Sunday, May 25, 2008


Wilson's Storm-petrel

I went on my first pelagic trip last Saturday, with Andy as one of the leaders. It was amazing. I couldn't believe the way the leaders were identifying the different birds at 50-200 yards! I only got good looks at five of the species: Black-capped petrel, Wilson's Storm-petrel, Audubon's Shearwater, Bridled and Sooty terns. The official list was amazing. What was really surprising were the warblers and dove that flew around the boat fifty+ miles out. These are the best pictures I got. (I had enough trouble trying to focus my binoculars!)Maybe Andy will post some better pictures. Hint, hint!
Carol Miller

Black-capped Petrel

Sorry Carol, I did not take my camera with me as it's hard getting good photographs especially when I'm trying to show other people where the birds are, however I did take my video camera and made a short movie of the songbirds we encountered on the trip.
The day began at 345am when we set sail out of New Smyrna and headed due east for the Gulf Stream. Like Carol said we encountered a Eurasian Collared-dove 50 miles offshore! Very lost! Our first seabirds were Bridled Terns followed by Audubon's Shearwaters but once in the Gulf Stream (60 miles offshore) we saw several Black-capped Petrels, the species we all wanted to see. These F-16's of the ocean made flying seem effortless as they shot by the boat flying in huge cyclic arcs. Wilson's and Band-rumped Storm-petrels followed the boat attracted by a slick of menhaden oil mixed with chopped sardines and popcorn. Out beyond the Gulf Stream we came across a large flock of noisy Sooty Terns; they put on a great show!
As Carol mentioned we saw many songbirds, some of which were 70-90 miles offshore heading north on their spring migration. Perhaps the most amazing was a Black-billed Cuckoo..75 miles out! Both American Redstart and Common Yellowthroat accompanied us for much of the journey but sadly a Blackpoll Warbler didn't make it. Boblinks also flew by!
Marine mammals such as Spotted Dlphin and Short-finned Pilot Whales were enjoyed as well as an enormous Loggerhead Turtle, a Hammerhead Shark and White Marlin.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Songbirds love Mealworms

Mary & Susan used their Birdcam to capture their birds chowing down on mealworms.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Purple Martins by Thomas Wiatt

Purple Martins are Thriving in Tallahassee!

As of May 11, I have 14 active nests with 50 young and 22 eggs. I check the nests every 5 to 7 days in the afternoon. Conducting nest checks helps landlords find problems like parasites, predators, wet nests, chilled nestlings on bare floors, etc. while there is still time to provide help. Purple Martins lay one egg per day in the morning until they have laid one to seven eggs. Incubation begins when the last egg is laid and requires about 15 days. Nestling martins fledge about 28 days after hatching. The martins will only stay around for a few weeks after fledging. They will winter in South America and return to the same colony next year.

Hosting Purple Martins is a very rewarding hobby. It provides hours of entertainment while watching the dynamics of the colony, which can sometimes take on very people-like characteristics. It is amazing to watch a group of neighborhood martins come in to help celebrate the babies being born or learning to fly! It is entertaining to watch the squabbling as apartments are picked out and defended, and it is heart-warming to watch a pair of martins cuddling on the porch and taking turns feeding their young. One parent will watch the babies while the other gathers food.

Being a landlord is not as simple as putting up a house and forgetting about it. Predator guards must be in place to protect them from snakes and raccoons. Additionally, owl guards, starling resistant entrances, and nest checks help ensure a successful colony.
An open site with a 50 foot clear fly-way is preferred so the martins will not be ambushed by hawks.

If you have an open site and are willing to spend some time loving and protecting them, the martins need you. They have come to rely on human provided housing and will pay you back with lots of joy. There is nothing like the happy dance of seeing your first returning martin that has wintered in South America and is coming home to you.

Here are some pictures of my year so far:

Thomas Wiatt

Birdcam Fun!

I've been enjoying my birdcam of late especially now we don't have as much time to bird. I can leave the birdcam out all day and program it to take either video or pictures. The results are pretty good.

Carolina Wren

Tufted Titmouse

Brown Thrasher

Brown Thrasher

thanks for looking


for more info on Birdcam visit

for more of my birdcam images please visit

Thursday, May 8, 2008

St Marks Colors

Sylvia Cohen sent us a collection of pictures taken at St Marks NWR.

Baseball and Birds

Summer Tanager

White-eyed Vireo

Scarlet Tanager

Cedar Waxwings

On a trip to Atlanta to watch the Braves play Friday night, we stopped at Albany to bird the Riverside Park. Saturday morning on the way home, we went to Kennesaw Mountain where 23 warblers were logged on Wednesday. The highlights at Albany were Cedar Waxwings everywhere, and a brilliant Scarlet Tanager. The weather on Saturday was not cooperative, and we were disappointed in our (lack of) warbler sightings, but everywhere we looked there were Scarlet Tanagers and Red-eyed Vireos.

Carol Miller