May 22
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Pine Warbler

Pine Warbler

Townsend's Warbler

Townsend’s Warbler

He must have had a strong premonition!

A few weeks ago (May 3) my colleague Brian posted a blog entitled, “Competitive Birding for Conservation.” He wrote about Team WBU’s upcoming Birdathon with high hopes and expectations and he questioned if we could surpass a total of 150 birds.

The reality is that we tallied exactly 150 birds! He must be psychic!

The Birdathon was a tough 24 hours of hardcore birding filled with exciting discoveries of uncommon birds and heartbreaking misses of some common ones.

But one of the constants throughout the day was the quest to count as many of the 40 potential species of warblers that can be found in Indiana during spring migration. While some warblers nest in the state, most of them are just passing through. So, you always revere every sighting of these colorful songsters.

We ended the day with 23 warbler species…not as many as we had hoped to find; but, enough to make for some exciting birding.

Warblers are truly the door prize for bird watchers! And while these insect-eating birds are not typically attracted to seed feeders, they can be attracted to your back yard with suet products, mealworms and/or water.

It is truly a magical moment when you glance outside and see your first Townsend’s warbler visiting the suet feeder or a Pine Warbler munching down on mealworms. And I don’t think I have to be psychic to assume that Brian would agree that attracting them to feeders is a whole lot easier than spending 24 hours chasing them all around the state!

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May 03
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John Schaust, Chief Naturalist Wild Birds Unlimited

John Schaust, Chief Naturalist Wild Birds Unlimited

Brian Cunningham, Product and Hobby Education Manager Wild Birds Unlimited

Brian Cunningham, Product and Hobby Education Manager Wild Birds Unlimited

Rob Ripma, Wild Birds Unlimited Sales Associate, Author and Blogger

Rob Ripma, Wild Birds Unlimited Sales Associate, Author and Blogger

119 species in 2011

143 species in 2012

300 species in 2013?

Team Wild Birds Unlimited is participating again in our local Audubon’s Birdathon. We found 119 species in a single day two years ago, 143 last year and hope to find close to 175 this year.

Recently, a Birdathon team from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology made North American history with 294 species recorded in a single day on April 25, 2013 in Texas. With around 400 bird species found in Indiana in a calendar year, Team Wild Birds Unlimited could only dream of that kind of number.

But, it’s not just about the number of species seen for a Birdathon team. It’s about bird conservation.

Birding teams do these Big Day Birdathon events to raise funds for much-needed bird conservation and education. Funds pledged this year for our Wild Birds Unlimited Team go toward bird habitat protection, research and education; particularly for the beautiful and vulnerable Cerulean Warbler. Check out the projects or make a pledge by clicking the links.

Will we surpass 150 species this year? 175? Follow our Big Day Birdathon progress on May 16 via the Wild Birds Unlimited, Inc. Facebook page. We’ll start the day at 3:00 a.m. EDT and will post updates throughout the day.

Make a financial pledge, wish us luck and follow our progress!

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May 04
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From left; John Schaust, Eric Ripma, Rob Ripma, Brian Cunningham and Jim Carpenter

Last year our WBU Big Day Birdathon adventure was; well, we’ll say it was interesting. Don’t get me wrong. We had a fun time; but, we only hit 119 species because we kept running into flooded roads. Read all about last year’s adventure and see a self-explanatory picture clicking here.

But! This year was loads of fun. It also helps when you get really close to your goal because of better preparation and the birds and weather cooperate. All said and done, we wanted 150 species and we ended up with 143.

Here are some of the highlights for me:

? In the field by 3am birding in the dark: Great Horned Owl, Barred Owl, Eastern Screech Owl, Whip-poor-will, Chuck-will’s-widow, Common Nighthawk just to name a few.

? 90 species before 9 am

? 22 warblers in total

? Not one, but two Pacific Loons

? 19 Greater White-fronted Geese

? #120…the bird that took us over the top of last year’s final number … Blue Grosbeak. It was a special moment as we all just stopped and quietly watched the bird for a moment to honor beating last year’s total.

Overall, we were 18 hours in the field, 143 species and five tired guys. I can’t wait to do it again next year!

Click the links to read about more details from our teammates’ Nutty Birder Blog: An April Big Day in Indiana and The Conclusion.

We are still accepting donations so if you would like to donate to our team please click here!

May 17
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Thanks to all those who followed our “Wild Birds Unlimited Team” on Facebook during our Big Day as we competed in our local Audubon chapter’s Birdathon (Competitive Birding is for the Birds). The purpose of the Birdathon was to raise money for bird education and conservation (and have a great time birding in the field). Here are a few highlights.

Our day started off in the dark at 5 a.m. We met in a parking lot to carpool, and we were surrounded by our first bird species; the American Robin. They were singing up a storm.

We headed out of the city and began in earnest in a state forest. The birds were waking up and the dawn chorus (The Dawn of Spring) was in full swing. We had 63 species by 8 a.m. Highlights included Wild Turkey, Ruffed Grouse, Worm-eating Warblers and 15 other warblers.

We were doing really well finding so many birds and then we hit a major road block – literally. There was a lot of flooding and many of our desired locations were inaccessible. The picture I snapped with my iPhone kind of says it all.

By 2:30 p.m. we were only at 91 species which included 23 warblers. We had hoped for 100 species by noon.

By 4 p.m. we had our 100th bird; a Northern Bobwhite! 101 was a Purple Martin.

The rest of the evening was slow, but we still saw some very interesting birds. We found Bobolinks, various sparrows and three rails.
As our Big Day came to a close, we reflected on all that had happened. We were detoured but not deterred by flooding. We avoided a severe storm that produced a beautiful rainbow and a gorgeous sunset. We ended the day with our last bird, a Common Nighthawk. It was species number 119.

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