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I May See this In Cape May This May

I drew 12 birds in two days! That’s some kind of record for me.

Red-Breasted Merganser –  medium-sized diving duck with a double crest. Prefers salt-water.
And looks like a Grebe!

Red-Breasted Merganser


Common Loon – State bird of Minnesota; appears in “loonie”, a coin of Canada; and famous for its strange yodel and loon laughter!

Sooty Shearwater (sounds like a person’s name) – also known by its Maori name “titi”! Oh, ask someone from the Philippines about that. In New Zealand, the tradition is for young birds tat are about to fledge to be collected from their burros and preserved in SALT. :0

Common Loon and Sooty Shearwater

Northern Gannet – I might have trouble with this one. It looks like a Brown Booby, except that it has less black on the wings and no black on the tail. It’s a very large seabird, 35-40 inches.

Northern Gannet


Draw Something, As Long As It’s Birds!

My trip to the US is one month from now, I was busy birding this month, I wasn’t able to draw everyday ..  I am now in cramming mode! Officially in cramming mode as of yesterday.

The good news is that playing the Draw Something app (available on iPhones, iPads, Ipod touch, and Android) kept my drawing muscles limber! So all of that time spent playing Draw Something did not entirely go to waste!

The last drawing I did before my official cramming mode.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet


The red tuft on the crown is usually inconspicuous unless the birds is aroused.

And now my drawing in cramming mode:

American Wigeon, male

I was very relaxed drawing this duck. Which is a good thing. I WANT to feel relaxed when I draw.  I think I felt relaxed because these North American ducks I am drawing  (especially number 3-12 on my list) look so distinctive that I’m not worried about having problems identifying them.

White-Throated Sparrow Speaking English

I used to find it weird to read bird songs described in words. According to many guidebooks, an American Robin says, “cheerily cheer-up cheerio”! And an Eastern Kingbird says, “kit-kit-kitter-kitter”. The birds are speaking English!! So I found it even weirder to read the calls of Philippine birds ALSO in English! A Large Hawk-Cuckoo in the Philippines calling out “brain-fever” ?  Seems totally inappropriate!

But, American birds speaking in English, I can accept! And the more I listen to the calls (in my iPad birding apps!), the more I appreciate the word descriptions. It makes it easier to remember the calls. I will have to read “The Singing Life of Birds an Intimate Guide to the Private Lives of Birds” by Donald Kroodsma to find out whether these word descriptions really are helpful or not.

Source: via Sylvia on Pinterest

I am willing to bet that Mr. Donald Kroodsma, “reigning authority on the biology of avian vocal behavior” will say word descriptions of songs ARE helpful!

Just listen to the song of the White-throated Sparrow (Zootrichia albicollis). It sings “Poor Sam Peabody” in the most haunting and doleful manner. It breaks my heart! Click on the player below to hear its sad, sad song.
  White-throated Sparrow recorded by Andrew Spencer. This is a link from Xeno Canto.

White-throated Sparrow.

I am so excited to see and hear this bird. I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to recognize it from its song! Even if it looks so huge in my sketch. It looks like our common Eurasian Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus) but with yellow.

How to Prepare a List of Birds for a Birding Trip to the USA

Download it!!

At first, I tried to come up with my own list using eBird. Certainly a good place to start, but also very confusing! I tried generating an eBird report and converting into an excel file so I could sort out the birds from most likely to occur to least likely to occur. I wasn’t that happy with my data though. My list looked wrong. The eBird reports list sample sizes and species counts per week. One thing I noticed right away was that simply adding and dividing the counts by the sample sizes didn’t work for the species that weren’t counted in every week.

Thankfully, I soon realized that I could just download bird checklists for the areas I was interested in with all the info I was looking for!

I downloaded the bird checklist from Prospect Park & Regional Bird Sightings.

  • The list notes the occurrences for Spring, Summer, Early Fall, Late Fall and Winter.
  • It also indicates whether the bird breeds there.
  • And it includes 7 levels relative abundance: abundant, common, fairly common, uncommon, scarce, rare, very rare.

I downloaded the bird checklist from Bird Cape May.

  • The list notes the occurrences for Spring, Summer, Early Fall, Late Fall and Winter.
  • It indicates whether the bird is a regular breeder or irregular,  presumed, or recent former breeder
  • I has 8 levels of relative abundance and/or status: common, fairly common, uncommon, scarce, rare, very rare, pelagic, introduced

I downloaded a free iPhone app Audubon Central Park Birds

Source: via Sylvia on pinterest




If you click on Browse Birds, then Browse by Month you get a list of birds categorized according to 4 levels of abundance: abundant, likely possible, and rare or absent. Plus, it has the Birding Hot Spots that’s integrated with the data from eBird. This feature uses gps to show you the birds near your area! It also describes the various bird hotspots of Central Park.