Friday, November 2, 2012

Naturally Avian Happenings

It has been a while since I have contributed on the Naturally Avian Blog. The past year has introduced me into a phenomenal group of amazing birdwatchers from throughout the country. Over the upcoming year, Naturally Avian will be found at a variety of birding festivals, starting with the quickly-approaching Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival (Harlingen, TX), and in early March the International Festival of Owls (Houston, MN). Later on in the spring and summer, you'll find Naturally Avian at the Biggest Week in American Birding Festival (Oak Harbor, OH), the Detroit Lakes Birding Festival (Detroit Lakes, MN), Potholes and Prairies Birding Festival (Carrington, ND), and the Horicon Marsh Birding Festival (Horicon, WI).

Recently I created a birding tour website for the services that I offer. If you're interested in learning more about the birding tours that I offer, the link below will take you to that website.

Naturally Avian can also be found on Facebook, where I share pictures of birds that I have observed recently (locally, which is often in northern Minnesota, but pictures will be shared from the recent birding trips and travels). A spectrum of bird facts and tidbits can be found with most of my posted photos too! This is one way to find out about upcoming birding trips as well.

It's been a busy year, and I'm very excited to connect all of you with my experiences in the field. Right now I am busy preparing for attending the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival, which will be my first time ever in Texas. I hope you enjoy this photo of a Great Gray Owl, recently photographed about two weeks ago in Sax-Zim Bog. Like with all of my photography, no baiting and no "squeaking" or luring of these birds takes place in order to get the pictures. Birdwatching is all about enjoying the beauty of birds in their environment (giving them their space and comfort, and then some), and sharing those moments of awe and wonder with other birdwatchers.

Until later... Cheers and good birding!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Hawk Ridge 2011

Hello everyone!

This past fall season has been incredible up here in the northwoods Minnesota. Nearly the entire spectrum of bird migration has moved through, but there is still more to come... Right now we're witnessing many birds that are not just migrating through the area, but to the area. Only the hardiest of birds and bird species will overwinter in the frigid, blustery, and so uniquely-gorgeous habitat that exists in the northwoods & along Lake Superior.

Over the past week, the hawk counters at Hawk Ridge (Duluth, MN) have surpassed 64,000 raptors for this fall! Raptor migration is a breathtaking spectacle that is a must-see for any nature lover. As raptors (birds of prey) migrate southward, many of them rely on updrafts and thermals to aid them in the long journeys which they partake in. Up at Hawk Ridge, raptors can be seen migrating past in noteworthy numbers along the North Shore of Lake Superior, eventually funneling into the lake's western-most tip where Duluth is located. Raptors struggle and tire-easily when they fly over large bodies of water. Thermal activity is very weak over large bodies of water, and because of this this atmospheric rule of thumb, the phenomenon of concentrating migrating raptors takes place in areas like Duluth! A stunning adult Northern Goshawk (above & left) and juvenile Northern Harrier (above & right) are shown. Both were observed in-the-hand at Hawk Ridge this fall. They were banded at the raptor banding stations located within and near the ridge.

Weather plays a big role in raptor migration. In order for strong thermals to exist, sunny skies are needed to be present. On cloudy days where relatively little sun hits the ground, the raptors that are migrating tend to be observed lower in the sky. Wind direction plays a big role in the numbers of raptors observed each day too. Winds that are coming out of the west and northwest tend to bring the largest raptor numbers, wheres winds strong out of the east tend to blow raptors inland beyond the viewing area of Hawk Ridge. The thoroughly-enjoyed "westerlies" meander raptors eastward until many of them get to the North Shore of Lake Superior. If you visit Hawk Ridge on a sunny autumn day of northwest winds (especially if it's on a day just following a cold front storm movement), there is a good chance that raptors will be rushing through in good numbers. The raptor on the left is an adult male Merlin, flying past Hawk Ridge.

Photographing raptors in-flight is a fun and exciting challenge. In case you'd like to see more of my photos from this fall at Hawk Ridge, the link below directs you there.

There are many people which visit Hawk Ridge every year. Some people come from just below the hill of Hawk Ridge, sometimes randomly stumbling upon the beautiful views of scenery and birds that has always existed a few blocks up the hill. Not surprisingly, these visitors are instantly hooked, and often make returning visits to this incredible place! Many visitors come from the Twin Cities. Some avid hawkwatchers even come from the East Coast! Over the past four years of working at Hawk Ridge, I've been privileged to meet and get-to-know the wonderful group of hawkwatchers coming from Pennsylvania. They are a real treat to have at the ridge, and are very inspirational friends :)

Do you know someone that has changed you for the better? Someone who helps guide you, teaches you, and inspires you to really shine in the world? Someone who makes you aim higher in your personal goals to really make the world a better place?

Debbie Waters, education director at Hawk Ridge, is just that to me. I couldn't wait to finally catch up on the Naturally Avian blog and share some of the fun Hawk Ridge happenings with all of you, as well as put forth some words of thanks that make me slightly teary-eyed as I'm getting my thoughts together... I want to thank Debbie for being such a true source of inspiration for doing my best at Hawk Ridge. Even outside of Hawk Ridge, she has provided me with some guidance in selecting and partaking in seasonal field positions. The world and lifestyle of doing season-to-season "bird jobs" is rewarding, and can also be very challenging. To have a good friend to talk to regarding field jobs, experiences and the likes, is a treat.

Debbie coordinated the educational aspect of Hawk Ridge, and so much more. She became the Hawk Ridge naturalist in 2001, and has been the education director since 2005. This fall is her last fall season as the education director. Her lively spirit, passion, and teaching expertise will be missed at the ridge. Within an organization, some people come along that set the bars higher, to make the organization really turn for the better. Thank you Debbie, for the inspiration!
*My good friend Curt Rawn took this picture of Debbie and I at Hawk Ridge, this past fall.

I am excited to share my experiences with all of you throughout the upcoming winter - through birding trips, sharing my sightings with you, and posting photos for you to enjoy!

Good birding,

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Naturally Avian on KUMD Radio

"Naturally Avian" was on the radio this morning here in Duluth! If you're interested in hearing the recording from this morning, click on the KUMD icon below. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

World's Fastest Bird? Chubby Snipe Snaps Nonstop Record

Here is a cool link to some recently-discovered feats about bird migration; and how one stout, chubby little bird seems to be setting the records. It's a National Geographic article. Click the photo to read more!