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WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 17, 2018
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BACKYARD BIRDING
Options for Nyjer Seed Feeders   

Nyjer seeds are a highly preferred food for goldfinches, Purple Finches, redpolls, House Finches and Pine Siskins. Biologists predict that the coming winter could be a big year for these northern finches to come farther south in much larger numbers, so now is the time to get ready for a great season of backyard finch action.


BIRDING LIFESTYLES
Connect with Local Birders to Guide You to Better Birding  

After 35 years of waiting, I was finally going to Barrow, Alaska, the northernmost city in North America. My first taste of the tundra! That was the good news. The sobering part was that this was a business trip and I would have only about three hours to go birding. As my flight descended toward the airport, I scoured the watery landscape and hoped that a hike through the town would turn up some good birds.


BIRDING NEWS
Tracking the Movements of Winged Rainbows – Painted Buntings  

Where do Painted Buntings go during winter? Painted Bunting populations are declining and biologists are anxious to learn where in the tropics they spend the winter so they can better assess conservation opportunities. To help unravel the mystery of Painted Buntings’ winter whereabouts, biologists with Audubon South Carolina, in partnership with the Smithsonian, are outfitting some buntings with geolocator backpacks.

The Amazing “River of Raptors” – Fall Migration at Veracruz, Mexico  

October migration of birds of prey at Veracruz has been nothing less than remarkable with daily totals topping one hundred thousand raptors some days, and topping 188,000 at one of the two count sites October 9th! That total included 162,178 Broad-winged Hawks! Most daily counts during October are topped by huge flights of Broad-winged Hawks, although Monday, Swainson’s Hawks tallied highest at 41,142 – minimum. At this rate the question becomes, how many millions of raptors will pass overhead Veracruz this fall?

Crowdsource Data Wins Protection for Endangered Tricolored Blackbirds  

California’s declining Tricolored Blackbirds were a candidate for protection, but movements of the blackbirds’ large nesting colonies made it hard to convince the California Fish and Game Commission to approve Endangered Species Act protections. eBirders to the rescue! Using millions of records from eBird sightings recorded by birders, a Cornell scientist developed a model showing that the birds had declined 33 percent in just the past 10 years.

Announcing the Southeastern Wisconsin Conservation Summit, November 2 & 3  

The Southeastern Wisconsin Conservation Summit will take place at beautiful Forest Beach Migratory Preserve near Port Washington, Wisconsin, at the shore of Lake Michigan November 2 and 3. The two-day conference, organized by the Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory, is designed to foster regional collaboration and networking by providing opportunities to meet and listen to the people who are conducting terrific conservation work in Southeast Wisconsin.

Stay Safe During the Southern Snake Season  

Most birders who spend time in the field, or even in their yards, are likely to encounter snakes once in a while. Snakes are especially common during spring and fall in southern latitudes, when birders are enjoying migration. Birders also spend most of our time looking up, rather than at the ground, so we might miss seeing a snake. Most snakes we encounter are harmless and all snakes are extremely beneficial to our ecosystems. It is possible, though, that birders will encounter a venomous snake from time to time.


CONSERVATION
Take Action During National Wildlife Refuge Week, October 14 to 20  

During my visit to Long Lake National Wildlife Refuge this week, a favorite “local” refuge southeast of Bismarck, I appreciated how many decades I have toured the refuge and surrounding habitats to enjoy the varied avifauna. This week I appreciated observing, and hearing, my first hundred Sandhill Cranes of the fall, among a mixed flock of Mallards and Northern Pintails.


EDITORS AFIELD
Join the Editors for Their Weekly Birding Highlights  

I celebrated National Wildlife Refuge Week with hundreds of Gray Catbirds and other migrants at the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge in South Carolina. Best birds of the day for me were a Yellow-breasted Chat and a nice Merlin feeding on a dragonfly. White-eyed Vireos were abundant; there seemed to be one or two in every brush patch. There was a nice movement of Indigo Buntings in particular – I tallied 11 Indigos, along with one nice bright-green juvenile male Painted Bunting.


GEAR & PRODUCTS
Learn Raptor I.D. with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology Experts  

Fall means raptor migration, and this self-paced, six-session video series with Dr. Kevin McGowan will take you up close and personal with 34 species of hawks, eagles, kites and falcons of the United States and Canada. Each session contains an hour of online video instruction by Dr. McGowan. There is also a downloadable handout for taking notes. This course is offered online and does not expire – you can refer back to any session any time you want.

Wild Birds Unlimited EcoClean Mesh Finch Feeder  

This metal mesh tube feeder is designed for Nyjer seeds, which are highly attractive to all species of finches, and more. Finches can land anywhere on the mesh tube and feed in any position they want. This feeder is easy to fill and features a removable base for easy cleaning. The mesh design allows air circulation that keeps seeds fresh.

Leupold BX-1 Yosemite Binocular – Top Choice for Kids  

Small size; huge performance: That’s how Leupold describes their BX-1 Yosemite 8x30 binocular, selected by the pros at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology as one of the best models for children. One reason the Yosemite is well-suited for kids is that the eye pieces adjust closer than any other comparable model—that’s important for small faces! These binoculars are also good for small hands.

Wild Bird Centers Click n’ Clean 15-inch Nyjer Feeder  

This polycarbonate tube feeder features small feeding ports just right for Nyjer seeds or finch seed blends. It’s easy to fill and offers a Click n’ Clean base for easy cleaning. Hang it from a pole or hook and you’re in business – bring on the finches.

Duncraft Triple Tube Nyjer Feeder  

If you are blessed with an abundance of finches, this feeder is for you! Duncraft claims it’s the only triple-tube feeder made just for Nyjer seeds. It offers nine feeding stations and holds three pounds of Nyjer seeds. This magnum feeder features durable zinc top, bottom and perches with a polycarbonate tube that resists damage from squirrels.


OPTICS
Fun, Colorful Binoculars for Kids  

What features make a binocular appealing to children? Think fun, color and quality! Last week, in our October 10 Optics article we tapped the experts at Optics4Birding for advice about what to consider when choosing a binocular for a youngster. If your child or grandchild is already interested in birds and getting serious about birding, you’ll probably want to equip them with a more advanced binocular designed primarily for birding.


RARE BIRDS
The ABA Rare Bird Alert’s Weekly Highlights  

With such exiting birds as a Ringed Kingfisher in Arizona, a Bahama Mockingbird in Florida, an Anna’s Hummingbird in Nebraska, Black-throated Gray Warblers in Minnesota and New Jersey, a Cinnamon Teal in Ohio, and a Swainson’s Hawk in Quebec last week, who can resist checking out the full list of rare or off-course species birders from across the continent reported last week?


PHOTOGRAPHY
Shutter Speed Techniques Ultra-slow Speed and Super-fast Speed

The action of a Short-eared Owl in very low light conditions among tall wind-blown prairie grasses provides a unique artful fall image of a bird in flight.

What happens if you are in a low light situation and have little chance of stopping the flight action of your subject? Go with it. Take that slow shutter speed photo and see how it turns out. Take a number of flight photos of an individual bird or a flock. Sometimes motion in a photograph can be pleasing, it can show varying degrees of motion in a still photograph that can be interesting, if not impressive. These photos can also be artful, and when that happens, it’s really exciting.

Swing your camera as you follow the bird’s flight, and see how the resulting images turn out. Then work with this technique to further slow the shutter speed, which can be quickly accomplished if you increase the depth of field (AV). If you are photographing at the end of the day, you will gradually get less and less light to work with, requiring a slower shutter speed to register an image.

You can also dial down your ISO setting to 100 or less. Try ever lower ISO settings combined with ever larger depth of field settings in low light conditions and see what happens. It’s definitely not an exact technique, but when you get some interesting or artsy photos you will get the itch to try it again and again with different families of birds under different conditions.

A good example of when to give this technique a try is when you have repeating opportunities to photograph single birds or flocks of birds, such as when you are near a flock of geese that are taking flight from a lake or when they are landing among a flock of feeding geese. Other examples would be when you are photographing seabirds migrating along a coastline, or when flocks of wading birds are flying to a night roost.

Super-fast Shutter Speed

Conversely, the faster the shutter speed, the more likely you are to stop the action of a flying bird in a photo or series of photos you take. That is, a shutter speed of 1/500 of a second or faster is most likely to stop the action of a flying bird.

A fast shutter speed against a clear sky provided a sharp-focus photo that reveals the bending of the long primary flight feathers during a Golden Eagle's downstroke.


It is relatively easy to stop the action of wingbeats with adequate light. In fact, that’s what we usually try to do – stop a bird’s wingbeats or flight speed to get a sharp image of the big primary feathers during wingstrokes. In the process, the eyes and beak are sharp, as is the bird overall. When the bird is flying with a blue sky background or a white sky background, you may be photographing with a 1/2000 of a second, which should stop any motion.

You can try either of these techniques anytime, although the ultra-slow speed photos are most likely the type you will need to concentrate on and try repeatedly to see what works to get in-motion photographs. For sure, give both these techniques a try soon!

Article and photographs by Paul Konrad

Share your bird photos and photo experiences at editorstbw2@gmail.com



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Oct. 14 - Oct. 20
Indian River Bird & Nature Art Show
Sebastian, Florida
Oct. 14 - Oct. 20
National Wildlife Refuge Week
Refuges across the United States https://www.fws.gov/refuges/visitors/RefugeWeek.html
Oct. 16 - Oct. 21
Wings Over Water Wildlife Festival
North Carolina
Oct. 19 - Oct. 21
New Jersey Audubon's Autumn Festival/The Bird Show
Cape May, New Jersey
Oct. 31 - Nov. 4
Yellow Rails and Rice Festival
Jennings, Louisiana
Nov. 2 - Nov. 3
Southeast Wisconsin Conservation Summit
Port Washington, Wisconsin
Nov. 2 - Nov. 4
Annual Sandhill Crane Festival
Lodi, California
Nov. 4
Fall Migration Celebration
Augusta, Michigan
Nov. 6 - Nov. 8
Wild Bird Feeding Industry (WBFI) Annual Meeting
Scottsdale, Arizona
Nov. 7 - Nov. 10
Alaska Bald Eagle Festival
Haines, Alaska
Nov. 7 - Nov. 11
Rio Grande Birding Festival
Harlingen, Texas
Nov. 12
Veterans Day (Observed) No Wires
Nov. 14 - Nov. 17
Festival of the Cranes
Socorro, New Mexico
Nov. 15 - Nov. 18
Central Valley Birding Symposium
Stockton, California
Nov. 17 - Nov. 18
Fraser Valley Bald Eagle Festival
Mission, British Columbia
Nov. 22 - Nov. 23
Thanksgiving Holiday Observed No Wires
Nov. 22 - Nov. 25
Waterfowl Weekend at Chincoteague NWR
Chincoteague Island, Virginia
Dec. 1 - Dec. 2
Eagle Days
Forest City, Missouri
Dec. 21
Final Wire Editions for 2018
Jan. 4
Outdoor Wire Digital Network Initial Editions for 2019
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