Monday, June 10, 2019


Pip the Birding Dog doesn't go on beaches where birds may be present 

 The reason Pip doesn't have Piping Plover or some other shorebirds on her life list is because she isn't allowed on beaches. Laura loves living in a world that is filled with adorable dogs and adorable birds, and wants to keep it that way.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

New lifer--Barred Owl!

Barred Owl

Sunday, February 3 was what I call Superb Owl Sunday. Last year Pip and I got skunked--zero owls at all!--but this year made up for it. Three of the owls we saw were already on Pip's lifelist, but somehow she'd never before seen the most common of them, the Barred Owl! 

Barred Owl roosting
This was Pip's Barred Owl roosting when we first saw it. We got closer looks of the same bird (pictured above, too) later in the afternoon.
Northern Hawk Owl
Northern Hawk Owl
Great Gray Owl
Great Gray Owl
Distant Snowy Owl
Our one Snowy Owl wasn't as cooperative photographically speaking. 
Pip stays right at my heels/ Russ is holding the least and taking the photo
My husband Russ was along, so when we hiked, he held the leash. But Pip HAD to stay right at Mommy's heels. 

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Varied Thrush!

Varied Thrush

Pip saw a lifer today! I don't know if today being Groundhog Day is relevant—Varied Thrushes spend almost as much time on the ground as groundhogs do, but they don't hibernate, and I kind of doubt if this vagrant being here in February means anything in terms of when spring will begin. But seeing him warmed my heart. Pip took it in stride. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Tufted Duck!

Tufted Duck

Pip got a lifer today—a completely unexpected treat of a Tufted Duck. Kim Eckert spotted the adult female in Canal Park hanging out with the Common Goldeneyes near the lift bridge, and John Richardson verified it. I was late for an appointment and had to rush, but grabbed Pip so she could add it to her lifelist. 

I've seen an adult male Tufted Duck at Lake Merritt in Oakland, California at the end of my Big Year in 2013, and I saw several of them in Austria and Hungary during my one and only trip to Europe in 2014. But today's was my first ever for Minnesota (I'm not counting the one that appeared somewhere around the Twin Cities quite a few years ago. I saw it, but the Minnesota Ornithologists' Union Records Committee decided it was not countable), and today's bird was an actual lifer for Pip. 

For a while, birders will be debating whether the bird got here on her own power and whether she was truly wild or an escaped captive bird—the final decision by MOURC will make a difference for my own state and year lists. But Pip's not all that fussy about her lists—she is a dog, after all. 

Friday, March 23, 2018

Pip meets Dr. Daniel Klem

Pip meets Dan Klem!

Dan Klem is one of the real heroes in ornithology. Way back in the 1970s he was the first one to research how dangerous glass is for birds, and through the decades was the John the Baptist of bird conservation, a voice crying in the wilderness. He painstakingly built the scientific case about this one issue that takes out on the order of a BILLION birds every year. Pip was thrilled to meet him!! 

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Pippy Longspur

Pippy Longspur

For the past 10 days or so, people have been reporting Smith's Longspur here and there in my area. I've only seen this species once, in Arkansas in 2006, and badly wanted to see one for my Minnesota list. So last weekend Russ and I went to Two Harbors in search of one, but without luck. Another turned up this week at the old Stella Jones Pier in west Duluth. I missed it there on Wednesday, but yesterday, Russ and I headed there during his lunch break. Of course, Pip the birding dog came along.

I had a tricky time finding the one little buffy outlier among a few large flocks of Lapland Longspurs. I got two excellent but quick looks before it flew each time. The first time it flew just as I was grabbing my camera; the second time I kept it in view through my binoculars in flight and got a great look at but no photos of the wider amount of white edging the tail compared to the other birds—Smith's Longspur has two white outer tail feathers while the Lapland Longspur has only one.

Lapland Longspur
Lapland Longspur
I'm sure Pip has been with me at least once before when I've seen Lapland Longspurs, but I've somehow neglected to add that fairly common species to her life list until yesterday. So her new total is now up to 270! She seemed happy when I told her that, in the same way that she's happy when I tell her the Cubs won, or say, "Look, Pip! It's stopped raining!" or "Look, Pip! It's raining!"

Monday, May 15, 2017

Unexpected Lifer!


Pip was along to see the first EVER Lewis's Woodpecker reported in Bayfield County, Wisconsin!