Staying Cool While Birdwatching in the Hot Summer Months

Florida is warm all year round, however, summers are especially hot. Although it doesn’t seem like the best time to go birdwatching in Florida, you can discover a lot of opportunities to spot birds during this time of year. If you wake up just after dawn, you can find plenty of birds out and about in the early morning hours. You might also be concerned about getting a good night’s sleep when temperatures are at their most extreme. If you plan on waking up at the crack of dawn, you’ll need to sleep well throughout the night in order to be up bright and early for your morning nature walk. If you have trouble sleeping in the heat, bamboo sheets from this website will keep you cool and comfortable during those hot summer nights. Birds are a lot more visible and active when the hot sun is not at its peak. It’s a nice way to being your day, and to get some fresh air while protecting your skin from the powerful sun. It’s also a great time of year to visit the beach to catch a nice cool breeze, and to spot shorebirds. Not only will you get to safely work on your tan, and enjoy a nice swim in the ocean, you’ll also find the beaches alive with birds.

Shorebirds are very active in the summer. This is the time of year when they are feeding and raising their nestlings. The best place to locate these birds are in areas where there is enough natural shelter available. You will be able to easily find shorebirds in areas where it’s roped-off. It’s important that you are very careful in these areas — you should always have your binoculars with you. Always keep enough distance between you and their nests. The last thing you want to do is accidentally crush their eggs or nestlings. These birds are a threatened species and require undisturbed areas for their home and nesting sites. Any sign of aggression from birds means you are dangerously close, and you need to back up immediately. This is an area you have to be extra careful in because the nestlings have a tendency to be camouflaged in the sand.

It’s possible to stay cool in the summer and enjoy birdwatching outdoors in Florida. Get a good night’s rest and wake up early with temperature regulating, comfortable, and sustainable bed.

Automated Raptor Tracking For Footage

The day of needing to physically track down birds to get great footage is dwindling as there are some tools that will enable a system to automatically record footage of eagles in action. Some of these systems are completely automated, or can be remotely controlled by the operator from a more comfortable position. There is just some simple setup required after purchasing the right equipment, but the advances in technology recently have made these options much more viable for the average enthusiast.

How To Implement a Surveillance System

There have been a number of HD home security systems that have become available on the market in the last couple of years that are completely wireless and only cost a couple hundred dollars. Now this is of course intended for a home security system, but it also includes the exact features you would need to detect and record movement in a location. These systems have an eye that senses local movement and will adjust the position of the camera to track what is going on. This can then be recorded onto a disk and stored for later use and analysis. This is much better than the traditional systems that would continuously record meaning that you would have to look through hours of boring footage of nothing to try and spot an eagle. These new systems will only record when there is local movement on camera making it much easier to find what you are looking for without filling up countless hard drives with little data. These systems enable you to leave it in position for weeks at a time before having to crunch into the data. With wireless features, systems can be set up that the camera never has to be touched and the digital video will be delivered right into a cloud storage box for analysis. It is possible to find equipment with this functionality by reading home security system reviews at homesecuritysystemreviews.us. Although they will be intended for home usage, it is very easy to adapt the system to use for recording wildlife.

The largest problem with these remotely installed surveillance systems is that there is no source of power available. It is unreasonable to use a battery to try and power the entire system so you will need to think outside of the box for a solution. A generator won’t work due to the noise so the best option is to embrace the energy of nature itself and install a solar panel system. This can be used to power the system throughout the day and turn off at night as you won’t be able to get any good media during the darkness regardless. A small battery bank connected to the system will allow it to function properly even when there is some cloud cover outside as the batteries are continually charged by the solar panels. To find out more about how you can utilize solar energy for outdoor adventures with no source of power you just need a DIY kit.

Best Ways to View Migrating Birds

Each season when the migratory birds make their travels to the south it is the best time to go outside and do some bird watching.  This is a fun activity for any age and is a great way to spend some time outdoors and appreciate the wildlife that shows itself every year.  Many locals are used to this experience and tourists also join in the fun by booking trips that coincide with bird migration season.  Going outside at the right time can reveal huge flocks of birds that take up the whole sky.  Or if you’re sneaky enough you can get a close up view of them in their natural habitat within the marshes.  Anyone looking to get into bird watching should follow our tips on the best ways to view birds.

Camera With Telescopic Lens – You’ll want to document each bird you see with a nice picture, but you’re cell phone camera won’t do.  You’ll need to have a camera with a large zoom lens, one that can magnify the image of the bird when it is hundreds of meters away.  To get a good framing of the bird, telescopic lenses are often equipped with the best red dot sighting scopes that provide a partial magnification for which to line up the camera with.  Without using one of these sites it can be hard to get an initial sighting on the bird though the lens.

Bring Binoculars – The best investment any amateur birdwatcher can make is a pair of high quality binoculars.  Ones with variable magnification and large objective lenses are the best because they will allow for the clearest picture and variety of viewing angles.  The binoculars should also come with end caps that protect the lenses as well as a neck strap to keep it from falling and breaking.  Any pair with a magnification of 25x should be good for viewing birds up to 200 meters away.  At this distance you won’t be disturbing the birds and you can easily watch how they interact with eachother when they don’t realize they have viewers.  Binoculars will allows you to see the fine details on the birds feathers which will help in identifying them.  Often times different species can be classified only by slight differences in bill size, feather color, or feather shape.  You’ll need to have a good view to pick up on these features to get a right classification.  Anytime you are in the woods it is important to bring a self defense weapon in case you run into dangerous wildlife.  Usually something like an AR 15 with optics will provide you the means to defend yourself.

Identification Book – One of the joys of bird watching is keeping record of what species you’re able to see and trying to see them all.  For this to happen you need to know what you’re looking at and the best way to accomplish that is with a bird identification book.  Books like this are much like an encyclopedia that tell all the different information about each bird species.  Information can include geographical data of where the like to fly to at what time of year.  It will also include a detailed description of how each bird looks including size, color, and call.  There are sometimes slight differences between male and female versions of birds and the book will help identify them.  Use the book as a checklist and keep track of which birds you see.  You’ll soon find it addicting to fill out this list as much as possible.

3 Top Strategies For Effective Bird Sighting

Avid bird watchers know that catching a spectacular photograph of a migratory raptor is not a simple task. Due to their remote locations and tendency to avoid any developed areas you will need to chart into some remote territories to be able to find them. Most eagles will stay close to water meaning that you will be faced with the edge of the land where it meets the water which is generally difficult to traverse. Access by water is sometimes an option, but it has to be a good setting which allows you to launch a boat. There are a few other options for chasing migrating birds which might yield good fruit in allowing you to capture a raptor in your sights.

One of the most proven methods of bird watching is from the water that edges the land. It is recommended that you do not use a powered motor which will generate a lot of noise and destroy any chances of birds coming close. The remaining options would be kayaks and boats which are the most effective methods of transportation on the water and excel in different situations. A kayak is good if you are in southern Florida’s back bays that do not get rough and are protected by mangroves. The last thing you want to do is get stuck in a storm and have your craft capsize. If you are in an area that has a bit more open water such as a large bay or along the coastline you should consider a seaworthy rowboat. These can be much faster and do well in rough waters as this is what they are built for. You can see an example of a perfect row boat for sale at www.rownorwood.com who builds affordable boats by hand. Combining one of these crafts with your prowess for finding perfect locations will give you the flexibility to wander wherever you deem is best without worry. You can even fit two people on these boats which makes them fast and efficient.

Another opportunity for bird watching is from some of the remote state parks that have cut trails. There are many places that are full of birds but they are swampy areas that are loaded with dangerous predators such as snakes and alligators. Most of the state parks have cleared paths through dry land which tend to be much safer for travel by foot. If you don’t want to take to the water than seek out the advice and trails of a local state park ranger who will have all of the insider information you need. You can find state parks at www.floridastateparks.org. Some even feature bird watching trails that can hide eagles and other raptors.

The last opportunity for finding birds of prey and being able to watch them in action is to find a perfect spot and set up camp. Whether this is out on a comfortable boat or an open air camp, you can witness spectacular sights in this fashion. The birds will not be alarmed by your presence, it is only the movement and sounds that might frighten them away so by staying stationary they mind just come to you.

Bird Lovers Experience Christmas in April

For avid watchers of birds or for the true few who are simply curious about these beautiful creatures, the month of April in the Southern region of Florida can be quite the magical experience, because Spring is the season of the year where almost any type of species with a beak and wings can make a seasonal appearance. The joy in this experience is that it is relatively unpredictable, so birdwatchers are left surprised almost every year. In many ways it is like Christmas for bird watchers, and it is only a matter of time before the season of Spring reveals what surprise species will be visiting the residents of South Florida.

The influx of numerous winged creatures is primarily due to migration, a cycle that occurs twice a year for certain animals who relocate across the globe, typically seeking a lofty supply of food. This past Fall, a huge number of North American birds right up in the hundred thousands, journeyed from the northern portion of this continent all the way down to the South American and Caribbean. There was a beautiful series of images captured this last fall by a renewable energy company who could not help but notice an influx of various kinds of birds who transformed a maryland solar panels field into their own personal space to rest and relax before they made the long journey to the South. At first the company was alarmed that the birds may damage the hardware, but fortunately they had built such durable material and substantial renewable energy devices that the solar panels were level virtually unharmed.

Most of all these lovely creatures made a brief stop in Florida, which doubles as a resting space and a place to launch off. This is largely due to the fact that the birds will be traveling hundreds of miles, across large bodies of water with no land in site, to make it down to this portion of the planet. Florida is a resting and fueling ground for most species of bird migrating from the New England area of the United States all the way down to the island lands that neighbor our country. The distance between the state of Florida and our neighboring islands is anywhere from 100 miles to 500 miles, depending on which direction you travel. It is a life or death journey for a bird, so it is imperative they are well-fed, rested and fueled for the lengthy migratory trip.

The reason why April is so intriguing to bird lovers and enthusiasts is because it is the one month where birds typically reverse their normal route. Birds appear to deem it as a safe first landing after departing from countries like Cuba or the Bahamas. Spring migration in general tends to be a lot more exciting and more interesting to observe than other migratory seasons. Some bird enthusiasts jokingly state it is due to their vacation near the equator. Which can be compared to an old timer from up North’s seasonal winter escape to Florida. They tend to return to their home grounds looking fresh and rejuvenated, both the birds and the old timers. Spring can be defined as more alive for numerous reasons, but many believe its the variation and unpredictably of which species will make an appearance.

If you would like a visual understanding of just how many species make their way to the Southeast United States, take a look at the radar for the weather in the month of April. There is such a high concentration of migrating birds, it is visible on the radar in the shape of a cloud. You are capable of witnessing it throughout April and early May. You will even notice when they land and spread out once they reach South Florida. The weather dictates when and where the birds will choose to land, and often times, there are specific regions in which they decide to congregate. These areas are called migrant traps, though the name does not accurately illustrate the congregation, because these are simply natural places with native plants. The more well-known traps can be found in the Keys, and in Miami. The most random and interesting species make their way to these areas, and any birdwatcher will tell you it is something to look forward too. William from Petruzzo Photography is a professional wedding photographer but bird watching enthusiast who tries to make the pilgrimage to the South each year to capture this migration with his camera. When you hear a new kind of bird is in the area, it may not be the coolest animal to encounter but the exciting aspect of finding a new bird is that you never know what other species of birds will be right around it. Once again, April is a lot like Christmas morning every day for bird lovers.

Building designs that protect birds from collisions

Collision with glass is one of the biggest known causes of death in birds in the United States, claiming hundreds of millions or more lives each year, more than cat predation, hunting and pesticide exposure combined. Glass is a hazard because they see through it (the same way we run into glass doors) or they see reflected in the glass either the skyline, clouds or trees and they are unable to discern between reflection and the real thing.
There are many effective solutions at hand to either implement when constructing a building or to implement and make modifications to existing buildings. If you believe that your building may be a hazard to birds, be sure to find out what permits you need before making any changes to your windows or check with a building permit expediter to do it for you.
With existing buildings, the most cost effective solution to protect birds, excellent for apartments and individually owned homes, is to install screens or nets outside windows – it’s nearly invisible to us, it serves the purpose of keeping birds safe if installed a few inches from the glass and it keeps bugs out. Non-reflective window film, the type buses use for window advertising, can also be of great help as it’s inexpensive and it helps make it easy for birds to see that it’s a solid surface. Shutters, light shelves, blinds and (decorative) window film on the glass will serve the same purpose without causing any inconveniences to the people inside the buildings.
Another excellent solution would be UV-reflective and/or absorbing patterns on glass – this type of pattern is bird-friendly because the birds can see it, but we can’t. The problem with this pattern is that it’s not yet commercially available, but ornithologists have been hoping for its development for years because it would end all problems.
Eliminating mirrored glass, the type of glass causing the most collisions, would definitely help, but even mirrored glass can be used to help birds as it can be visually broken up, tilted to reflect the ground or small and tight decorative details could be applied to the glass to indicate that it’s a solid surface.
When it comes to constructing a new building while keeping in mind the safety of the birds, it’s good to know that architects can design decorative facades that wrap entire buildings, reducing collisions and giving the building an attractive look. Architects around the world have created striking buildings that incorporate little or no exposed glass or use architectural details to partially obstruct windows – these buildings look great, provide shade in hot climates and are also bird-friendly. Such imaginative building designs can look stunning while also serving to protect birds from collisions.
Balustrades and balconies are also an option as they act like facades while awnings and overhangs could prove somewhat useful by preventing flying birds from seeing the glass windows. Using frosted glass, opaque, stained or etched glass or applying ceramic patterns on the glass will reduce or eliminate collisions and they also look stunning, giving a modern appearance to any building.
When planning your building, make sure that your design and the windows are bird-friendly and either implement a cost-effective solution or integrate an attractive and effective design. Planning from the start with the help of an architect would be ideal, as it would be to check with a building permit expediter about the permits and documents your solution requires to make the process run smoothly. Making your building bird-friendly can be extremely cheap while protecting the birds or you could also plan an imaginative building design that will be eye-catching while keeping the birds safe.

How Ecologists Monitor Bird Migration

As the seasons change and weather patterns shift towards colder temperatures birds make the long trip from northern states to southern ones. They do this because the availability of food becomes scarce due to cold and snow but will return when it gets warmer in the spring. This yearly endeavor can often be observed when you see large flocks of birds flying south in the fall months.

Migration often involves hundreds of thousands of birds, which can have a huge ecological impact on the areas they are flying towards and leaving. It is because of this that ecologists, environmental scientists, and conservationists have particular interest in studying bird migration. Through monitoring the birds they hope to gather the information that will help them in their research. Their interests in the birds may be to study their biology, finding flight patterns, and monitoring the health of the birds.

In all of these cases researchers need a way to get close to the birds without disturbing them. In the past they have had to view them from a far distance in order for them not to fly away. But recently camera equipped drones are being used to gather the intelligence that is so desired.

The drones are quadcopters and made up of four motors with blades and a central flight control system.

Sensors within the control system keep the drone balanced in air and the pilot can control its movement using a radio transmitter. Drones can gain or lose altitude, spin, or track in any direction. Since it is able to stay level it can hover in place for long periods of time, providing wide area coverage while airborne. By putting a camera on the underbelly of the drone it is able to capture video footage and give people a ‘birds-eye-view’ of the surrounding area. The drones flight time is usually around 15-20 minutes, long enough to collect the necessary footage.
Scientists are buying consumer grade drones that are available for anyone to purchase and using them for their research. They are able to pilot the drones over the bird’s nesting areas to record footage of the large flocks. Later when the drone lands they analyze the video and count the number of individual birds to get an idea of how big the flock is.

For any aspiring bird researchers out there who want to get their hands on their own personal drone then a great resource to check out is this website of drones for sale where a whole directory of quadcopters are reviewed and available for purchase.

Drones are perfect for this type of research because they can access remote areas which people can not reach on foot. They also leave the land undisturbed like would happen if a group of researchers had to trek over it. The drones can fly at altitudes that the birds don’t even notice so it is the most noninvasive to watch them. The cost of the drone is minimal, usually a few hundred dollars. The increased monitoring ability of a drone makes it worth that price.

Tips for relieving eye pain and birding eyeglasses

Birding, or bird watching, with binoculars can prove bothersome for eyeglass wearers as you can experience tunnel vision – a limited field of view caused by not being able to get your eye close enough to the ocular lens because of the eye glasses. No matter how great your binoculars are, wearing glasses will hinder your bird watching experience and will cause eye strain while you try your best to see through the binoculars and enjoy your day in the outdoors.
To relieve eye pain and be able to properly see through binoculars, your binoculars need to be designed with long eye relief, 14 mm or longer, with eyecups that fold down to allow glasses wearers get closer, when the average eye relief for binoculars ranges from 9 to 13 mm. Eye relief numbers on binoculars are important as they let your compare products, but they tend to be left out of product descriptions, so it’s best to test before you buy and the way to test binoculars is to point the objectives at a bright light and move a piece of paper in front of the eyepieces. The eye relief is the distance from the eyepiece at which the circle of light is the sharpest, so make sure the binoculars have the proper eye relief that works with your glasses, even if you’re wearing prescriptions sunglasses. DharmaCo is a company that manufactures designer eyeglasses with the precision that you will need on every day adventures. We recommend visiting their online store of eyeglasses to learn more about the best types of lenses for these activities.
Folding rubber eyecups are now pretty standard features in binoculars, but they aren’t always good quality – some are very stiff and impractical, some are adjustable but hard to keep symmetrical and some are just too deep, providing too much eye relief and blacking out the edges to form an image. And if you’re not the only one using the binoculars, switching between the up and down positions will lead to damages to the binoculars. To solve this problem, some manufacturers have designed eyecups that pop up and down with ease instead of folding, minimizing any discomfort and making them easier to use. Turn-and-lock eyecups bring this one step further as they’re adjustable to reach the perfect eye relief for your glasses while also staying in place (suddenly snapping down is a common complaint for eyecups that pop up and down).
These features will make it easier to see through binoculars even if you’re wearing glasses, but there’s one other note-worthy option – birding eyeglasses: they allow your eyes to get closer to the eyepiece and give you a broader range of binoculars to choose from so you’re not as restricted by the eye relief of the binoculars, being able to use even pocket binoculars without feeling like you’re looking through a hole in the wall. Some of them have anti-reflective coating, excellent to improve contrast, produce less glare and decrease the effects of fluorescent lighting, great to have when looking for the perfect birding eyeglasses.
Wearing glasses while bird watching shouldn’t disrupt you from enjoying a beautiful day out looking for birds, so be careful to choose the best binoculars that will improve your experience or look for dedicated birding eyeglasses, all in the interest of spending a lovely day bird watching without any problems.

Places to watch raptors

While “raptor” is the commonly used term for the deadly dinosaur “velociraptor”, it actually refers to the majestic birds of prey, the predators of the sky that include vultures, falcons, hawks and eagles. There are a number of places in the US where you can watch, interact with raptors and learn more about them.

  • University of Minnesota Raptor Center

The Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine does raptor research, treats injured raptors (about 800 every year), trains vets into helping these birds and keeps non-releasable falcons, owls, eagles and hawks. They have raptor program during weekends and various education programs.

  • Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Tucson

What makes the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum special is their “Raptor Free Flight” program – you can see 44 raptor species, including untethered falcons, hawks and owls fly, free in their natural habitat. This is a stunning experience that you shouldn’t miss.

  • Public Lands Info Center, Anchorage

The Bird Treatment and Learning Center takes care of 800 birds a year, including 50 eagles that are injured or otherwise in bad condition and being treated at the Center. They’re usually harmed by toxins, hurt after car collisions or fighting among themselves or starved as prey is insufficient during winters. They organize educational programs during summers.

  • West Coast Falconry, Marysville

The falconry cares for a variety of raptors, especially falcons, of course, and it has a one-hour session called the “Hawk Walk”, an experience where you learn techniques such following on and casting the hawk from your glove, before the hawk drops 20 feet from a tree and lands on your glove.

  • Cascades Raptor Center, Eugene

The Cascades Raptor Center is fantastic and a must visit as it is open for visitors 6 days a week throughout the year with demonstrations on weekends. 150-200 birds that were hurt or have any other issues are cared for every year and those who can’t make it back into the wild become permanent residents – today, 60 birds of 33 species of raptors call the Cascades Raptor Center “home” and you can see them when you visit.

  • California Raptor Center, Davis

The California Raptor Center on the UC Davis campus is a place where raptors that have been injured can be rehabilitated so they can be freed back into the wild. 200 birds are taken in every year and about 60% return into the wild, the rest finding a cozy home at the Center. The vets there care for vultures, hawks, eagles and owls and the visitors can see the birds and learn about the rehabilitation process.

No matter your age, watching and learning about these birds of prey will be fun and educational. Just be careful to bring water and snacks with you and, if you suffer from a disability, use a quality lift chair like the well built seats from websites like Liftchair.com that will help when traveling by car and with transporting around the various sighting locations. Some visiting places may also have lift chairs to help you get out of your seated position with ease and to sit comfortably.

Raptors are wonders of nature and there are plenty of fantastic place that care for them and provide information, sure to make for a few great afternoons.

 

Latest Trends of Migratory Raptors in the Florida Keys

The narrowing of the Florida Peninsula into the Florida Keys focuses on the large flights of migrating raptor birds en route to the southern most regions of the United States during the winter. The most common type of species each year are the following: Sharp-shinned Hawk, Peregrine Falcon, Osprey, Northern Harrier, Merlin, Cooper’s Hawk, Broad-winged Hawk and American Kestral. These are the eight most common species of migratory raptors documented. Due to the unique geographical location of the Florida Keys in the southern portion of the United States, it is easy to track the patterns of these beautiful creatures.

A photographer from Austin, Texas, recently ventured down to the Florida Keys where he digitally documented the raptors in flight. He truly captured the essence of their migratory patterns. The breathtaking photographs of the gorgeous raptors can be seen in the photo gallery of an austin photographer at http://www.jbellaustin.com.

The raptor counts this season are comparable to the totals from each of nine sites representative of the major raptor migration areas within the migratory system. The Florida Keys is a great way to map and monitor popular raptor trends in North America. At this site, the count of migrating Peregrine Falcons is incredibly interesting due to the fact that they are no longer listed as an endangered species.

Migratory birds tend to flock to Florida because they prefer level terrains. Mountain ranges and large bodies of water prove to be obstacles for raptors. These obstacles limit their flight patterns, and resign them to a narrow migratory trail.

One of the primary reasons raptors leave their homes in the Northern part of the United States is due to limited resources, primarily a scarce food supply. Winters freeze over their food supply, and they are forced to travel south to survive. Once winter has ended, most raptors return back to breeding grounds up North during the spring. To date, it is not known why raptors do not remain in the south once they’ve migrated. Many ecologists believe they return to the North because there is a lower predator and parasite populations. In addition to longer days for hunting, and a loftier food supply which increases the success of mating and breeding.

About 45 percent of all raptor populations migrate to warmer breeding grounds when the seasons change. The length of distance traveled for each species of raptor varies. For example, the Hawk’s Mountain bald eagles will only travel as far as Florida. That is why we often see an influx in the Florida Keys during the winter. I must say this species of raptor is quite a beautiful site. Other species of raptor often leave the region of the United States entirely, and travel to climates much closer to the equator resigning themselves to Central and South American regions.

For migratory bird enthusiasts, it is known that the Southeastern region of the United States is the most optimal location to spot your favorite species of raptor. Continue following our blog for the upcoming trends of migratory raptors.