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Saturday, March 17, 2018

Green Birds -Happy St. Patrick's Day

Green-winged Teal

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Chestnut-sided Warbler, 1st winter, f.

Wearing of the green. Happy St. Patrick's Day! How many North American green birds can you name besides this Green-winged Teal, Ruby-throated Hummingbird and lime green Chesnut-sided Warbler, 1st winter f.?

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Willet Aggression, Why Now?


Willets are common shorebirds that you see when you go to the beach. Here is Willet aggression, enhanced by the dramatic wing pattern. This big, bland shorebird becomes quite a different animal when the wings are lifted. Willets, unlike most of the arctic bound other shorebirds here in FL, breed mainly along coastal areas in the eastern half of the country and the upper West. It's no wonder they are becoming less tolerant of closeness now as breeding time is near.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Black-necked Stilts Have Returned!

Black-necked Stilt, female

Black-necked Stilt, male

These beautiful Black-necked Stilts have just returned to their breeding grounds in FL. The female has a brown back and male has a black back as you can see in these photos. Their habitat is shallow water of marshes, fields and impoundments and they breed along coastal areas and in much of the West.  They nest on the ground. Look for them returning to your area.

Thursday, March 08, 2018

Green Heron Breeding Fights

Green Herons are breeding now in FL and there's lots of activity. Here is Ding Darling NWR, pairs are choosing their nesting area and defending them from other Green Herons. This pair was huddled in the shadows thinking about a nesting site above them, then another heron landed near them and was chased away. Soon it will all be settled and there will be eggs, then babies.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron nest building!

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron

Pair of Yellow-crowned Night-Herons at potential nesting site.

Here we go. It's breeding time down here in Sanibel, FL. Much nest building activity is going on for Yellow-crowned Night-Herons and many other birds. This pair was hanging out in a potential nesting site. Sticks were being brought in and placed although some of the sticks fell off the branch! Herons have elaborate courtship activities this time of year.

Friday, February 23, 2018

How To Use Binoculars, Best Tips!

Adjust the binoculars for your individual needs

When not wearing eyeglasses, turn the binocular eyecups up, when wearing eyeglasses, turn the eyecups down

Tuck your elbows in to help steady the binoculars

Enjoy the beautiful birds

Are you confused about how to use your binoculars, or have not been using them correctly? Here are some tips to help you learn how to get the most out of your binos so you can enjoy those beautiful birds more!


1. Up, Down

If you are wearing eyeglasses turn the eyecups DOWN. If you are not wearing eyeglasses, turn the eyecups to the UP position. Many binoculars, especially higher end models, have eyecups that can be adjusted in several positions. Only when you have the eyecups in the right position for you, will you clearly see the whole field of view.

If you are sharing binoculars among several people, make sure each person, in turn, adjusts the eyecups in the right position for their eyes when they look through the binoculars.

2. Eye Relief

The distance behind the eyepiece where you can see the whole field of view is called the binocular’s eye relief. If your eye is farther back from that spot (which can happen when you wear eyeglasses), you will not see the whole field of view. By turning the eyecups down you can compensate for wearing eyeglasses and move your eye closer to that magic spot. Binocular eye relief is indicated in millimeters. Look for binoculars that have an eye relief of at least 15 or 16 mm.

3. Wear your glasses

If you wear glasses, keep them on when using binoculars, even if you wear progressive lenses or bifocals. With good binoculars, you should be able to see through them perfectly fine. Besides, if you’re not wearing your glasses how will you find the birds so you can then view them through your binos? If you are having trouble with this, consider upgrading your binos.
4. Move the Barrels

Move the binocular barrels closer together, or farther apart depending on the distance between your eyes.

5. What do the numbers mean?

On binoculars you will see numbers such as 8 x 42, 10 x 42, 7 x 35, 12x 50, 8 x 25, etc. The first number indicates the power of the binocular. So 8 power binoculars magnify the object you are looking at 8 times.

The second number, such as 42, 35, 50, refers to the measurement, in millimeters, of the diameter of the lens (called the objective lens) at the far end of your binocular. May seem a little complicated, but what it means is the higher this number, the more light the binocular will let in, in general. A binocular with a 42 mm objective lens, will let in more light than one with a 25 mm objective lens.

6. Field of ViewIn the binocular’s specifications the width of the field of view is stated as something like 383 ft. at 1000 yds. A wide field of view makes it easier to spot and follow birds, especially for beginners. Sometimes it is expressed as an angle such as 7.3 degrees. Many 8 power binoculars have fields of view in the mid 300s to over 400 range.

7. Get the right binocular for your needs

Here we are discussing binoculars for birding. In our opinion, in most cases, the best binoculars for all purpose birding are full size binoculars that are 8 x 42 or 8 x 40. These provide a good amount of magnification and bright images.

Binoculars that are more powerful magnify hand shake so they are more difficult to hold still. This is especially true if you have been birding all day and your arms are fatigued. They generally also have a more narrow field of view and shallow depth of field. It makes it a little more difficult to find the bird and have a steady image. Having said that, there are many people, ourselves included, who are experienced enough at spotting birds and handling binoculars to deal with these issues and happily use 10 power binocularsPeople may want 10 power binoculars if they are in situations where they are always viewing birds at a distance. We often use 10 power binoculars when at places such as lakes, marshes and the ocean, where we know the birds will be farther away. Then the 10 power is a big plus.

What about compact binoculars? They may offer good magnification such as 8 power, but usually have a lower number for the objective lens, such as 25 or 26, and, in general, do not let in as much light as full size models. Modern advances and internal coatings have improved the light gathering of compact models. The lightweight and small size of compacts make them extremely attractive for some people. Ironically, because of their lightness, hand tremor can be magnified.

Compacts can be great for many situations such as, hiking, backpacking, kayaking, canoeingairline travel, carrying in purse or pocket, or you just want a pair on your kitchen table to watch feeder birds. They can be good for kids because of their small size. In general though, for all day, all around birding, full size are preferred.

Another way to deal with binocular weight is to use a shoulder harness which takes the weight off your neck and redistributes it.

6. What’s this about a diopter adjustment?

If you have normal vision, or properly corrected vision with eyeglasses, you probably don’t need to adjust the diopter. If vision in one of your eyes is different than the other, you may need to adjust the diopter. The dipoter is a ring on the right barrel of the binocular below the eyepiece. Here’s how to do it.

- Close your right eye. While looking through only your left eye, pick a distant object and focus the binoculars on it.

- Close your left eye and (don’t turn the focus knob) while looking at the same object, turn the diopter ring on the binocular until the object is in sharp focus.

- Now you’re done. Leave the diopter ring in that position and resume birding, looking through both eyes and using the center knob to focus.

Don't forget your The New Stokes Field Guide to Birds, eastern or western region, so you can look up what you see!


Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Green Heron

This Green Heron was watching and waiting for a fishing opportunity recently at J.N. Ding Darling NWR. This could be a migrant that will be returning to your area in spring!