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Thursday, September 30, 2010

"Buh-bye" Ruby-throated Hummers

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

One of the last hummingbirds of the season here, tanking up on nectar at our Salvia "Lady in Red", fuel for its long migration. It has a little pale pollen on it's forehead which it will transfer to the next salvia bloom, being the reproductive cupid for the plant.

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds can go around, or some cross the Gulf of Mexico on their way to their wintering grounds in Central America. Before they cross they feed heavily and can double their weight relying on that fuel for the journey. A few may winter along the Gulf coast and in FL.

Our last hummingbirds have pretty much passed through our yard here in NH. We haven't seen one for a week. The last hummingbirds through are usually young birds, hatched north of here.
"Buh-bye" (remember the Seinfeld episode where they greet passengers leaving the plane with lots of "buh-byes") and safe journey.

If you have a hummingbird show up in the Northeast after all the others have left, look closely, it could be a Rufous Hummingbird, a rare visitor.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Common Yellowthroat peek-a-boo

Popping up, in the fall foliage,

a Common Yellowthroat looked around, then dove down, while the

"Karma Corona" Dahlia approved.

One of the fall migrants in our garden recently was this Common Yellowthroat, f. , peeping from behind the fall foliage, a usual move from this skulky, don't-let-the-photographer-get-a-full-body-photo little warbler. Get to know this bird well. It's a common migrant. Note the pale eye-ring, brownish cheeks contrasting sharply with the yellowish throat, buffy yellow breast. Not visible is the yellow undertail coverts. A 1st winter male would begin to show a little black on the face, the beginning of what will become his raccoon mask as an adult.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Stokes Field Guide to Birds of North America Interview in Birder's World Magazine

The Stokes Field Guide to the Birds of North America, coming this Oct.
Size, 8.5 x 5.5 inches, 816 pages, 3,400 color photos $24.99 publisher Little, Brown and Co.

Many of Lillian's photos are in the guide, including this Pileated Woodpecker on back cover,

this Greater Prairie-Chicken displaying,

this Atlantic Puffin in flight,

this rare Western Reef-Heron (front bird, compared to a Snowy Egret),

and this delicate female Cerulean Warbler.

Hi All,

They asked us 14 questions about our all new, The Stokes Field Guide to the Birds of North America. Questions covered such things as, how our guide includes improvements over existing guides, the places and stories behind some of Lillian's outstanding photos that are included in our guide, how we prepared our guide, and much, much more.
Read the full interview here.

Our new guide will start shipping to bookstores all over the country starting in the beginning of Oct.

Friday, September 24, 2010

A Stokes Moment, White-crowned Sparrow

White-crowned Sparrow, adult, just perched on our deck,

and caused me to drop the phone.

I was just on the phone with the publicist, from our publisher, Little, Brown & Co. (part of Hachette Publishing) looking out the glass door to our deck and bam! this drop-dead-gorgeous White-crowned Sparrow appears.

"Oh, there's a White-crowned Sparrow, hold on Brianne," I said as I dropped the phone and grabbed for my camera.

A moment later I picked up the phone, Brianne still on the line and said, "that was a Stokes moment." She understood.

House rules for birders, when a cool bird shows up, all conversations stop, cameras and binos come out. When the bird leaves, conversations are picked up, without skipping a beat.

Have a great weekend everyone and Go Birding!

Getting closer to when our new field guide comes out in Oct.!

photo taken with Canon 1D Mark IV camera, Canon 300 mm IS lens plus 1.4 teleconverter, ISO 1250, 1/1000 sec. f 5.6, aperture priority, hand held, yes, through the window.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Go birding!

Ruby-throated Hummingbird migrant at "Lady in Red" Salvia

Red-eyed Vireo


Hope you get outside this weekend and enjoy the beauty around you. Look for migrant birds, new birds at your feeders, and beautiful fall flowers. Go birding!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Full Moon Migrants

Full moon last night
(photographed at 12,800 ISO with Canon 1D Mark IV, 420 mm hand held)

Red-eyed Vireo up close and personal

Tennessee Warbler

It was a good migration night, with a full moon lighting the way for warblers, vireos, buntings, sparrows and many more migrant songbirds. We had this gorgeous Red-eyed Vireo in our garden in the Prairie Fire Crabapple tree. Right behind it was this Tennessee Warbler in winter plumage. Note the white undertail coverts. Tennessees are sometimes confused with winter Orange-crowned Warblers, who have yellow, not white, undertail coverts, a nice ID differentiation clue.
(Yes, I know, another way to shoot the moon is with a long telephoto, a sturdy tripod and lower ISO and I have done that, but sometimes it just so fun to use that 12,800 ISO setting on my Canon Mark IV!)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Stokes Field Guide Give-Away!

Advance copies just arrived, you can win one!

Filled with over 3,400 stunning photos (1000 more than any other photo guide),

we give more space, photos and identification text to the challenging species.

The Red-tailed Hawk account, has 23 photos and covers 4 pages!

Be the first of your birder friends to hold your very own copy of our, getting-rave-reviews, "The Stokes Field Guide to the Birds of North America." Over at the 10,000 birds blog they're giving away 3 advance copies, which were donated by our publisher. All you have to do to enter the contest is to join their worthwhile 10,000 Birds Conservation Club, (in which your fee all goes to conservation) and answer a question.
Our guide will be widely available in the stores by mid-October.

Monday, September 20, 2010

And more hawks!

Broad-winged Hawk, adult

Broad-winged Hawk, juv.

A "kettle" of migrating Broad-winged Hawks

And another 1,792 hawks migrated past Pack Monadnock Raptor Observatory yesterday. Wow, over 5,000 hawks in 2 days, it doesn't get much better than that, here in NH. And the views were closer than the big day before on Sat. All the hawk watchers on Pack were treated to kettle after kettle, right over our heads at the summit. We'll be dreaming of that sight for weeks to come. Meanwhile the Broad-winged Hawks are moving down south and should be over Hawk Mt. PA soon.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Record Hawk Migration, 3,417 raptors Pack Monadnock, Sept. 18

3,417, raptors, a record for a day's count, happened over Pack Monadnock Raptor Observatory, NH yesterday as the skies filled with hawks, mostly Broad-winged Hawks. A collective hurray from all the hawkwatchers!

Broad-winged Hawks soar in groups (called "kettles") on thermals, rising columns of hot air. Given the gray, overcast skies, it was surprising they had thermals. One first-time hawk watcher asked me, "are kettles a type of breed of bird, or something else," as she kept hearing the experienced hawk watchers calling out things like, "I have a kettle of 150 over the Lyneboroughs."

This large kettle was right over the mountain producing "ooohs" and "aahhs" from all. Though taken with a 420 mm telephoto, it is very hard to capture the numbers and feeling of a large kettle in a photo. This photo however captures what it was like to see a distant kettle through binoculars, or even a scope. How do we count them? Quickly and often one at a time. See how fast you can count the Broadwings in this photo, go!

When the Broadwings reach the top of the thermal, they "peel off", i.e. glide until they find a new thermal to rise on, an energy efficient means of getting to their wintering grounds in Central and South America. This peel can often make it easier to count the hawks, as they're gliding by one at a time.

Overcast skies did not look like good thermal weather, but the hawks were pouring through. Spotting scopes were necessary to see the distant kettles. I showed a number of novice hawk watchers kettles in my scope. It's so cool when they say "oh, wow, now I see what you're all looking at!"

Official hawk counter for the day was Henry Walters, aided by the sharp eyes of many hawk watchers such as Phil Brown, left, and Eric Masterson, right, who scanned for and spotted lots of distant kettles.
The day had lots of hilarious moments, including a wedding taking place right at the peak of the hawk movement! See Henry's comments here, on, the official website of Hawk Migration Association of North America, where all the numbers are recorded. We even had a near record number of Bald Eagles, 12, go over Pack this day! Days like this produce the hawk watching addiction that has birders coming back year after year.

Other New England hawk watch sites also had large numbers. So heads up to hawk watching sites south of us such as, Hawk Mountain, PA and Cape May, NJ, the hawks are coming to you!!!!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Reviews, The Stokes Field Guide to the Birds of North America

Hi All,

We're getting great reviews and comments on our new, The Stokes Field Guide to the Birds of North America, which is now in stock in many places and will be available at stores nationwide by October 25th.

From Wayne Petersen of the Massachusetts Audubon Society,

"Birders worldwide will eagerly welcome this comprehensive and all-inclusive new field guide from Donald and Lillian Stokes. Brimming with 3400 stunning photographs illustrating 854 species, this is unequivocally the most spectacular compendium of North American bird identification photographs ever assembled between two covers. With high-quality depictions of the essential plumages of virtually every species and subspecies currently on the American Birding Association (ABA) Checklist, this monumental volume offers birders the most up-to-date information on field identification of North American birds currently available. The guide also contains many innovative text and layout features,... Handsome, comfortably sized at 5.5 x 8.5 inches, and affordable at less than $25 this volume significantly resets the bar for North America field guides."
Wayne Petersen, Director Important Bird Areas Program, Massachusetts Audubon Society

From National Audubon Society Magazine online,

"The new Stokes guide ... should put to rest any remnants of the debate over photos versus illustrations... the key to any guide, photographic or illustrated, is in the quality of the images and in having enough of them to show the birds in their diagnostic plumages and postures. The new Stokes Field Guide to the Birds of North America fulfills this requirement in spades... [It] is a strong candidate for the title of best field guide ever... The text is, perhaps the most expansive of any one-volume North American guide in print...since it arrived in my home, I haven't been able to put it down."

"This is by far the most comprehensive North American field guide I have in my possession. Check this out! 854 species, from rare vagrants to your favorite backyard birdies, are included using over 3,400 photos!"

(Oriole page from guide)

(Magnolia Warbler page has 9 photos showing male, female, summer, winter, immature plumages and even undertail!)

(Cape May Warbler page has 9 photos of the different sexes, ages and seasonal plumages)

"Just to make sure it was comprehensive I looked up Siberian Accentor, which was a vagrant seen in Idaho a few years back...Bam!...there it is on page 580. The little code in the bottom corner indicates the photo was taken in the month of February in Idaho!!! This new guide also discusses all subspecies and hybrids that birders might come across in the field. I thought I'd put this claim to the test to. I wanted to see if there was mention of a Violet-crowned Hummingbird x Broad-billed as I had seen at Arizona's Boyce Thompson Arboretum...Bam!...there it is in the hybrid notes for both species on page 417 and 421. Awesome!...
It is a photographic field guide which I feel best captivates readers, especially new birders and youth. You can't help but be sucked into the pages when you see the stunning photos. When my kids got home from school today, my daughter caught a glimpse of me perusing this new guide and she exclaimed "Whoa! Can I see it?!" This Stoke's guide largely overcomes, and perhaps surpasses, the advantage of illustrated guides by having multiple photos of each species. The more challenging the identification and the more variable the plumage the more photos and even more pages are dedicated to that species. The sections on hawks and gulls are perfect examples of this special treatment."

(Red-tail Hawk account has 23 photos and 4 pages and includes all morphs and subspecies!)

The Red-tailed Hawk gets four whole pages! The eye-catching photos are pooled from top bird photographers in North America, including Lillian Stokes herself...
This is the most up-to-date field guide on the market. Revised names and distribution maps are all there. It even includes the Pacific Wren!...
Every self-respecting birder will want to have a copy of this fantastic field guide."

Corey Finger at 10,000 birds blog,

"With a release date of 25 October 2010, The Stokes Field Guide to the Birds of North America will be showing up on the wish lists of many a North American birder this holiday season. Entirely illustrated by photographs, the main selling point of the new field guide is the sheer number of species and subspecies covered with excellent photographs. The back of the book claims 854 species and over 3,400 stunning photographs but I wouldn’t be surprised if those numbers were low because it seems like nearly everything is included. The 792 pages of the book are bursting with eye-popping images from the Painted Bunting on the front cover to the awesome flight shot of a Pileated Woodpeckeron the back....
And if one is going to own a photographic field guide for the birds of North America, the Stokes now have the most complete book on the market...
The list of each species subspecies and hybrids is a wonderful touch; I can’t think of any other field guide that ever included such information....
I highly recommend The Stokes Field Guide to the Birds of North America."

From Mike McDowell, The Digiscoper Blog, and Eagle Optics staff,

"One of the most comprehensive and informational field guides available to birders... if you desire the most recent identification tips, updated range maps, key behavioral information and clues, detailed descriptions of songs plus some of the best bird photography out there, then this is the field guide to get"

Nate of The Drinking Bird blog,

The newest guide from Don and Lillian Stokes, The Stokes Field Guide to the Birds of North America... promising to be the most comprehensive photographic guide ever published... by any objective measure the Stokeses have succeeded in creating a field guide that meets or exceeds that lofty standard… Birds are shown in every plumage you may... observe, at multiple angles, with particularly difficult identification issues given more room rather than less (Gulls are particularly well-represented)... Every subspecies is mentioned, if not pictured… And vagrants, even exceptionally rare ones, are pictured in all their glory, sometimes multiple times...This, then, is a guide that leaves absolutely nothing out... The success of a field guide stands or falls with the quality of its photos… the ones picked to flesh out this guide are stunning, many of them from Lillian Stokes own extensive collection, and laid out to great effect… the inclusion of all described subspecies and known hybrids is an excellent touch… The Stokeses have taken the medium about as far as it can go in a single volume, including just about everything that any birder would want, and that’s great... the Stokeses have truly put together a beautiful and comprehensive book.

Comments from people who bought the guide,

I just received my copy of your new field guide, and it is incredible! The photographs and descriptions are so helpful, especially since you have shown the birds both posing and in flight."
Mary Bastrentaz, President, DuPage Birding Club

"A Masterpiece. The Stokeses have done what I did ot think was possible, blow me away with a field guide to birds. What I love best about the new Stokes Field Guide is the photography."
TJ Young

"They did it again! I don't know how the Stokes' do all that they do but this newest guide from the is the most comprehensive of all. The pictures are excellent showing plumage variation from different regions, seasonal differences, and the juveniles."
Jane Alexander

"Wonderful pics, got my brand new copy of your book. It's by far the best I've seen."
Tim Chickering, FB

"Just received the Stokes Field Guide to NOrth America from Amazon. What an epic work. Just great stuff. Can't wait to dig in and enjoy more thoroughly."
A Rives McGinley

Thursday, September 16, 2010

547 Raptors Pack Monadnock, more to come

Broad-winged Hawk, juv., went zipping by in a tuck over our heads yesterday at Pack Monadnock Raptor Observatory. Note the illuminated pale wing panels on outer wing.

Yesterday we had 547 raptors migrating over Pack Monadnock Raptor Observatory here in NH, there are still lots more raptors to come. Strong westerly winds blew apart thermals, which Broad-winged Hawks need to migrate. In spite of that, many Broadwings moved, usually in very small groups, or zipping by over the mountain with their wings tucked. Today there are light sw winds, with rain coming in later. Hawks prefer northerly winds, but they still may move today, especially if there are thermals. The one thing we have learned in over 30 years of watching migrating hawks is, during prime hawk migration season in Sept., you need to go every possible day if you want to catch the big numbers of hawks. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Go Hawk Watching Today

Broad-winged Hawk, juv.

A "kettle" i.e group of Broad-winged Hawks, plus some Turkey Vultures, rising on a thermal

Merlin, a species of falcon. Falcons have pointed wings, a good ID clue.

Northern Goshawk, cruised by Pack Monadnock on sat.

View from the Pack Monadnock Raptor Observatory on top of Pack Monadnock Mt., Peterborough, NH. The observatory is run by NH Aubudon. You can drive to the summit and take a short walk out to the platform.

Henry Walters, the hawk counter, holding the rehabilitated Broad-winged Hawk that was released at Pack on Sat.

Good Luck!

Julie Tilden, the hawk watch coordinator, just married Phil Brown of NH Audubon, and we gave them an advance copy of our new field guide as a wedding present.

Sharp-shinned Hawks are a common migrant at Pack.

Us, last Sat. We will be at Pack today, helping count the migrating hawks.

Hawks will be migrating in New England today, so get your binoculars and look up at the sky or go to one of the hawk watch sites like Pack Monadnock Raptor Observatory in Peterborough, NH, which had 549 raptors yesterday. That's where we'll be.

This is peak migration time for Broad-winged Hawks and thousands migrate each fall out of the Northeast. The winds will be strong today, not the greatest for producing the thermals broadwings use to migrate, but hawks will still move. Sharp-shinned and Cooper's Hawks, Northern Goshawks, American Kestrels, Merlins, Peregrine Falcons and Bald Eagles will all be flying.

Here's the prediction for Pack from the official hawk counter, Henry Walters
"Signs point to this being a big day. Winds west to northwest, still fairly
strong, but plenty of sunshine, both around Pack and to the north as well.
High of 60, but you'll be glad to bring a pair of gloves. And a
high-powered abacus."

Monday, September 13, 2010

Surprise! The Stokes Field Guide to the Birds of North America

Hmmm....What could be in the box?

Surprise!! It's our new field guide. We just got some advance copies. Big smile, it's like Christmas

It took six years to make. All we can say is WOW, we are so excited!!!
We got a few advance copies and those are going out to reviewers now. The book will be available for sale everywhere, in October. To learn more about the new guide click here.