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. 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 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 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.