Catholic Birder

Birds have had my attention for over 30 years. God for just a few. Before birds were a passion. Now they are a confirmation. Saint Francis of Assisi, patron of birds, pray for us.

October 22, 2005

Birding Hurricane Wilma

Want to see that storm-petral, skua, frigatebird or other pelagic you keep missing from the boat? Hurricane Wilma may bring a few of them to shore. There used to be a listserv dedicated to helping birders know which lagkes have become dropoffs for hurricane pelagic birds. Hurricane Net

SOUTH ALABAMA BIRDING ASSOCIATION has a good tip list about birding hurricanes.

As a hurricane develops, birds sometimes get trapped in the eye by the towering, fierce storms in the eye wall. In effect, the eye wall becomes a tropical bird cage until the hurricane begins to fizzle. In September 1985, thousands of birds, presumably trapped by the eye wall, were observed in the eye of Hurricane Gloria as the storm came ashore in southern New England.

More recently Laura Erickson is tracking the birding aftermath of KAtrina and Rita.

October 20, 2005

A Trip to Rome

I expect that five years ago I would not have put Rome on a top 50 list of places I would like to visit. Birders always have trip wish lists. This birder did go to Rome and took some very nice photos. I dream of going to the Vatican one day. It now sits at the top of my list. If there are birds there, bonus. Perhaps a few white doves.

Birding Underground

My old commute from from what is left of the hills of Loudoun was above ground.  I could pass the time spotting hawks and perched passerines and something nice as the bus crossed the Potomac.  Now I get to appreciate starlings, pidgeons and crows in Wheaton before decending several hundred feet underground to a birdless labyrinth.  A good reminder that there probabl are no birds in Hell. 

Looking forward to Cape May


The BIRDHAWK Listserv Archives from the last three years show hit-or-miss tallies for the three days I’ll have at the point at the end of the month.


In 2004  there were 5, 41 and 394 raptors on the last three days in October.

In 2003 there were 256, 174 and 631 raptors respectively

In 2002 there were 98, 100 and 414 respectively.

Famous Peregrines

This awesome photo won an international photo competition. It is a photo of a falcon positioning for a swoop or dive kill on whichever of the thousands of starlings it chooses. The photographer describes the flight as a dive but it isn't. Falcons in a dive have their wings half or fully folded.

I watch startlings every morning on my commute and am hopeful a falcon will take up residence on a Federal building nearby.

The best falcon flight I ever saw was at Cape May in early October four years ago. A sanderling had become a target for a falcon as it drifted offshore near the hawkwatch a few hundred yards from the point lighthouse. Seconds later another falcon, presumably one that had been a half-mile up in the sky, attempted a dive kill and had to pull up before hitting the water. Then two more peregrines joined in swooping over and over as the sanderling tried to hug the waves. Forty birders trained their scopes on the sea as the scene unfolded over several minutes. Finally one falcon clipped the shorebird and another caught it in midair. For the next two minutes the other falcons chased the winner attempting to get its prey. It disappeared out of sight near the “beanery” on the west side of the point. Twenty minutes of chatter among impressed birders passed and then… radio call from the tag station behind the beanery: “Just tagged an immature peregrine. Silly bird dropped a sanderling for our dove bate.”

Somewhere out there is a five year old falcon with a ring on its foot making its way down the Atlantic coast. A little wiser and a little more famous. But not as famous as the falcon chasing starlings in this photo.

My little sisters, the birds, much bounden are ye unto God, your Creator, and always in every place ought ye to praise Him, for that He hath given you liberty to fly about everywhere, and hath also given you double and triple rainment; moreover He preserved your seed in the ark of Noah, that your race might not perish out of the world; still more are ye beholden to Him for the element of the air which He hath appointed for you; beyond all this, ye sow not, neither do you reap; and God feedeth you, and giveth you the streams and fountains for your drink; the mountains and valleys for your refuge and the high trees whereon to make your nests; and because ye know not how to spin or sow, God clotheth you, you and your children; wherefore your Creator loveth you much, seeing that He hath bestowed on you so many benefits; and therefore, my little sisters, beware of the sin of ingratitude, and study always to give praises unto God. Saint Francis of Assisi - c 1220

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