Five days in, my ‘Big Month’ takes shape

Last night I finished reading the “Big Year” book on which the movie of the same title was based. I’m comfortable in reporting that I am not quite as obsessively crazed as the three competitors on whom the story is based who each sighted more than 700 species of birds in 1998. It was onContinue reading “Five days in, my ‘Big Month’ takes shape”

Big Year? I’m going for a Big Month

This is how an obsession starts. A few weeks back I watched “The Big Year,” a comedy about the crazed antics of hyper-competitive birders. Then I bought the book of the same title on which the movie is based, and I’m halfway through reading it. I’m neither wealthy nor a man of leisure, so aContinue reading “Big Year? I’m going for a Big Month”

A walk in the woods with the experts

I was back at the Pole Farm this morning as I often am on weekend mornings, but this time I wasn’t going solo. I was a last-minute substitute for a friend on a Washington Crossing Audubon Society guided walk, and what a treat it was. About 20 birders assembled at the Cold Soil Road parkingContinue reading “A walk in the woods with the experts”

Obsessive and competitive: ‘The Big Year’ birding movie

My Amazon Fire Stick must be figuring me out because its “movies you might like” prompts alerted me to “The Big Year,” a 2011 comedy about a trio of birders who obsessively pursue as many sightings as possible. Appropriately, the odious villain — Kenny Bostick (Owen Wilson) — is a Jersey guy. As the movieContinue reading “Obsessive and competitive: ‘The Big Year’ birding movie”

Birding down the shore at Barnegat Lighthouse State Park

As I watch the snow fall out my window at home today, I am still glowing over the trip yesterday to Barnegat Lighthouse State Park at the New Jersey shore. My friend and colleague Laura and I had been plotting to hit the coast for a look at shorebirds, and when both of us hadContinue reading “Birding down the shore at Barnegat Lighthouse State Park”

My little friends, the sparrows

Until I started taking a more serious interest in birding, to me a sparrow meant the ubiquitous house sparrow. A passer domesticus, rarely alone, was always at the feeders when I was a kid growing up in Ohio. Years later, I marveled at how the house sparrows thrived amid the skyscrapers of Midtown Manhattan, flittingContinue reading “My little friends, the sparrows”

My bird identification skills are shaping up

When I was a kid, my dad showed me outlines of Japanese aircraft in cards and books that he’d been issued while stationed in the South Pacific during World War II. Recognizing the difference between a Japanese Zero and an American P-51 Mustang, he told me, could give you and your buddies a few preciousContinue reading “My bird identification skills are shaping up”

Seattle: City of Crows

Other than making a few quick trips across the Delaware River into Bucks County outside Philadelphia, I’ve been a New Jersey birder exclusively since the COVID pandemic arrived. Finally I was able to venture afar, traveling to Seattle to visit one of my sons. When I lived in Seattle 30 years ago, I didn’t payContinue reading “Seattle: City of Crows”

I’m uncommonly fond of the common yellowthroat

I believe I crossed the threshold from casual birder to thoroughly hooked last spring when I began recognizing the song of the common yellowthroat. The song was unique, and it was driving me crazy that I couldn’t see the bird chirping it from the trees at the Pole Farm at Mercer Meadows Park. Finally, IContinue reading “I’m uncommonly fond of the common yellowthroat”