New quizzes on estimating numbers

screen shot of quiz

I have just created a large set of new quizzes designed to test your skills at estimating numbers. You can enter the site at, and you will also find a brief discussion of the art of estimating numbers. This is very much a “beta” version, so thanks in advance for your patience if anything doesn’t […]

White flickers

Northern Flicker 20150904 NeedhamMA Michael BeagenDSC_7751

  This beautiful and striking bird is a partial albino Northern Flicker, photographed in Massachusetts in Sep 2015 by Michael Beagan. A second, very similar, bird had been photographed nearby in 2012 by John Harrison, and – besides being very attractive birds – the two provide a good opportunity to discuss some of the details […]

Underwing pattern in Cory’s Shearwater

Cory's Shearwater_GGI_Sep2015_compare_web

If you keep up on the news of subspecies, you will have heard of Scopoli’s Shearwater. It’s the Mediterranean breeding population of Cory’s Shearwater, overlapping very little with populations nesting on Atlantic Islands, and many authorities have split the two into separate species recently. Both populations occur off the Atlantic coast of North America, although Cory’s in […]

Peregrine Falcon raiding the tern colony


While I was at Great Gull Island, New York, July 3-5, two different Peregrine Falcons were passing through the tern colony. I never saw one catch a tern, but they were definitely hunting as they rocketed over the island low and fast with about a hundred screaming terns right behind, then turned and made another […]

A very young sandpiper


This image is for sale in an auction here Identification of downy young sandpipers can be a real challenge in the arctic, where multiple species occur, but I saw and sketched this one on Great Gull Island, New York, last weekend. At that latitude only a few other species are possible, and most are easily eliminated […]

Juvenile chickadees

Black-capped Chickadee_sketch_20150703_web

The artwork shown here is available for sale, click here to view current auctions After being nearly invisible for weeks, the local chickadees here in Massachusetts are suddenly everywhere. This is their typical pattern, and it’s common to many species. Nesting pairs become very quiet and secretive while they have eggs and young in the […]

‘Tis the season for baby birds

Surfbird Denali June2015_web

The artwork shown here is available for sale, click here to view current auctions Birds are busy this time of year, trying to raise a family (or two or three) and then get ready for fall migration, and it all goes so fast. The young birds are full-grown just a few weeks after they hatch, […]

An interesting warbler


On my usual birding circuit on the morning of 26 May 2015, along the Assabet River in Concord, MA, I heard the distinctive song of a Mourning Warbler. This species is a rare but regular migrant through the area, so finding one is a highlight any day, and I set to work to try to […]

Finding hawks by watching doves


  No matter how serious you are about birding, or how much you want to see hawks, a Mourning Dove will always have a stronger interest in spotting them. Birds that are in mortal danger of hawk attacks have excellent eyesight and are constantly alert to any potential threat. It’s a safe bet that they will spot […]