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Monday, February 26, 2007

Wall St. Journal Article on Why Birdwatchers Now Carry iPods....

The Wall St. Journal has a front page article and online article on "Why Birdwatchers Now Carry iPods and Laser Pointers" which reviews all the latest technology birders use. Many birders use the birdJam, which is an iPod loaded with the Stokes Field Guide To Bird Songs CDs and the birdJam software (which organizes the sounds from our Stokes CDs into playlists organized by habitat), or they just buy our Stokes Field Guide To Bird Songs CDs and load them onto their iPod themselves.
We are quoted in the article and the online version of the article has Lillian's photo of the American Oystercatcher and 5 selections of bird songs from our Stokes Field Guide To Bird Songs CDs: Bald Eagle, American Oystercatcher, Least Tern, Crested Caracara and American Woodcock. Hear the songs from our CDs and read the article by clicking HERE.
We are travelling now, but thought you would enjoy this.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Spring is coming......

Some of you are sitting in snow and severe weather and spring seems very far away. In fact, spring is March 20th, the vernal equinox. So start counting, the robin will come to you soon and just keep repeating...spring is coming.....spring is coming...

We will be traveling and migrating for the next week and will be back to you on March 5th with lots more photos and our adventures.

Don and Lillian and Phoebe

Friday, February 23, 2007


Sometimes, when you least expect it, a wonderful bird appears. I was standing looking at shorebirds at the tower pond in Ding Darling NWR, and in an isolated mangrove next to me, some movement caught my eye. Hello, a Yellow-throated Warbler! You can see why warblers are my favorite group of birds. I often can't decide which warbler i like best. Today it was this one.
Yellow-throated Warblers are primarily found in the southeastern part of the country, but a Yellow-throated Warbler was found wintering in central Maine this winter. Brrr, it should be here.

Photo © Lillian Stokes, 2007

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Yard Birds

Painted Bunting, male

Northern Cardinal, female


Palm Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Yesterday we spent the morning in our friend's yard, sitting on their deck, sipping coffee with them and watching their bird feeders. They must have the best backyard birds in Sanibel because we saw such a wonderful variety of birds. I sat with my camera and took photos, not staged portrait perfect, of these wonderful visitors, just as they were. The Painted Bunting, stunning in the sunlight, peeked from behind some vines. This is one of my favorite birds and one which I call the "Monet" bird because he wears an artist's pallete of colors. The shy female Cardinal took her time approaching the feeders. A Palm Warbler foraged on the ground, it's yellow undertail coverts so obvious. Palm Warblers look as if they "sat in mustard", and constantly bob their tail, as if trying to get rid of the mustard. Yellow-rumped Warblers are still everywhere and it is not time yet for their northward migration. The best surprise was an Ovenbird who strutted out in the open. This shy warbler with the orange-and-black streaked crown is usually secretive and gets its name from its oven-like domed nest. It, too, will migrate back north in spring, maybe to Bobolink Farm, our NH home, where so many Ovenbirds nest.

Our friends enjoy the same type of birding that we like, where you sit back, quietly watch and let the birds come to you, loosing yourself in the moments these beautiful creatures are before you. Thanks for sharing, W and G.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Monday, February 19, 2007

Orange Juice Woodpecker

Yesterday during the Great Backyard Bird Count, I took this photo of this male Red-bellied Woodpecker (females just have red on the nape.). Red-bellied Woodpeckers eat lots of fruit and here, in Sanibel, it's easy to lure them to the bird feeder with an orange half nailed to a palm tree. We put out a new orange half when he finishes one by cutting a small hole in the bottom of the orange and slipping it over the nail. If you have Red-bellied Woopeckers in your area try the orange trick.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Great Backyard Bird Count

Mockingbirds on Sanibel Island are singing now

The Great Backyard Bird Count takes place nationwide this weekend. All you have to do is count the birds at your feeders and in your yard for as little as 15 minutes, then enter it on their website, click HERE to learn more.

It is what we will be doing this weekend. Have fun!

Photo © Lillian Stokes, 2007

Friday, February 16, 2007

Just Because

Snowy Egret at sunset

White Pelicans at sunset

Great Egret on a cold early morning

Sunset Great Egret flying

I'm posting some of my recent photo images...
just because I feel like it,
just because it's fun for me to share my images with all of you.

Photos © Lillian Stokes, 2007

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Valentine Bloggerversary

Happy Valentine's Day. This is also our blogger anniversary. We have been doing Stokes Birding Blog for 1 year, during which time we have brought you 233 posts, hundreds of Lillian’s photos and had you travel with us to many places across the country. We hope you have enjoyed this year of Stokes Birding Blog and we plan on bringing you another great year of blogging.

The above photo was recently taken of a Roseate Spoonbill preening with its head under its wing. I took a similar photo a year ago and put it on our first blog entry. Click here to see it. You can also view all our past year's blog entries by clicking on the archives in the column to the right.

See you for another year,

Lillian and Don Stokes

Photo © Lillian Stokes, 2007

Go Troy!

Pembroke Welsh Corgi, "Troy"
(Ch. Aberlee Storm Force)

For all you dog lovers (and lots of birders are), the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show final is on tonight from 8-11 pm on USA channel. Troy, (Ch. Aberlee Storm Force), who is the grandfather of our puppy, Phoebe, is entered at Westminster. He is a high energy bundle of handsomeness with personality plus, who has done much winning and produced many champions.

At Westminster, the winner for each breed, then competes to become the winner of the dog group it belongs to. For example, the best of breed of the Pembroke Welsh Corgis, then competes to become the winner of the Herding Group of dogs. There are 7 dog groups: Working, Terrier, Toy, Non-Sporting, Sporting, Hound, and Herding. The best dog from each of these groups then competes in the finale to become the Best in Show.

Phoebe will be sitting on the couch with us watching the show and rooting for Troy. Go Troy!!

Photo of Troy © Lillian Stokes, 2007

Monday, February 12, 2007

"Love Birds"

Valentine's Day is coming soon. We "love birds" were brought together because of our love of birds. Lillian was hooked on birds and studying raptors. Don was writing a book about birds. Lillian signed up for the course he was teaching on bird behavior, we are over 25 years later. We have translated our love of birds into a long career of teaching others to enjoy and appreciate birds. And we still love one another. Read more about how we, and other "love birds" met through birding, here.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Coming to you

I took this dramatic photo of a Eurasian Collared-Dove just as it was about to land. This dove arrived in Florida in the 1980's from the Bahamas and continues to spread across much of the country. They are plentiful in Sanibel and come to bird feeders along with the Mourning Doves. They may be coming to a feeder near you.

Photo @ Lillian Stokes, 2007

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Robin migration and wintering

Migrating robins on Sanibel

Sabal Palm (Sabal palmetto) tree with palm fruits

Robins eat the palm fruits

They also eat the fruits of the native Wild Coffee (Psychotria nervosa) plant

We often have questions from people who see American Robins in northern regions during the winter and wonder why the robins haven't migrated south. Most robins go to warmer regions of the country during winter. A few robins may stay in northern regions, which could be a problem if severe weather sets in. Robins wander in flocks and eat fruits and berries.

Here on Sanibel Island, FL we are seeing many robin flocks, some containing hundreds of birds, who wander then descend on an area and eat fruits. Sanibel has strict laws that encourage people to keep native vegetation on their properties, so Sanibel is full of the native fruits that robins love. In our yard, they are eating the fruits of the native Sabal Palm tree that hang in great clusters. They eat many other kinds of fruits including those of Wild Coffee.

No matter where you are in the country, you can help robins during their migration by planting native trees and shrubs that produce fruits and berries. On our NH property, we plant many crab apple trees. Some people also put out raisins that have been plumped up in warm water, for robins that are caught in severe winter weather in northern regions.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Nascar Pelican

Which way to Daytona?

Black Lab? I don't see any Black Lab. Pelican? I don't see any Pelican.

We saw this immature Brown Pelican sitting on a car at Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge recently. When we went closer, we noticed there was a big Black Lab sitting in the back seat of the car, quite unaware of the pelican. The owner of the car told us he was a 17 year old Black Lab, so he was entitled to be a little oblivious. On the other hand, the pelican didn't know the lab was there either (or maybe it did).
We were a little concerned that the pelican may be injured or sick in some way, since it is very unusual for a pelican to be sitting on a car, even in Ding Darling NWR where the birds are relatively tame. While we were wondering, the pelican flew up and into the water and landed next to an adult pelican. They both began feeding and the young pelican was fine.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Lift Up

This Bald Eagle was sitting on a branch and I was photographing it with a 500mm plus 2 x teleconverter lens. I anticipated its take off and pushed the button just in time to capture this, the very levitated instant of release. It so makes me think of the profound difference between birds and us. Birds can fly; our feet are always bound to the branch. But our spirits and imagination lift up when we see an image like this.

Photo © Lillian Stokes, 2007

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Olde Thyme

Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge

Roseate Spoonbills, Herons and Mangroves

It's amazing what your point and shoot camera may do if you get it off the "auto" mode. My little Canon A620 PowerShot camera has a setting called "Sepia". I took these photos last evening in Ding Darling NWR. They look like something taken out of an ancient scrapbook, showing the way it was in the "olde tymes", when the mangroves stretched on forever and were full of birds.

Here's how to find the "sepia" setting on the Canon Powershot. Turn the camera past the "Auto" mode and onto one of the creative modes such as AV (aperture priority). Push the Function Set button and then scroll down thru the menu on the left until you get to the fourth choice. It will say "Effect Off" with other choices appearing with it, such as vivid, neutral, low sharpening, sepia, and black and white. Scroll right to the "sepia" choice, push the function set button to lock it in, then take your photo. If you have another type of digital point and shoot you may have that setting. You may, gulp, have to read your manual to find it, or, do as I did, play with your cameras settings to see what you can find. If you are using a digital SLR camera, you can obtain a sepia look to your digital photo by using Adobe Photoshop Elements or Photoshop CS. Have Fun.

Photos © Lillian Stokes, 2007

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Gray Day Peli

It has been gray and cool with a little rain here, not the best for photography, so what can you photograph on a gray day? I was wondering the same thing when we were in Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge. Then I saw this Brown Pelican swimming. The pattern of the silvered sky reflections on the dark water reminded me of the patterns of the silvery feathers on the pelican's wings and body. A gray day Peli floating on silver leaves. Sometimes photography is about being aware of the composition in front of you, rather than wishing for what's not there.

Photo © Lillian Stokes, 2007

Monday, February 05, 2007

Carrot Trick

Hi, I'm Phoebe the Corgi. I'm smiling because my friend, Addy, the Jack Russell Terrier, is over to play.

We ran around the house and played, then Lillian told us to sit, stay, so she could take a photo. Notice how I'm a camera ham and I love to have my photo taken.

Next, Addy's Mom said Addy could do the amazing carrot trick. I'm watching very closely. She told Addy to sit up,

then put the carrot on her nose,

And Addy balanced it there until her Mom said it was OK to flip it off her nose and eat it. In this case, it fell backward off her nose onto the floor, definitely NOT because I was interfering. Guess who got to eat it?

Photos © Lillian Stokes, 2007

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Super Bowl

We hear that the Bears

are looking for a touchdown today.

Photos @ Lillian Stokes, 2007

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Bathing Beauty

I photographed this Dunlin recently, taking a bath. I love the way the water droplets, frozen by the camera, just envelop the bird like a shawl. The swirl in front is where it dips its head in, then lets water fall over its back, the ritualized way most birds bathe.

Photo © Lillian Stokes, 2007

Friday, February 02, 2007

Today is Groundhog Day

Our Groundhog, or Woodchuck (above), at "Bobolink Farm" our NH home, is still asleep in its underground burrow today. But Punxsutawney Phil, the "official" weather forcasting Groundhog was trotted out on TV this morning to predict if we would have an early spring. He said, Yes, since he didn't see his shadow, we will have an early spring.

Here is a poem from Phil's website

El Nino has caused high winds, heavy snow, ice and freezing temperatures in the west.
Here in the East with much mild winter weather we have been blessed.

Global warming has caused a great debate.
This mild winter makes it seem just great.

On this Groundhog Day we think of one thing.
Will we have winter or will we have spring?

On Gobbler's Knob I see no shadow today.
I predict that early spring is on the way.

According to this website, the Groundhog legend began:

In 1887, a spirited group of groundhog hunters from Punxsutawney dubbed themselves "The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club." One member of the club was an editor of Punxsutawney's newspaper. Using his editorial clout, he proclaimed Punxsutawney Phil, the local groundhog, to be the one and only official weather prognosticating groundhog. He issued this proclamation on, appropriately enough, Groundhog Day. Punxsutawney Phil's fame began to spread, and newspapers from around the globe began to report Punxsutawney Phil's Groundhog Day predictions. Today, 20,000 fans come to Punxsutawney on Groundhog Day to experience this unique—and fun—tradition.

Happy Groundhog day. Hope Phil's prediction comes true.

Photo © Lillian Stokes, 2007

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Skimmer Wallpaper

I took these photos of Black Skimmers this morning. The huge flock swirled around us in the sky like a black and white snowstorm, punctuated by their black and orange, daggar-like bills. Reminds me of a Charley Harper print.

Photo © Lillian Stokes, 2007