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Claeaus
Mar 29, 2010


Thanks a lot everyone! Currently she's using some 8x $20 binoculars from the local hardware store so anything would be an improvement really.

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Pablo Bluth
Sep 7, 2007

I've made a huge mistake.


Claeaus posted:

Thanks a lot everyone! Currently she's using some 8x $20 binoculars from the local hardware store so anything would be an improvement really.
In that case, the full $1000 is probably overkill. Unless her friend has $1000+ bins and she's set her heart on something in the diminishing return territory.

INTJ Mastermind
Dec 30, 2004

It's a radial!

The Zeiss Conquest HD 8x42 is $999.99!

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/prod...=BI%3A514&smp=y

Iíve had one for several years and itís my primary binocular. The optics are fantastic. Itís been everywhere including open ocean whale watching trips and itís held up great.

Review here:

https://www.birdwatching.com/optics/zeiss/conquest_8x42_review.html

BeastOfExmoor
Aug 19, 2003

I will be gone, but not forever.


Coming from $20 bins, even a decent $200 binocular will be an incredible improvement.

Aquila
Jan 24, 2003



Claeaus posted:

Thanks a lot everyone! Currently she's using some 8x $20 binoculars from the local hardware store so anything would be an improvement really.

There are so many things that go into binoculars that picking the right factors can make a bunch of difference. Most of it's been covered, but things beyond magnification and optical quality can make a huge difference in how much someone likes and uses binoculars. I've found many people care more about weight, size, strap/harness design (this can usually be changed later), appearance, and build quality. There are hard lower limits given magnification and objective size, this is why most 8x42 roof prism binoculars appear similar at this point. Features such as close focus (my grandma uses binoculars to look at plants so she doesn't have to bend over), water resistant/proof (important for some people), brand (some people want Leica/Zeiss/Swaro) usually come in after these. Things like eye relief (important for people who wear glasses), field of view, handling/controls, lens caps, usually come last.

There are difficult choices when it comes to size and weight, the image projected on your eye is a factor of the magification and objective size, and this is directly related on how easy they are to use. A compact 8x32 will be shakier then an 8x42 then an 8x50, but each step goes up in size and weight. If you read the Audubon reviews you'll see 8x42 is defacto at this point, but they may be larger/heavier than some people want to carry. Even at a given size there can be a 40% variance in weight, some 8x42 weigh just 24oz, some 32oz+.

BetterLekNextTime
Jul 22, 2008

It's all a matter of perspective...


Grimey Drawer

This is all true, and in an ideal world where this isn't a surprise gift you could take someone to a store with a big selection and have her try them out and pick out the ones that feel the best in her hands. However, I wouldn't get paralyzed by all the options or trying to figure out her exact use case. Maybe get them from somewhere with an easy return policy so if she knows right off the bat that they are too heavy or don't work with her glasses then you can send them back and try something else. (Make sure she properly adjust the focus when you are testing them... all decent binoculars should have a focus adjust on one of the eye pieces to account for different eyes focusing slightly differently. Close the eye on the eye piece that adjusts, then focus on something using the main focus. Then switch eyes so you are looking only with the eye on the adjusting eyepiece, and use the focus adjust to get that one as sharp as possible.)

The quality in pretty much any brand in the $200-$400 range should give you the "wow" factor you are looking for. Just make sure it's well reviewed and that it's not too huge and you should be fine.

The advice to get a 3rd party strap is a good one. Many come with a thin nylon strap, or at best a wider nylon strap like comes with cameras, and these aren't the most comfortable. You can buy neoprene straps that are soft and have more give. Serious birders may go to a full harness but I'm going to guess that would be more of a barrier at first. And while I'm thinking of it, you can pick up a Lens Pen or two for cleaning.

kaom
Jan 20, 2007

Ask me about ordering milk in a pub...four times.



Really sorry that my first post in this thread is potentially a sad one, but Iím wondering if anyone here is aware of resources where I could look up common wild bird ailments and ranges those have been observed in?

I mostly watch my local neighbourhood crows, who are hilarious. Thereís a family unit of around 10-15 of them who hang out on my block all the time. Sometimes we get a whole murder hanging around of 20+ since we live near a mall as well. Today the large group was here and I spotted for the first time one with some kind of big, protruding growth on his beak.

Iím hoping to figure out what it might be (avian pox seems possible?) so I can keep an eye out for this guy. I really hope it isnít something that could be passed to the local crew. I guess even if it is, all I could hope to do is ID the problem and pass the info on to my neighbours with birdbaths to recommend putting them away for the winter sooner than planned. Poor little guy.

Finger Prince
Jan 5, 2007

"I think he's watching us..."

"No, it's just the Mountain Peeks."
(Source)



I saw a golden eagle slowly glide past my balcony window yesterday!



Best balcony bird so far. (B&W because I was in a hurry and didn't change it from the last setting it was on).

BetterLekNextTime
Jul 22, 2008

It's all a matter of perspective...


Grimey Drawer

kaom posted:

Really sorry that my first post in this thread is potentially a sad one, but Iím wondering if anyone here is aware of resources where I could look up common wild bird ailments and ranges those have been observed in?

I mostly watch my local neighbourhood crows, who are hilarious. Thereís a family unit of around 10-15 of them who hang out on my block all the time. Sometimes we get a whole murder hanging around of 20+ since we live near a mall as well. Today the large group was here and I spotted for the first time one with some kind of big, protruding growth on his beak.

Iím hoping to figure out what it might be (avian pox seems possible?) so I can keep an eye out for this guy. I really hope it isnít something that could be passed to the local crew. I guess even if it is, all I could hope to do is ID the problem and pass the info on to my neighbours with birdbaths to recommend putting them away for the winter sooner than planned. Poor little guy.

Hard to know, but you might find your local Audubon society and see what's a likely culprit in your area. It's always a bummer to see a sick bird.


Finger Prince posted:

I saw a golden eagle slowly glide past my balcony window yesterday!



Best balcony bird so far. (B&W because I was in a hurry and didn't change it from the last setting it was on).

That's rad. I've seen one from my house but it was super far away.

Jerm324
Aug 3, 2007


This thread needs some more content. Here are a couple white tailed kites having a duel.

BetterLekNextTime
Jul 22, 2008

It's all a matter of perspective...


Grimey Drawer

Kites are good content.

golden light kite no logo-0317 on Flickr

Anyone else doing a CBC this year? One of mine got cancelled, and the other is modified such that only cohabitating people can be together. Instead of a group birding all day the territories are getting split up into smaller sub-areas and I'll probably only have a couple of hours of birding along an urban creek behind a Target and McDonalds.

Jerm324
Aug 3, 2007


BetterLekNextTime posted:

Anyone else doing a CBC this year? One of mine got cancelled, and the other is modified such that only cohabitating people can be together. Instead of a group birding all day the territories are getting split up into smaller sub-areas and I'll probably only have a couple of hours of birding along an urban creek behind a Target and McDonalds.

I've never done one but sounds like fun in normal times.

More Content: Here's a Western Meadowlark I spotted last month:

Joburg
May 19, 2013



Fun Shoe

I saw a flock of meadowlarks yesterday. It was strange, I usually only see them as ones and maaaaybe twos.

(And I see usually find a couple of nests in early summer )

BeastOfExmoor
Aug 19, 2003

I will be gone, but not forever.


BetterLekNextTime posted:

Kites are good content.

golden light kite no logo-0317 on Flickr

Anyone else doing a CBC this year? One of mine got cancelled, and the other is modified such that only cohabitating people can be together. Instead of a group birding all day the territories are getting split up into smaller sub-areas and I'll probably only have a couple of hours of birding along an urban creek behind a Target and McDonalds.

I am so grumpy I love in as place workout any Kites

All my CBCs were canceled this year. I kind of dread them, but it feels really weird to not do any.

BetterLekNextTime
Jul 22, 2008

It's all a matter of perspective...


Grimey Drawer

I love 'em -- the only one I was nervous about was when I took over as a territory leader last year. The upshot of this year was that since the itinerary was cut so much shorter, my wife actually came along. She's not into doing a full day with limited bathrooms and extended visits to the water treatment plant, but a walk along a trashy urban creek and community college campus was more appealing for her. It was super foggy and cold (for the Bay Area) but we saw some cool stuff. The Wood ducks were apparently the only ones counted. I didn't go to the zoom countdown but I heard the species total was actually really high for our circle so the covid restrictions didn't impact species numbers but I've got to think it will affect the numbers of birds seen.

Hooded Merg no logo-9365 on Flickr

Belted Kingfisher no logo-9371 on Flickr

Wood duck no logo-9394 on Flickr

waffy
Oct 31, 2010


Kites seem super cool, I too am jealous of anyone who can see them normally.

We've had some good luck with rare birds here in southeast PA lately, with a state-first Tundra Bean-Goose that's been around for the past few days. I got to go see it yesterday morning along with an Allen's Hummingbird at a feeder within a 10 minute drive from there. Made a great combo for a lot of people. Around a week prior there was also a Northern Wheatear a bit more north, though I didn't try to see that.

On a lesser and more personal note, I spotted my first Cackling Goose last weekend, a lifer that felt a bit overdue for me. Or at least, the first time I've ever noticed one and could tell it apart from Canada Geese (which was actually more obvious than I expected it to be). Seeing mega-rarities with a bunch of other people is cool and all, but there's nothing quite like spotting something unexpected on your own. Plus it was the first one recorded at that hotspot.

BeastOfExmoor
Aug 19, 2003

I will be gone, but not forever.


BetterLekNextTime posted:

I love 'em -- the only one I was nervous about was when I took over as a territory leader last year. The upshot of this year was that since the itinerary was cut so much shorter, my wife actually came along. She's not into doing a full day with limited bathrooms and extended visits to the water treatment plant, but a walk along a trashy urban creek and community college campus was more appealing for her. It was super foggy and cold (for the Bay Area) but we saw some cool stuff. The Wood ducks were apparently the only ones counted. I didn't go to the zoom countdown but I heard the species total was actually really high for our circle so the covid restrictions didn't impact species numbers but I've got to think it will affect the numbers of birds seen.


I like the birding. I actually used to have a route that was all weird suburban places, where you'd be thrilled to find something fairly common like a Yellow-Rumped Warbler, Wood Duck, or Wilson's Snipe. The part I hate is the part I suck at, namely all the coordination and crap, and there's always some weird conflict with family Christmas stuff I have to work around.


I never considered the Kingfishers would eat Crayfish. That's pretty awesome.

waffy posted:

We've had some good luck with rare birds here in southeast PA lately, with a state-first Tundra Bean-Goose that's been around for the past few days. I got to go see it yesterday morning along with an Allen's Hummingbird at a feeder within a 10 minute drive from there.

It always makes me shake my head whenever I see an Allen's Hummingbird record on the east coast. Washington state, only a few hundred miles from their breeding range has one accepted record and it's from 1894.

BeastOfExmoor fucked around with this message at 03:38 on Dec 21, 2020

BetterLekNextTime
Jul 22, 2008

It's all a matter of perspective...


Grimey Drawer

waffy posted:

Kites seem super cool, I too am jealous of anyone who can see them normally.

We've had some good luck with rare birds here in southeast PA lately, with a state-first Tundra Bean-Goose that's been around for the past few days. I got to go see it yesterday morning along with an Allen's Hummingbird at a feeder within a 10 minute drive from there. Made a great combo for a lot of people. Around a week prior there was also a Northern Wheatear a bit more north, though I didn't try to see that.

On a lesser and more personal note, I spotted my first Cackling Goose last weekend, a lifer that felt a bit overdue for me. Or at least, the first time I've ever noticed one and could tell it apart from Canada Geese (which was actually more obvious than I expected it to be). Seeing mega-rarities with a bunch of other people is cool and all, but there's nothing quite like spotting something unexpected on your own. Plus it was the first one recorded at that hotspot.

I'm excited about the kites too! I hadn't seen them in my local park for a while but just recently at least one has returned.

Congrats on the bean goose! I saw the post from the guy who found it and you could tell how excited he was. Cacklers are awesome. I'm not sure I ever saw one when I lived on the east coast. They're a little more common out here. In fact my father in law worked to save some wintering area for one of the subspecies nearby. We usually get to see a couple of dozen on the CBC but because of the precautions this year I didn't visit that part of the territory this year.

BeastOfExmoor posted:


I never considered the Kingfishers would eat Crayfish. That's pretty awesome.

First for me too!

quote:


It always makes me shake my head whenever I see an Allen's Hummingbird record on the east coast. Washington state, only a few hundred miles from their breeding range has one accepted record and it's from 1894.

Yeah that's weird. Although maybe there are more that just get written off as Rufous? I just saw someone mention something else that was surprisingly uncommon, like Eastern Phoebe (probably misremembering) or something that is fairly regular here in CA but almost never gets to WA.

Jerm324
Aug 3, 2007


Kites are one of my favorite raptors. They are very common up here in the northern bay area, California, at least in valleys of Sonoma county. The silent hover they do when hunting is one of the most fascinating things. These pics are from this year around the area.




Tears In A Vial
Jan 13, 2008



is this the active birdwatching thread? My partner and I started keeping a list this year, for something to do during lockdown. Our best find so far is a Snow Bunting, which we heard was nearby from a birding website. Still it took two days and sixteen miles of walking to find.

This is a photo I took

ExecuDork
Feb 25, 2007

We might be fucked, sir.

Fallen Rib

/\/\/\ Nice. I like Snow Buntings, they remind me of my PhD fieldwork, in the Canadian High Arctic. I would get woken up by the juveniles sliding off of my dome tent - their claws are noisy on nylon fabric.

EDIT: these guys
Weather Premonitions 9 by Martin Brummell, on Flickr

BeastOfExmoor posted:

I never considered the Kingfishers would eat Crayfish. That's pretty awesome.

Coming from Canada, where there's one camera-hating bastard of a kingfisher to Australia, where there are many different and often quite photo-tolerant kingfishers has been very eye-opening. Sacred Kingfishers (I've got photos but they're languishing on a HDD) often hunt land-bugs (grasshoppers, spiders, beetles, etc.) from fence posts and low tree branches. We saw one using a large piece of driftwood on a beach as its survey perch several months ago, it appeared to be hunting crabs. And the kookaburras seem to be entirely terrestrial, I usually see them in forests or just in trees, not necessarily near water. They'd certainly take a yabbie (local slang for crayfish).

BetterLekNextTime
Jul 22, 2008

It's all a matter of perspective...


Grimey Drawer

Kingfishers are awesome. I had a lab mate in grad school who was set on studying some weird species in New Guinea that runs along the forest floor rooting through the leaf litter.

I had a field job in Venezuela at a place where we had several species from a tiny Pygmy Kingfisher to the almost crow-sized Ringed. God I miss the tropics.

Jerm324
Aug 3, 2007


I got some video of various Sparrows and House Finches feeding in my backyard. The Finches prefer the feeder, the Sparrows prefer the ground. They come and go a dozen times a day.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gtCsfBx4xT0

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gC1i9GX0vqU

BeastOfExmoor
Aug 19, 2003

I will be gone, but not forever.


BetterLekNextTime posted:

Yeah that's weird. Although maybe there are more that just get written off as Rufous? I just saw someone mention something else that was surprisingly uncommon, like Eastern Phoebe (probably misremembering) or something that is fairly regular here in CA but almost never gets to WA.

I'd assume so, yeah. You'd basically have to photograph a lot of Rufous and hope you get lucky. Almost all the eastern neo-tropical migrants are very rare in Washington. For instance, we had our first record of Scarlet Tanager in 2020. Eastern Phoebe is less than annual in the entire state. On the plus side, if you want to do a little driving things like Gyrfalcon and Snowy Owl are possible every winter.

BetterLekNextTime
Jul 22, 2008

It's all a matter of perspective...


Grimey Drawer

I think it was the Scarlet Tanager I heard about.

I would definitely trade any number of eastern poo poo birds for either of those two. I've actually seen way more gyrs than snowy owls but I'd take either.

Enfys
Feb 17, 2013

i am a dragon


Jerm324 posted:

I got some video of various Sparrows and House Finches feeding in my backyard. The Finches prefer the feeder, the Sparrows prefer the ground. They come and go a dozen times a day.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gtCsfBx4xT0

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gC1i9GX0vqU

These are great. I love watching the finches just hucking seeds all over to get to the sunflower seeds.

triwolf
May 8, 2008


I'm new to the birding thread and birding in general. I got a few reference books and binoculars and I've been watching the little brown birds who live in the bush outside my house to figure out what they are exactly. Today I managed to get a good look at one of them and realized from the little yellow spots on its face that it is a white-throated sparrow! I know that is possibly the dullest bird identification ever but it was truly thrilling, I get why people get really into bird IDing now.

BetterLekNextTime
Jul 22, 2008

It's all a matter of perspective...


Grimey Drawer

triwolf posted:

I'm new to the birding thread and birding in general. I got a few reference books and binoculars and I've been watching the little brown birds who live in the bush outside my house to figure out what they are exactly. Today I managed to get a good look at one of them and realized from the little yellow spots on its face that it is a white-throated sparrow! I know that is possibly the dullest bird identification ever but it was truly thrilling, I get why people get really into bird IDing now.

Don't be fooled by the fact they are a common winter bird. White-throated Sparrows are super cool. We only get a handful here on the west coast so I'm always stoked when one comes to my yard or I see them on a hike.

If you can figure out a sparrow ID that is a great start for birding. Congrats!

Fitzy Fitz
May 14, 2005






What's cool to me is how much more interesting common birds become once you learn more about them. Lots of formerly little brown/gray blobs are now some of my favorite birds

Internet Explorer
Jun 1, 2005


Oven Wrangler

Thought you all would appreciate this.

https://twitter.com/Pandamoanimum/status/1350180799904182272?s=19

Vargo
Dec 27, 2008

'Cuz it's KILLIN' ME!


Today I got a tip that there was a rare Tundra-Bean Goose at a reservoir near my house, and that's kind of interesting because they basically only live in Siberia. The reservoir is also home to an Audubon Center.

...Except the center, and thus access to the reservoir is closed due to COVID. I guess they opened the gates for a few hours this morning but they were locked by the time I got there. A bunch of people stood peering through the gate through scopes hoping he'd swim by.

Oh well. At least I logged my first seasonal rarity yesterday. (An Eastern Phoebe)

pointsofdata
Apr 25, 2011



BetterLekNextTime posted:

Don't be fooled by the fact they are a common winter bird. White-throated Sparrows are super cool. We only get a handful here on the west coast so I'm always stoked when one comes to my yard or I see them on a hike.

If you can figure out a sparrow ID that is a great start for birding. Congrats!

Wow that's super cool, thanks for the link. Crazy that this was only discovered comparatively recently, imagine all the weird stuff less common species must get up to.

Enfys
Feb 17, 2013

i am a dragon


BetterLekNextTime posted:

Don't be fooled by the fact they are a common winter bird. White-throated Sparrows are super cool. We only get a handful here on the west coast so I'm always stoked when one comes to my yard or I see them on a hike.

If you can figure out a sparrow ID that is a great start for birding. Congrats!

Wow both those articles are really fascinating

ExecuDork
Feb 25, 2007

We might be fucked, sir.

Fallen Rib

BetterLekNextTime posted:

I think it was the Scarlet Tanager I heard about.

I would definitely trade any number of eastern poo poo birds for either of those two. I've actually seen way more gyrs than snowy owls but I'd take either.

When I lived in Saskatchewan, the flat empty part in the middle of Canada, there was a boom year for Snowys. My (now-) wife and I saw about a dozen over a 6-hour drive, all of them perched on top of wooden powerline poles. We developed the habit of scanning powerlines and similar repeated tall structures (big fence posts, telephone lines, etc.) from 100 km/h, and that's how we found a bunch more interesting birds, including a Golden Eagle one day.
Raptor by Martin Brummell, on Flickr
SD 140 24 by Martin Brummell, on Flickr

Tears In A Vial
Jan 13, 2008



met some lovely little turnstones today:



There are some Brent Geese nearby but I couldn't get close enough for a good photo:

Corla Plankun
May 8, 2007

improve the lives of everyone


Is this an Eastern Phoebe?

The light "eye-stripe" in the top right picture is just a highlight, it didn't have a lighter stripe in real life. I saw it this afternoon in central Texas. It was sitting on a fence and flitting off to quickly grab something and then it would come back to the fence for 30 seconds or so, and then repeat. It seemed like it might have been trying to grab flying bugs or maybe bugs off of the side of my neighbor's house, but it was very quick so I can't be sure.

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BetterLekNextTime
Jul 22, 2008

It's all a matter of perspective...


Grimey Drawer

Corla Plankun posted:

Is this an Eastern Phoebe?

The light "eye-stripe" in the top right picture is just a highlight, it didn't have a lighter stripe in real life. I saw it this afternoon in central Texas. It was sitting on a fence and flitting off to quickly grab something and then it would come back to the fence for 30 seconds or so, and then repeat. It seemed like it might have been trying to grab flying bugs or maybe bugs off of the side of my neighbor's house, but it was very quick so I can't be sure.



Iíd say youíre right. In Texas itís always good to look closely in case itís some unusual bird coming up from Mexico but looks like Eastern Phoebe to me.

waffy
Oct 31, 2010


I was going to agree but held off, since as a northeastern birder I'm pretty clueless on Texas and couldn't confidently know whether it could be some other Phoebe lookalike species in that area.

The behavior you saw is very typical of flycatchers, which is the type of family a Phoebe falls into. And they do just that, catch flies, often perched from the same spot that they'll flitter off of and return to multiple times.

Other flycatchers, like the Empidonax group, are notoriously hard to tell apart from each other (and sometimes may not even be feasible to if they don't vocalize). But at least in my area, Phoebes are pretty distinctive. They also pump their tail up and down constantly, so that's something to keep an eye out for as well.

Fitzy Fitz
May 14, 2005






The only thing that's odd about those (aside from the stripe above the eye) is that I'm used to phoebes having more of a squat, puffball shape. That's exactly their behavior though. They love to sit on the posts in my neighbor's yard, pump their tails, and frequently hop into the air to grab an insect before returning to the same post.

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Corla Plankun
May 8, 2007

improve the lives of everyone


Fitzy Fitz posted:

The only thing that's odd about those (aside from the stripe above the eye) is that I'm used to phoebes having more of a squat, puffball shape. That's exactly their behavior though. They love to sit on the posts in my neighbor's yard, pump their tails, and frequently hop into the air to grab an insect before returning to the same post.

I run into this a lot when I'm trying to identify things down here, and I'm never really sure if it is a species difference, or it is just the simple fact that it was 75 degrees outside yesterday so it didn't need to be all puffed up to stay warm?

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