Birdchick Podcast #213 Duck Stamp Documentary and ABA Contest

The American Birding Association is having several contests this year in an effort to get new members and get former members to renew. We are also having a contest for people to join the American Birding Association. If you join the ABA and in the comments on the application say you joined because of Birdchick or Non Birding Bill, then send us the confirmation with your mailing address you could win one of three prizes:

An Advanced Guide to Birding autographed by Kenn Kaufmann (we'll put in a personal message too if you want).

An autographed postcard from Neil Gaiman thanking you for joining the ABA. 

An autographed copy of Disapproving Rabbits (Sharon's first book).

Send confirmations to sharon@birdchick.com with your preferred prize and mailing address. 

Autographs from Kenn Kaufman, Neil Gaiman and us are prizes. 

Autographs from Kenn Kaufman, Neil Gaiman and us are prizes. 

Other things we talked about include the documentary about the Duck Stamp art contest called Million Dollar Duck. We highly recommend it.

PokemonGo players help injured pelican.

Some jerk got a worthwhile fine for killing hawks that were hunting the quail he wanted to kill.  

Birdchick Podcast #212 Poaching, Parrots and Pokemon

I love that not only have I received official federal guidance about Pokemon for my job but that a hook and bullet publication put my post about Pokemon Go out there. If you think Pokemon Go is the beginning of the end of society...read this. 

JOIN THE AMERICAN BIRDING ASSOCIATION Send us proof that you joined or renewed and you could win one of the Kaufman field guide. Specify which one you want to sharon@birdchick.com. First come, first serve. 

You won't believe how high some birds can fly. 

Weird, it's legal to release rehabbed starlings and house sparrows in the United States but not parrots...

You cannot unsee this. 

You cannot unsee this. 

Experiments With Eagle

I went to the Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival in Homer, Alaska--which is a delightful festival, I highly recommend it. I met a ton of people who were originally from Minnesota and for one reason or another had moved to Alaska. I can see why, it's beautiful and great for people who enjoy the outdoors. Homer actually reminded me quite a bit of northern Minnesota--only with glaciers and mountains. 

I got a kick out of this sign--it reads "gulls" and not "seagulls."

I got a kick out of this sign--it reads "gulls" and not "seagulls."

As I was birding along Homer Spit, I saw the above sign and suddenly remembered this was where you used find Jean Keene the Eagle Lady (another former Minnesotan).  She lived along the spit and collected fish from various sources as well as roadkill moose to feed 200 - 300 bald eagles a day in the winter. That's a lot of bald eagles. Many enjoyed it--especially tourists and wildlife photographers (if you Google search "bald eagle flock" the first several photos are from the Eagle Lady feeding spot). Local hotel owners also appreciated a boom in business in winter. But some residents were not so thrilled to have eagles perched on their cars or homes and pooping all day. So the town of Homer has banned the feeding of predatory and scavenging birds, grandfathering her in so she could continue. But when she died, the eagle feeding stopped.

Me with Lynne Schoenborn, Sue Keator and Flat Michelle. 

Me with Lynne Schoenborn, Sue Keator and Flat Michelle. 

Two friends from Minnesota, Lynne and Sue came up to the fest and we got to spend some time together. Sue brought along a couple of photos of another friend named Michelle. I love Michelle, she takes photobombing to another level, knows lots about native plants and is always a good time at Birds and Beers...but there's one way we differ: she hates travel. She hates it so much she has said that her goal is to never have a passport. 

So we brought along her avatar in the form of Flat Michelle and began posting photos of her on Facebook. Michelle says it's her favorite form of travel. 

Flat Michelle kicking on back with an obliging sandhill crane in the background. 

Flat Michelle kicking on back with an obliging sandhill crane in the background. 

Here's Flat Michelle with an obligatory Alaska bald eagle photo. 

Here's Flat Michelle with an obligatory Alaska bald eagle photo. 

One of the places Lynne, Sue and I birded was Anchor Point--which is great for sea ducks, shorebirds and sparrows. There were a gazillion eagles and unlike Homer, people are allowed leave piles of unwanted fish on the beach. You could get quite close to the them, they really are used to people. I suggested that we put Flat Michelle in one of the fish piles and step away. We could then digiscope her with some bald eagles right next to her face. 

Flat Michelle posed with some halibut carcasses. 

Flat Michelle posed with some halibut carcasses. 

We had two different Flat Michelles. One kicking it with a beer bottle and one looking freaked out. We thought with a close proximity to eagles it would be funnier to start out with freaked out Michelle--you'd look freaked if an eagle was eating a dead fish next to your head, right? We placed it in front of a pile of fish that some eagles had been chowing on. We walked back, I set up my scope and we waited...

And waited...

And waited...

A bald eagle warily eyes Flat Michelle.

A bald eagle warily eyes Flat Michelle.

Eventually an eagle flew over, but it flared up when it saw Flat Michelle and circled a few more times. It landed nearby and just stared at her. A few more eagles flew in but like the first, just lingered along the periphery, occasionally squeaking in apparenty disapproval. The majestic eagles, all reluctant to land near the picture. Gulls and crows flew in but like the eagles, everyone kept their distance. 

The first to let down their guard were the northwestern crows. As soon as one got some food, the others flew in and gobbled up all the fish they could before the eagles and gulls moved in. 

A bald eagle walked behind Flat Michelle and the feasting crows. 

A bald eagle walked behind Flat Michelle and the feasting crows. 

Several more bald eagles flew over and around the fish pile, but none would get near it with Flat Michelle. I thought once the crows showed that it was safe the eagles would join, but they were having none of it. 

A glaucous-winged gull yells at Flat Michelle while a northwestern crow gets a morsel. 

A glaucous-winged gull yells at Flat Michelle while a northwestern crow gets a morsel. 

After awhile I thought it would be fun to get a time lapse video of Flat Michelle. Here it is:
 

Soon, another fisherman dumped a pile of halibut on the beach. And not just fish carcasses that have been filleted already but a few completely intact specimens. The eagles immediately flew over and completely ignored our mostly picked over fish pile. I suggested to Sue that we try that tastier pile and maybe use the beer version of Michelle. I wondered if her wide-eyed expression and both hands up was a threatening site to an eagle? So we placed the relaxed, chill beer drinking picture with the pile and stepped way back. 

The northwestern crows wasted no time in joining Flat Michelle. 

The northwestern crows wasted no time in joining Flat Michelle. 

The young glaucous-winged gulls were t he first to come sample the fish. After the adults watched to see that nothing bad happened to the young ones, they moved in. 

The young glaucous-winged gulls were t he first to come sample the fish. After the adults watched to see that nothing bad happened to the young ones, they moved in. 

Meanwhile, that was as close as a bald eagle dared to get to Flat Michelle.  

Meanwhile, that was as close as a bald eagle dared to get to Flat Michelle.  

Here's another time laps with the "beer Michelle."

We also made a movie trailer so Michelle could see the fun she had around Homer, Alaska. 

 

 

Birdchick Podcast #207 Fallout, Misidentified Birds, Twitter Wars

This podcast is brought you by WildSide Nature Tours. Come with me to an ancient land to watching thousands of migratory birds like common cranes, storks, spoonbills and red kites. We'll also look for Palestine sunbird, jungle cat and white-throated kingfisher on my Raptor Bonanza Tour in Israel in November--history, culture and birds all combine for the birding trip of a lifetime. Israel is one of the most unique countries you can visit for birds, it's a major flyway for European and Asian birds as they head south into Africa. 

This podcast is also brought to you by Holbrook Travel. Would you like to get away to Central America and hone your smartphone digiscoping technique on toucans, parrots and dazzling hummingbirds? Join me in Belize next March

The search is officially on in Cuba for ivory-billed woodpeckers

Insane spring warbler fallout photos from 2011

Some duck stamp artists are not happy about a proposed change to the stamp art

Some weirdo is apparently eating bald eagles

This is the most badass red-tailed hawk you will see this year. 

I got in a Twitter war over what I felt was an unfair segment about the Great Texas Birding Classic...and the host replied.