Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Universal Truths of Birding #3

Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Photographic proof that tree swallows are properly named.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Universal Truths of Birding #2

Friday, September 24, 2010

The road less traveled is not necessarily the birdiest place to be.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Cape May, September, October

Tuesday, September 21, 2010
This morning I got to enjoy this fall Cape May warbler as it passed through the side yard at Indigo Hill. We get so many more Cape Mays through southeastern Ohio in the fall than we do in the spring. Here it's mid-September and I'm enjoying a nice flock of warblers with the word May in their names.

Which prompted an additional thought—and three thoughts is a LOT for me in the morning with just half a cup of coffee down the gullet. That thought was: "I'm going to BE in Cape May in October!"

That's correct. I am the Saturday evening keynote speaker for the legendary Autumn Weekend hosted by Cape May Bird Observatory and New Jersey Audubon, also known as THE Bird Show. This year's Autumn Weekend is being held October 29–31, 2010. Details are available here.

Also speaking (on Friday night) is author/photographer Kevin Karlson. And there will be a plethora of authors on hand on Saturday for a big books signing, I hear. Of course in Cape May you can't swing your binocs by the strap without conking 8 book authors on the head, so it'll surely be fun to see who is there.

If you've never been to Cape May in fall before, the birding is just nutso, the hawks are pouring through, and you don't have to fight against the summer tourista tide quite as much.

Plan to come on down to the Cape for Halloween Weekend. I hope to see you there! I might even come in costume.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Episode 28 of "This Birding Life"

Friday, September 17, 2010
Nicole Perretta: The Bird Call Lady

Episode 28 of "This Birding Life" features my interview with Nicole Perretta, also known as "The Bird Call Lady." Nicole can imitate the songs and sounds of more than 130 different bird species and she does it so well that the birds are often fooled themselves.

Her amazing ability to recreate bird sounds has landed her guest interview spots on network TV shows with the likes of Jay Leno and Ellen DeGeneres.

Acorn woodpecker by Nicole Perretta.

But her talents don't stop there. Nicole is also an accomplished artist. Much of her artwork is used to illustrate her CD collection of bird calls.

This interview with Nicole Perretta was recorded at The San Diego Bird Festival last March. The sound quality is slightly compromised by the fact that we were inside a trade show tent during a rainstorm, with the constant roar of airplanes taking off from the nearby airport. However this does not detract from the amazing bird calls that Nicole throws down during the interview.

I hope you'll give it a listen. As always, every TBL episode is available for free downloading or streaming in both audio only (MP3) and enhanced audio (M4a—sound with still photos). And it's in the iTunes Podcast section, too.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Universal Truths of Birding #1

Thursday, September 16, 2010
The reason why vireos are SO hard to identify.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Caption Contest #16 Winner!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

"It's been four hours...somebody call a doctor!"

Our winner of Caption Contest #16 is Alan Pulley, who blogs here at Birds 'N Such. Congrats Alan! Your lens cloth will be shipped out shortly!

Other notable entries include: Chris Harbard who said...
The lure for the Worm-eating Warbler should attract them from miles away!

Though he swore it wasn't a caption, I loved this one from cyberthrush:
I hope I die one day just like my dear old grandaddy, quickly and peacefully in my sleep... and not screaming hysterically like the 25 passengers of the bus he was driving at the time.

Jason, from OpposableChums said...All entreaties in hopes of convincing Lorenzo to leave his baguette at home for the trip to sit amongst the Silver-back gorillas were sadly fruitless, and with regrettably gruesome consequences.

Janet Creamer said..."Well, I was told Bill will show us more warblers than you can shake a stick at."

bpadgett said... I *said*, "Speak SOFTLY!!"

Thanks to everyone for your enthusiastic participation. I wish I had participation ribbons for all of you because you're ALL winners in my book (which just came out, by the way!). [smooth, huh?]

For the record, the be-hatted guy with the walking stick in the front of the shot is Scott, a regular at the New River Birding Festival. He hand-makes those walking sticks and they are really functional works of art.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Summer Nature Video Highlights

Monday, September 13, 2010

This summer I've spent a bit of time shooting high-definition video. I am a rank beginner and learning as I go, but it's been an incredibly fun new hobby.

So here is a handful of five-second snippets from the hours of video I've shot (most of which is undeniably deletable). I am saving a few choice clips for later sharing here and elsewhere, though it's tempting to let it all out at once.

I think my dream job would be to be the person who gets to film those "Charles Kuralt nature moments." No voice over, no on-screen graphics—just the imagery and natural sounds of some amazing phenomena: birds, animals, plants, or landscape. I remember his segments so clearly from the CBS Sunday Morning television show.

I hope you like my little montage of clips. There's lots more to come. Thanks for watching.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Caption Contest #16

Wednesday, September 8, 2010
When I lead field trips at birding festivals, I often snap photos of the group on the bus. I'm not sure why—it just happens, I guess. This photo comes from last spring's New River Birding and Nature Festival in Fayetteville, WV. I believe it was on the High Country tour, where we go forth seeking warblers.

It struck me as a good one for a BOTB caption contest. So let your freak flag fly and send your most cleverest caption in by midnight, Sunday, September 12, 2010 using the comment window below. The winner will receive a genuine BWD lens cloth (a $5 value!) which works great for cleaning optics, eyeglasses, cellphones, or the Cheeto-stained screen on your iPad.

Good luck and we'll see you on the bus.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

My New Book!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

My newest book was several years in the making. Now, it's finally here (and I believe it's also in both "bricks" and "clicks" bookstores everywhere). The title is Identifying and Feeding Birds, and it's just published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

As poet, guitar god, and nature lover Jerry Garcia once sang: "What a long, strange trip it's been." So true, so true. And yes, we've forgiven Jerry for pronouncing nuthatch as "nut-thatch" in the Grateful Dead song "Eyes of the World."

Back to the book: It's my attempt at delivering, in a fun-loving way, all the necessary info for attracting, feeding, and identifying backyard birds in North America. It's based upon my nearly 40 years of feeding birds—every minute of which I've enjoyed (even while making truly stupid mistakes). I'm hoping the reader can learn from my experience and leapfrog straight to doing bird feeding right with maximum enjoyment.

But you, my fellow book-reading consumers will decide if this particular book succeeds in its goal.

Identifying and Feeding Birds is the first book in a multi-title series I'm working on for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. The second book, Hummingbirds and Butterflies, co-written with Connie Toops is currently in the publisher's Easy-Bake Oven and should be out in spring 2011.

As an aside, it's NEVER a good idea to put a Stretch Armstrong through your little sister's Easy-Bake Oven. See, this is the kind of beneficial advice you can get from me.

If you feed birds and want to do it better, or if you're just thinking about starting, here's a list of reasons to buy my new book:

1. People a lot smarter than I am think the book is pretty good.
2. Feeding birds is good for you. Ask your doctor.
3. My sister made me confess to the Stretch Armstrong/Easy-Bake Oven crime.
4. I debunk all the bird-feeding myths that have puzzled you for decades.
5. In the book I share my family's heirloom suet-dough recipe, which is lard-based.
6. You'll learn obscure facts, like the one about Jerry Garcia's nut-thatch mispronunciation.
7. It costs just $14.95, which is less than you'll spend in a single Starbucks visit.
8. I'm proud that it's part of the legendary Peterson Field Guide Series.
9. It contains revealing "Behind the Music" profiles of 125+ backyard bird species.
10. While you're at it, why not buy two?

Thank you for lending me your eyeballs over the past several years here at Bill of the Birds. I always endeavor to make your time here well spent (or to trick you into feeling that way). However, there may be occasional subliminal messages that slip through my fingers. These messages will encourage you to read more blog posts, to watch more birds, to go to birding festivals, to have more fun as a birder and human, and to buy my books. Sorry, but I cannot help myself.

Despite what this photo may indicate, my new book is NOT currently available in a backwards version.

Did I mention that I have a new book out?