Old Field Guides

I’ve grown fond of old field guides.

The 1941 Peterson Guide I bought from a used book store has notes inscribed inside by the Bruno Hukari Family: “Swallows arrived March 26, 1967, March 1978, March 1979.”

I think it’s neat to think about how birding has changed (and not changed) through the years. Recently, a friend of mine picked up a few older guide books on the cheap from an estate sale for me. I’m curious if old field guides and journals might hold clues about changing bird populations over the years.


So cool!

Flipping through old field guides at a book store yielded this 1977 Cedar Waxwing trading card from Kellogg’s. Apparently, there’s an entire series of these vintage bird trading cards.



The earliest field guide in the US is Birds Through an Opera Glass (1889) by Florence Bailey. A reprint of this book is available as a free eBook on Google Books! (or for purchase on Amazon).

I’m entranced by the colorful descriptions of the birds. Here’s an example:

THE BLUEBIRD. As you stroll through the meadows on a May morning, drinking in the spring air and sunshine, and delighting in the color of the dandelions and the big bunches of blue violets that dot the grass, a bird call comes quavering overhead that seems the voice of all country loveliness. Simple, sweet, and fresh as the spirit of the meadows, with a tinge of forest richness in the plaintive tru-al-ly that marks the rhythm of our bluebird’s undulating flight, wherever the song is heard, from city street or bird-box, it must bring pictures of flowering fields, blue skies, and the freedom of the wandering summer winds.”

Vintage tweets and chirps,


Camera Update

This blog is about to get better. Visually better anyways. Thanks to my sweet boyfriend, Tomas who surprised me with a new camera when I got back from my trip to Montana!

So fun…now I have to learn how to use it.


Tweets and chirps,


The Gear

Birding by ear is fun, but I’ll admit I get the greatest joy from seeing them. It helps to have a good pair of binoculars. A camera is also handy to capture images for identification purposes. Plus, it proves what you saw. Pics or it didn’t happen!

My current camera is a Cannon PowerShot SX 100 IS and my binoculars are Bushnell H20 8×42 and they are both OK.

I can certainly get by with this gear and have done so just fine for about 7 years. But the camera is showing age, and it’s a struggle to capture clear images while zooming in on spazzy birds or sometimes even perched birds. The binoculars are a bit awkward, and the focus mechanism can be stubborn. I’ll say it: I’m displeased with my current birding gear.

For the purpose of this year (and beyond) I’d like to give myself a greater advantage while in the field. Instead of, “What’s that fuzzy grey blob?!” I’ll say, “My, oh my, that is the black-throated gray warbler! Just look at those dark cheeks, those white “eyebrows,” that black throat, and those streaked flanks!” Yep, that’s how it’ll be. I can hope anyways. The experience often relies on clear focus, crisp imagery, and distinguishing subtle differences in bird features.

I’ve done some research and taken recommendations and have come up with the following wish list:


Cannon PowerShot SX 50 HS

Without spending thousands of dollars on a DSLR and with the intent of using it for the 50x optical zoom, this camera should fit the bill nicely for a novice birder. I recently discovered brilliant bird photos on John Rakestraw’s Birding in Oregon and Beyond Blog and found that he uses the SX50. A couple of Audbubon birders have also had good things to say about the camera and it has decent reviews.


Vortex Diamondback 8×42 Binoculars

Multiple Audubon birders use these binoculars and I was able to test them out during the Christmas count. They are sleek, the images seem bright, and they adapt to eye glasses. They are waterproof, fogproof, and the Vortex company includes an unlimited lifetime warranty.

Hopefully I’ll have a happy update in the near future!

Update: I got the binoculars! I also got the fashionable “binocu-bra”! – How do I look?


Update 2.0: Woohoo! Level camera-upgrade achieved. Thanks to my sweet boyfriend, Tomas’s generosity.


Tweets and chirps,