Category Archives: Ornithology

Learning about birds, their habits, life histories, and place in nature.

This Week at Hilton Pond (1-14 January 2014)—#588—“Wood Duck Nest Boxes: Attracting Our Most Colorful Piedmont Waterfowl”

Figure 1. A hen Wood Duck, Aix sponsa (see photo), kept one eye on the photographer
and the other on her 13 just-fledged ducklings paddling about on Hilton Pond. (Photo copyright Bill Hilton Jr.)

The ball falling in Times Square last New Year’s Eve also signaled the beginning of our 33rd year at Hilton Pond Center, and this week’s 588th installment of “This Week at Hilton Pond” marks the 15th year for my Web-based photo essays Continue reading…

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This Week at Hilton Pond (22-31 December 2013)—#587—“2013 Bird Banding Results: Better Than Last Year, But Still Below Average”

Figure 1. A male Prothonotary Warbler—only our 17th banded at Hilton Pond since 1982—was the most uncommon species banded locally in 2013. (Photo copyright Bill Hilton Jr.)

I was away from Hilton Pond Center on many occasions during 2013 and that—coupled with bander illness and a general dearth of birds—led to a year of below average banding success. Continue reading…

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This Week at Hilton Pond (8-21 December 2013)—#586—“23rd Annual York/Rock Hill (SC) Christmas Bird Count

Figure 1. Two Great Egrets (see photo) with black legs and yellow bills were probably the best sightings for this year’s York/Rock Hill (SC) Christmas Bird Count. They’re far more common on the Carolinas coast. (Photo copyright Bill Hilton Jr.)

In conjunction with National Audubon Society, “This Week at Hilton Pond” we organized and compiled the 23rd annual York/Rock hill (South Carolina) Christmas Bird Count. Continue reading…

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This Week at Hilton Pond (1-7 December 2013)—#585—“Wandering White-throat: A Long-lived Sparrow Meets Its Demise”

Figure 1. White-throated Sparrows, Zonotrichia albicollis (see photo), breed primarily in Canada, but many individuals migrate to the southern U.S. to spend the winter. (Photo copyright Bill Hilton Jr.)

Ever wonder why I devote so much time, energy, and thought to bird banding? In part it’s for the rush (and scientific validation) I get when notified one of “my” banded birds has been encountered at a faraway locale. Continue reading…

Posted in Amateur Science, Biology, General Interest, Nature Study, Observation, Ornithology, Photography, Wildlife | 1 Comment

This Week at Hilton Pond (1-30 November 2013)—#584—“Ujarráscals In Costa Rica: Hummingbirds Among The Chayote”

The first half of November I was in Costa Rica’s Orosi Valley for our 22nd Operation RubyThroat citizen science expedition to the Neotropics. Mist netting and live-trapping operations were centered at Ujarrás, a riverside agricultural community whose cash crop is Chayote–a squash that flowers prolifically and whose nectar is sought by hummers and other avifauna. Continue reading…

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Citizen Science Musings: Christmas Citizen Science

Image:  blog.lib.umn.edu

One of my earliest experiences in what we would today call “citizen science” was participating in the annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count. Continue reading…

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This Week at Hilton Pond (1-10 October 2013)—#581—“Northern Flicker: An Atypical Woodpecker”

“This Week at Hilton Pond” I netted a locally uncommon Northern Flicker—a woodpecker whose mud-caked, slightly decurved bill revealed something about the bird’s atypical behavior. Continue reading…

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This Week at Hilton Pond (21-30 September 2013)—#580—“September Surprises: A Spider, A Dove, And A Bug”

We had several unexpected encounters at Hilton Pond the latter third of last month, what with the presence of a very large spider web, a Mourning Dove with telltale plumage, and a stinky bug new to the Carolinas and–until recently–all of North America. Continue reading…

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NSTA’s “Citizen Science” Brings Biology to Life

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The editors of NSTA’s new book Citizen Science have a straightforward goal: to inspire you to engage your students through public collaboration in scientific research—also known as citizen science. Continue reading…

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This Week at Hilton Pond (16-31 August 2013)—#577—“West Virginia Flowers (Wild And Otherwise)—And Pollinators, Too”

Figure 1.  The Goldenrod Soldier Beetle, Chauliognathus pensylvanicus, certainly feeds on nectar from its namesake flower (Solidago spp.), but it also visits and undoubtedly pollinates other wild flora. (Photo copyright Bill Hilton Jr.)

I was in southern West Virginia in late August for the annual New River Hummingbird Festival and got to spend some time in the field with a Canon SX50 (set to macro), photographing flowers (wild and otherwise) and some of their pollinators–including butterflies and hummingbirds. Continue reading…

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