Category Archives: Uncategorized

Species Profile: Morelet’s Seedeater!

Male Morelet’s Seedeater, photo by Alex Lamoreaux

The Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas marks the northernmost extent of many Mexican species’ ranges and one of the most sought-after (and also one of the cutest) targets in the Valley is the tiny Morelet’s Seedeater. If you don’t recognize the name it is because in July 2018 the American Ornithological Society announced a long-awaited split of White-collared Seedeater. This tiny tanager was officially separated into Morelet’s Seedeater and Cinnamon-rumped Seedeater. The name “Morelet’s” is in recognition of French naturalist and artist Pierre Marie Arthur Morelet.

The range of Morelet’s Seedeater just barely touches southern Texas, mostly in the stretch of river from Laredo to Falcon Dam. This species goes through periods of retreat and expansion along the border; some years with no breeding records and other years where small irruptions occur. For the past 5 years the species has been regular in the region, and we haven’t missed a sighting on our spring tours. Spring is particularly good for seedeaters in the Valley, and even better – they are often singing!

If you haven’t seen this ‘new’ species yet, or haven’t seen it since the split, consider joining Alex Lamoreaux on our Rio Grande Valley in Spring tour this April 14 to 20. We will spend an entire day within the range of the seedeater, checking weedy unkempt areas along the river. In addition to searching for Morelet’s Seedeater, we also have a shot at all of the other Lower Rio Grande Valley specialties and there is some great potential for Mexican rarities to turn up. Great Kiskadee, Clay-colored Thrush, Couch’s Kingbird, White-tipped Dove, Groove-billed Ani, Audubon’s and Altamira Orioles are just a few of the seemingly endless list of tropical birds that share the seedeater’s habitat. If we’re lucky, a Red-billed Pigeon may even fly by while we explore the Valley! Join us this spring!

MINNESOTA Feb 2019: Winter Boreal Birding – day 5

Day 5 / Feb 25 – Sax-Zim Bog  This morning dawned cold, clear, and quiet. We departed our hotel early, with few words exchanged, knowing this was our final chance to find the elusive Great Gray Owl. We smiled at the brilliant sunrise that flashed double sun dogs. Our vehicle registered minus-16 degrees in theContinue Reading

MINNESOTA Feb 2019: Winter Boreal Birding – day 4

Day 4 / Feb 24 – Sax-Zim Bog Our last full day in northern Minnesota was quite memorable. We started early amid frigid temps and wind gusts of 30-40 mphs, yielding a wind chill factor well into minus degrees. Overnight snowfall was blowing hard, reducing visibility, and sinking hopes of seeing the elusive Great GrayContinue Reading

MINNESOTA Feb 2019: Winter Boreal Birding – day 3

Day 3 / Feb 23 –  Sax-Zim Bog Fueled by Caribou Coffee, we headed back to Sax-Zim Bog in search of Great Gray Owl. Snow swirled early, but temps hovered at a balmy 30 degrees for most of the day. We tracked up and down highway 7, and snow-covered dirt roads, looking for any ‘largeContinue Reading

MINNESOTA Feb 2019: Winter Boreal Birding – day 1

Day 1 / Feb 21 – Duluth and Superior Our winter birding trip to Minnesota began in true seasonal style, with several cancelled and re-routed flights due to snowstorms in Philadelphia and Minnesota.  Eventually, nearly all of our group, including leaders Alex Lamoreux and Chris Brown (minus his luggage), along with Erin, Debbie, Ginny, Gary,Continue Reading

Zimbabwe Nov 2017: Hwange NP

From Mana Pools we flew over the Zambezi and Kariba Dam to Hwange National Park in eastern Zimbabwe on the border with Botswana.  Hwange is Zimbabwe’s largest reserve, holding one of the highest concentrations of wildlife in Africa, in particular buffalo and elephants. More than 45,000 elephants roam here (considerably more than the area shouldContinue Reading

Harvey: A Story of Ethical Observation and Photography

  It was a frigid morning for my Father and me, as we quickly exited the hotel and made our way to his ice covered CRV. The skies were pitch black with the early morning hour, and we were eager to get our day underway. We arrived at our destination, the outstanding boreal habitat ofContinue Reading

BOOK REVIEW: “Birding Without Borders”

  On January 1, 2015, Noah Strycker began an epic quest to find more than 5,000 bird species in one year. The number would shatter previous “Big Year” records; the pace would exhaust the hardiest travelers. In his book “Birding Without Borders,” published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017, Noah describes the experience with riveting proseContinue Reading

2017 Another Exciting Year

2017 was a year of spectacular wildlife experiences, creating inspiration and reflection to underscore how fortunate I am to travel the world in a “job” that I love. I’m delighted to highlight some of my favorite memories with you, in these stories and photos. I spent much of the first quarter of the year onContinue Reading

Excitement in an Instant: The Dall’s Porpoise

  The Dall’s Porpoise is a master of surprise. One moment, you’re at the head of a ship, motoring through the dark waters of one of Alaska’s deep underwater canyons, and then in an instant these magnificent creatures appear. While observing some rather distant Humpback Whales aboard the Northern Song, a small pod of theseContinue Reading