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


First Day of Banding

Black-billed Cuckoo

Sunday started our 7th season of banding over at the CLDC – MAPS (Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship) banding station. We were concerned over the weather remnants of “Barry” who got close enough that we almost had to close the station down early (due to the rain/thunder). Although we were lucky given that the thunderstorm passed just to the east of us and we received only a few rain drops. Temperatures ranged from 59F to 78F and everyone commented on how humid it was. It was cloudy for most of the morning and I think it was almost 11:00am once the sun finally start to peak through. (more…)

Strange Sunday

It was a very strange day with the numerous thunderstorms that rolled through! I wanted to get out and start setting up my two MAPS banding stations since next week will be the start of my banding. I have a ton of things to do to get them ready but since setting up the nets involve putting 10 foot poles into the ground, the thunderstorms will win me over in changing my plans. I did take the opportunity to organize all of the nets, bands, equipment, bird bags etc… which is what I normally do last (so the day wasn’t a total loss)! At least I am off for the holiday tomorrow to make up for what I didn’t do today.

The Power Is Out!

Of course at the end of the day the power goes out and they are saying on the scanner that it is going to be a while before they get it back on again!! Lucky my new laptop has a 9 cell battery and I put the extra money into getting another back-up battery. So, I have more than enough batteries to be on the net for the rest of the night!


Photos from my Big Day Last Thursday!

Solitary Sandpiper

I finally had the opportunity to edit a few of my birding photos from my 110 species bird-a-thon that I participated in last Thursday. I located 19 first for 2007’s (CHECK) and many of which I thought might have been too late in the spring to find. My total count for 2007 is up to 179 species for the year and it is still possible to get many more species throughout the summer. Mike, you will have a hard time trying to catch up with me!! Although this is the point where I really need to start working hard for any specific species that I need to find. So finding these 19 first for the year had really made me happy! They include the: (more…)

Team T-BIRD has the best day ever!!

Temperature ranged from 45.0 – 61.5 degree’s F and the weather would quickly change from cloudy, to sunny, and rain would go from drizzle to downpour. This was one of the worse days for take pictures and I was only able captured a few decent photos. You might ask “so, why was this the best day ever??”

American Redstart

Team T-BIRD (Tim Baird and myself) helped celebrate Jamestown Audubon Society’s 50th anniversary by participating in their Bird-A-Thon. This is our teams first year in chasing the birdies and we decided to visit the Allegany State Park/Allegheny River area. We located 26 species of warblers (not including the Brewster’s Warbler we located), 5 species of vireos and 6 species of thrush. Ok, I will stop teasing you . . . . (more…)

Tonight’s Radar Ornithology Forecast

click on the maps to see them enlarge or see the animation.

may 3 2007 nexrad may 3 2007 nexrad v

I was reviewing the Weather Underground website to see what this weekend’s weather was looking like. I then noticed that the NEXRAD images for Western New York showed a large movement of birds moving through the area. Watch the font map (below-right) at the point at 9:30 when bazillion of birds suddenly appear on the map (green)! Now that you know Tom’s Forcast, wake up early (before going to work) and spend some time Birding! If you are not sure how to read these maps, please visit my post “how to observe migration at night” and I hope that this post will answer any question you might have regarding Radar Ornithology.

may 3 2007 wind may 3 2007 front (more…)

Rainy Saturday

common merganser

This rainy weather is for the ducks or should I say Common Mergansers! They are predicting sun for tomorrow, so expect me to get out and do some catch up on my birding. (more…)

BOS Count

Horned Grebe

Today I participated in the Buffalo Ornithological Society (BOS) Count were I cover the lower half of section 24 (Allegany State Park – go figure). The BOS conducts three annual bird counts during the months of April, May, and October. The count dates are targeted to periods of significant bird migration and have been ongoing since 1935. Normally I locate around 50 species during the April count but rarely have to deal with a nor easter storm that just arrived. We woke up to snow on the ground and quickly the weather turned into mixed rain/snow. By noon it was entirely rain coming down and it wasn’t an easy day to be out birding. I worked hard and only able to come up with 40 species (see list below). Adding birds that I did see yesterday (and not today) I could have easily been over 50 but blame the low numbers due to this storm. Typically the April BOS count gives me an opportunity to locate Blue-headed Vireo, Barn Swallow, Louisiana Waterthrush, Broadwing Hawk, and 3-4 species of Butterflies (not this year). I did have some species of waterfowl that normally have moved through the area already. (more…)

Food that helps the bluebirds during the storm

We have another storm moving up the east coast this weekend and I believe this storm will continue to put pressure on our insect eating migrants. I wanted to check all of the bluebird boxes but decided not to disturb the boxes until after the storm has moves through. I believe it is possible that the substances inside the box could help the surviving swallows stay insulated and I do not want to stress any swallows more than they could possibly be already. I did settle on checking the two boxes back behind the house where the Eastern Bluebirds were showing some interest in nesting. It was only a week ago when these two boxes were completely empty. With a closer inspection it appears the bluebirds have left numerous clues of how they are able to survive the snow storm that we had last week.

Bluebirds at Night (more…)

snow is melting

Bonapartes Gull in Flight

The snow is finally starting to melt with temperatures in the 40’s today. This evening I decided to head over to the Quaker side of Allegany State Park to do a little birding. Despite the rain that started falling, I saw some wonderful birds. Ospreys were fishing with only one dive attempt which came up empty. There were numerous loons and mergansers that I was able to see swimming around. I enjoyed finding a Double Crested Cormorant near the overspill, but wait . . . what is that flying?? Bonaparte’s Gull, CHECK first for the year!! Not one but three or four could be seen flying around the lake. This is the only time of the year which we can locate these gulls flying through this area and I was starting to worry that I would miss seeing them this year due to this crazy weather. All these gulls were adults in their alternate (breeding) plumage, like we typically find them in this area. I hope they stick around for my count that I am doing on Sunday.


Other ducks observed included Ring-necked Ducks, Horned Grebes and Buffleheads. I decided to drive over to where my bluebird boxes were located and thought I had seen a Kestrel up in the tree. I turned the truck around (so I can see better due to the rain and check out the Osprey Nest). I slowly made it back to the falcon and something wasn’t right?? Kestrels don’t have banded tails like that?? the color pattern isn’t right?? Could this bird be it a Merlin?? I pulled the field guide out! Sure enough, Merlin, CHECK first for the year!! This poor bird wasn’t enjoying the rain and very skittish. I tried to move my truck a little closer for a better photo and away it went. Not bad for a rainy day, at least it wasn’t snowing (whoops, it was snowing in the higher elevations).

Osprey, Worms and Loons

Osprey in the Snow

Yesterday was the first I have seen the Osprey since the snow started on Wednesday. It is hard to believe that it was only a week ago when I was watching these large birds gathering nesting material and copulating at this same platform. Since Osprey captures their food in the water, their wings and muscles do not do well with these colder temperatures. Although, this one individual appeared to be doing alright and I am glad to see they are still in the area. (more…)

Purple Finch Visits the Feeder

Purple Finch

When the weather gets bad, the birds require doing just about anything to make sure they have built up enough fat to survive the cold nights. As in yesterdays post, I discussed how many species were heading straight for the roads with hopes of finding worms, bugs or seeds. I have also been talking about the Tree Swallows skimming the lakes in search of flying insects. In my previous posts, I had neglected to tell you about the numerous birds that I have been seeing at my birdfeeders. One highlighted bird that I want to tell you about is the Purple Finch (more…)

Roadside Birding

Hermit Thrush

There is no surprise that the North East has been blasted with a cold front and the storm has rudely moved through the area dropping over a foot of snow. Last Thursday I found myself here in Allegany State Park driving the roads looking for birds that are not well equipped for our kind of winters.

Hermit Thrush hates the snow Early Thrush Gets the Worm (more…)

Tree Swallows Acting Cute

Staying Warm

Tonight I had planned on doing a post on all of my wonderful birds that I photographed along the roads here in Allegany State Park. I had already edited the pictures and had the basic layout planned. Then I went outside for a quick drive and checked on how the Tree Swallow were doing (and took these pictures)!! How could I not do a follow up on the Tree Swallows and not post the cutest pictures that I have ever taken?? (more…)

Risk and Benefits of Early Migration

Here on my nature blog here you will constantly see me noting my first of the year sightings! Normally those are the birds trying to be the first on their breeding grounds. These early birds are the experienced adults taking advantage of the many benefits of arriving early. Those males who arrive first will have their first choice in the most suitable nesting habitat and provide a better chance for the males to be pair up with a female. These earlier nesting pairs will then have a longer nesting period with a better fledgling success rate. Those individuals that show up later will then result in a less suitable habitat where they could have less available food for their young. Obviously this will reduce their chances of producing successful fledglings and open up the opportunity for predators finding their nest.

tree swallow on box

These long-distance migrants have many hazardous obstacles that the birds will need to avoid during their migration. My Ornithology text book by Frank Gill states “More than half the small land birds of the Northern Hemisphere never return from their southbound migration”. This is so hard to believe but there are so many physical risk that they encounter like: exhaustion, predators or even the weather. It was my post yesterdays where I discussed temperatures being in the ~70sF (Tuesday’s 1/2 day off). There were a few species including a dragonfly which I had listed as my first for the year find. Could they be risking their lives for the possible benefits of arriving early? (more…)

Stinky Bug

Western Conifer Seed Bug

Whenever the outside temperatures start warming up, we will get many flies and ladybugs around the house. Living in the woods for the past three years has introduced me to a new resident living with me over the winter months. I had always called this a “stink bug” because whenever someone accidentally steps on one or grab it quickly the bug will produce an unpleasant odor. It has only been recently that I started to investigate the proper identification of this insect. I am proud to introduce you to my new room mate Western Conifer Seed Bug (Leptoglossus occidentalis).



Depending on where you live in the world, March 20th or March 21st is your official Equinox with 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness. To celebrate this important “natural” holiday you can make many wonderful camping style treats for your Equinox party. The dessert called “DIRT” is one of my favorites:


3 pkgs of instant vanilla pudding *

4 ½ cups milk *

1 u oz pkg Cream Cheese (room temperature)

1 carton Cool Whip (room temperature)

1 pkg Oreo Cookies (frozen)

Gummy Worms

Mix vanilla pudding, milk and cream cheese together. Fold in cool whip. Chop cookies in blender or food processor. Layer (starting with cookies and ending with cookies) one of cookies, then pudding mix, then cookies, etc. Top with Gummy Worms.

*1 large pudding and 3 cups milk can be substituted.

It is always good to see dirt after a long winter. I figured this Dirt Dessert would be right up everyone’s alley. Don’t forget your gummy worms!! Happy Equinox and I have a ton of things to write about but very little time to get it posted. I am trying to get ready for my Eastern Bird Banding Association conference at Cape Cod this weekend (well leaving on Thursday). Lets hope that the big “Salamander Migration Night” doesn’t happen while I am at the Cod! 

BTW: Had my first Fox Sparrow of the year today!!  CHECK!

Dark-eyed Junco Behavior and Vocalization

multiflora rose

You can learn a great deal about a bird once you begin watching their behaviors. There is no better time to start observing these behaviors than during the spring months when the birds are just starting establishing their territories. The Dark-eyed Junco or also known as the Slate-colored Junco (Junco hyemalis) is one of Allegany State Park’s early species that are just beginning to sing. Before we learning their song, here is a video for you to become better familiar with two of their calls. (more…)

Happy Furry/Feathery Friday

I ended up finding the birds very active around my window feeder today and it was probably due to the St. Patrick’s snow storm hitting us. So, I decided to capture some wonderful up close videos of the birds interacting together. I am very excited to add these to the blog but I first want to figure out how to make them educational (so they should be posted soon)!! I began to review them on the computer and something wonderful happened (and I quickly grab my camera)!

Although this was a test with my cats self control; the real birds outside quickly refocused their attention elsewhere. Do note that I edited out the 5 minutes of Phoebe studying the screen and showed you the two cat’s breaking points. It was very cute to watch.

Happy Furry and Feathery Friday everyone.

Could spring be near?

White-tailed Deer

Rumor has it that spring temperatures will be around for this next week and there have been many signs that just maybe spring is finally starting to get close. Yesterday I heard one of those familiar signs during my walk around Red House Lake!! (more…)

Finding things on the snow!


While coming home from work yesterday, I accidentally flushed a Red-tailed Hawk doing something behind the house. You know that look on a child’s face that something just happened and there is no way that they are going to tell you? Well, this was the same feeling I had with this Red-tailed Hawk who took off carrying something in its talons. I would have loved to follow it for a good photo opportunity but I needed to get the cats fed and get ready for the Kenn Kaufman talk. I did hiked through the deep snow for CSI – TOM to investigate those fallen remnants from under its perch (before I rudely interrupted is dinner). (more…)

Grebe Update

First Drink of Water

Picture taken two days ago at the released

Yesterday, while heading into town; I checked two times and didn’t see the Red-necked Grebe anywhere along the Allegheny River. Although I did see many ducks swimming around like the Common Merganser, Black Duck, Mallard, Canada Goose, Common Goldeneye and a Long-tailed Ducks. It was very possible that the Red-necked Grebe was down stream (where I didn’t have access to look). (more…)

Grounded with no where to go!!

Red-necked Grebe found in the snow

This morning a fellow employee came into the office saying “Tom, we have an injured bird in the snow!!” He told me how “a bird watcher found this bird and asked if he would go get some help”. I agreed to help out and while looking for a box; I started asking questions like “how big was it?”, “what was it doing” etc.. I quickly realized that the bird being described was probably a grebe species. I went down the hall and asked “Randy” a fellow naturalist to give me a hand with the bird. (more…)

what the ……..

What the .....

-2.9° to 42.4°F in 36 hours

Ice on the Building

Over the past 36 hours we have had a temperature change 45.3° degrees! To put that into perspective, if we had a low temperature of 55°F and had the same temperature change within 36 hours; we would be looking at it being 100°F outside!! Isn’t that crazy?

Here is my GOOD / BAD thoughts regarding this temperature changes.

Spring is getting closer Very muddy and ugly outside
Things are finally starting to melt Soon will have flooding
More time outside Treadmill gets dusty
Take more pictures Less time to watch Ellen
Furnace doesn’t run as long House in generally colder
Cats don’t lay on furnace vents as much Cats are laying on me more
No more shoveling Will probably snow again

American Robin

This evening I went for a quick walk around Red House Lake. I hoped to try and capture a bunch of pictures but the rain just made it too dark (and kinglets were too high up in the trees). Although taken with high ISO, there were 3 American Robins feeding on some berries. This was my only opportunity for a photo.