Thursday, December 30, 2010

My tools for identifying birds

I use three sources to identify birds.
1.       iPhone iBird app
2.       Birds of North America Field Guide
3.       Fellow birders!

The iBird iPhone app is great because you can easily use it in the garden to identify birds.  Right now it has 828 birds in the Western edition.  The search feature makes it easy to identify birds by 15 different main variables.  It includes illustrations, photographs, interesting facts, range and bird calls.  It also has links to Birdpedia.  It’s a lot of fun to use and there is a version for you Android users too.  You can check out the iBird website for more information.
As great as the iBird is, I sometimes turn to an actual book and I use Golden Books, A guide to field identification, Birds of North America.  It has a lot of illustrations and is a good general field guide for birds.

For those times when I can’t figure out the identity, fellow birders have been very helpful.  Of course it helps if I can send them a picture.  

 As an example, this fall I photographed a mystery bird in the Goleta Slough.  The BirdCam had also taken a picture of the same bird at the birdbath.  Even with its distinctive patterns I couldn’t find it in the iBird or Field Guide.  So I sent the picture to several friends and my friend Jan showed to a friend of hers who identified it as a Nutmeg Mannikin.  Turns out it's a Southeast Asian bird that was introduced to Hawaii in the mid-1800's.  You can't bird watch in Hawaii without encountering them.  Enough of them have escaped from captivity in Los Angeles to form a wild population in the last decade or so.  So if you’re still not sure, ask a friend! 

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The BirdCam by Wingscapes

I’ve had several questions about the BirdCam so I will take a moment to write about it.  The model I use is the BirdCam 2.0 made by Wingscapes, there is also link to their website under Related Links.  The BirdCam 2.0 is a weatherproof, 8 megapixel camera that uses an infrared sensor to detect motion.  The sensor does a good job of ignoring feeder movement and minimizes 'empty' shots.  The camera is equipped with a flash so that it can take pictures in low light and in the middle of the night.  It can also record ten second videos with sound.  A laser pointer is used to aim the camera, as there isn’t a view finder.  The images are recorded onto a 2GB SD Card that I remove from the camera and download onto the computer.  If you follow the setup instructions and you’re comfortable downloading pictures from a memory card, then you will find the camera is pretty easy to use.  I mount it on an adapter that is attached to a shepherd’s hook.  The shepherd’s hook is easy to move around in the garden and it’s much easier than using a tripod.  If you're thinking about buying one, check out the price on

Monday, December 27, 2010

This Oriole isn't afraid of a hummingbird!

This is a fun video.  An Oriole is feeding at the feeder while a hummingbird flies in and hovers about.  We all know how territorial hummingbirds are about their feeders, but this one can’t scare off its biggest competition.

A humming bird at the Oriole feeder

Here's a humming bird feeding at the Oriole feeder.  Orioles are attracted to the color orange and humming birds are attracted to both red and orange.  So with the orange Oriole feeder I get both Orioles and Hummingbirds.  I think this bird would like me to attach a perch that it can use.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Male Hooded Oriole Video

Hooded Orioles from 2010

Here are some Hooded Orioles, the male has brilliant yellow plumage. These are very skittish birds and they will flee the second they think I am around. The BirdCam can do the job.

New Blog, pictures from the BirdCam

In 2010 I purchased a BirdCam and had a lot of fun taking pictures of birds and other critters. I would email the pictures and videos to friends. Now I have decided to go to the next level and put the pictures and videos on a Blog. I plan on making this mostly bird and plant pictures that I have taken in and around Santa Barbara. I decided to call this blog "BirdCam on Cheltenham" because it will be inspired by the BirdCam and heck I like the rhyme!

I'll start off with a favorite video I call Splish Splash.