My life is about living with nature – here you can live it with me!


My Yellow Warbler review

I have been banding birds for 18 years and I would like to start a series on my recapture birds that I have encountered during my banding carrier. The first bird that I would like to share is the Yellow Warbler.

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The “Warbler Guide” [App Review]


I have been giving the opportunity to review the “Warbler Guide” App that is available with my iPhone/iPad. The Warbler Guide “book” that this app follows is not something you would carry with you on every birding adventure. However the two together complement each other really well. The book gives you more of a text book description of each species; the app appears to be a more field identification guide. My favorite feature of the App is that it’s always accessible when needed and then look up the other info in the book later when you get home. (more…)

Red Crossbill (LIFER)

Red Crossbills feeding on salt in the road.
3 Red Crossbill’s in the road.

Today while driving along the roads near Quaker Lake (Allegany State Park) . . . . I saw a some larger birds feeding on the salt in the road. I slowed the vehicle down and needed to take a closer look at these guys. I realized they were crossbill’s and quickly grabbed my binoculars (which I luckily had in the truck) to discover they were Red Crossbill’s (CHECK) 45 species for 2013. This wasn’t any ordinary check this was a LIFER CHECK!!!

Snow Buntings, Gulls and Ducks

Snow Bunting
Snow Bunting

Had a great bird day today. Where I was working, had a huge flock (~25) of Snow Buntings in the grape vines. (CHECK) They would fly in a group to another spot in the grapes and then 10 mins later do it all over again.

Blue Jay

birdQUIZ photo!
Up Close


We Miss You Bob

bob and bill

I heard the news today that a dear friend Robert G. McKinney passed away yesterday. He will be greatly missed and will forever be remember for all of his bird banding and bird watching accomplishments. I will eternally think of him every time I release a bird on some child’s head.

Birdwatchers Movie Review: The Big Year


I took Patty on a date to see the new movie “The Big Year” that was recently released in the movie theaters on the 14th of October. Not going to lie to you . . . . I totally expected it to be kind of corny. Hollywood portraying birdwatchers? To my surprise they threw in three big names, Steve Martin, Jack Black and Owen Wilson as birdwatchers working towards seeing the most number of birds within a years time. Hands down . . . this movie was well researched and did an outstanding job in keeping me entertained throughout the movie.

Steve Martin’s character was absolutely amazing with his struggle of retiring from a big corporate job and the decisions he makes with his supportive family in completing his life long dream (doing a big year). He has many hard decisions that could possibly jeopardize him seeing important birds on his quest.

Owen Wilson’s character was the experienced birder that knew what needed to be done for winning the big year title. He risked a great deal with his family in making sure he keeps this title and was always a bit sneaky with misleading the guys away from seeing the birds.

Jack Black’s character was marvelous in doing the big year while holding a steady job. Every birdwatcher has a boss who doesn’t understand the importance of migration fallout!! Seriously . . . . his boss ROCKED!! He also struggles with his father not understanding his love for the birds and then coming up with the finances for paying for the year. Unexpectedly he meets the girl of his dreams . . . Ok, I will not spoil the ending but I am glad how it ends.

I asked Patty which part was her favorite and she liked the beginning where Jack Black’s coworker ask to hear the song he’s listening to and he was playing bird calls. Honestly . . . what birder doesn’t spend hours and hours reviewing bird songs? My favorite part was the Great Gray Owl find with Jack Black’s father. Birds can seriously do amazing things when people finally find the amazing beauty in them.

Ok . . . . so hands down this will be a DVD that will end up on my shelf and I am really glad I had an opportunity to supporting the movie during opening weekend. I doubt it will beat footloose movie in ticket sales but “The Big Year” is a must for every birdwatcher and or nature enthusiast. Please support this movie in seeing . . . Patty and I both give it two thumbs up!

Scenes from Muskoka

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By: Pat Coate

I have been doing a little traveling and here are some quick pictures from Muskoka Lakes area in Ontario, Canada. Been some nice wildlife sightings including pine marten, bear, turkey, deer; and lots of birds too.

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Bird Bath?

Bird bath
Wash Cycle1

By: Pat Coate

Note: I started posting weekly to Tom’s blog about 1 year ago – this was my first. I decided to celebrate my ‘anniversary’ by taking the week off and re-publishing this first posting – still one of my favorites.

I recently got to spend some time in Allegany State Park and had the pleasure of watching some fun behavior within a flock of about 25 Canada geese. It was a Sunday and it appeared to be bathing day. First, the geese would flip themselves upside down.


I was surprised this week with a copy of the new “The Crossley ID Guide: Eastern Birds” sitting at my door step. I remember when Sibley came out with his new guide and everyone thought “it’s too big and it could never replace the Peterson’s guide”!! Instantly we find ourselves buying not one but multiple copies (one for the house, car, office, banding bag . . . etc.). Could the same thing happen with this guide?? My first impression of the Crossley ID Guide is WOW and I know for sure it will be used in my library but I have doubt it will replace Sibley or any of my iPhone apps. It is a “BIG” guide and probably why they are not calling it a Field Guide!! To the right birder, it is possible The Crossley ID Guide will be grabbed for help before the more traditional “painted” guides but it is defiantly a picture reference guide more than our traditional “Field Guides”.

Crossley ID Guide


My Christmas Bird Count 2010

Snow Bunting
Snow Bunting

Patty and I participated in the Saint Bonaventure Christmas Bird Count for the Cattaraugus County Bird Club in section 3 today as we do every year. Since I have moved over to Chautauqua County . . . . I had the opportunity to show my territory to Lisa who is new to the area and looking for a count spot to do. This probably will not be my last CBC with Catt. Co but this will give me the chance to explore other areas with other counters. Having an area that doesn’t include much water . . . I thought we had a great day with 21 species of birds!

Red-bellied Woodpecker

I was shocked when this Red-bellied Woodpecker rolled into the feeders yesterday! Little skittish but still not afraid to take control of those feeds . . . maybe not as bold as the Blue Jays!!


Tree Sparrow

My first Tree Sparrows arrived at the new house just last week and they have already taken hold at the feeders! They are such stunning LBJ’s!!

Bufflehead on Red House Lake

Had some Buffleheads out on Red House Lake today here in Allegany State Park. It is great seeing these cute little duckies visiting the park!!


Berry Good

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Female Cardinal

By: Pat Coate

Over Columbus Day weekend my husband and I visited our son in Durham, NC. I snuck out early on Sunday morning and spent a couple hours enjoying the Duke Gardens. There were lots of birds to see including these cardinals chowing down on this colorful, healthy breakfast.

Tess at Swat

Tess and GRCA
Tess and her first live bird!

Just over 100 days old and Tess is already enjoying bird banding! I can’t wait for her to get older and start to explore what nature has to offer her.

Pfeiffer Nature Center Part 1

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Hairy Woodpecker

By: Pat Coate

A couple weekends back I was dropping my daughter off in Cuba, NY and while on the way had the belated idea to head over to the Eshelman Tract of the Pfeiffer Nature Center for some birding. I had my camera with me, no binoculars and I wasn’t really dressed for hiking since we had pretty much left from church. But the draw was too strong…..

Baby Mergansers

Mamma Common Merganser
Common Merganser mom and babies

Today found a mother Merganser walking her babies down a drainage ditch. Mom quickly flew when I first saw them and babies followed (see following videos from my iPhone)


Happy Mothers Day

4 hungry birds

Happy Mothers Day Everyone because we all know your job is never done!

Willet at Red House Lake


On Monday (May 3rd) during my daily walk around Red House Lake with Mackenzie (dog) . . . we encountered 17 Willets (CHECK- first of the year) hanging out on the beach. This is my first time every seeing Willets within Allegany State Park.

Love is in the Air

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Mourning Doves – Courtship Display (2010)

By: Pat Coate

I have been enjoying watching a pair of Mourning Doves that have been regulars at my feeder this spring. Earlier in the spring, two, sometimes three, would seem to chase each other through the neighbors’ trees. But now a pair comes together to the feeder and on several occasions they’ve perched next to each other and exchanged ever-so-romantic head bobs. One, presumably the male, had been seen gathering nesting material.


tree swallows looking for food
Flying on Red House Lake (2007)

I observed a few hundred Tree Swallows flying over Red House Lake today with big snowflakes in the air!! Seeing this behavior reminded of the day in 2007 when I found a dozen birds cuddling together to keep warm. These birds just don’t do well in cold temperatures and my heart was broken after finding a few dozen of them dead in the bird boxes.  Lucky this weather isn’t proposed to last for as many days as in the 2007’s storm.

For My Brother

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Male Brown-headed Cowbird

By; Pat Coate

My post last week on Canada geese behavior prompted the following comment from my brother: “…here in the sophisticated South, we view Canada geese as poop-spewing menaces.” There are actually quite a few birds that people consider menaces for a variety of reasons. So, sticking with that theme, today’s post covers a few ‘menace’ birds.

The brown-headed cowbird is not so much a menace to people as to other birds. The female brown-headed cowbird does not build its own nest but lays its eggs in the nest of other birds. Its eggs often hatch before the host bird’s eggs and its young develop faster increasing their chance for survival.

Birdwatcher [Author Question and Answer]

Roger Tory Peterson Birdwatcher

A friend of mine and author Elizabeth J. Rosenthal (Liz) recently released a paperback version of her book Birdwatcher: the Life of Roger Tory Peterson. The hardcover was published in 2008 in celebration of the Peterson Centenary. I recently had the chance to ask Elizabeth (the author of Birdwatcher) a few questions about her marvelous book.