Saturday, December 29, 2012

Our Native Purple Finch

Purple Finch (c) 2011 High Virginia Images
We have two finch species in our region; they are often confused with each other. The Purple Finch (Carpodacus purpureus) is our native species. It is not as common as the widespread introduced House Finch (Carpodacus mexicanus) which is native to the western US. The House Finch was introduced in New York in the 1950's and expanded its range throughout the eastern US and southern Canada. The Purple Finch has a heavy, triangular shaped bill. the House Finch has a short, stubby bill. Purple Finches are a much more pleasing bird to look at. The female always reminds me of a miniature female Rose-breasted Grosbeak.

Purple Finch (c) 2011 High Virginia Images

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Tiny Visitors

Red-breasted Nuthatch (c) 2012 High Virginia Images
Many of those throughout the state have been visited by a Red-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta canadensis) this year. They have been moving southward since early fall. This small nuthatch is a bird of the highest elevations of the east, the Rocky Mountain region, northern US and southern Canada. It is much smaller than the common White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis), which is found pretty much nation-wide.
The Red-breasted Nuthatch can be found as far south as the Gulf Coast during the winter season. It can be seen in a location near you.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Beagle Evil Eye

Joey (c) 2012 High Virginia Images
Some of you will not find this hard to believe, some will. Joey likes horses and Waylon, his buddy Ralphie likes cows and Willie. we were riding down the road yesterday and there were 2 horses and a cow feeding on a big round bale of hay. they were about a hundred yards away and I told Joey that there were some horses over there. By the time he found them, I had driven far enough that only the cow was visible. He stared at the cow and turned around and glared at me. A stupid people don't know cows from horses; glare.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Eagle Watch

Bald Eagle (c) 2009 High Virginia Images

Raptor Appreciation – Eighth Annual Eagle Watch Planned for January 12, 2013

PIPESTEM, W.Va. – The annual January eagle survey of the Pipestem area is scheduled for January 12. Jim Phillips, Pipestem State Park naturalist, is coordinating the various survey sites and assignments and inviting anyone interested to be part of this winter four-hour foray.
Phillips schedules novice birders with more experienced volunteers to scan the skies and record eagle sightings over a four-hour period. Various survey sites include South Overlook of Bluestone Dam, Bull Falls, Bluestone State Park, Mouth of the Bluestone River, Rt. 20, Bellepoint Park in Hinton, Bertha campground (Bluestone WMA), Greenbrier River, Sandstone Falls and other areas.
“Depending upon how many folks sign up to help, we have from six to 12 survey points established,” said Phillips. In January 2012, 38 people participated and confirmed sightings of 19 bald eagles and an adult golden eagle. In January 2012, with temperatures in the low 20s, 10 individuals reported sighting six bald eagles and two golden eagles. “Our population is growing in southern West Virginia,” Phillips said.
To be part of the eagle survey, contact Jim Phillips at 304-466-1800 ext. 344 or email with phone contact information and names wanting to volunteer prior to January 7. Include “Eagle Survey” in the subject line. Phillips contacts participants in advance to determine the best location, to create teams and to forward the forms to record sightings. The survey begins at 10 a.m. and continues until 2 p.m. All participants will meet at the Hinton Dairy Queen at 3 p.m. with collected data.
“In recent weeks we have had sightings of adult bald eagles at Bacon Falls on the Greenbrier River and between Forest Hill and Greenville along Indian Creek,” said Phillips. On “The Big Sit” survey in October, Phillips indicates a pair of adult bald eagles was seen at Mt. Valley Lake near Jumping Branch and one adult was there during a November field trip. In spring of 2012, Phillips witnessed two bald eagle fledglings.
Phillips schedules eagle watches as part of his interpretative programs at Pipestem State Park. Activities organized by Pipestem Resort are regularly posted at

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Little Angels

I was sitting in traffic today, headed west out of Harman on Rt 33. Soon after we got moving again, I saw a dust cloud arrise from the road ahead. An unexpected tree had fallen into the road; luckily it was between traffic strings and didn't hit anything. I knew we were in for another delay and I was getting caught up on paperwork, as I was sitting there. I noticed Ralphie staring to my left, I assumed he was just trying to learn to read. Soon after, Joey started staring that way, too.
   I looked up and there were 2 guys in one of the tree service trucks from Macon, GA. They were staring down and grinning. The driver said something and I rolled down the window. He said that those 2 beagles look like Little Mafia Hit Men; waiting for something to happen. I guess I have the only gaurd beagles in the country. Just look at these little angels.