Bird-a-thon Birds!

A collection of our Bird-a-thon photos.  Here's a Piping Plover.  We saw a million of them during Bird-a-thon!

My favorite shorebird; an American Oystercatcher!

A gorgeous Common Tern.

A Tree Sparrow at Sandy Neck in Sandwich.

A Least Tern at Sandy Neck beach.


Birding for Mother's Day!

My mother was a birder, so I grew up watching cardinals at the window feeder and listening to bird songs on the record player.  I also grew up visiting Mass Audubon Sanctuaries frequently, so I think it's fitting that I honor my mother by participating in Bird-a-thon on Mother's day weekend.  After all, I wouldn't be able to bird for 24 hours straight if I hadn't learned birding at my mother's knee, so to speak.  

Bird-a-thon will be crazed and exhausting and fun, as usual.   My goal is to increase the number of species we see by at least 10.  Tom and I were so intensely focused on shorebirds last year that we forgot to look for familiar feeder birds like the American Goldfinch pictured above. (Such idiocy is hard to believe, I know!)  Believe me, that won't happen again.  This year Mother's Day will be on my mind, and I'll remember my mothers favorite backyard bird without fail!

My mother taught me all about birds, but I am just one of many amateur birders that she inspired.  Her four siblings used to laugh at mom's bird-watching, but eventually every one of them had a feeder or two in their own back yards!  I know that many of my mom's nieces and nephews are at least casual birders, and that all my cousins brought their kids up with a real appreciation of birds and nature in general, as I did.  My second cousin's blog, BirdingGirl, inspired me to start blogging myself, and now my son has a birding blog (Nature of Oregon), too.  Three bird bloggers in one family, for goodness sake!

I admit that I was less than enthusiastic about tagging along on bird-walks as a kid - especially before I got my first pair of glasses.  I was blind as a bat, and couldn't see a bird in my hand, never mind a bird in a bush (or a tree, for that matter.)  But Mom never gave up on me.  She dragged my sister and I to every birding hot-spot in the state long before anyone invented Important Bird Areas (IBAs).  Looking back, I can't help but wonder how the real birders put up with two little kids tagging along on trips to Block Island or Mt. Auburn Cemetery.  (BTW, I'm the one with the glasses; my mother is the tall one, and my sister is the blond.)

Mother's Day is going to be really tough for our family this year.  Mom's been in a Nursing Home for over a week now, and that is a desperately sad place for anyone to be.  I doubt I would have signed up for Bird-a-thon if I had known what was ahead for my mom.  I want to cry every time I think about how excited she was to learn that I was giving another Bird-a-thon presentation for all her friends at Carmel Terrace.  She told every resident that they had to attend, never imagining that she wouldn't be attending as a resident herself.  It hurts just thinking about it, but the show will go on anyway.  I'm doing the presentation in her honor, and she'll be there to see it if I have to carry her there!

Actually, participating in Bird-a-thon and raising money for Mass Audubon is a very appropriate way of celebrating my mother on Mother's day.  It is thanks to her that I love nature and it is thanks to her that I love birds and birding.  What better way to show my gratitude than raising money for Mass Audubon and helping to ensure the nature of Massachusetts will still be here for other generations to enjoy?

Donating to Bird-a-thon is an excellent way to honor your mother this Mother's Day.  Why not make a donation in her name right now?  


Long-billed Curlew Grabs a Crab

The first attempt of this Long-billed Curlew yields nothing but seaweed.

But the second time he snatches up a little crab with the seaweed.

The Curlew snaps his bill down tight and shakes that crab around a bit.

But even when he's got a good grip on his prey, the crab is struggling so much that the Curlew has to hold on for dear life.

The bird seems unsure of his next move.  Maybe this little crab is too big for him to eat?

This Curlew is not a quitter, though.  He has a good grip on his dinner, and he won't let go.  Eventually he chokes it down.  Isn't he a beauteous bird?

Please consider a small donation to Bird-a-thon 2012!  I know times are tough, but any amount you can spare would be much appreciated.  Remember that Bird-a-thon benefits the Massachusetts Audubon Society and their mission to preserve the nature of Massachusetts for generation to come.  It is a critical cause for each and every one of us!