It is that dreadful time of year again when the winter doldrums have set in. You can’t remember the last time you saw the sun, your chaco foot tan in long gone, and you wear at least four layers of clothing when you are out birding. Any day over 32 degrees makes you feel like putting on some flip flops and drinking a daiquiri. Birds are far and few between (for the most part), and at least in Pennsylvania, you’ll be lucky to get 10 species on a single checklist. Sometimes you even have dreams involving more species than you might see in one day. I love winter weather, but this year’s polar vortex turned me into an angry sleepy mammal.
There are a few solutions to this problem. The best one is to head south, like I did, preferably as far as possible. A few days ago I moved back to Silver Springs, Florida, to continue work with Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, with Florida Scrub-Jays and the Southeastern American Kestrel. I must say…this was a fantastic solution. My mood immediately improved; it was 80 degrees when I arrived in Florida. White Ibis, Great Egrets, and Osprey welcomed me back, and I swear they were saying, “You made it! We are all here! All of us! All the birds!” While this isn’t really the case, it feels like it. I swear there are at least 400 gazillion Yellow-rumped Warblers in Florida. On top of the fact that many bird species winter here, north central Florida is experiencing a very wet year (in comparison to 2012 when I was last here, although we are still technically in a drought), so birds are EVERYWHERE.
It is like an early spring for me! However; I know that MANY OF MY FAMILY AND FRIENDS are still stuck in the polar vortex. And they will be for at least a few more weeks. The next best solution is to immediately register for the 2014 Biggest Week in American Birding in the warbler capital of the world! Having a TEN DAY PERIOD of nothing but colorful happy warblers (OK a few other fun things as well, like presentations, field trips, and seeing all of your long lost birding buddies) to look forward to might be just what you need to make it through the last few weeks of winter.
Registration is now open! Registration is only $35, but Black Swamp Bird Observatory members get a huge discount, so be sure to join BSBO before registering! Registration is only $20 for BSBO members (what a deal!), so be sure to pay it forward and donate to the “Save the Golden-Wing Project” when prompted during registration. This project is helping to save and restore vital wintering habitat for the Golden-winged Warbler in Nicaragua. And remember that you get a fun swag bag full of goodies when you arrive at the biggest week, including a Biggest Week tote bag! Head over to the registration page and be sure to sign up for field trips before they get booked up!