A New Toy for These Bird-Nerds

Have you ever anxiously awaited to get some new piece of technology, like the latest iPhone or iPad? I haven’t. I’ve never had to be on the cutting edge of technology. It just doesn’t excite me all that much. I have adapted to things like SmartBoards in school, smartphones, and now iPads for school, but it’s always been long after the technology has been around and it has usually been forced upon me. For once, though, I have sought out and purchased a new high-tech device, and I cannot wait until it arrives next week. So, what is it and how does it relate to birding? It’s Canon’s PowerShot SX50 – a camera that goes from a focal length of 24 mm to a whopping 1200 mm allowing you to have 50x zoom! That is crazy for a point-and-shoot. Now we can start putting up our own, hopefully quality, bird photos. I was looking into telephoto lenses for our Rebel, but this was a much cheaper and more portable option. Lillian Stokes, photographer for the Stokes Field Guide to Birds of North America, gave me the tip on Canon’s affordable, super zoom cameras after she checked out the post, Couch-Potato Birding, and saw my plea for advice for photography equipment for birding.

I am almost hoping we don’t have any more amazing birding experiences until that baby is in hand. Almost. Like, for instance:

  • Having the Oregon Junco (first the female, now the male) show up in the yard yesterday
  • Getting our second visit from the Hairy Woodpecker yesterday, nicknamed Harry
  • Watching the Northern Shrike cover half a city block today in a relentless aerial pursuit of a Common Redpoll (Shrikes are predator birds and this was our second  sighting in a week of this rare visitor)
  • Seeing TWO male Northern Cardinals stop by our feeders for a meal on Friday
  • Spotting two Merlins (possibly) flying low over the city of Willmar today
  • Going birding from the car with The Team last Sunday evening in sub-zero, windy weather and seeing two gorgeous rooster Ring-Necked Pheasants glittering with color in the setting sun as they stood in the crisp, white snow against the golden grasses

I can’t wait to add some eye-candy to this blog.  I’ve been fortunate enough to use the works of some gifted photographers for these posts, but soon you should be seeing what we see!  Stay tuned.

A Birder’s Christmas

Merry Christmas!

Like many kids this Christmas, Evan got to open lots of presents whose contents ranged from toy helicopters to the ever practical sweatshirt.  What was different for Evan compared to his peers, however, is that he also got some gifts that will help him take his birding to the next level.  The first of those, and most practical, is a set of binoculars that are his size.  In an earlier post, A Glowing Flame in the Treetops, I mentioned that Evan struggled with binoculars and could not view the exciting Blackburnian Warbler. Hopefully, we won’t have that problem any more!

The other big birding gift, which may not seem like a birding gift, was an iPod. I know, I know, many of you may wonder why a five-year-old needs an iPod. There are many reasons that we got him one (educational games, music device, etc), but one of those reasons is the Audobon Society’s Bird App. This is a very cool app that allows Evan to go through a pictorial index of birds, click on them, and then listen to their songs and call notes. It makes bird identification a whole lot easier when you can learn the auditory component. So, when he’s not listening to and singing along with Justin Bieber on his iPod, he can listen to bird songs so he’ll be prepared the next time we go out birding!

It also seems that we have another birder in training as you can see in the photo below.  The other day Marin and I were watching a group of about 10 pheasants when she exclaimed, “I want to see more pheasants!”  As she takes all her cues from her older brother and watches him like a hawk (another intended pun), I have no doubt that she’ll be birding right with us in a few years!

(P.S. Check out Evan’s updated Life List page.  Thank you, Jason Wallestad, co-founder of School Newspapers Online, for helping me set up this page.)