Monday, December 10, 2012

iphone 5 Wallpapers

Hopefully you're getting an iphone 5 for Christmas because I just put together a pack of six awesome wallpapers.  If you already have one it is simple to change your wallpaper image.  To download an image, first click the image to open the gallery, then right-click and select View Image.  Right-click again and select Save Image As to download it.  Then go to Settings > Wallpaper and navigate to the Photo Library.  Your downloaded wallpaper should be there and all you have to do is click Set and you are done.  Or download the wallpaper pack here.  If you like the wallpapers be sure to tell your friends to come to to download them.

Black-crowned Night Heron

Eastern Kingbird

Mourning Dove

Sunlit Grass


Yellow Sweet Clover

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Sparrows Continued

The spot where I've been photographing sparrows continues to be productive with different species.  Amazing how a small patch of weeds can bring in so many different birds.

Savannah Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow

Song Sparrow
Song Sparrow

White-crowned Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow (juvenile)

Although not a sparrow, this Carolina Wren was mixed in and posed for me while I photographing the sparrows. 

Carolina Wren

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Ring-billed Gulls

I was able to get up close and personal with a couple Ring-billed Gulls yesterday.  These birds are beginning to come back to the Louisville area as they overwinter nearby on the Ohio River.  The best place to see Ring-billed and other gulls is at Falls of the Ohio in Indiana.  Bring a birding scope or a couple quarters for the coin operated binocular viewers, as the birds are often out a ways over the river.

Ring-billed Gull

Ring-billed Gull

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Lapland Longspurs and More

More good cold weather birds showed up in Louisville today.  This time it was a flock of Lapland Longspurs, a small sparrow-like bird that often travel in mixed flocks with Horned Larks and Snow Buntings.  They get the name "Longspur" from their long hind claw on their foot.  They belong to the family Calcariidae which includes other longspurs and Snow and McKay Buntings.  The family Calcariidae recently separated from the sparrow family Emberezidae after DNA tests confirmed they were genetically different enough to form their own clade.

Lapland Longspur

Lapland Longspur

On top of seeing 50+ longspurs today, I also got the privilege of seeing a Bald Eagle and a flock of Sandhill Cranes fly over. All in all a pretty good day for birds.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Louisville Snowy Owl, Snow Bunting, and More

If you read my post from earlier today about the finch superflight (and if you didn't you can find it below) then you'd know we are expecting some interesting birds this winter.  Well, seems they are already here.  Today I saw a single Snow Bunting and a flock of around 50 American Pipits at the landfill.

Snow Bunting

Snow Bunting

Snow Bunting
Snow Bunting

American Pipit
American Pipit

Yesterday, several people got a good look at a Snowy Owl on the outskirts of the airport by I-65 and Preston Highway.  The bird couldn't be relocated today, but Eddie Huber was able to get a great pic before it left.

Snowy Owl

Can't wait to see what turns up next.

Finch Superflight

If you don't have your feeders out yet, get to it, because this winter is shaping up to be a spectacular one.  This year is being deemed a finch "superflight".  What exactly does that mean?  A "superflight" means a mass migration of many species of birds to areas where they are not usually seen.  In this case we are talking about many species of Canadian birds flying south to parts of the U.S. that are not normally part of their winter range.  Some of these species are known as "irruptive" species, like the Pine Siskin, that have erratic movements in winter as they follow food sources.  So the "superflight" can be thought of as a mass "irruption", with many birds on the move in search of food.

The reason for this winter's superflight is due to the drought and mass nut and pine cone failure in Canada.  If you remember here in Louisville a couple years ago, we had a late frost in May that killed all the flowers on the trees, which led to a mass failure of the nut crop.  That year there were virtually no acrons, beech nuts, or hickory to be found.  What happened in the drought in Canada this year is similar.  Without their usual food crops to be found, birds are venturing far and wide to find food, maybe to your backyard.  Which is why you should get your feeders up ASAP if you haven't already, because the flight has started and there are already interesting Canadian birds being reported in Louisville and the surrounding area.  Learn more about the superflight on the ebird blog

Red-Breasted Nuthatch
Red-breasted Nuthatch by Karen Bonsell 

 Some of the birds we might see this year are: Red-breasted Nuthatches, Pine Siskins, both species of crossbills, Common Redpolls, even possibly Evening Grosbeaks and Bohemian Waxwings.  If you've never heard of any of these birds it's probably because they aren't found around here too often.  Putting your feeders out now and you may attract these once in decades visitors.

So what should you do if you see one of these species (or any species for that matter)?  Report it!  And how do you do that?  With eBird of course!  It allows you to record when and where you see different species and also lets you view other people's observations.  Check out this map of White-throated Sparrows seen in Louisville this year.  You can type in different species to see where they are being seen anywhere in the country.  The more people that report, the better the data becomes, which scientists use to track and monitor bird populations.  There is no doubt that eBird reports this winter will allow scientist to track the winter superflight like never before.

If you want to follow Louisville Naturally on Facebook just visit our page.  Happy birding.

Not Just Another Sparrow

Some people may not like sparrows as much as me, but I'm going to keep posting more photos regardless.  I put sparrows right up there with warblers.  Many people call sparows LBJ's (Little Brown Jobs, not Lyndon B. Johnson's) because they are difficult to identify and they all look the same.  That's not true if you look a little harder.  Take this Savannah Sparrow for instance.  You might be inclined to look at it and say "just another sparrow", but if you take the time to observe up close you can see the yellow on the head, the fine streaks on the flanks, and the forked tail.  I implore you to give sparrows a chance and you will see they are just as interesting as a spring warbler or as magnificent as a soaring hawk.

Savannah Sparrow

Savannah Sparrow

Savannah Sparrow

Friday, November 9, 2012

Sparrow Day

All the dried weeds and grasses have dropped their seeds and the sparrows are loving it. 

Savannah Sparrow

Savannah Sparrow

Savannah Sparrow
  Savannah Sparrow

Song Sparrow
Song Sparrow  

Field Sparrow
 Field Sparrow

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


So I've had these photos of goldfinches sitting on my computer for months now that I thought I would share.   And no matter who you voted for, I think we can all agree a momma goldfinch feeding her babies is cute.
American Goldfinch

  Goldfinch Family

Monday, October 22, 2012

Ducks Fly Together

If these 80 degree days are fooling you (and my daffodils) they haven't fooled the ducks! Caught these guys heading south for the winter.... October pic a day 22/31

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

My Barred Owl Experience

I wanted to share an exciting experience that I had last week. I had gone to the Anchorage Trail in Anchorage, KY basically in search of warblers. Boy did I get a nice surprise! I was walking along the main trail when I noticed a large bird flying from the ground up to a tree just a few feet off of the trail. I initially thought Hawk, but quickly discovered it was a Barred Owl! I have heard them calling there before, but never have I caught a glimpse of one! 

Barred Owl
Barred Owl

I have heard from some other local birders that frequent the Anchorage Trail that Barred Owls have been spotted.

Barred Owl
Barred Owl

This Owl must have been pretty comfortable with people, because he flew to this tree and sat for several minutes right above the trail. He watched as a walker passed right under him!

Barred Owl

Horizontal Rainbow

During a walk late this afternoon, I spotted a rainbow in the clouds! I have never seen one like this before, it was horizontal and upside down! The image I took just so happened to look like a smiley face too. :)

horizontal rainbow smiley face

Apparently, it's called a Circumhorizontal arc and is a rare occurrence.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Fall Warblers in Louisville

I went out this weekend looking for fall warblers in Louisville and was not disappointed.  While fall warblers are harder to identify, they are more fun to watch because they forage more at ground level on berries and shrubs.  In spring you just about have to break your neck looking up in the tops of trees for birds while in fall most birds are a eye level snacking on grapes, pokeweed, or dogwoods.  Here are a few birds I saw this weekend:


  American Redstart (female)
American Redstart (female)
Common Yellowthroat (female)
Common Yellowthroat (female)

Yellow-throated Warbler

Yellow-throated Warbler
Yellow-throated Warbler

This is what the birds were eating, the berries from the Red-osier Dogwood.  These dogwoods are shrubs that grow along the edges of swampy woods.  If you can find these or grapevines with fruit still on them you have a good chance of seeing some warblers.

Red-osier Dogwood Berries

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds

I have recently put my Hummingbird feeders back out! I don't know why I didn't get them out earlier in the summer, since they are so much fun to watch! I have them placed just outside of a window so I can photograph them! Right now, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are migrating. Males usually start migration first, beginning typically in August. Females will follow next, then the juveniles. They typically winter in Mexico & Central America, flying across the Gulf of Mexico! This amazes me, considering the size of the gulf!

 Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Female Ruby-throated Hummingbird sunning herself between drinks from the feeder

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are the only species of Hummingbird that nests east of the Mississipi river. So, during the summer, if you live in the east & see a Hummingbird, it is most likely a Ruby-throated. However, once the migration begins, you should pay close attention to the Hummingbirds that come to your feeders. Somethimes, other species of Hummingbirds have been known to come through. Just last November, a Rufous Hummingird spent some time at a feeder in Logan County Kentucky.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Male Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Many people wonder if leaving their Hummingbird feeders out later in the season will prompt the Hummingibrds to stay around longer than they should, causing them to miss migration. Most of the sources I have read say, No! Hummingbirds migrate when their inner clock tells them it's time to go! A wonderful resource to learn about anything Hummingbird is They even have a migration map that lets you follow the migration reports! It's very cool!

Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Male Ruby-throated Hummingbird (notice how his gorget looks black from this angle, for a great explanation of why, check out Ryan's post from earlier this year)

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Birding App Review: Audubon Birds

This is part one in a series of four posts I will be doing about bird field guide apps.  Stay tuned for the reviews of iBird, Peterson, and Sibley apps coming soon.

In the old days (like five years ago) a birder had to rely on only a trusted field guide, his memory, and wits to find and observe birds.  But with the proliferation of smart phones, tablets, and other devices has come a rush of new apps aimed at helping birders identify birds in the field, recognize songs, and even pinpoint on a map the latest sightings in the area.  These digital field guides have quickly become important tools in the birder's repertoire and are a great supplement to the standard field guide.  In this article we will look at four such birding apps that are available today.  We will examine their strengths and weaknesses to help birders decide which app is right for them.  All apps are being tested on an iPod Touch.

We will consider four things when reviewing these apps that will allow us to compare all apps equally.  First we will be looking at the user interface and how easy it is to navigate in the app between elements.  In this section we will also look for any bugs or crashes that may occur.  Second, we will review the quality of the illustrations and/or photographs in each app.  Next we will look at the audio section in each app and review the quality and variation of bird vocalizations.  Lastly, we will look at any extra features the app provides and discuss how this enhances the user's experience.  Let's get started.

   Audubon - $9.99

We will begin with the Audubon Society's app "Audubon Birds".  On the home screen this app gives you a lot of choices on how to begin finding the birds you are looking for.  It allows you to browse by shape, name, taxonomic family, or by search.  The User Interface is clearly marked and is a breeze to use.  When viewing a bird you have the choice of viewing an image, range map, vocalizations, description, similar birds, and more.  The app glides smoothly between elements and there were no issues with freezing or crashes.

This app follows the standard Audubon field guide convention of showing only photographs and no illustrations.  While I find this unacceptable for a hard copy field guide, it works much better in the digital field guide form.  The reason for this is that there are multiple photographs showing different angles and field marks along with differences in ages and sexes.  The static, often poor quality photograph found in the hard copy field guide is replaced with several outstanding high quality and beautiful photographs in the digital field guide and really make bird identification an easier task.  Even better is that for many photographs there is a small button on the photo that you can press that will overlay important field marks and identification tips on top of the photo.  This is a wonderful feature and keeps users from having to flip back and forth between the photo and description to identify their bird.

The audio portion of this app also stands out.  Audubon has vocalizations for every bird and often includes multiple examples of songs, call notes, alarm calls, and other vocalizations.  All audio is clear and easy to hear, making this one of the best apps for bird songs on the market.  One feature that is missing is that there is no way to compare birds with similar songs like there are in other apps.

Audubon really put in time on the extra features this app provides.  They could have left it as a field guide and it would have been a quality app, but the little extras added into the app are the icing on the cake.  The most important feature is the integration with eBird that allows you to view birds that have been seen anywhere in the country.  Just go to the ebird section and you will see a list of birds recently seen in your area.  Clicking on a bird brings up a map with pinpoints showing exactly where the bird was seen and when.  The app also includes a journal where you can keep notes and lists on the birds you've seen, and it also has in depth articles about bird molts and plumage, conservation, natural history, and much more.

In conclusion, this app really stands out for its amazing photography with identification tips, great audio section, and integration with eBird.  There are no illustrations but that is how Audubon guides are usually put together.  The multiple photos and angles makes up for the lack of illustrations in other bird apps.  All in all, I would highly recommend this app for beginning and experienced birders alike.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Muscatatuck Wild America

Wild America
August can be one of the most difficult months to find wildlife during the day, and afternoon is typically not a good time to find animals.  However, I recently found quite a bit of wildlife at Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge in the middle of the afternoon. 

The dry weather had reduced many of the wetlands to small pools, which always seems to have a concentrating effect on watchable wildlife--especially those that feed on the fish and crayfish that are forced into smaller areas of water. On this day I was surprised to find river otters active in the heat of the afternoon. The scene was like something out of a "Wild America" montage.

Three otters coated in muck and duckweed rolled in a pool searching for fish, while a great blue heron grabbed fish spooked by the otter's activity.  Half a dozen green herons surrounded the pool--looking nervously and tensing for flight when approached too closely by the otters. 

As the muck-slicked otters bounded out of the pool their size difference became more apparent (most likely a mother and two youngsters). Maybe that was the reason for the afternoon fishing trip--hungry teenagers.

Parasitic Fisherman
Great blue heron benefiting from fish spooked by the otters.

  river otters
Mother otter and one of her juveniles.

Green Heron
Green heron in a pose that often leads to its misidentification as an American bittern.

Great Egret Hunting
Great egret stalking the shallows.

The End
The End(s)

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