tagged binoculars ducks persistence on January 25 2015 by Julia Zarankin Guest Blog Post Debbie Buehler by Julia Zarankin Leave a reply Beloved Birders Here is Birds and Words first Guest Post written by ecologist and writer Debbie Buehler I first met Debbie almost two years ago when we were both volunteering at the Tommy Thompson Bird Research Station I was mainly an observer that spring still too terrified to do anything other than hold a bird in the hand and even that seemed to send me into semi spastic rapture as I ve mentioned the natural world is new to me Debbie on the other hand was entirely in her element extracting banding scribing It was a joy to see Debbie impressed me with her knowledge about most things avian her humility and her deep love of understanding the workings of natural world which she is diligently and impressively sharing with her children Here is Debbie s first foray into one of my favourite December activities the Christmas Bird Count Enjoy My first Christmas Bird Count brings wonders on the waterfront and in the wasteland Each year from December 14 th to January 5 th something strange occurs Tens of thousands of volunteers venture into the cold with binoculars and bird books to count birds This phenomenon is called the Christmas Bird Count and this year marks the 115 th time it has taken place in the Americas One hundred and fifteen years of data make an enormous contribution to conservation and organizations like Audubon use these data to help guide conservation action December 14 th 2014 marked Toronto

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