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What’s on Your Fall Menu?

As we transition from summer to fall, it’s time to think about transitioning to a fall bird feeding plan that will probably emphasize more seeds and less fruit. Realistically, fall is the best time to expand your backyard menu to include summer and winter foods, so you’re ready for migrating birds that prefer your summer foods – sugar-water nectar, fruit, jelly – with the standard foods such as suet, sunflower seeds, nyjer, the best seed blends, tree nuts, and peanuts. It’s also a good time to take a look at your feeders and consider any upgrades you can make to improve your feeding station for the winter season.

Birding for Your Health

Birding is a multi-faceted activity, and whenever we wish, we can add birding to our exercise regimen – or just to get outside to stretch your legs – and waist, back, neck, feet, arms, hands – and get some fresh air to feed your lungs, heart, and mind. Birding is a great way to keep a healthy outlook – physically and mentally – with some level of exercise. Birding outdoors often includes walking, but it can easily include biking, canoeing or kayaking, hiking and backpacking, running, stretching and yoga – it’s up to you, and it’s always good to mix it up a bit.

Perky-Pet and the Cornell Lab Revive the West Texas Hummingbird Feeder Cam

The West Texas Hummingbird Feeder Cam, provided by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and sponsored by Perky-Pet, is located in the mountains near Fort Davis, Texas, at an elevation of 6,200 feet. This newly revived live cam location is equipped with 24 Perky-Pet Grand Master hummingbird feeders that, during peak migration, can attract hundreds of hummingbirds representing a dozen species that migrate through site. Now, you can watch for rarer species like Rivoli’s and Lucifer Hummingbirds among Rufous, Broad-tailed, and Black-chinned Hummingbirds.

Join the Fun at the “HummerBird Celebration” in Rockport-Fulton, Texas

Here’s a birding festival for everyone that really delivers after more than 30 years of providing a quality birding celebration that emphasizes “flocks” of migrating Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, along with the promise of a remarkable variety of resident species – wading birds, raptors, shorebirds, waterfowl, and songbirds, plus a wealth of fall migrants. Join the excitement of the 31st HummerBird Celebration in the sister cities of Rockport and Fulton, on the Gulf Coast of Texas – Thursday through Sunday September 19 to 22.

Frontiers in Ornithology: A Symposium for Youth

Birders aged 13 to 22 will want to attend the upcoming event, “Frontiers in Ornithology, A Symposium for Youth,” on Saturday September 28 at the Ashland Nature Center in Hockessin, Delaware. The focus of the symposium is cutting-edge technologies used in bird research and careers in ornithology. A total of 18 speakers will provide a wealth of information for participants with the goal of educating and inspiring young people to take their passion for birds to a higher level, featuring Scott Weidensaul and other keynote and session speakers.

Join the Editor for Weekly Birding Highlights

A welcome sight indeed! The first thing I noticed at my feeding station after lunch Tuesday was a male Baltimore Oriole – it worked its way into position past the cut orange halves and nectar feeder to taste the grape jelly feeder. Perhaps the orange halves served their purpose by attracting the oriole initially, but it opted for the jelly, as did a series of females and first-fall orioles during the following hour, and periodically through the afternoon, which made it especially fun to see the loose flock that apparently stopped over for some hours – but not an orange feather to be seen since.

A New Colorful Collection of Top-Fill Hummingbird Feeders

Check out the stylish collection of New Perky-Pet Top-Fill Hummingbird Feeders that are designed for convenience – they’re easy to use, easy to fill, easy to clean. Perky-Pet’s New Top-Fill Feeders feature a patent-pending gasket in the base that creates a tight seal at the seams so there are no more frustrating leaks! Perky-Pet’s Top-Fill Feeders also feature patented float technology: As you pour nectar into the feeder or as hummingbirds drink, the float rises and lowers with the nectar levels to keep it from leaking out of the ports.

The Walking Company Offers “The Most Comfortable Shoes”

The Walking Company touts the most comfortable walking and hiking shoes for active birders. Try the comfort of the Saucony Intensity St2 walking shoes that are lightweight, stylish, made of durable leather and contoured EVA midsoles that provide responsive cushioning. The forefoot stretch zone is matched with the responsive midsoles to provide maximum comfort, while the rubber outsoles provide cushioning and grip – perfect for tackling every mile. And there are hundreds of other options of comfortable walking and hiking shoes for birders, including the Keen Presidio and ABEO Valiant.

The Celestron Ultima 80 Spotting Scope is On Sale!

Take a closer look at the Celestron Ultima 80 Spotting Scope, the mid-sized model in Celestron’s Ultima line, with its big 80mm objective lens and the option of a straight or angled scope. Featuring a versatile 20x-to-60x zoom eyepiece, this model is built with BaK-4 prisms and multi-coated optics for the brightest, sharpest views of birds near or far. The Celestron Ultima spotting scope measures 19 inches long and weighs 57 ounces; it’s completely waterproof, and is supplied with a protective soft carrying case and a no-fault lifetime warranty.

The ABA Rare Bird Alert’s Weekly Highlights

Birders in seven states and one province found new record rare birds last week, including a First State Record Limpkin for Illinois. Originating from Asia, a Second State Record Little Stint was located on the northwest point of Washington, while another Second State Record was found on the Atlantic shore of Florida – a first fall Heermann’s Gull – normally a Pacific Coast species. Birders in southern California found another Asian migrant, a Common Ringed Plover, which is a Third State Record, and there were more state record reports from Tennessee, Utah, Texas, and Newfoundland.

Photographing Animated Reddish Egrets

Above all other wading birds, Reddish Egrets can capture people’s attention through their animated feeding activities and their mating displays. To really appreciate Reddish Egrets, you need to be close to them, and they need to be animated. A bird that may appear to be just another tall gray heron in the distance, can quickly change that perception when it flies in to land within 30 feet of you. Then, the rufous-pink coloration becomes obvious and their behavior will quickly define them.

Reddish Egrets are among the most animated wading birds, making them ideal photo subjects.

Suddenly this impressive wading bird will begin stalking the shallows with quick steps that turn into a trotting gait as the egret raises its feet out of the water, then suddenly spins to one side with its wings half-spread for balance and its attention directed downward, its neck cocked for a strike. Then it swings back in the other direction, seemingly prancing through the water with spray flying. As the hunt continues it seems the egret is doing more dancing than hunting. All the action lends itself to super opportunities for action photography – if you are positioned in the right spot with the right light.

As with any photo subject, move to a location where the light is at your back with the egret in front of you. If you can get to a slightly elevated location, sometimes that can be helpful. If you can follow the egret, which is usually on the move, that’s your best option. Usually, we must take advantage of what nature offers, but keep these thoughts in mind.

The payoff for an active hunting style.

As with any action photo opportunities, do your best to favor the fastest shutter speed possible. If necessary, you can reduce your aperture to an f6 or so, which should provide plenty of area in focus, but if you have plenty of light, use an f-stop of f8, which I consider normal when using a telephoto or zoom lens. If you can keep your shutter speed above 1/1,000 of a second, you should stop all or most action.

Don’t be concerned if your photo shows a little movement blur on moving wingtips or legs; a little can add the impression of motion to a photo. In fact, if you have an extended period of photographing, try to add some motion into some photos by using a slower shutter speed of 1/125 second or less. Try 1/30 and 1/15 of a second to see what you get – you never know what kind of photo might be revealed.

The elongated feathers of the neck and back add to the expressive nature of Reddish Egrets.

I’ve been lucky enough to spend some extended time with trusting Reddish Egrets where I could follow along and anticipate some action with the light in mind. Anticipating a bird’s movements and direction is an educated guessing game, but it can pay off in big ways by positioning yourself a bit in front of the bird. Anticipation can also be as simple as trying to snap the shutter release a moment quicker in anticipation for the next move, rather than reacting a movement after the action transpires. Be alert, be quick, think ahead. And always keep the bird in mind; give it space to move into, and try not to alter its course or behavior.

The elongated neck feathers add a lot of character to Reddish Egrets and their actions as they expand their neck plumage during the flurry of activity that will surely erupt when you’re in the presence of the species. When possible, compose a portrait that will emphasize the head, neck, and shoulders; and you can always crop a sharp photo to enlarge and emphasize the head and neck.

It's rare to see more than one Reddish Egret at a time, but it’s especially exciting to witness, and photograph, a displaying pair.

Of course, when an egret catches a fish or other quarry, photograph that action too, which may include the striking or spearing action of the neck, head, and bill with the inherent splash of water; pulling the prey out of water, positioning or dispatching it, and swallowing it. There is usually a moment of pause, then back to business and the search resumes – or the egret takes flight, which offers another opportunity to capture the action digitally from takeoff to full flight, or it may just a short glide and landing a short distance away. Appreciate the fun while it lasts, and take a deep breath when the bird exits.

Of course, all these options and techniques can be utilized with almost any birds; but believe me, it’s worth seeking out a Reddish Egret when you are in the right habitat within their “southern” range. Don’t wait to casually cross paths with a Reddish Egret – go find one, and return to its hangout whenever possible, or whenever you wish for a little photo action.

Article and photographs by Paul Konrad

Share your bird photographs and birding experiences at editorstbw2@gmail.com


Sept. 13 - Sept. 15
Puget Sound Bird Fest
Edmonds, Washington
Sept. 13 - Sept. 15
New York State Ornithological Association Conference
Kingston, New York
Sept. 13 - Sept. 15
Taking Flight: Birding in the Catskills
Kingston, New York
Sept. 14
Seatuck Long Island Birding Challenge
Long Island, New York
Sept. 14
Princeton Whooping Crane Festival
Princeton, Wisconsin
Sept. 14
Cornell Lab of Ornithology Migration Celebration
Ithaca, New York
Sept. 14 - Sept. 15
Manomet Bird-A-Thon
Manomet, Massachusetts
Sept. 19 - Sept. 21
Whiting Forest of Dow Gardens Birding Festival
Midland, Michigan
Sept. 19 - Sept. 22
Rockport-Fulton Hummer/Bird Celebration
Rockport, Texas
Sept. 20 - Sept. 22
Monterey Bay Birding Festival
Watsonville, California
Sept. 20 - Sept. 22
Hawk Weekend Festival
Duluth, Minnesota
Sept. 27 - Sept. 29
Wings Over Willapa
Ilwaco, Washington
Sept. 27 - Oct. 4
Little St. Simons Island Fall Birding Days
St. Simons Island, Georgia
Sept. 28
Frontiers in Ornithology: A Symposium for Youth
Hockessin, Delaware
Oct. 2 - Oct. 5
Alabama Coastal Bird & Nature Festival
Spanish Fork, Alabama
Oct. 5
BirdFest & Blluegrass
Ridgefield, Washington
Oct. 7 - Oct. 11
Birding the Hills
Fredricksburg, Texas
Oct. 12 - Oct. 13
Sandhill Crane & Art Festival
Bellevue, Michigan
Oct. 12 - Oct. 13
The Big Sit!
Oct. 15 - Oct. 20
Wings Over Water Wildlife Festival
Manteo, North Carolina
Oct. 16 - Oct. 21
American Birding Association Rally
Oahu, Kauai, Hawaii
Oct. 17 - Oct. 20
Florida Birding & Nature Festival
Tampa, Florida
Oct. 17 - Oct. 20
Cape May Fall Festival
Cape May, New Jersey
Oct. 19
Global Big Day
Oct. 19 - Oct. 20
Ding Darling Days
Sanibel Island, Florida
Oct. 25 - Oct. 28
Hawaii Island Festival of Birds
Kailua-Kona, Hawaii
Oct. 30 - Nov. 3
Yellow Rails and Rice Festival
Jennings, Louisiana
Nov. 3
Fall Migration Celebration
Augusta, Michigan
Nov. 6 - Nov. 10
Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival
Harlingen, Texas
Nov. 20 - Nov. 23
Festival of Cranes
San Antonio, New Mexico
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