Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Getting Ready for YBC 2014

Dear Readers,


The Olive Plants are still alive and well and birding!

Two years ago, I was diagnosed with an auto-immune condition, MCTD, and have since been diagnosed with lupus as an overlap condition.

For this reason, I have had to put many projects, including my Birding 101 series, way, way back on the farthest back burner. :)

After a few months of immunosuppressive therapy, which has included giving myself weekly injections of a drug used in chemotherapy, I am starting to feel better than I have in a long time. I may get back to writing soon.

Today, I would like to ask you to support my sons and their birding teammates in a fundraising effort for the ABC. You can read all about it here. As an avid birder myself, it is exciting to see young people enthusiastic about enjoying the creation. (Yes, I am a bit biased where these guys are concerned.) ;-) These young men have worked very hard over the years to be able to identify the birds they encounter, and this year, they hope to reach a record goal of 120 identifications in 24 hours.

Here they are getting ready for the competition.
I hope they remember how to use their binocs
before this weekend!

These young men have been birding together
since they were 4-6 years old!
Click this link for instructions on sponsoring Team Birds of a Feather.

Thank you so much!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Youth Birding Competition 2012

Left to right: K of CC School, Orville, Wilbur, C of CC School

The Olive Plants boys competed in the Georgia Youth Birding Competition on April 27 & 28, 2012 with two of the Counter-cultural School boys.  In 24 hours, they identified 105 different species!  We are so incredibly proud of them and are so thankful to God for blessing us with a fabulous weekend filled with good weather, lots of birds, and amazing teamwork.  You can read more about the boys' birding adventure at my homeschool blog, Olive Plants.

Listed below are the birds they identified in the order they were found.   Birds 1-7 were spotted in a small town in western Georgia.  Numbers 8-34 were spotted at a Georgia state park- forested, mostly pine trees.  Some of the birds at this location were near a small pond.  The chimney swifts circled the ranger station.  Birds 35-43 were spotted on private property.*  There were several feeders near the house.  The backside of the property was wooded.  The rest of the property contained open, grassy fields.  We were there from 30 minutes before sunset until 15 minutes after sunset.  Birds 44-62 were found at a state park located along a lake.  There are a variety of habitats in this park, and we were there from 15 minutes before sunrise until 8 a.m..  Numbers 63-68 were found at a variety of spots, mostly wooded and close to water.  Numbers 69-86 were found at EL Huie; numbers 87-90 were found at Newman Wetlands; numbers 91-93 were found at Shamrock/Blaylock Lakes- all in Clayton Co. GA.  Numbers 94-95 were found near feeders on private property.*  Numbers 96-100 were located at Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge in central Georgia.  Number 101 was found near a feeder on private property. *  Numbers 102-105 were identified at Charlie Elliot Wildlife Center in Mansfield, GA.

  1. American Crow
  2. Brown Thrasher
  3. Northern Mockingbird
  4. Brown-headed Nuthatch
  5. Blue Jay
  6. Mourning Dove
  7. Red-shouldered Hawk
  8. Summer Tanager
  9. Eastern Towhee
  10. Scarlett Tanager
  11. Black and White Warbler
  12. Northern Cardinal
  13. Carolina Chickadee
  14. Pine Warbler
  15. Mallard
  16. Tufted Titmouse
  17. Hairy Woodpecker
  18. Red-eyed Vireo
  19. Eastern-wood Pewee
  20. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  21. Red-headed Woodpecker
  22. Pileated Woodpecker
  23. Dark-eyed Junco
  24. Carolina Wren
  25. Downy Woodpecker
  26. White-eyed Vireo
  27. Fish Crow
  28. Gray Catbird
  29. Chimney Swift
  30. Worm-eating Warbler
  31. Eastern Bluebird
  32. Chipping Sparrow
  33. White-breasted Nuthatch
  34. Yellow-breasted Chat
  35. Indigo Bunting
  36. Wood Thrush
  37. Eastern Phoebe
  38. Yellow Warbler
  39. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
  40. Field Sparrow
  41. Great Horned Owl
  42. Barred Owl
  43. Ruby-crowned Kinglet
  44. Green Heron
  45. Great Blue Heron
  46. Killdeer
  47. Northern Bobwhite
  48. Brown Creeper
  49. Canada Goose
  50. Common Grackle
  51. Bobolink
  52. Belted Kingfisher
  53. Osprey
  54. Bay-breasted Warbler
  55. Tennessee Warbler
  56. Northern Rough-winged Swallow
  57. Common Loon
  58. Northern Flicker
  59. American Redstart
  60. Prairie Warbler
  61. Black-throated Green Warbler
  62. Yellow-rumped Warbler
  63. American Robin
  64. House Sparrow
  65. Northern Waterthrush
  66. Song Sparrow
  67. European Starling
  68. Black Vulture
  69. Tree Swallow
  70. Purple Martin
  71. Northern Shoveler
  72. Lesser Yellowlegs
  73. Spotted Sandpiper
  74. Red-winged Blackbird
  75. Turkey Vulture
  76. Magnolia Warbler
  77. Chestnut-sided Warbler
  78. Hooded Warbler
  79. Cape May Warbler
  80. Eastern Kingbird
  81. American Coot
  82. Blue-winged Teal
  83. Pied-billed Grebe
  84. Rock Dove
  85. Black-throated Blue Warbler
  86. Common Yellowthroat
  87. Blue-headed Vireo
  88. Cerulean Warbler
  89. American Bittern
  90. Brown-headed Cowbird
  91. Northern Parula
  92. Orchard Oriole
  93. American Woodcock
  94. Eastern Meadowlark
  95. American Goldfinch
  96. Broad-winged Hawk
  97. Blackpoll
  98. Bank Swallow
  99. Kentucky Warbler
  100. Red-cockaded Woodpecker
  101. Rose-breasted Grosbeak
  102. Pine Siskin
  103. Orange-crowned Warbler
  104. Yellow-throated Warbler
  105. Blackburnian Warbler
*We were careful to respect the privacy of others.  We were given the owner's direct permission to bird on private properties or we were on adjacent public property and could hear birds at the nearby private feeders.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Tweet and See: July 2011

Join Heather at Kingdom Arrows for more
Tweet and See fun!

This month, I got to go bird watching with my birding chick buddy, Heather!  That's my best birdie moment for the year.  Unfortunately, I did not get to take any pictures because I left my camera at home.  :(

Our friend, Amy, went birding with us, too!!  She was nice enough to drive around a nature center (very slowly) and pull over every few minutes so Heather and I could hop out and work on identifying what we heard.  She even put up with me playing bird and frog songs on the Identiflyer from the back seat!  Now that is a GREAT friend!  :)

The list isn't long this month since my birding time was greatly limited before the get-together and not very profitable (in terms of number of birds seen/heard) while birding with the girls (it was totally profitable in the phew-I-get-some-time-off-to-hang-out-with-my-friends-and-relax-and-be-silly way, though).

Okay, so here's the list.  It's not as long as that last hyphenated adjective!
  1. Common Grackle
  2. Black Vulture
  3. Turkey Vulture
  4. Ruby-throated Hummingbird
  5. Northern Mockingbird
  6. Mourning Dove
  7. Red-headed Woodpecker
  8. Chimney Swift
  9. European Starling
  10. Common Yellowthroat
  11. Brown-headed Nuthatch
  12. White-breasted Nuthatch
  13. Carolina Chickadee
  14. Louisiana Waterthrush
  15. Yellow Warbler
  16. Tufted Titmouse
  17. American Crow
The other BEST BIRDIE MOMENT this month was that MY BOYS AND THEIR BIRDING BUDDIES WERE FEATURED ON THE FRONT PAGE OF THE LOCAL NEWSPAPER!!!  They were the top story with a big, full-color picture and everything.  Our Audubon plushies were even featured with a picture of their own!

The best part is that Orville, when asked what he liked about bird watching, replied, "We get to hang out with our friends and enjoy God's creation." 

That was the caption above their picture (in large print) as well as the ending quote.

Congratulations, Orville, Wilbur, K, and C!  I am really pleased with you all!!  You are my best birding buddies!!!

Until we tweet again...

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Birding 101: Birding by Ear

When we started bird watching, I thought being able to distinguish between bird songs was some kind of special ability that only truly gifted naturalists possessed.  I never imagined that the boys and I would be able to quickly and easily identify a long list of birds just by hearing their songs/calls.

Birding by ear took birding to a whole new level for us, and I highly recommend you take some time to listen to recordings and do memory work indoors so that you can have greater success while outdoors.  It's a lot more fun than it sounds.

Mnemonics have helped us greatly, and over at Olive Plants, I published a little piece about it last year.  Rather than write a new post, I'll just link you to it.  Fly on over to get a list of our favorite mnemonics and other birding by ear resources!

Though slow-going, this series is not dead!  Subscribe or follow so you won't miss any of our future posts on how to teach your kids to use a field guide, write bird stories, keep a birding journal and life list, and much more!

Consider keeping a journal of the birds you hear or see this month and Tweet and See with Heather.  You can link in with other bird enthusiasts on the last day of each month.  I really enjoy reading the reports of birders from Georgia to Washington.  Maybe one day we'll be able to read reports from around the world!

Until we tweet again....

Friday, July 1, 2011

Tweet and See: June 2011

Visit Kingdom Arrows
for more Tweet and See fun!

We had a great month of birding.  The backyard is still in disarray as my husband is completing a backyard remodel which includes the removal of a rather large magnolia tree. 

The Magnolia Tree sans Branches
The trunk is about to go soon.  :(

However, I am an English tutor who travels to the homes of my students.  While driving around town this month, I saw lots birds.  Then, on the last day of June, we went to a local state park (one of my favorite local spots) and identified 39 species.  Some were on the list already, but most were new additions.

One of the birds I saw in a student's neighborhood: the Killdeer!
My husband took this picture at the lake,
not in the subdivision, however.

Here's our list:
  1. Killdeer
  2. Barn Swallow
  3. Carolina Wren
  4. Brown Thrasher
  5. Northern Mockingbird
  6. American Robin
  7. Eastern Bluebird
  8. Blue Jay
  9. Belted Kingfisher
  10. Great Blue Heron
  11. Red-headed Woodpecker
  12. Black Vulture
  13. Turkey Vulture
  14. Broad-winged Hawk
  15. Chipping Sparrow
  16. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  17. Pileated Woodpecker
  18. Downy Woodpecker
  19. Eastern-wood PeeWee
  20. Osprey
  21. Bank Swallow
  22. Snow Goose
  23. Fish Crow
  24. American Crow
  25. Tree Swallow
  26. Northern Rough-winged Swallow
  27. Great-crested Flycatcher
  28. Common Grackle
  29. Palm Warbler
  30. Pine Warbler
  31. Canada Goose
  32. Eastern Kingbird
  33. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
  34. Catbird
  35. Brown-headed Nuthatch
  36. Cape May Warbler
  37. Northern Parula
  38. Eastern Phoebe
  39. Mallard
  40. Mourning Dove
  41. Tufted Titmouse
  42. House Sparrow
  43. Rock Dove
  44. Green Heron
  45. Cowbird

Hubs took this pix during our birding outing.
This is one of his faves.
The bluebird really is looking at two
eastern kingbirds.
That's not a digital trick!

The Best Birdie Moments:
  1. While stopped at a red light on a main thoroughfare, a red-headed woodpecker landed in front of our car, grabbed a bit of food, and flew off just as we started to move again.  
  2. Killdeer have nested in the brush behind the house of one of my students.  The "dad" hops around the back porch, singing away, while I tutor.  From time-to-time the "baby" comes out to sing, too,.  VERY CUTE!
  3. While driving from one student's house to another, I saw a bird perched on a wire, quickly found a place to pull over, and spotted the broad-winged hawk!
  4. One of my students went with us to the state park, and we had a great time teaching him how to identify birds!  After we left the state park, I decided spur-of-the-moment to drive over to a local marina.  Sitting on the edge of a pond beside the marina was the green heron on our list.  My student got to see LOTS of interesting birds that day!  Too bad the camera batteries had died by the time we reached the marina.

Favorite Pictures
Eastern Kingbird

Canada Geese
We THINK this is a female
Brown-headed Cowbird.
She was hanging out with this male cowbird.
More Cowbirds
If you think we're right,
please let us know.
If you know we're wrong,
please help.
Red-headed woodpeckers
were common visitors this month.
I think they're just beautiful!

Another beauty...
The Great Crested Flycatcher!

Happy Tweeting!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Tweet and See May 2011

Visit Heather where you can find
links to more birding reports.
Has it really been a month since I last wrote on this blog?!?

There hasn't been much time for blogging this month and there has been even less time for birding.  My husband is in the middle of a backyard project which involves the removal of a rather large magnolia tree.

I'm 90% happy about this project of his because it also involves the removal of a rickety old fence and a broken down picnic table.  However, as a true southern gal, it was a life-long dream of mine to have a magnolia tree in the backyard.  It is a wonderful place for hanging a variety of feeders and provides great shade for us and for the birds. 

However, our yard is very small, and the tree really is too big for our space.  I always wanted a magnolia tree in my backyard but do not want one as my back yard.  That is why it is so easy for me to be 80% happy about its removal.

Also, it drops leaves year round which creates a huge and constant mess to clean up, and we can't get any grass to grow.  Our backyard looks like a wasteland, and we think it is due to the tree.

So, please, don't hate us, but she has to go.  And really, I am 70% happy about it.

All of that is to say, the birds have not visited us much this month, and we have not had time to go looking for them either.  I think this is our smallest bird list to date, not just since the beginning of Tweet and See but since we started birding almost six years ago!

It may be small, but here it is:
  1. American Robin
  2. American Crow
  3. House Sparrow
  4. Eastern Bluebird
  5. Blue Jay
  6. Eastern Towhee
  7. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  8. Kingfisher *
  9. Prairie Warbler *
  10. Eastern Phoebe *
* I heard these while tutoring.  One of my student's house is near the lake, and they keep the windows open.  I can hear the birds while I teach. 

I hope you had a better month bird-wise than I did and look forward to reading your reports!  And really, don't worry about me.  I'm easily 60% happy about the backyard project.

Happy Tweeting!

Monday, May 2, 2011

I'm a Bird Brain!

I accidentally posted my Tweet and See list for April over at my homeschool blog, Olive Plants.  You can click on over to read it.

Please forgive my faux pas.  I injured my eye last week and am still having some trouble seeing.