New post at my Web site

WN-Jacobin

I’m such a bad blogger. I didn’t even post about my spectacular trip to Trinidad and Tobago last summer where I photographed this stunning White-necked Jacobin.

Has it really been almost a year since I last posted here? I’m still working on the second edition of A Field Guide to Hummingbirds of North America, so I haven’t been doing much writing otherwise, but I did just add a post to the News tab on my Web site about a controversy that erupted during the spring 2012 Ruby-throated Hummingbird migration. Hope you enjoy it!

P.S.: If you’d like to see more of my photos from Trinidad and Tobago, check out the album on Flickr.

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New post at my Web site

Wire-crested Thorntail, Ecuador

Wire-crested Thorntail, Ecuador

As work progresses on the revision of A Field Guide to Hummingbirds of North America, I’ll be using the News page at my Web site to post updates, previews, and other items of interest to users of the guide and other fans of hummingbirds. The first post is about providing nesting material for hummingbirds, one of many new and expanded topics covered in the second edition of the guide.

The Life, Birds, and Everything blog will remain here at wordpress.com, at least for the time being, so please enjoy the archives. Thanks for following along!

Blogroll update

I did a little housekeeping on my blogroll, deleting links to a few blogs that hadn’t been updated in more than a year, updating links to others, and adding several A-list birding blogs whose creators/contributors I had the privilege of birding with this weekend. Enjoy!

Dispatches from the West preview: September/October 2012

Male Montezuma Quail by Sheri L. Williamson

Male Montezuma Quail by Sheri L. Williamson

Montezuma Quail are the topic for my final “Dispatches from the West” column in the September/October issue of WildBird magazine. Here’s a teaser:

Our hearts pounded as we drank in every detail of his harlequin plumage. The quail stared back, and we could almost hear the gears slowly turning in his head. It finally seemed to dawn on him that he’d been spotted, and he slowly turned and strolled away, watching us over his shoulder.

This is usually where I encourage you to subscribe if you don’t already, but it’s too late. After being informed that WildBird was downsizing and no longer able to publish my column, I was saddened (but not surprised) to learn that the magazine will soon cease publication entirely.

WildBird‘s parent company, Bowtie Incorporated, publishes annual special issues on popular topics, and I hope to contribute to any issues covering wild birds. I’ll also be releasing my past columns and articles, along with other selected writings, in e-book form later this year. Thanks and best wishes to the staff of WildBird for so many years of reading enjoyment, and thanks to the subscribers and newsstand readers for supporting the magazine.

With apologies to Poe

Since Birders On The Border doesn’t get as much traffic as LB&E, I thought I’d give my most recent post over there some additional exposure:

THE CHICKENS

Inspired by actual events.

Once upon a summer swelter, while I weltered in my shelter,
Reading backlogged emails, each more urgent than the one before,
As I toiled, resisting napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my kitchen door.
“‘Tis the FedEx guy,” I muttered, “tapping at my kitchen door –
Only this, and nothing more.”

The timing was inopportune, for in the midday heat of June
I hide indoors awaiting monsoon storms their cooling rains to pour.
Eagerly I wait and wonder, when will storm clouds roil and thunder,
Lightning tear the sky asunder, bringing coolness I long for,
Bringing long-awaited coolness that we desert rats adore,
And our peace of mind restore?

But the raps were not repeated, so I chose to remain seated
Avoiding summer air so heated by not going to the door,
There were emails to be sending, other business issues pending,
I should really not be spending time on phantoms at the door
Wasting Facebook time on chasing phantoms tapping at my door,
Though my butt grew numb and sore.

Back to my computer turning, my paycheck to resume earning,
Soon again I heard a tapping, lightly on the kitchen door.
“Surely,” said I, “that is someone who has braved the hellish noon sun
A delivery errand to run, and this knock I can’t ignore,
A package or a letter, too important for me to ignore.”
I rose, and strode toward the door.

Turning now the shining brass knob I was greeted by a small mob
Of hot chickens gathered on the porch before the kitchen door:
Joni blond and partridge Pearlie, brainy Grace and Bonnie burly,
Thinking they’d be let in, surely, if their Mom they did implore,
They gazed at me so pitifully, a ploy they hoped I would fall for.
And then they walked right in the door.

Through the kitchen four spoiled hens stroll, past the fridge and to the dog’s bowl,
Checking here and there for crumbs and morsels dropped upon the floor,
No rustic roost was ever finer than a La-Z-Boy designer
Plush and cushiony recliner Dad and Mom worked hard to score,
Soft recliners far more comfortable than carpet or bare floor,
Soon festooned with chickens four.

“Out!” I cried, “Before the pooping starts and I’m reduced to scooping
Guano from the furniture, the carpet and the hardwood floor!
You’re common barnyard fowl” I chided, “and you’re tragically misguided
If you think you’ll be abided as you foul my hardwood floor,
Foul my chairs, my tufted carpets and the oak upon my floor.”
Quoth the chickens, Brahk-ahk borrr?

Then these winsome fowl beguiling my stern visage into smiling
By the charm and innocence of the countenance they wore,
“Though you’ll no doubt make some crappies and you have no chicken nappies,
I do love to see you happy, though your messes I abhor.
I will let you roam a while until you start to soil the floor.”
Then Joni pooped upon the floor.

“Out!” I cried, my patience snapping, “Why such frequent need for crapping?
Oaks long dead don’t need your guano – take your butts back out the door!
You’re not princesses,” I berated, “so you shouldn’t look deflated
When you find you’re reinstated in your coop behind your door,
Safe from my wrath and coyotes, locked behind a sturdy door.
Quoth the chickens, Brahk-ahk borrr?

As I chased them toward the doorway, they began to act like wild prey,
Dodging, ducking hands, the chickens managed to evade me more
‘Round the living room we gyred until I became so tired
And so hot I near expired and flopped down upon the floor,
So tired and hot that I forgot what I was chasing chickens for.
They clucked in triumph, Brahk-ahk borrr!

And the chickens, never flitting, still are sitting, still are sitting
On the arms and backs of chairs I tried to keep them off before,
And their eyes are smug and gleaming as they ponder how their scheming
Did prevail against my screaming as I chased them ’round the floor.
And these fowl from off my chairs and out my house and out my door
Shall be evicted… nevermore.

Birders On The Border: With apologies to Poe

Hot deals on the Audubon Birds app!

Who doesn’t love bargains? And if you’re a birder embracing the future of field guides, you want the best selection of bird ID apps that you can get. Well, hold onto your Tilleys: In honor of John James Audubon’s 227th birthday (he doesn’t look a day over 190), you can download the Audubon Birds app from iTunes (for iThings) or Google Play (for Android phones and tablets) for just $0.99!

But wait! It gets even better! If you’ve got the 7″ Kindle Fire with full-color multi-touch display and Wi-Fi, go to Amazon.com and download the Audubon Birds app for FREE!! If you don’t yet have the Kindle Fire, using this link to purchase one will benefit the Southeastern Arizona Bird Observatory. Then you can download your free Audubon Birds app!

Deals this good won’t last forever – get your app NOW.

Installation note: This is a large app that may take some time to download. Once the initial download is complete, you’ll need to open the app with a Wi-Fi connection and allow it to complete the process by downloading all the species accounts. Trust me—it’s worth the wait.

In the interests of full disclosure: My husband Tom Wood and I supplied text for the Ultimate Texas Nature Guide app and cover the Southwest beat for the Audubon Guide blog.

Dispatches from the West Preview: March/April 2012

My column in WildBird magazine changed focus recently from backyard birding to western birding. Here’s a teaser from the March/April column, entitled “Bird prepared,” about a spring visit to Big Bend National Park:

The birds had gone quiet, so now we paused only to catch our breath. Neither of us noticed the waning light until a few raindrops hit our bare arms. Overhead, tendrils of mist trailed over the jagged South Rim. Just an isolated desert shower, we thought. Nothing to worry about, surely, and the cool air feels nice.

If you’re not yet a subscriber to WildBird, you can use this link to Amazon.com to get six colorful, information-packed issues (a full year) and benefit the conservation and education programs of the Southeastern Arizona Bird Observatory (SABO). Single copies of Wildbird are also available at newsstands and bookstores. You’ll find subscriptions to WildBird and other birding magazines plus field guides, feeders and accessories, seeds for hummingbird-friendly plants, and more at SABO’s online shop, The Trogon’s Nest, powered by Amazon.com.

Out the Window preview: July/August 2011

Here’s your bimonthly teaser for my “Out the Window” column in WildBird magazine:

It was a cool but sunny morning during fall migration, and the yard was bustling with bird activity. Hordes of ravenous Lesser Goldfinches swarmed the thistle sock, a dozen Gambel’s Quail queued up to drink at the water feature, a handful of White-crowned Sparrows scrounged seeds dropped by the resident Pyrrhuloxias and Curve-billed Thrashers, and four descendents of Red Junglefowl—our pet hens Joni, Bonnie, Grace and Pearl—chased grasshoppers, scratched in the dirt, and basked in the autumn sun.

Chickens in a birding magazine?!? Equal-opportunity bird lovers who are not yet subscribers to WildBird can use this link to Amazon.com to get six colorful, information-packed issues (a full year) and benefit the conservation and education programs of the Southeastern Arizona Bird Observatory (SABO). Single copies of Wildbird are also available at newsstands and bookstores.

You’ll find subscriptions to WildBird and other birding magazines plus field guides, feeders and accessories, seeds for hummingbird-friendly plants, and more at SABO’s online shop, The Trogon’s Nest, powered by Amazon.com. Father’s Day is June 19shop now for that bird-loving dad or granddad!

“Out the Window” Preview: May/June 2011

Hummingbirds rule the May/June issue of WildBird, and here’s a sneak peek at my “Out the Window” column:

Fish gotta swim. Birds gotta fly. Hummingbirds gotta fight. It’s just part of who they are, but some people have a hard time coming to terms with that. Our dinner host was one of those people.

“I just love my hummingbirds!” she gushed. “They’re so cute and sweet.”

My husband smiled politely, but before he could respond her eyes narrowed. In a tone that left no room for discussion, she said, “People say they’re fighting, but I think they’re just playing.”

Forkfuls of tender greens paused between plates and mouths, dripping vinaigrette. Tom and I dared not even exchange glances.

If you’re intrigued and not yet a subscriber, this link to Amazon.com will get you six colorful, information-packed issues (a full year), and your purchase will also benefit the conservation and education programs of the Southeastern Arizona Bird Observatory. Single copies of Wildbird are also available at newsstands and bookstores.

You’ll find WildBird and other birding magazines plus field guides, feeders and accessories, seeds for hummingbird-friendly plants, and more at SABO’s online shop, The Trogon’s Nest, powered by Amazon.com.