Monday, November 12, 2012

My (not-so-)little birder

Son1 has been interested in birds for a long time. He took the Cornell Lab of Ornithology home-study bird biology course back when he was 10 (it's a college-level course, incidentally).

Now that he's a junior in high school, he qualified to take classes at the Indiana University campus through their OPEN program. He would have liked to take a bird biology course, but we decided that he should take the introductory biology course which is the pre-requisite to any higher level biology course.

In addition, he's been posting sightings regularly to both the local bird e-list and the Indiana birds e-list. He sounds so mature, yet cute, in those postings. Makes a mother proud. :)
Son1 took this photo of a Cape May Warbler
Here's a sample posting that he made on September 26th:

Hello all,

This morning I birded our property, hoping that yesterday evening's storm(s) would bring in some new things.  The morning started slowly with only an Ovenbird and Magnolia Warblers, but at the very end of my walk I happened upon a medium-sized flock of other warblers that provided some additional diversity.

Unfortunately, due to the wind and glare, many flyover birds went unidentified - along with a cardinalid tanager that may have been Scarlet.

One of the supposed Rose-breasted Grosbeaks stayed in one place eating Eleagnus fruit for a long time, and I was able to observe it for longer than usual.  That particular individual showed many characters I associate instead with Black-headed Grosbeak - strong salmon-colored wash up to the "collar", and a bill much darker than I've seen previously on Rose-breasteds.

Turkey Vulture - 7 (off-property, roosting in an American Sycamore)
Cooper's Hawk - 2 (apparent pair - 1 male, 1 female)
American Kestrel - 1 (female)
Chimney Swift - 3
Red-bellied Woodpecker - 1
Northern Flicker - 2
Willow Flycatcher - 1 (no eye-ring noted; did not call; seen eating Common Buckeye)
Eastern Phoebe - 1
Blue Jay - ~
American Crow - 7
Carolina Chickadee - ~
Tufted Titmouse - 2
White-breasted Nuthatch - 1
Carolina Wren - 1
Eastern Bluebird - 2
Swainson's Thrush - 1
American Robin - 1
Gray Catbird - 2
Brown Thrasher - 1 (heard only)
European Starling - ~
Ovenbird - 1
Tennessee Warbler - 5
Nashville Warbler - 1
Common Yellowthroat - 5
Blackpoll Warbler - 1
Bay-breasted Warbler - 2 (first property record)
Magnolia Warbler - 5
Black-throated Green Warbler - 2
Chestnut-sided Warbler - 1
Palm Warbler - 4
Eastern Towhee - 1
Field Sparrow - 9
Song Sparrow - ~ (not especially numerous but not counted)
Piranga sp. -  1 (identified to genus by shape; possibly P. olivacea but color not seen well)
Northern Cardinal - ~
Rose-breasted Grosbeak - 5 (all assumed to be this species; see above)
Indigo Bunting - ~ (heard only)
Red-winged Blackbird - 8
Eastern Meadowlark - 1 (heard only, singing)
American Goldfinch - ~
House Sparrow - ~

While I was out, my mother saw a RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH at our feeder, a first for our property.  When I returned, Red-eyed Vireos were still around, but I had to wait a while before the RBNU showed up again.

Red-eyed Vireo - 2
Carolina Chickadee - ~
Tufted Titmouse - ~
White-breasted Nuthatch - 1
Tennessee Warbler - 3

He was also invited by his biology prof and local birders to participate in the recent Big Sit. Unfortunately, the weather was awful, but he got to hang out with adults who share his keen interest.

Do you or your kids have a passion that have lasted a long time, or that led you to your profession? Mine was astrophysics...until I discovered that I kind of sucked at higher level physics and any math up to and beyond Diff Eq. *sigh*

"I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be." ~ Douglas Adams