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Apr 30, 2020 | by

How are you doing? We just wanted to check in. These have certainly been strange times for us all. However, we continue to find ways to enjoy the spring, the birds, and our Wildside family. Thank you so much for keeping in touch, for joining our WEBINARS, for supporting us through the purchase of TRAVEL CERTIFICATES, and for continuing to hope and dream with us. We will see you soon!

In the meantime, around the world we’re hanging in there…

Bridled Tern, Arecibo, PR – photograph by Gabriel Lugo

Like you, we are continuing to follow best practice and are still birding and taking photos from our homes – even when the birds just a short drive away are calling to us…! Gabriel Lugo shared the above photo of a stunning Bridled Tern recently, located just 10 minutes from his home in Puerto Rico. The photo is from freer days in the past, because despite the desire to go photograph “these beauties!” Gabriel is staying home.

You can join Gabriel for a virtual birding tour of Puerto Rico, however, via his recent webinar: Why Not Puerto Rico? which is available On-Demand! And of course, before too long you can join Gabriel in the field in Puerto Rico or another Caribbean island.

A sketchbook spread by Catherine Hamilton

Migration is heating up all over North America, and we are blessed to find our favorite bird species passing right through our yards.

In Southern California, Catherine Hamilton has been riding out the current crisis with the help of her paints and brushes. She shared the sketchbook pages she was working on the other night, and wrote, “Migrants/vagrants. These are (a little hard to tell right now) a Rufous Hummingbird and a Summer Tanager, two birds that graced my yard a few weeks ago. They’ve gone now, but I’m still thinking about them.

Catherine leads our series of Nature Journaling Tours, teaching field sketching and watercolor techniques while birding and exploring stunning locations around the world. Whether one uses nature journaling to write, draw, or dream, it’s an invaluable tool and can be incredibly therapeutic – something that we need both now, and in the days to come!

White-crowned Sparrow (Puget) – photograph by Alex Lamoreaux

Further up the West Coast, in Oregon, Alex Lamoreaux has been turning his eye for detail to the White-crowned Sparrows in his backyard. There was a surge in sparrow numbers at his feeders in mid-April, and both of the expected subspecies of White-crowned Sparrows were present…Puget (above) and Gambel’s (below).

Alex writes, “Both subspecies are wintering residents in the Rogue Valley, with Gambel’s slightly more common here than Puget. There are slight differences in the preferred wintering habitat between the two subspecies. The Gambel’s are heading north to Alaska for the breeding season, and the Puget birds just head west and breed along the Oregon coast.

The Pugets are slightly larger, have yellow bills, broadly brown flanks, and have black-and-tan striped backs with no rufous coloration in the mantle or wings.” (See above photo)

White-crowned Sparrow (Gambel’s) – photograph by Alex Lamoreaux 

The Gambel’s have orange-pink bills, clean gray napes and upper flanks, and have gray-and-rufous striped backs with lots of rufous coloration in the mantle and wings. In the field I try to focus on the center of the back more than anything else, looking for the tan-and-black versus gray-and-rufous striping, and then confirm with bill color.” (See above photo)

Alex Lamoreaux is one of our guides for the Big Year Birding Tours series, which takes him – and you! – around North America to find target species and specialties in the right places at just the right time of year. Our 2020 Big Year was off to a terrific start, and we’ll be picking up that journey again soon, no doubt.

Rufous-collared Sparrow – photograph by Edison Buenaño

Speaking of rufous colorations and sparrows…in Quito, Ecuador, Edison Buenaño was enjoying photographing the Rufous-collared Sparrow from the window of his home recently.

It seems like most mornings he has been keeping busy, “listening to the bird calls and taking great photos of the common birds. Nice Eared Dove (the banner photo for this post!), Rufous-Collared Sparrow and Golden Grosbeak…and I saw many more nice birds. Enjoy every day – it is a blessing. You will join our trips soon. For now, stay at home…be responsible with everybody and the planet. When the corona virus will be under control we will explorer this wonderful world together!

Edison Buenaño photographing a Golden Grosbeak from his home, in Valle de los Chillos, Quito, Ecuador

We can’t wait to join Edison once again in Ecuador and throughout South America!

Corrales, NM – comic by Sally Ingraham

There’s a particular twig that the Black-chinned Hummingbirds in my (Sally Ingraham‘s) yard, in central New Mexico, like to perch on, and when they do I think at first glance that they’re some kind of trainbearer hummingbird…like the ones you can find in Ecuador, and occasionally in Edison’s yard! (Maybe my confusion will make another good comic – after all, I have a bit more time on my hands…)

However you’re managing it, we hope you are finding ways to stay healthy, to stay happy, to stay at home these days. If you’re in need of entertainment or instruction, check out the Wildside Webinars, and if you’re dreaming of upcoming travel, consider a TRAVEL CERTIFICATE.

Our family can’t wait to hang out with yours again, but until then – keep on keeping on!

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