Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Dead Body Found at Swallow Cliff

Since Swallow Cliff is a pretty popular spot for local birders, we're posting the entire article:

Woman's body found at Swallow Cliff
December 26, 2006
By Jonathan Lipman Staff writer
An unidentified woman was found dead in a picnic grove near Palos Park on Christmas morning, authorities said.

A fully clothed white woman, between 25 and 35 years old, was found about 9 a.m. Monday in the Swallow Cliff Forest Preserve near 119th Street and LaGrange Road, forest preserve district police spokesman Steve Mayberry said.

A man walking his dog made the grisly discovery in a grassy area of the grove and contacted police.

There were no immediate signs of foul play, but the odd circumstances have prompted a full death investigation by the county sheriff's police, which handles detective work for the district police, Mayberry said. Police have not ruled out homicide.

"We think it was something that happened overnight," Mayberry said. "We can't be sure, but there was no indication that (the body) had been there for a very long time at all."
Investigators at this point have no leads into who the woman was, Mayberry said.

"Unfortunately, she did not have any ID with her. We are hoping that with dental records and things, the medical examiner's office can make an identification," Mayberry said.
The medical examiner's office did not have any information as of Monday evening. An autopsy is scheduled for today.

Anyone with information about the case can call forest preserve police at (800) 870-3666.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Cat Exterminator Finds Ivory-billed Feathers?

Well, if you don't think that the IBWO and Jim Stevenson cat-shooting stories are odd enough on their own, one of our astute readers has posted a link in a comment that shows how those two stories are linked. Apparently, Jim Stevenson found an IBWO nest cavity with feathers in the 1980's.

If you don't believe us, read it for yourself (click on "Winter'06"):


We've try to lay off on the IBWO stuff for a while (there's no need for us spend time on issues that are being fully covered on other sites) but this one was just too good to pass up.

Let the comments fly, this ought to be entertaining.

TINY UPDATE: Well, we're too busy birding (for once, and near an area that actually did have verifiable IBWOs in the 20th century) to actually spend much time on this, but one could speculate that David Pashley might know more about Jim's sightings, which might have occurred near Everett Slough, which might be found on the Florida DeLorme page 48, go to the SW corner and go NE diagonally, it's the second block. Just glad we're not ones running an all-IBWO, all-the-time website. How do you determine just how crazy some of the TBs out there really are? C'mon, is Jim less crazy than, as crazy as, or more crazy than: Mary Scott? Bill Smith? Jesse Gilsdorf? Exactly *how* do you determine how ridiculous a claim must be before you endorse it? Fun fun stuff.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

And they're off---but can migration re-wind?

Well, today is the official beginning of our favorite time of year--Christmas Bird Count season. There don't appear to be any Chicago-area counts scheduled for today, but there are a few downstate counts taking place, and today is the beginning of "Count Week" for some of the big Chicago-area CBCs.

Here's the big question facing all of the counts that will take place this weekend in this part of the Midwest: will the unseasonably warm weather (one forecaster predicts 60 degrees on Saturday in parts of northern Illinois) help or hurt the count totals? Last weekend almost every non-moving body of water in the Chicago area (away from Lake Michigan, of course) was frozen solid. Most moving water (rivers, streams, even the tiniest creeks) seemed to still be open. There was also a pretty tough layer of snow and ice everywhere; those conditions seemed ot really concentrate landbirds last weekend along areas of open or running water.

This weekend, all of those lakes and sloughs should un-freeze; marshes along rivers will almost certainly be open, and fields and prairies will be wet: free of snow and ice, with possible habitat for snipe and who knows what else. So, will we see empty prairies and and sloughs this weekend, or will those areas fill up with birds that headed a south a week or two ago when everything froze? We have this working theory that ducks (and for that matter all birds) try to stay as far north in their range as their specified habitat allows, so they can get back to their breeding grounds in the spring as soon as possible. So puddle ducks would stay as far north as they can to find the particular kind of water resource that they need to feed. Is that true? Can micro-weather conditions of a limited duration prompt migration to re-wind to where it was two or even three weeks ago, thereby giving us some birds that woud normally only be seen in late November and not in late December? We have no freakin' idea, but it will be a fun hypothesis to test out!

So good luck and good birding to all of the folks doing the FermiLab, McHenry, Lisle/Arboretum, and Chicago Urban counts this weekend, and to everyone around the world who is doing their 1st or their 100th count this weekend.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Help us help Jim Stevenson

We haven't forgotten the whole feral cat episode. We have probably received more comments and mail on that issue than on any other issue (that doesn't involve a certain large woodpecker species) since the site began. However, to start our FJS campaign, we need a bit more information, and for legal and strategic reasons we can't ask Jim ourselves. So, the first thing we need is a PDF or a link to the actual animal cruelty law (don't know if it's a statute, ordinance, or whatever) that Jim is accused of violating. The name of the presiding judge or officer and the prosecuting entity would also be useful. We don't have time right now to dig this up but we're guessing that someone out there has the info handy already.

Here is a good example of why CBC data can be important

If are an avid ABA-area lister, or if you regularly bird Florida, you probably know that Smooth-billed Ani has been virtually extirpated from the state, and essentially from the entire United States. So, what is an enterprising birder to do? Field a petition to get the species listed as state-endangered in Florida. What is the hard evidence supporting that request? Christmas Bird Count data! Check out the actual petition and the attached CBC data for Florida:


Tuesday, December 05, 2006

It's Christmas (Bird Count) Time Again--Hooray!!!

Well, we have been buried (literally and figuratively) since the conclusion of BINAC's You're A Peon Vacation, partially because we are diligently preparing for the upcoming Christmas Bird Count season. When we're not out killing feral cats, there's nothing we like more than participating in a good old-fashioned CBC. So we will try to blog on a few counts that we are doing, and give our readers (whether they be experienced counters or CBC virgins) a few tips for making your count day a big success.

One thing that you have to do on your CBC is embrace modern technology...only 4-5 years ago we were still dealing with paper Topo maps, then we moved on to Terraserver and crappy aerial photos, and now we have the "full monty" through the excellent Google Earth. We know that other bloggers have already talked about using Google Earth for CBCs (we seem to recall that Nuthatch posted a nice tutorial last year) so there is no need to reinvent the wheel, but check out Bill Schmoker's site at brdpics.blogspot.com for a nice piece on how to use Google Earth on your CBC.

We're probably too lazy to do the surfing on our own, but if you have a blog with a CBC tutorial, or if you run across a good one on someone else's blog, sent us the link and we'll post them here.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Free Jim Stevenson!!!

OK, we're done sipping our 4 Euro coffees and eating our 5 Euro tortes, and while ruminating in a Vienna cafe on the feral cat issue, we made a significant decision: We're supporting Jim Stevenson 110%! We're going to turn up the BINAC machine to 11 on this one.

The whole BINAC universe is gonna go apeshit on the City of Galveston if they don't Free Jim Stevenson!!! (Please note the new BINAC acronym: FJS!!!)

What are we gonna do? Oh, we have plans. Some are good. Some are bad. Some are really stupid. And some may be all three. If we don't invade Canada this weekend, the plans will be set into motion...

One word can best describe what the weather will be like here in Chicago over the next few days:


A nice welcome back to Chicago, eh?

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

BINAC's "You're a Peon" Vacation

Well, at least we have an excuse for the failure to update over the last fews days (although Blogger says that we updated on the 19th...I hope not, since we were'nt online on the 19th!): We're on the Continent. Maybe there will be an update or two, maybe not. So far it's been raining buckets and while we have seen some great tits (and a few birds as well!) the new species counter is still at zero.

Memo to self: Birding in the rain is not as fun as it sounds.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

We're not sure what's worse, Binoculars spam or IBWO spam...

Here is the *absolutely critical* info that was posted four times on a thread below.

We're not even sure if this comment is legit or not, but if it is...Bobby, c'mon man, you need to get some better help for this foundation of yours.

Pls. send back a ‘got it’And share this message in your newsletter and in your e-mail lists
Introducing theIvory-billed Woodpecker Foundation
The hope for the ivory-bill!
Because“Second Chances are extremely rare.”“
Deep in the bayou,through thethicknessof the mist,The long, lost ivory-bill,thought to be extinct, has been re-discovered; And a Foundationhas been born to care for it.”© nh.
Our Mission
For the locating, recovery, protection, management, preservation and conservation of Ivory-billed woodpeckers; through scientific research and documentation; and the education of the general public. This is a non-profit organization,all contributions are Tax Exempt.The Ivory-billed WoodpeckerThe most endangered bird species in this country.
On February 27, 2004, Bobby Harrison, of Huntsville, Alabama and Tim Gallagher of Ithaca, New York, rediscovered the magnificent ivory-billed woodpecker, long believed to be extinct in the Big Woods of eastern Arkansas. This was after more than 60 years since last confirmed sighting of the species in the United States by two qualified searchers. Their own quest culminated in this miraculous find after spending more than 30 years of researching and following leads.
The rediscovery has produced waves of excitement in the world of conservation and beyond. It has been hailed by ornithologists, birders, conservation organizations and the media as a Victory for Nature; and highlights the need to preserve the world’s critical habitats. Rediscovering the ivory-billed woodpecker, long thought to be extinct, provides a rare SECOND CHANCE to save a species
Please donate.You are the hope of the ivory-billed woodpecker!You are cordially invited to attend the Inaugural Celebration Galaon Saturday, February 24, 2007in Huntsville, AL at 6:00 PM.
For additionalGala and contribution informationplease contact:Pam White@256-883-1199Cassandra Decoux@256-830-0738 (pm only)Norma Harrison @ 256-776-2003 or 256-651-8466www.ivory-billedwoodpeckerfoundation.orgor email: ivorybillwp@aol.com.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Jim Stevenson Legal Defense Fund

According to published reports, long-time Galveston area birder Jim Stevenson has been arrested for killing a feral cat that was about to attack some shorebirds, including Snowy and Piping Plovers. There are probably some details about this incident that have not yet been made public, so we don't want to jump to any conclusions, but basically anyone who kills a cat to save a Piping Plover is a hero in our book. We know a lot of people won't like that statement but this is a birding blog not a cat blog so tough cookies.

We're hoping to be able in some way to contribute to Jim's defense, but we want to wait a few days to see if a clearer picture of this incident develops.


For balance, here is Jim Stevenson's response:

Subject: what actually happenedFrom: Jim Stevenson Date: Thu, 9 Nov 2006 18:25:31 -0800---> Texbird help file http://www.texbirds.org <---

This will be cryptic in some areas because there is an open case that my
attorneys would appreciate me keeping my big mouth shut about. But maybe I can
get the point across if I am careful.

I can share a quick bird-related story.

Tuesday night about 9pm, as all states other than Virginia and Montana had been
decided, I hopped in my van, with no camera, binoculars or "anything," to drive
the San Luis Pass beach (as some of you know I like to do). I saw an
interesting thing.

There was a feral cat (miles from any house), out in the upland dunes, creeping
up on three Snowy and two Piping Plovers, and several Sanderlings. The animal
was obviously crippled (as also reported by the toll booth worker), but still
came fairly close to one of the Piping Plovers. I couldn't believe how tame and
approachable it was to the cat.

I finally got out and attempted to apprehend the cat with a towel from the back
on the van. It's never easy, and the closer I got (kinda chasing it), the more
wary it got. I finally gave up.

I saw this cat the next morning, as I did my weekly count of SLP birds. I will
say that the only two people within a mile or so of me were up on top of a
concrete bridge, out of sight (and vice versa), and inside the booth with
extremely thick (shall we say "bullet proof"?) glass.

There were other cats just laying around that I probably could have hit with a
ping pong ball, but this particular one began limping off, with levied ground
directly behind it. Photographing it perfectly would have been tough, with its
bouncing gait.

It is well documented that predators that are cripple often rely on the easiest
prey possible, such as wounded lions and tigers that have taken unfortunate
people. I believe this was the case here, and I was very concerned about how
many Endangered, Threatened and SSC individuals would succumb to it.

That was Wednesday morning, and life hasn't been terrific since.
I had about 35 posts from well-wishers, 47 phone calls, and two notes on my
door, when I got back after two difficult days. I really appreciate that (OK,
two were quite negative), as I did the many offers of help, but I agree that
this matter should cease on Texbirds. The offers of help are appreciated and
solicited, though.

I find the issue of respect for life as challenging as any. I say this as
someone who catches Cottonmouths on my property by hand and releases them
unharmed in wilderness areas, someone who replaced a shotgun with a camera
years ago, thus bringing on his dad's ire, and someone who just shed tears over
the passing of Ed Bradley. Maybe I'm just real tired.

The ethical dilemma is pitting the life on one cat against the dozens or
hundreds of small, wild animals it will kill in its (short) lifetime. And
piggybacked on that is the "real" cruelty of the death they normally receive,
from starvation to disease. Study after study reveals this. For me, it is
clear, though I am by no means immune to the emotional, while trying to hide in
pure logic, science and pragmatism.

BTW, apparently there are others with similar views (and actions) who've been
down at San Luis Pass.

I hope that clears up things as much as I dare.

Jim in Muggy Galveston

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Possibly *the* best birding blog/web site in the universe

We have discovered what is perhaps the best birding blog in the universe. It is a site we have never linked to before, and have never seen linked to from any site before. They like Angus and Maiden, use copious amounts of profanity, and have a definite appreciation for the female form.

Any guesses?

Masked Duck in Florida

A Masked Duck has apparently shown up at the Viera Wetlands in Florida. Nice chase for you Florida birders.

Blogger is having a meltdown today, probably due to election-related high traffic volumes. So if something ain't workin' just hang tight.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Have you seen a Chimney Swift today?

There has been a lot of talk in Illinois lately about Chimney Swifts. There are apparently still swifts at multiple locations in Illinois, even though there have basically been no prior November records. And while all of these "I saw a Chimney Swift today" posts are getting a bit repetitive, it is still a pretty interesting migratory. Why are Chimney Swifts staying so late this year? Are other areas in the Midwest still seeing Chimney Swifts? This is the type of thing that is up to us birders to document...might even make an interesting article if you coudl find some sort of pattern or explanation for this late migration.

A quick search of several Midwest listserves shows one November Chimney Swift in Ohio but that's about it. (There have been some swifts still along the Indiana lakefront but we consider that to still be in the Chicago area.) Nothing in Iowa, Michigan, or Wisconsin...although this is the kind of thing that might not be reported or even noticed unless you're looking for Chimney Swifts.

So, what is happening here?

101 Ways to Help Birders

We were sitting around the BINAC family table on this lovely, peaceful Sunday afternoon, with our dog Pluto and our pet rabbit Vanilla, thinking about something we did in 1972 that we're sure would be quite interesting to all of you, eating our organic oat bran cereal and drinking our shade-grown coffee, lamenting the sad state of affairs in the cold, cruel world of bird blogging. Those darn bloggers are just so gosh darn mean it almost makes us want to cry. Why can't we all get along? Everyone is so childish. You try to be nice and sweet and kind and loving and all you get for your trouble are vicious insults. Why, we even tried to offer some assistance to a lady birder from Minnesota about where to report a rare bird and she got all grouchy and stuff and called us bad things (such bad language!) even though we didn't deserve such cruel and ruthless treatment. We were just trying to help. Why does she even ask for advice if she doesn't want to take it? Was it some sort of juvenile prank? A cruel trap to bait us into responding (who would ever fall for that;)? Why does she hate us so much when we're only trying to help? Why is everything so dark and cold this time of year? Why is the Blogger spellcheck so hard to use? Why can't the Bears win every game? Why can't we see a Green-tailed Towhee in Illinois? Why, why, why...(sob)...why, -- waaaaaaaaah!

But no matter how mean and cruel people are to us, we have to dry off the tears and move on.

We owe it to our readers.

We spent the whole morning online trying to Google a way to find the Minnesota RBA just in case we ever see a rare bird up there. We finally figured that out after a few hours, and noticed that there was some sort of book holding up the corner of our computer desk. We picked up the book and oh no -- we forgot to mention our new book, "101 Ways to Help Birders!!!" You can find this book at Amazon.com, it was released six weeks ago and is currently ranked as the #12,293,456 best-selling book at Amazon. (#234,564 in Sweden--yeah!) We would like to give our readers a bit of a preview of this book. Remember, this book is available at Amazon.com, Buteo Books, Borders.com, and eBay. Here is an excerpt of the first five chapters of the book, which is currently available at Amazon.com:

Chapter One: If you see a rare bird, call the local RBA or contact the local internet birding list.
Chapter Two: If you see a rare bird, call the local RBA or contact the local internet birding list.
Chapter Three: If you see a rare bird, call the local RBA or contact the local internet birding list.
Chapter Four: If you see a rare bird, call the local RBA or contact the local internet birding list.
Chapter Five: If you see a rare bird, call the local RBA or contact the local internet birding list.

If there is any interest, we will past Chapters 6-101 later, after we have a nice dinner of wild(Barnacle) goose, mashed potatoes, and gravy.

Friday, November 03, 2006

FONT -- Focus On Nature Tours/Armas Hill

We have heard a few stories about the above-referenced birding tour company, and we were actually considering a Japan tour with FONT until we heard about alleged problems on one of their recent tours there. Here is a link that contains a pretty distressing story about an aborted FONT trip to Newfoundland this past summer:


The Better Business Bureau link on that site lists seven complaints against FONT.

Do any of our readers have experience with F.O.N.T., good or bad?

Monday, October 30, 2006

Well, for what it's worth...

...someone sent us a link showing that our old pal Senor Guppy has been updating his web site.


Check it out before he hacks himself again.

Time for another rant...

Speaking of female Minnesota bird bloggers...we are due for a good rant, and here it is:

A well-known blogger posted the following to her site today:

I identified a Nashville, Pine, and Palm and then suddenly, what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a pretty big warbler with a dark blue-gray and black back, no apparent wingbars but also not that clean, solid coloration of a Canada Warbler, bright yellow throat and breast, black streaks along the sides (and limited to the sides), a dark face with a broken white eye ring, and white crissum. And danged if the little guy didn't constantly wag its tail! I didn't have my field guide with me--that was back in the car--but I was virtually certain of what I was seeing, and of its significance, so called out the field marks (even though no one with me really knew what I was talking about) to keep them clear in my head until I could write them down. The bird was in view only about 30 or 40 seconds, and then not only did it disappear but so did the whole flock.I rushed to the car, wrote down the field marks, looked it up in the field guide I'd brought (Kaufman's) and was so certain this was a male Kirtland's Warbler that I went to the entrance office to report it. The guy on duty wrote down what I said, though I have a feeling he wasn't a birder because he asked me how to spell "Kirtland's" and repeated it back as "Kirtland's Sparrow" until I corrected him. Oh, dear--this is probably the rarest bird I've ever found on my own, and I don't even know who to tell! If you do, please email me!
Who do you tell? Well, if you think you've seen a Kirtland's Warbler in Florida, you tell fucking Florida birders, that's who! I mean, how hard is that? There are not one...not two... not three...but at least *four* different Florida e-mail birding lists that have wide coverage. It's not that hard to figure that out on your own. Or you could google "Florida RBA" and find out that there is still a way to report birds by telephone in Florida. C'mon, is it really that hard? Are there actually people out there that have been birding for years and years, are sophisticated enough to have their own birding blog, and don't know where to report a rare bird???

Whither Birdchick?

Hey, what hapened to the Birdchick site?

Sharon, where are ye? Is there some virus killing off Minnesota birding blogs, or what?

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Nocturnal Hermit Thrush???

For the first time in almost two months, all four of the computers we use to post to the blog are working at the same time. Rejoice! Keep letting us know about those late fall rarities, there seems to be a bit of a push by Mountain Bluebirds into the Midwest this year, and one of the Midwest hawkwatch sites had a Gull-billed Tern a few days ago.

Today we observed something very unusual: a Hermit Thrush hunting, at night, by the light of the Chicago streetlamps. One other person has previously reported to us seeing this nocturnal hunting technique being used by a Hermit Thrush is the very same neighborhoood. There are plenty of sparrows around but we've never seen them hunting at night.

So, has anyone else seen this before? Are we witnessing the early steps in the evolution of the Chicago Hermit ThrushOwl?

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Yellow-browed Warbler in Wisconsin???

This is shaping up to be a spectacular month of October for Midwest birders. Green-tailed Towhee and Rock Wren in Michigan, a grebe explosion here in Illinois in the Palos area (Western Grebe + multiple Red-necked grebes for a start), and we haven't even paid much attention to other states to see what else is around.

Now, to top things off, there has been a report of a Yellow-browed Warbler (!) at Bradford Beach just north of Milwaukee. We've heard that searchers have failed to re-find this bird today, but if the report is legit, this bird may be headed south along the Lake Michigan lakefront. We've gotten multiple reports that there was a very nice movement of passerines along the lakefront today, so who knows what other rarities may have moved into Wisconsin, Illinois, and Indiana today.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Unplanned Twitch of the Year

We sure didn't know what birds we'd be seeing when we woke up this morning. An early work obligation (complicated by some extra security due to a terrorism trial) was followed by a quick cab ride out to O'Hare.

50 minutes after taking off, we're in Green Bay headed back to the U.P of Michigan. About four hours later we pull into our hotel, check in, and get a tip that there is some "rare bird" in the local newspaper. We hop online and check the UP Birders site...the bird is in a yard on Ridge Road. Can we make it there before dark? We ask the front desk, and they tell us that our hotel is *on* Ridge Road...the yard is only a few blocks away! We hop into the car and head over...the incredibly nice and gracious family that is hosting the bird lets us in...without even raising our binoculars, we immediately see our target, scratching away under a feeder, just four feet from the picture window...yes, it's a GREEN-TAILED TOWHEE!!!! Who-eeee. Sure, they're common as dirt in Colorado, but a pretty damn good bird for the Midwest...when are we gonna see a chaseable GT Towhee in Illinois?

Now, if we can only figure out a way to see that Rock Wren that showed up a few days ago...

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Lost and Found

Just got back from Florida. The large blackbird flocks have arrived in Florida, along with the wintering Palm Warblers, but no big flocks of Robins yet. Lots of the usual southern species, Pileateds, NOMOs, Wild Turkey, Carolina Wrens, an impossibly tame Sandhill Crane in the middle of a Target parking lot (didn't even move when cars pulled up right next to it), all of the expected herons, a couple of Wood Storks, and a Barred Owl that nearly decapitated BINAC. (Look, he started it. Hooting away in *our* territory day after day. We had to respond. And did. We're still not sure how he snuck up on us, we never saw him, but we did hear his wings as he took a swipe at us. Suppose we deserved it, though.)

Upon arriving back at Casa de BINAC, we noticed "Cty of For" on the caller ID. Hmmm, the County Forest Preserves are calling us. (No, we don't know where the stray "of" came from, either.) Maybe some naturalist is calling us with a critical question about preserving bird habitat? Nope. The nice folks at the forest preserves are calling because someone brought in a copy of Sibley to somewhere. Either the person bringing in the Sibley was named "James," or the name "James" was written somewhere in the Field Guide. The message was a little unclear on that point. We assume that this James character lost his Sibley Guide at one of the local county forest preserves, but the message was a little unclear on that, too. But the diligent folks at the forest preserves got our number from the Planetarium (WTF? Who the Hell at the Planetarium is giving out our phone number???) and just wanted to see if we knew who "James" was.

Now, while we appreciate the effort put forth by this diligent public official in trying to return this field guide to its rightful owner, we regrettably do not know every birder named James who might have bought a Sibley Guide in the last five years. We frankly don't know where all of our copies of the damn thing have disappeared to, so unless he's reading this, "James" is gonna be out of luck. And James, nice try, but you might want to think about putting your last name and phone number into your new Sibley Guide.

Friday, October 13, 2006

BINAC Beats Blizzard...

...well, not really, but close. And we've been itchin' to use that title since about August, anyway.

There is a lot we have wanted to write about lately (a timely comment even alerted us to the reappearance of Mr. Guppy!!!), but it's been busy. We just barely escaped from da UP before the predicted two feet of snow. The storm seemed to have disintegrated a bit, but was still a big enough threat for us to cancel some plans and cut the trip short. At least there were a few birds behind the hotel before the storm hit, including a nice little flock of Purple Finches. Yeah, those aren't uncommon birds for you North Woods types, but as far as we're concerned, any day we see a "winter finch" is a good day.

This weekend we're back to parts unknown in Florida and Internet access will again be sketchy until at least Monday. Maybe we'll be in da UP next week, or maybe at Hawk Ridge, who knows?

A couple people have asked us to spill the beans early on the Mike's Soap Box thing; Mike has asked us to not print a few things that he told us about in private, and we will respect his wishes and will not reprint what he told us here. However, Mike really only added some details to what we had already heard, there is plenty about the whole affair from other reliable sources (public and private), so we'll finesse this thing a bit to get our loyal readers (both of them) the scoop.

BINAC Beats Blizzard...

...well, not really, but close. And we've been itchin' to use that title since about August, anyway.

There is a lot we have wanted to write about lately (a timely comment even alerted us to the reappearance of Mr. Guppy!!!), but it's been busy. We just barely escaped from da UP before the predicted two feet of snow. The storm seemed to have disintegrated a bit, but was still a big enough threat for us to cancel some plans and cut the trip short. At least there were a few birds behind the hotel before the storm hit, including a nice little flock of Purple Finches. Yeah, those aren't uncommon birds for you North Woods types, but as far as we're concerned, any day we see a "winter finch" is a good day.

This weekend we're back to parts unknown in Florida and Internet access will again be sketchy until at least Monday. Maybe we'll be in da UP next week, or maybe at Hawk Ridge, who knows?

A couple people have asked us to spill the beans early on the Mike's Soap Box thing; Mike has asked us to not print a few things that he told us about in private, and we will respect his wishes and will not reprint what he told us here. However, Mike really only added some details to what we had already heard, there is plenty about the whole affair from other reliable sources (public and private), so we'll finesse this thing a bit to get our loyal readers (both of them) the scoop.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Mike's Soap Box R.I.P.

Well, part of the BINAC crew is headed up to Minnesota today, so we thought this would be a fitting moment to lament the demise of the Mike's Soap Box blog.

We didn't always agree with Mike (hell, we don't always agree with what's posted on this site!!!), but he was always entertaining, he spoke his mind, and we're sad to see him go.

Why did Mike's blog disappear? Well, that's the rest of the story, which we'll tell along with a very nice public service announcement in a subsequent post.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Three Cheers to the Brits...

...for this very funny spoof that was posted on BirdForum:


Thursday, October 05, 2006

Birders search for the Ivory-billed Woodpecker in Florida

For those of you who are continually whining "Why aren't Fla. birders talking about and searching for the IBWO in the Panhandle?" here is a link to a nice trip report by well-known Florida birder Larry Manfredi:

Stop your whining and start searching

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Feather Weather is back!

We were working on adding/deleting a few links when we noticed that the Feather Weather blog (which we were about to delete) is back online. If you haven't done so already, click on the link and check it out, it's a pretty cool blog.

Monday, October 02, 2006

"We don't need your Civil War":BINAC declares IBWO cease fire

We just arrived back from Florida late this evening, and we've been thinking about this whole IBWO mess. While we have enjoyed all of the sniping and the insults and the back-stabbing, things have reached a new low.

Birders are attacking each other anonymously in forums, sending nasty private e-mails, are even threatening to sue one another over the whole fiasco, and then Hillary Clinton has to whine about it all. While this has been quite entertaining, it has also gotten a bit repetitive. Especially the whining part.

So we are hereby declaring a truce, a 72-hour unilateral cease-fire, on all IBWO-related issues. This means that we will not have any posts -- positive or negative -- about the freakin' Ivory-billed Woodpecker until Thursday morning. We will embargo a couple of posts we had ready to go. That means no bitching about Cornell or Auburn or anyone else for 72 hours. No responding to IBWO-related e-mails. And no surfing BirdForum. There are two exceptions to this cease-fire: First, we retain the right to defend ourselves if someone attacks in comments or on another site. Second (and you knew this was coming) the cease-fire is ended if Mr. Guppy reappears. (It's about time for him to surface again. Maybe he's figured out how to "un-hack" his web site? Or perhaps he just forgot his own password.)

Now, we don't expect anyone else to join us in this cease-fire. Hey, if you have a blog, you can write what the hell you want to. But therein lies the problem with unilatreal cease-fires: the disarming party usually gets killed! However, since this is merely a metaphorical disarmament (we're keeping all of our guns loaded!), we're willing to take that risk. For the children.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Quick note on comments...

Some comments seem to be getting disappeared today, or at least delayed.

We're not moderating comments, so there must be some sort of glitch on Blogger today that is screwing things up.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Message from Tyler Hicks

Here is a nice message from Tyler Hicks to all birders and BINAC readers:

I encourage all birders, skeptics and true believers, to visit the Choctawhatchee River. You can find recommended sites on the Auburn IBWO website. There is a lot of good information on the website on some guidelines that we respectfully ask birders to follow such as refraining from the use of playback or tapes. In addition there is some good information on their concerning your safety.
When the Choc is running high it has a powerful current even deep in the swamps and it is very easy to get disoriented in a flooded forest. Most of all I think it is worth a visit simply because the forests there are so beautiful. In certain areas especially in the Dead River & Tilley landing vicinity the forests are as inspiring as the great forests of the Pacific Northwest.
A great time to visit is in April as the forest lights up in an almost neon green. The numerous Prothonotary Warblers will be blasting their songs and Swallow-tailed Kites will be swooping over the ancient cypress. I think it is important to remember that no matter how amazing Ivory-bills are, they are just one part of this fascinating eco-system. There is so much life in these primeval forests and I think it is an eco-system that few birders get to experience or even know exists. These forests can be found throughout the South from the Carolinas to Texas. So bust out your paddles or waders this spring or just stop by and take a look.
Have a great fall migration everyone.
OK, we still cannot understand why no one can get a picture of an IBWO if they still exist. That bothers us big-time. But it's clear that the Auburn group is not a bunch of flakes or weirdos or zealots who are obsessed by conspiracy theories and bird-whisperers. They're legit birders who have taken careful notes and have put their evidence out there for all of us to analyze and criticize. They have done what so many people have asked Cornell to do. They clearly learned from some of the mistakes that Cornell made, and their openness and honesty is refreshing. Geoff Hill even seems to have a decent sense of humor about the whole situation.
Will that amount to a Hill of beans in 2-3 years if no photos are obtained in the meantime? Who knows. It is doubtful that this new evidence will change the minds of any hard-core skeptics. But there are a few people that have changed their position already, and there is still hope...and that hope can still be fully realized as long as somewhere out there there might, just might, be an IBWO that is waiting to be photographed for the cover of a magazine...

*Two* Northern Wheaters in Florida?

There was a Northern Wheatear sighted in Everglades N.P. a few days ago. That bird has not been seen for a day or two. Now, a Northern Wheatear has also been sighted at Honeymoon Island in Pinellas County (north of Tampa). Wonder what the odds are that this is the same bird?

BINAC has birded both of these locales in the last few months. Don't you just hate it when a mega-rarity shows up *after* you've been somewhere? Birder envy again. This must sound awful, but do you ever feel like "if I don't see a bird, I wish that no one else will see it, either?" Yeah, that's a "bad birder" thought, but deep inside the pit of your stomach, admit it, you've had that feeling, too.

We read all this shit so you don't have to!!!

We are not going to link to all of the new IBWO info because, well, we actually have a job, and the two all-IBWO-all-the-time sites do a much better job of that than we ever could.

So we will, instead, do what we do best...comment on the IBWO news, on funny little tidbits, on some of the stupid little comments that are floating around right now in the blogosphere. Pretty much our random thoughts on the whole situation.

This post will be updated as work allows. Blogger is fucked up today so who knows what will get through. (Why all the vulgarity today? Is this the only birding blog that regularly curses???)

1. OK, doesn't it seem like Cornell's web site is a big corporate deal, while Auburn's was put together by a bunch of guys in their basement? To put it into birder terms:

Cornell=National Audubon Society
Auburn=local birding club or ornithological society

That's not intended as an insult...we strongly prefer local birding groups over the NAS...but it is kinda funny.

2. Note to Auburn: do you have a law school? Because there are a lot of copyright notices on the sites that say something like "this information is copyrighted and cannot be used without permission." But you can't copyright information. You could copyright the actual text of an article, or of a field note, but you can't really copyright the information. There is no restriction on using that information, at least not in this context. And all of the info on the site is copyrighted to Hill and Mennill...but the individual sighters should still have their own copyright in their own field notes.

3. We at BINAC do really like these Auburn guys. They seem like nice, normal, approachable birder dudes. And they are being totally honest about what they have and what they don't have, and they have made almost all of it available online. (We'd still like to see the video!!!) So kudos to them for that, they have learned from Cornell's mistakes.

4. Who the fuck is Amy Lester? (Again, the vulgarity.) What, you don't even have to own a pair of binoculars to comment on the IBWO now? And that link that someone posted to a "paper" on birds written by "Amy Lester" (that was obviously written by a grade schooler) was hilarious. We give credit where credit is due, so if that link really was posted by Fishcrow, kudos to Fishcrow!

5. What the hell is John Wall talking about? Hey, we love his Worldtwitch site, but his theory is that the Auburn sightings are some sort of Bush-Rumsfield conspiracy to preempt the election of a Democrat governor in New York? WTF??? Is everyone crazy?

6. The rumor mill was pretty much wrong on this one. Or at least the people pimping the rumor were wrong. Remember all that talk about True Believers dancing on the graves of suicidal skepctics? Didn't happen.

7. You can't blame Auburn for the rumor mill, though. They have been honest and straightforward about what they have. And putting the original field notes and virtually all of the recordings online was a cool deal. We also like the editorial that was attached to the online paper. And you actually have a chance to respond to both the editorial and the paper itself. Very interesting.

8. So did pd actually take up Amy Lester (again, WTF is she???) on her thousand-dollar bet offer?

9. More kudos to Auburn for bringing Jerry Jackson into the loop on this one.

10. If we have one major objection to the Auburn team's way of doing things, it involves birder access, as noted by Mike H. in comments below. If the area is open to the public, it is open to the public, period. You can't let hunters and fishermen in and then chase out (even politely) birders.

11. What do you think Auburn would have found if they had gotten just a tiny piece of the $1M plus that Cornell used to get exactly zero credible sightings this past search season? But see #10. After Cornell's efforts, no photo=no money.

Encourage everyone to go down to the Chachi-wacthie or whatever its called and *someone* will get a photo if the birds are actually there.


12. Somebody just clicked onto this site by Googling the phrase "Florida Ivory-bills Here We Go Again." That's pretty funny, we might steal it!!!

Monday, September 25, 2006

BINAC World Exclusive: Tyler Hicks Speaks!!!!

Well, this is a BINAC-exclusive: we just got a very nice e-mail from Tyler Hicks, and he told us that

and we think that should settle the question of the existence of the IBWO once and for all!!!

For our more intelligent readers, you may notice that the information Tyler gave us has been cleverly concealed by the use of blank spaces. Actually, Tyler can't really say much about the IBWO right now, so we just made up the blank spaces. But Tyler seems like a good guy and seems pretty normal so we are going to cut him some slack, and who knows, we might hear more from him in the future.

In the meantime, Tyler wanted us to plug a cool scholarship for young birders, it seems like a great cause, so why the hell not. Here is the link Tyler sent us, and we've added another link below:



If we can set aside the IBWO debate and arguing and insulting for just a minute check out that link, if you're a young birder you might want to apply, and if you're an old birder (aren't most of us?) you might even want to donate. That's our good deed for the week.

ADDENDUM: OK, a few people have started to take shots at Tyler already. We feel partially responsible because we put up the link to his website, but it would have gotten out there eventually. Let's just say that Tyler has the bona fides...if you look into his background a bit, he (and for that matter some of the other people involved) does have significant birding experience, not just in the U.S., but in Latin America and Asia. Don't judge someone's experience based on one link alone. Does that mean BINAC is going soft? (No jokes please!!!) No, we'll make fun of the whole Auburn team if they deserve it, but let's give them a bit of a chance to at least officially announce their findings before we pile on. At least the people involved are birders. It would be so sweet if they got the definitive photo before one of the TB zealots.

BINAC is going to see Jet play tonight so there might not be any updates until tomorrow.

One of us?

Well, by-golly, it seems like the person who has had the best "sighting" of an Ivory-billed Woodpecker since the Singer Tract birds is not some delusional self-promoting government scientist, failed magician, or psychic-consulting loon, he's actually....a freakin' birder!!! What are the odds of that?


A birder who participates in bird-banding, leads bird tours, and reports birds to his local RBA.

You can check all of the IBWO-only sites tomorrow for plenty of discussion of the new Florida evidence, the nastiness has begun already...the evidence is not rock-solid, but Geoff Hill et al seem to have learned from some of Cornell's mistakes.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Wait and See (again)

Well, you may be wondering what we're thinking about all of those IBWO rumors. This site was the first (or maybe the second) to run with the specifics of the recent rumor, although a number of other sites (including cyberthrush's site) had been pimping the info, without specifics, for some time. Kudos to John Trapp for breaking (via Tom Nelson's site) the story wide open and sleuthing some details about the papers that will be presented at the upcoming AOU meeting

Basically, we're in a wait-and-see mode on this one. We don't have any inside information or secret sources, all we know is what people send us, and most of that has already been posted (here and elsewhere). It seems obvious that if "they" had a pretty picture of an IBWO it would have been released by now; if the new "evidence" is not conclusive, the sparks are going to fly.

We're quite looking forward to it, actually.

In the meantime, remember that, as we have repeated here time and time again in connection with Mr. Guppy and other alleged sightings, even if the IBWO does still live, we as birders have an obligation to make sure that junk sightings don't pollute the pool of knowledge about this species.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Reddish Egret Re-Found at Miller Beach!!!!

Yes, this headline deserves *four* exclamation points.

Check IN-Bird for more details. Reddish Egret is not a bird that we see too often in the Chicago area, or anywhere in the Midwest. (Obviously.) So if you live in the Chicago area or anywhere in Indiana or in southern Michigan go see this cool bird!!!!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Nocturnal Mega-Migration Currently Underway!!!

Hundreds of birds are streaming over downtown Chicago tonight.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Arizona Addendum

Well, we're back from Arizona, some of us didn't get back until late Monday/early Tuesday morning.

There is *sooooooooo* much that has happened in the last week or so we would like to talk about but since I'm on the road again(in Virginia right now) until at least next Thursday updates may be a little slow. Then I'll forget what I was going to write about anyway...

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Aztec Thrush is in the house!!!

Today was a typical "birder day."

We got into Phoenix late last night. Our flight was late. The rest of our group was coming in on a different flight. Can't find any info on the arrival of the other flight. Finally realize that their flight is coming into a different terminal. Take bus to stupid Garage Mahal rental car terminal that we're paying for with our 45% taxes on our rental car. Get to pick our own SUV-Hooray! They only have one SUV to choose from --Boo!!! The truck's thermometer reads 115 degrees at 11:00 p.m.--is that even possible? How do people live here?

Arrive in our hotel in Tuscon at around 1:30 am -- which would be 3:30 am Chicago time. Only make one wrong turn and end up near strip club. Up at 5:45 in the morning, bird the parking lot a bit, buy gas/water/etc. at Madera Canyon by about 8:00. Hike up the canyon, wherewe blow by the original Aztec Thrush site and continue uphill until we luckily meet a friendly photographer who shows us the female Berryline Hummingbird *tick* on the nest. Head back downhill and wander around for a about an hour at the Choke Cherry tree until another birder spots the Aztec Thrush *tick* fly into the tree.

Proctor road---get the funky-looking Black-capped Gnatcatcher almost immediately after walking down the wrong trail and ending up at an unmarked shack or outhouse or something.

Lunch at KFC. See a bird, eat a bird.

Drive towards Nogales and head to Sycamore Canyon. Someone's passed out in the back seat already. Ruby Road will wake them up. On the way to Sycamore, pass Border Patrol with their machine guns out and at the ready. Let's not stop here. Miss the R-C Warbler by about ten minutes. Still, we savor the unexpected beauty and general birdiness of Sycamore Canyon.

Almost 5:00 now. Haul ass to beat a storm and head towards Patagonia. Skip Paton's, Patagonia Lake, etc. Stop at Roadside Rest area, Zone-tailed Hawk *tick* and Thick-billed Kingbird *tick*.

Very tired. More Coke and gas station coffee. Get to Sierra Vista to find our hotel. Dark now. See sign for Ramsey Canyon. *Shit* Finally realize that unless we're staying in Mexico we missed our hotel. Turn around. Check into hotel.

Chase a nighthawk around a mall parking lot. End the night at a filthy Pizza Hut. Our waitress tells us about her recent experiences at a Slayer/Slipknot concert. She makes our pizza for us, too. Get directions to nearest Whataburger for future reference.

Head back to the hotel and catch up on e-mail.

Do the same thing tomorrow.

Birding is easy, right?

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Mystery Gull in Florida

OK, it's not really a mystery gull, it was pretty easy to id in person, but it was a very unusual species to be seen in Florida during the July 4th holiday. In the middle of a road. Maybe some day we'll post a trip report for the whole trip, but until then, ponder this (admittedly poor) photo:

Remember, this photo was taken in Florida in July.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Are Kirtland's Warblers Breeding in Ontario?

Sounds like they might be.

From Bird Studies Canada:

18 August 2006 – Military officials at the armed forces base in Petawawa, Ontario, have revealed that at least two Kirtland’s Warblers spent the summer in the extensive jack pine forests found on the base. This is the first record for the Ottawa area since 1985 and the first territorial birds for the Petawawa base since a singing male spent the summer there in 1977. This endangered species is one of the world’s rarest birds; as recently as the late 1980s, it numbered less than 400 individuals.
Through careful management of its very specific habitat and control of the Brown-headed Cowbird (a nest parasite), the population has increased to more than 3000 birds in recent years. While the bulk of the population breeds in Michigan, there are historical breeding records in Wisconsin and Ontario. Indeed, ornithologists considered the species to be “not uncommon” in the Petawawa area until the early 1900s.
The return of the Kirtland’s Warbler to Ontario would be welcome news as a breeding population outside of Michigan would further ensure the species’ continued recovery.

Thursday, August 24, 2006


This is not our idea, but it would be interesting to see the results of this poll on the Ivory-billed woodpecker:

Floyd Hayes' IBWO Poll

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

A Must-Buy for Midwest Birders: Ken Brock's "Birds of Indiana" on CD

If you are a birder and you live in the Midwest, you must pick up Ken Brock's new CD. We haven't seen it yet, but based on Ken's past work, it will be excellent. Here's the info, with a link to buy:

The Amos W. Butler Audubon Society (AWBAS) is pleased to announce publication of Brock's Birds of Indiana.
This fabulous CD is available now. Please click here to order -- $20 + $2 s/h.
Brock's Birds of Indiana is a treatise of information encompassing all 409 species of birds known to have occurred in Indiana. We predict that it will be the publication to which all future state bird books are compared. Each species account contains a histogram and summary of historical occurrence, details on status and distribution in Indiana (including early/late dates and maximum counts), and a discussion of population trends.
Examples: Cooper's Hawk, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Grasshopper Sparrow.John Cassady, one of Indiana's finest bird photographers, provided excellent photographs that add to the already attractive layout of Brock's work.Because of the extreme depth of coverage afforded each species, Brock's Birds of Indiana is being published in an electronic (CD-ROM) format.
If printed and bound, the text would total nearly 1,000 pages. Dr. Kenneth Brock, retired Professor of Geology and Dean of Arts and Sciences at Indiana University Northwest in Gary, has assiduously studied and documented Indiana's avifauna since 1970. His broad knowledge and extensive technical expertise is well known.
In 1986 he published Birds of the Indiana Dunes, which immediately became a "must have" publication for those interested in the avifauna of such famous Indiana birding sites as the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Michigan City Harbor, and the migrant traps of the Calumet Region. He is a dedicated birder and a current member of the Indiana Bird Records Committee.
AWBAS is acknowledging the significance of Brock's publication by supporting its production and distribution. By underwriting the project and providing critical support for production costs, AWBAS hopes to ensure that Brock's Birds of Indiana is accessible to all bird enthusiasts.
The AWBAS portion of any proceeds will help fund AWBAS outreach and conservation efforts; hence the purchase of Brock's Birds of Indiana affords birders an opportunity to acquire an authoritative text while helping to preserve Indiana's birds and their habitats.

To order a copy of Brock's Birds of Indiana,please click here

Monday, August 21, 2006

IBWO Rumor Central

I have no idea if this is true or not, but this comment deserves a post of its own. I hope the part about it being impossible to get photos is not true, because that will just start this whole circus over again. More on this rumor later...

Anonymous said...

I been hearing the same thing and this is what I am hearing.
1. NINE pairs of IBWOs have been found in Florida in the panhandle section of Florida. These birds were found along some remote river. Also this location was not even listed as a potential IBWO location but the habitat is perfect for IBWOs.
2. A Georgia University graduate student has been studying these birds for some time. This study MIGHT be presented at the AOU meeting in Mexico. No one knows for sure but the rumor is that the presentation will be at the AOU meeting. Hence possibly reason why some Cornell people close to the IBWO topic are in attendance.
3. Rumor also has it that all the photos taken of these birds are not very good, which will open the door once again for months of debate regarding the identity of these woodpeckers.
4. Outside birders/researchers who knew about this study have visited and searched the area and found nothing. The area is supposedly filled with alligators, snakes, lots of mosquitos and other insects. Which might be the reason why they failed in finding any IBWOs in this area.
5. The only other person who has seen some of these IBWOs is the graduate student's professor.Since so many other birders on Bird Forum have heard the same thing as I, I thought I just spill the beans and be more informative on what the rumor is all about.Let games begin!

Monday, August 21, 2006 10:44:09 AM

Sunday, August 20, 2006

The end of a era -- "Guppie Man" retires!!!

Oh man, we could *not* make this stuff up ourselves. Now I have to give "William Smith" or "William Franks" or whatever his real name is some credit. When his story starts to fall apart, he pretends like he's getting crank phone calls, and when no one buys that, he actually messes with his own web site and blames us for it! He has also "enhanced" the crank phone call aspect of the story: First the phone company told him the call was from Illinois. Now that has morphed into Cingular giving him the number and he called and talked to the guy's wife and the guy has a kid and he is a birder and *yawn*. And the best part is he's actually blaming some guy named "Wompoo Dove" for giving out his number. Bloody brilliant if you ask me. This ought to put the IBWO geeks into a lather for days!!!! I'm beginning to think our dear Mr. Guppy has a sense of humor after all.

Here, in all its glory, is his (at least second, just like Michael Jordan) "farewell" post from BirdForum:


Warning,,do not read this if you don't like frivolous whining. I am beat. I am done. I tried, because I was asked to, to share information. I expected to be criticized, I expected to be laughed at, but I genuinely wanted to create an atmosphere where information could be shared openly.Birding is not a crime has put an invitation to harass me, awarding points to people for getting a response from me. I ignored it like I was told. So the phone calls started. I have no idea how the number was aquired, it is not in my name and I only shared it with one person in here, Wompoo Dove. I had/have no reason to doubt his sincerety. The phone calls started less than 12 hours after I gave him the number via PM. My caller ID did not identify the number. Cingular gave me the number, I called it, I spoke to a woman who said she had a teenage son and a husband. The caller was a grown man. She said he liked birds. I told her that I wouldn't persue it if the calls stopped and they did. Now my website has been hacked. I found out about it today. And of course Birding is not a crime has posted the dirty work on his site. Birding is not a crime and I'm quite sure hacking is a crime. I will find the ISP that did this. And I will pursue it. And he is a jerk for publicly inciting this harassment. And he has actually said that I DID THAT TO MY SITE. He is the lowest form of dirt as far as I am concerned. So now he will post this on his site as well. I am done. I am done here, so ban me again. I have no stamina left. Hacking a site is illegal and it has pushed me over the edge. I am a grown man and I would never consider treating another human being this way. I have been being hounded by this person for 5 months at least. I have done nothing to him to instigate it. He managed to instigate a response on here late one evening and I am sorry for that. But I have done nothing. He has instigated his followers to engage in illegal activity and I will soon have the culprit. I am done. Bill

"SUE ME Guppie Man"

Well, Mr. Guppy (or "Guppie") has now taken down his IBWO photo and inserted a handwritten scrawl that says "SUE ME Guppie Man":

Not sure if this is an acknowledgement that the whole site was a hoax or what, but it sure is pretty funny.

Cyberthrush keeps on hinting on his IBWO site that there will be good news on the IBWO front in the near future. We sure hope that this is true, and we hope that whoever is involved will do the "right" thing to protect any birds that may still exist, but we *especially* hope that Mr. Guppy is somehow involved.

P.S. The contest is still open.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Cornell Seeks Identification Advice on Rediscovery (?) of Bachman's Warbler

OK, I just noticed this link on Tom Nelson's site and on a few mailing lists.

Check it out:


Friday, August 18, 2006

And now for something completely different...

...check out the following link for updates on a Little Stint currently being seen in, believe it or not, Kentucky:

Little Stint in Kentucky

A Note for BirdForum Readers

Welcome to everyone who has clicked through to this site from BirdForum.

The search function is not working perfectly right now, so you may have to dig a bit to find the past posts on tmguy aka thatmagicguy aka William Smith aka William Franks.

We should probably compile all of the links/posts together in a single post but there is only so much blogging you can do while you're at work...

In the meantime, even if you think that tmguy is telling the truth, that his photos are real, keep this comment (from Bill Pulliam) in mind:


Bill Pulliam said...
Beyond the fact that The Guppy is bonkers, he also subscribes to a fallacy that some other people over on birdforum have expressed: "They've been doing fine without us, just leave them alone." Even if The Guppy is actually a genius, not a basket case, and real female IBWOs do flawless impressions of decoys stuffed in scrub oaks and allow you to approach to within a few yards to snap a picture, well, what have we got, 12 birds, he says? In an area that once hosted thousands of them at least? By no stretch of even a deranged imagination is this species doing fine. It's clinging by a tattered thread. To paraphrase a slogan from another political battle, Secrecy = Extinction. How many Whooping Cranes would we have now if the location of the 11 surviving individuals had been kept as a personal secret of a couple of fishermen?
And check out Bill's own blog when you get a chance:

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

POLL: Ten Places Every Birder Should Visit Before They Die, Continental U.S./Canada Only (ie no Alaska/Hawaii)

It's been a while since we had a poll here, so I think this will be our next poll question: Top Ten places to go birding before you die. I'll try to set up the poll so that we can get the final results in order. So keep coming for your suggestions for the top 25 or 30 spots, and those places will all be choices in the poll.

See the comments to the original thread below for more details. Place your nominations in the comments here or in the other thread.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

A Plug (unpaid, of course) for Eagle Optics Binoculars.

We just heard the best story from our good friend John da Fisherman.

Remember how John broke his binocluars on a CBC last year, and he then birded for the entire CBC looking through one lens, calling it his "monocular"? Well, he had a lifetime guarantee, so he sent them back and got virtually a new pair from Eagle Optics to replace them.

John was doing a Big Day a few weeks ago with another birder, driving in the Calumet area, when, in John's own words, a "bunch of Mexicans" drove up next to them, and started yelling at them in Spanish and pointing at the roof of their car. (Something similar happened to me in Panama once.) So John has no idea what's going on, but notices that his binoculars are not in the back seat, and looks into the rear view mirror just in time to see his brand-new binoculars bounce down Brainerd Avenue and get run over by a truck...he left them on top of the car!

Even though there was not *any* glass left in the binoculars, Eagle Optics still agreed to replace them again--that's a great warranty policy for anyone who wants to buy their in-house brand of binocs.

But the funniest part of the story is that John went to the local UPS outlet and shipped the trashed binoculars back to Eagle Optics in the same box he got them in, but the clerk gave him back all three packing slips. So...you guessed it...he gets his own broken binoculars (that he shipped to himself!) back in the mail two days later!

Funny stuff.

Mr. Guppy Goes Postal--Cash $$$ Reward For Guppy Fishing!!!

Well, well, well, our favorite recurring character, IBWO expert Mr. Guppy, has reappeared. Those of you who still read the BirdForum IBWO threads have probably noticed that Mr. Guppy has resumed posting there. His recent posts have been as long and as paranoid as ever, but there has been a definite improvement in his grammar and spelling. I don't know if his medication wore off last night or what, but late last night he finally blew another gasket.

See, late last night Mr. Guppy wrote another classic post about the four or five different locations in Florida where he has seen IBWOs since last year, how nobody listens to him, and he even threw in a totally unrelated story about his young daughter and a raccoon to garner some sympathy for his tale. The usual stuff. Anyway, at the end of his post, he said something like "and anyone who doesn't believe the woman who says she saw an Ivory-billed on a telephone pole near Tallahassee...up yours."

Well, that hacked off some reader named "IllinoisBirder" (note: we know who that is, but we're not telling), who then posted a short response, something along the line of "Very classy tmguy, but that's what we would expect from you."

So what was Mr. Guppy's response? Very simple: he called IllinoisBirder a pedophile. Yes, we're serious, he called him/her a pedophile. What kind a person gets into an argument over a woodpecker and calls the other person a *pedophile*?

The most amazing thing is that he actually spelled "pedophile" correctly.

Anyway, of course the whole exchange got deleted by the moderators, so virtually no one saw it, and now Mr. Guppy (as is his nature) is trying to pretend that *he* was the victim.

So we think it is time to have a little contest here. The contest will be to see who can annoy Mr. Guppy the most in the next few days. Here are the rules:

If you can get Mr. Guppy to threaten to sue you, you win $15 in Starbucks gift certificates.

If you can get Mr. Guppy to call you a pedophile, or compare you to bin Laden, you get $25...the $15 in Starbucks gift certificates, and another $10 in gift certificates to Amazon.com or some other online retailer.

If you can get Mr. Guppy to call you something *worse* than a pedophile (and we'll be the judge of what's worse!), you get $50: the $15 in Starbucks gift certificates, plus $35 in gift certificates to Amazon.com or some other online retailer.

Finally, if you can get Mr. Guppy to threaten to sue you, *and* call you a pedophile *and* call you something even worse (it has to be really bad!!!), you get the $50 as described above, plus at least two legitimate birding books, and anything else we have lying around the office. We will send you a whole bunch of shit, we promise. O r you can choose to have us donate $50 to the Nature Conservancy in honor of your deed.

There is only one winner, so whoever gets the biggest prize will be the winner. No prize for second place. We will be the sole judge as to whether the insult is real or fake. We know the Guppy well enough to tell a legit Guppy insult from a phony insult. You have to be polite to the Guppy, no vulgarity allowed. The trick is to be really really nice so you look innocent. Points for style, you know.

The contest will run until someone wins or we get tired of it, which will probably be about a week or so. IllinoisBirder cannot win unless he/she gets Mr. Guppy to call him/her something worse than pedophile.

Start fishing.

UPDATE: Mr. Guppy took down his fish pages a long time ago, but he now has pictures of Ivory-billed nest holes on his site. They are hidden a bit. Can you find them???

Guppy Alert!!!

Stay tuned for an update on our old pal, Mr. Guppy, a.k.a. thatmagicguy, a.k.a. tmguy, a.k.a. William Smith -- including an opportunity for our readers to go fishing for Guppies, with a chance to win prizes (including cold, hard cash) for the best catch!!!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Ten Places Every Birder Should Go Before They Die...Continental U.S./Canada only (ie no Hawaii or Alaska for now)

10. Montrose/Magic Hedge (ok, so we're biased)
9. Pt. Pelee
8. Sax-Zim Bog
7. High Island
6. Pt. Reyes
5. Cape May
4. Madera Canyon
3. Ft. De Soto
2. Dry Tortugas
1. Bentsen-Rio Grande State Park

We tried to only include one site from each area--for example, several spots in the LRGV probably deserve to be in the top ten. The list is biased, I suppose, towards migration hotspots, as opposed to breeding hotspots. Also a bit of a Midwest/Florida bias, but that's expected based on the experience of the people who came up with the list.


Friday, August 11, 2006

BINAC Upstaged by BirdChick

So, every now and then our pal BirdChick (a.k.a. Sharon) stops by and comments on a post. We retaliate by pointing out her blatant and unprovoked theft of moonwalking mannakin story ideas from this site. Now she's gotten us good.

You may remember last year I had an attempted carjacking in front of my building, which gave me the opportunity to observe the Chicago's finest S.W.A.T. team search the parking garage directly opposite from my building.

Well, it took her a while, but BirdChick has managed to top that: She had a bloody samurai swordfight in her apartment building hallway!

I don't know how we will be able to top that unless we another fire in my building, it would have to exceed the 2002 fire that toasted two floor and a couple of firefighters. The firefighters eventually recovered, but unfortunately, the women who allegedly started the fire by smoking in bed did not.

Fingers crossed!

Jacana invasion continues in South Texas

A second Northern Jacana has shown up in Texas, this time at Bentsen. (If you don't know where or what "Bentsen" is, this is probably not the blog for you. Hey, that could be a neat future post--ten places/things every birder should know.)

A couple members of the BINAC posse have been trying to get down to Texas to see one of these birds (and maybe pick up a Flamingo to boot) but the airfare is in the $600 range, and recent world events have put a bit of a damper on the BINAC flight schedule anyway. So we'll see.

Assuming the airline situation settles down a bit, the next BINAC trips are the regular Central Florida run set for the last weekend in August, followed by a three-day Labor Day Weekend birding blitz to hopefully catch a lingering Aztec Thrush at Madera. (Madera--that's number two on the list of places that all U.S. birder should know.)

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Dick Payne named ABA President!!!!

I was just preparing another ABA-related post when I heard the news...long-time Texas birder Dick Payne has been appointed President of the ABA. This post has been left unfilled for many months since Steve Runnels' departure.

If you don't know Dick (ha, good one!) here's a link to a photo:


Saturday, August 05, 2006

Jacana Alert!!!

There has been a report of a Northern Jacana from South Texas, Weslaco I think, check TEXbirds for all of the details. There sure do seem to be a lot of great ABA-area birds around right now...Jacana, Aztec Thrush, Yellow Grosbeak, even a Hooded Crow in Alberta. (Why doesn't anyone get excited about a Hooded Crow showing up at Montrose???)

Thursday, August 03, 2006

*Another* Yellow Grosbeak?

Well, this is either a very good year for Yellow Grosbeaks in the U.S., or somebody down south is letting all of their Grosbeaks loose to confuse the hell out of us birders.

Check out the discussion on a bird that has recently been seen in California; the Inyo County Yellow Grosbeak seems to share some of the characteristics of the New Mexico bird:


Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Well, I'm sitting in the airport in Pittsburgh...

...and it's a nice airport, but you tend to get tired of it after about, oh, six hours.

And since I spent about ten hours sitting in a conference room at the airport Hyatt earlier in the day, I have about had my full of Pitsburgh and am ready to go home.

But at least they have free wireless here.

So maybe I will have enought time to resurrect some of the "lost" posts that I never had the time to finish.

The first post to this blog was on July 1, 2005. I had planned to do a one-year anniversary post, but didn't have the time. Right now we're at 17,183 hits and counting.

Not bad for a stupid little birding blog. Here is a brief excerpt from one fo the posts from that first day:

4) Why are people spreading rumors that there are doubts about the identity of the bird that has been spotted in Arkansas? Are there any serious birders or professional ornithologists who have (or will) question the identification of "Elvis"? And why was Jerome A. Jackson, arguably the world's foremost expert on the Ivory-bill, not involved in the search or recovery team? Has he made any public comments since the species was re-discovered?
Not a bad prediction for the first day, eh?
BINAC out.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Aztec Thrush Invasion in Arizona!!!

For the first time in many years, there seems to have been an influx of Aztec Thrushes in Arizona over the last few days, including seven at one location:


Will these birds stick around, or will they leave just before the previously-scheduled BINAC Labor Day trip to Arizona? Who knows, but if I was a betting man, I'd bet against them sticking around. Just my luck, you know?

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The full ABC results are in!!!

Chicago and Cook County got beaten by a bunch of scrubs in Texas, but at least we beat crummy Lake County Illinois and their notorious evil genuis compiler, Walter W. Walters. Enough whining. Here is the e-mail announcing the winners from organizer Phil Pryde of San Diego:

Greetings to all! Here are the official results for the 2006 ABC/C competition! (Sorry about the late posting.)

Congratulations to Los Angeles, Corpus Christi, and all the other winners in the various categories!

Best, Phil Pryde

America’s Birdiest City and County Competition - 2006 results!

It took a while, but we now have all the results from the all the far-flung participants in the 2006 competition for the titles of America’s Birdiest City, and America’s Birdiest County. Here are this springs results, together with hearty congratulations to the 2006 winners in each category.

The overall City winner was Corpus Christi, with a new city record of 247 species (OK, Tex, we’re impressed!); the overall County winner was Los Angeles with 265. Also, special congratulations to the San Antonio folk, who on their first try came in first in two categories. Good work!

City Categories: City Species identified:

Large Coastal City Corpus Christi, TX 247
Large East Coast City New York, NY 193
Large West Coast City San Diego, CA 179
Large Inland City San Antonio, TX 195 [a]
Small Coastal City Dauphin Island, AL 170
Small Inland City Duluth, MN 147

County Categories: County Species identified:
Coastal County winner Los Angeles, CA 265 [b]
Coastal Gulf County Nueces County, TX 255
Coastal Atlantic County Richmond County, NY 160 [c]
Inland County winner Kern County, CA 247
Inland County, Central flyway Bexar County, TX 205 [d]
Inland County, Atlantic flyway (all Eastern entrants were coastal – big opportunity here!) [a]

Second place for a large inland city = Chicago with 172 species. [b] Second place for a coastal county = San Diego with 261 species. [c] Second place, Atlantic coast county = Kings (Brooklyn) at 157; third place was Washington County (Maine), with 152. [d] Second place in the hotly contested Inland County, Central flyway division was Cook County IL with 191; third place was St. Louis County, Minnesota with 189; and fourth was Lake County, IL, a first-time entrant, with 171.

A tip of the hat also to the many entrants who combine this competition with a fund-raising effort on behalf of local birding, nature study, or habitat conservation programs; we hope you all were highly successful in those efforts as well. Wherever possible, please try to use your results with the local news media to help promote habitat conservation activities in your local communities.

As most of you already know, this will be the last year that I’ll be coordinating the ABC/C competition. In 2007. the reins will be turned over to the Dauphin Island Bird Sanctuary committee, who have enthusiastically volunteered to carry on the ABC/C in the future. As noted, the contact there is Mike Wilson at Ylhammer1@cs.com. Thanks Mike, and everyone at Dauphin Island.

Congratulations again to all the winners, and thanks to everyone who has participated over the years. I’ve had a grand time working with the competition, and hope you have too.

Very best wishes and good birding, Phil Pryde, San Diego Audubon Society

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Twitchers drive Paul Newman out of town!!!

Twitchers drive Paul Newman's speed festival out of town
By Nicholas Wapshott in New York
Published: 16 July 2006

The actor Paul Newman has been frustrated in an attempt to combine his two favourite occupations - racing fast cars and raising money for charity - by flocks of sharp-shinned hawks, brown thrashers and white-eyed vireos.

He proposed turning Floyd Bennett Field, a disused aerodrome in Brooklyn, New York, into a race track and mounting a "Festival of Speed" every September to raise funds to set up a home for children with terminal illnesses. But his idea of attracting 65,000 motor racing fans to watch him burn round New York's first municipal airfield has been vetoed by armies of twitchers, who say the noise would frighten away rare grassland birds.

Floyd Bennett Field, named after the first man to fly over the North Pole, has long been overtaken by JFK and LaGuardia airports, but as New York's first airport it welcomed many of America's aviation pioneers, among them Amelia Earhart and Howard Hughes, who took off and landed there for his record-breaking flight around the world in 1938.

Pete McCarthy, the North Shore District Ranger who patrols the park, said that soccer, baseball, canoeing, fishing and other sporting events are held on the 1,200 acres of airstrip and 16,000 acres of surrounding parkland, and a $40m sports centre has just opened. "But there is a strict limit of 1,500 people allowed in the park in the summer months and 10,000 in the winter," he said.

However, it was concern from local birdwatchers that led the superintendent of the Gateway National Recreation Area, Barry Sullivan, to tell Newman his grand prix fundraiser would have to find another venue.

"This is such a very special habitat," said E J McAdams, executive director of environmental organisation, the New York Audubon Society. "We wrote a letter to the superintendent saying he should think very carefully before allowing such a thing. There are many rare birds that might be driven away, including the savannah sparrow, the upland sandpiper and the short-eared owl."

Mr Sullivan told the star that his plans were "not compatible with the purposes for which the park was established", but said he would be happy to discuss adapting the disused naval barracks for Newman's Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, which hosts children dying of cancer.
The actor Paul Newman has been frustrated in an attempt to combine his two favourite occupations - racing fast cars and raising money for charity - by flocks of sharp-shinned hawks, brown thrashers and white-eyed vireos.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Lessons Learned in the North Woods

I spent most of last week in the U.P., and today I'm back again in Marquette, Michigan. Wish I had a bit more time to bird, but I'm working, so no Kirtland's Warblers for me on this trip.

These are two photos of one of the large ore docks that are found in many ports on the upper Great Lakes. This one is right in Marquette, and it had Song Sparrows, Barn Swallows, and Northern Rough-winged Swallows nesting in it.

I guess I was hoping for scoters in the harbor or something, but no such luck.

I have learned two new things during my time here in the U.P.: Pasties are a great, healthy food, and if you turn one of those foam Packers Cheese-head hats upside-down, they double as a drink holder.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Armchair Tick: Blue Grouse Split!

It looks like quite a few birders now have a new species "tick" on their ABA and life lists: Blue Grouse has been split into two separate species.

A nice summary of the recent taxonomical changes made by the AOU can be found at Michael Retter's site: xenospiza.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

BINAC declares WAR!!! on the City of Chicago!!!!!!!!!!!

The America's Birdiest City results are in. Forget about that. Mr. Guppy is still freaky. Forget about that, too. Why? Because the stupidest bird-related plan in the City off Chicago has just begun: The idiotic and possibly illegal border collie gull chase of 2006.

Here is a quote that appears on the Chicago Tribune web site from, apparently, the biggest moron who has ever been hired by the Chicago Park District:


"It's great to see those dogs tear across the beach,"Park District Deputy Director for Natural Resources Ellen Sargent said Wednesday after watching the action on television. The program is costing the city about $6,000, she said.
Moron, moron, f*&%ing moron.
Here's another gem from the article:
The ace up their sleeve has been Max and his canine colleagues—anticipated to be so disruptive that the Park District promised local birdwatchers they'd refrain from unleashing them until the last northbound migratory birds passed through in late-June.
Umm, spring shorebird migration is over, but fall shorebird migration has just begun, which the jackasses who wrote the Tribune article would know if they actually talked to a birder instead of a dog handler or some Park District hack.
More on this when I get back to the UP. But we birders need to keep up the heat on this one.
UPDATE: I sent a strongly-worded e-mail to the Trib last night, and the story is now off the front page of the web site. Probably a coincidence, I'm sure, but at least it's not the lead anymore.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Gone Birdin'

Been in Florida for a few days, will try to update when I can.

Going pretty well so far, Roseate Terns today and Antillean Nighthawks yesterday evening.

Friday, June 30, 2006

"The Leak" About the IBWO

Well, there has been some discussion on Tom Nelson's site about the infamous leak that either did or didn't (depending on what random story Cornell decides to tell on any particular day) rush the original Science story into publication.

At the time, people associated with the Cornell team stated that the leak came from someone in the federal government, which is simply false. While I wasn't privy to the "rediscovery" story until a day or two before the press conference, I know several birders -- some on other continents -- who were not associated with the search but knew about it weeks before the official announcement.

Having said that, I think the first public leak on the story came from the little-known "New River Valley Birds" listserve in southwestern Virginia and Tennessee. That list has now moved from Yahoo to Google and the archives from April 2005 are no longer available, but in April 2005 I checked out this angle and that is indeed where the story first broke. My recollection is that someone involved with the search team talked to someone who posted the info, but if anyone has saved that thread from NRV Birds, please send it to me and I will post it.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

SHOCKING UPDATE: Another Burrowing Owl seen in Illinois

There has apparently been another Burrowing Owl -- one of my nemesis birds here in Illinois -- spotted in Illinois today. OK, so it's not a Wood Stork, but remember what I wrote a few posts back:

The BINAC staff is headed to South Florida next week, so while we are looking at Wood Storks down there, don't be surprised if my bad karma sends one up Chicago-way.
We leave for Florida tomorrow. If you ask me, I think the top listers in Illinois should start paying for my trips.
UPDATE: Apparently the Burrowing Owl (found in Warren County, so I'm calling him "Warren") has been EATEN!!! I know there is a precedent for rare birds being predated but I can't remember the last time it happened to an Illinois rarity.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

ABC Results are Almost Ready!

A little birdie told me that the 2006 America's Birdiest City/County results are almost ready to be released. Chicago did very well this year, not sure if we won any categories, but it was definitely a much better showing than 2005.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Mr. Guppy Threatens to go the the Yahoo Police!!!

Whine, whine whine...


Date: Sat, 24 Jun 2006 23:45:54 -0700 (PDT)
From: "franks william"

Subject: Re: IBWO sites
To: "a b"

I am formally asking you to not e-mail me or I will
report you to yahoo as a harasser. If you continue to
slander me on yuor "blog" then I will seek action
against you.

I have done nothing to you, I have not engaged you and
yet you seem to like to mock me and attack me.

This will cease now.


Mr. Guppy Fires Back!!!

So, I sent a very nice e-mail to Mr. Guppy (I'm not sure if his name is Wiliam Smith now or William Franks or what) and I got a classic response (see below). Just trying to pish the flock a bit, as the lovely BirdChick would say. The best part is I think he actually has me confused with somebody who lives in Minnesota. (Don't all birding bloggers live in Minnesota?)

Pish, pish, PISH!!!

Date: Sat, 24 Jun 2006 23:31:06 -0700 (PDT)
From: "franks william"
Subject:Re: IBWO sites
To:"a b"

I've seen your picture, you are a mature man,,not a
kid,,why is it important for you to act like a child
and bash me publicly without ever introducing yourself
or even trying to find out who I am?

You've posted quotes out of context to paint a
negative picture of me, you've labelled me names that
are derogatory and yet you have never attempted to
have an adult conversation with me.

Ironically some of your other Minnesota birders have
done the same. What is it about your state that makes
you so hateful?

You are one of the reasons the internet has no
credibility, you hide behind a blog, you attack
people, and yet you are a grown man. It is shameful.

Go back to your blog and mis-quote me, poke fun, and
impress your circle of cronies.


--- a b <birdingisnotacrime@yahoo.com> wrote:
> Dear William;
> Can you give me a few hints on where I should look
> for Ivory-billeds in Florida? I would like to try
> to get a photo.
> Thanks!!!!

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Wood Storks in Indiana

A couple of Wood Storks have just been reported from Gibson County in Southern Indiana.

This is the time of year when a lot of southern species, specifically herons/waders, tend to wander north and west. These Wood Storks are probably a classic case of post-breeding dispersal, although I like the term "wanderers" a bit better. (Post-breeding sounds a bit naughty, doesn't it?)

Will this summer present the opportunity for me to rectify the biggest "dip" of my birding career? Of course, I am speaking of the infamous Palos-area Wood Stork that appeared in the Chicago suburbs a few years ago -- in a spot I regularly bird -- while I was in freakin' Australia. I still claim that the Palos bird was an escapee, but no one is buying that. The BINAC staff is headed to South Florida next week, so while we are looking at Wood Storks down there, don't be surprised if my bad karma sends one up Chicago-way.

Now back to my painting, with interludes of Avisys-ing.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Field trip to Indianapolis???

From 60 Minutes and birding comventions to Wild Bird Stores. Oh how the mighty have fallen. Indy is a bit far for a BINAC road trip, but if any of our readers go to this talk, please give us an update. I wonder what Bobby is getting paid for this stop?

Program: "Obsessed with the Ivory-billed Woodpecker"
When: Sunday, June 25
In our store 2:00 - 4:00 pm Program 2:30 - 3:30 pm
Where: Rivers Edge Wild Birds Unlimited Nature Shop 4040 East 82nd, Suite C-4 Indianapolis, IN 46250
Meet Bobby Harrison and hear his first-hand account of the rediscoveryof the Ivory-billed Woodpecker!
Don't miss this fascinating afternoon with Bobby, who in 1972, at age 17 read about the Ivory-billed Woodpecker in Life Magazine and became obsessed. He and his friend, Tim Gallagher, refused to accept the conclusion that the bird was extinct and traveled throughout theSouthern swamps in search of this "Ghost" bird. Their efforts were rewarded on February 27, 2004 when they made the first qualified sighting of an Ivory-billed in over sixty years. Reservations are recommended for the program portion of this event. Call 578-0770 to reserve your seat.
Gina JannazzoManagerWild Birds Unlimited4040 E. 82nd Suite C4Indianapolis, IN 46250(317) 578-0770

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Report a Spoonbill!!!

I know that updates have been few and far between over the last few weeks, but now that my travel schedule has settled down (until next week, at least) we have a few posts ready to go.

There is a very interesting Spoonbill banding project going on in Florida right now, check it out:


Since Spoonbills have been known to wander far out of their normal range (I remember seeing my state bird near Vandalia, Illinois a few years ago) these banded birds could show up almost anywhere.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Boston Gull Bashing

I have been in Boston for a few days, and here is one of the top local stories:

Office had bird’s-eye view to kill: Workers say window washer slayed gull with vengeance
By Jessica Heslam and O’Ryan Johnson
Tuesday, June 13, 2006 - Updated: 10:14 AM EST
Bird-bashing window washer Christopher Guay - arrested after killing a sea gull - had his goose cooked by his boss yesterday as eagle-eyed witnesses from a nearby office building pecked away at his self-defense claim.

MSPCA ruffles his feathers: Animal lover says treatment is for the birds
Guay, 40, was canned by his employer after news of his battle with the bird took flight. “They said there was too much bad publicity,” he said. “I’m out looking for another job right now.”
Guay was arrested by an MSPCA officer and has been charged with animal cruelty, a felony. The owner of Cliffhangers Inc., Guay’s employer, could not be reached for comment.

The window washer says he has numerous pet birds and loves them. But some Hub office workers say they watched in horror as he cold-heartedly delivered a fatal blow to the gull - then saw them watching and promptly flipped them the bird.

Sarah, a witness who spoke on condition that her last name not be used, works in a cubicle overlooking the Devonshire Street rooftop where the sea gulls built their nest as she and her co-workers kept a daily vigil at the window.

She called Guay’s self-defense claim “absolute crap.”

“He deliberately walked over to the nest and began to beat them,” said Sarah. “He was batting at them, swinging and missing quite a bit. When he swung, he completely hit her and she flew. It was not a nice, gentle, get-out-of-the-way swing.”

For six weeks, she said, she and other employees watched as the pair of sea gulls built a nest for their family. Two of their eggs hatched Thursday, and the workers hung out a congratulations” sign and another urging window washers to be careful of the gull babies.

Guay told the Herald he fended off three birds all day Friday while washing windows. He said he didn’t mean to kill the bird and said he used a broom stick. Sarah said the gulls had swooped down toward the window washers Friday only when they came near their nest. Guay went after them with a three-foot-long pipe, she said.

“My whole floor, as every other floor from my company, was banging on the glass and screaming,” Sarah said. “He started batting at them up in the sky intentionally and then beat the mother bird down totally dead to the ground.”

“It was horrifying,” she said. “We were screaming, crying and banging on the window.” She said Guay dropped the pipe, noticed the pleading employees and then “flipped us off, grabbed his crotch at us and started shaking himself and flipping us off.”

Meanwhile, the MSPCA - which has refused comment on the story from the outset - reported yesterday it has been flooded with angry calls it blamed on “unbalanced media reports.” The animal welfare agency declined to elaborate due to pending legal proceedings, but said, “suffice to say that if the MSPCA had found the defendant’s self-defense story credible, it would have chosen a different course of action.”
Maybe the window washer should have borrowed a few of Mayor Daley's collies to chase the gulls away.