Best Documentary Series
|Wood Duck - John James Audubon|
Celebrated artist and natural history blogger, Julie Zickefoose confronts critics and Audubon bashers head-on in a series of essays celebrating the life and work of America's most famous and infamous bird artist. Zickefoose writes, "He was the first person EVER to paint a bird that really looked like the bird. He ignored, exceeded, blasted right past the stylistic trends of his day -- painting shorebirds standing bolt-upright; painting warblers stretched as if on a rack, their bills pointing up -- and he painted the birds as he saw them in life. I'm not sure I can adequately convey how far ahead of the pack he was." The six-part series on Audubon's work and talent proved to be NBR's most popular documentary series in 2010. You can celebrate the artist or join the argument at Julie Zickefoose.com. A frequent commentator on NBR's All Birds Considered, Zickefoose is the author and illustrator of Letters from Eden; a Year at Home, in the Woods and I'll Take Mine Fried: A Birder's Guide to Surviving Oklahoma.
Best in Travel Stories
|Corey Finger with Giant Antpitta in Ecuador|
"There are moments in a person's life that one immediately knows that one will remember forever. Every tiny little moment seems crystal clear when it happens but afterward it might seem like a blur. The loss of one's virginity. Meeting the love of one's life. The birth of a child. Hand feeding a Giant Antpitta." And so begins Corey Finger from the cloud forests of northwestern Ecuador. But the real story here is not the unusual encounter of a rare and elusive bird - but rather the story of how one man, bent on clear-cutting the forest to feed his family - fell in love with a bird (after making a pivotal decision not to eat it), saved the the forest and started what will hopefully become an ecotourism revolution for others to follow. Corey writes for 10,000 Birds and this brilliant essay on ecotourism in Ecuador is guaranteed to tug at your heart strings.
|Warrior of the Huli People in Papua New Guinea|
Travels in Papua New Guinea
What happens when the lead singer of the almost #1 Alternative Rock band in the world comes face to face with a Huli Warrior in Papua New Guinea? Following in the footsteps of the infamous Phoebe Snetsinger, Rain Crow's lead singer Bill Thompson (aka Bill of the Birds) dodges arrows and Astrapias in the wilds of Papua New Guinea. "As our bus started to follow him, he suddenly whirled, notched an arrow and aimed at us through the windshield," Bill writes - and our readers paid rapt attention voting these adventures in Papua New Guinea among the best of 2010. In addition to being the lead singer for the Rain Crows, Bill is the author of Identifying and Feeding Birds and The Young Birder's Guide to Birds of Eastern North America.
It was the night before the beginning wave of what was to become the Blizzard of '79 and birders' phones were alive. The second record of Ross' Gull ever seen in the lower 48 -- or anywhere south of the high arctic for that matter -- had been found in Chicago. The Ross' Gull would prove to be writer Greg Neise's nemesis bird for 32 more years...until the phone rang again. Follow this epic tale of a 2000 mile journey to see an enigmatic arctic bird from Siberia. Greg writes for North American Birding.
Best in Art
|Fierce Beauty; High Frontier Golden Eagle, |
"As an artist, my inspiration is and always has been nature: birds, trees, animals, the water, growth, decay...What compels me is the wild and disordered end of the spectrum. A tree with twisted limbs is a grand dancer in slow motion...Nature offers solace, contemplation, beauty and lethal force." Beloved natural history artist Debby Kaspari knows lethal force firsthand - in late spring of 2010 she and her husband Mike emerged from their tornado shelter to discover their home completely destroyed - nothing but remnants of a former life scattered across their ten-acre property. What emerged from the rubble and chaos is a heroic story of survival, grit, grace and determination - and some of the most compelling and breathtaking art of her career. "I've always thought the best way to reconnect with nature is to pick up a pencil and paper and draw it - draw anything. The purposeful act of sketching is the closest you can come to nature....This is the heart of my life with nature, a relationship now tempered and modified." Debby's heartbreaking and heartwarming stories of rebirth and regrowth and her incredible art can be found at Drawing the Motmot.
Best in Writing
|Birding by Boat in Southeastern Ohio|
Perennial NBR favorite naturalist/writer/poet Nina Harfman from Nature Remains touched the heart of our readers and captured the grace of summer's end with her elegant and lyrical portrait of a late August day spent with friends kayaking and birding in the rolling hills and clear waters of southeastern Ohio. Harfman writes, "Fanning out from this hidden shore, we spread across the water, the entire space in this small corner ours alone. Each carving a distinct path, each finding his own perfect treasures to explore." The New York Times Daily hails Harfman as "the heir apparent to Mary Oliver". Apparently our readers agree and Harfman's work is indeed full of treasures to explore.
|Black-Capped Vireo in Oklahoma|
NPR Radio correspondent and beloved author Julie Zickefoose is at it again. Her adventures in Oklahoma in quest of the elusive and rare black-capped vireo proved a favorite among NBR readers. Critic Robin Towhee describes Julie Zickefoose in the Women's Review of Bird Books as an indefatigable guide to the natural world, particularly to its lesser-known aspects." Reviewing Vireo Quest for The Birder's Nation, critic Hermit Thrush numbered Zickefoose among America's finest writers: "visionary as Emerson [...she is] among the few American writers who can transcribe and transmit ecstasy, while retaining a practical awareness of the world as one of predators and prey." Oklahoma governor Carolina Wren adds, "Boot-stompin', turkey-headed, denim-clad Zickefoose's visit to Oklahoma proved that not only is she a dang good writer - the girl can eat! From the undulating plains out west to the soft rising mountains of the Ozarks - I don't think there was a fried thing she was afraid to eat - from longhorns, to okri, to buffalo, to Eischen's legendary fried chicken - she ate it all with the gusto of a Yankee and all of it without sportin' a toothpick." Follow Julie's birding adventures in Oklahoma on her award-winning blog.
|Murr Brewster - the Dave Berry of Birding|
Best known for her sardonic social commentary on American life as filtered through her Northwest Coastal sensibilities, Murr Brewster won not only the hearts of NBR readers - but their belly laughs and bowls as well. In 2010 this funny birder found her thrill on Indigo Hill, wrestled Warbler Neck on the New River, and studied Window Biology 101, "Somewhere in this house there is proof that I have a biology degree, and although it is entirely vestigial, I maintain it qualifies me to blather about chickadees. If Glenn Beck believes having a microphone entitles him to have opinions, I think I am on solid ground here, " she writes in Window Biology. Murr has a Master's Degree in Scatology from DePew University and is one of the world's leading experts on fecal sac identification. Follow the funny, witty and often scattilating birder at Murrmurrs.
|Falconer with Harris Hawk|
In this thoughtful and touching essay, writer Laura Hardy wonders if "a kept hawk can be a happy hawk" as she considers the pro and cons of falconry and what it means to be truly free. "My issue is not with Falconers. Falconers are due credit, I believe, for the role they played in saving the Peregrine falcon. Hardy has long been a favorite of NPR readers and she is a frequent guest on the Late Night with Susan Kailholz-Williams Show. Laura adds that to be wild means nothing you do or have done needs to be explained. Frankly, that sounds like a line out of Susan Kailholz-Williams' best-selling book, Spanking the Birder Stereotype until it Calls Me Mama. For the best of Laura Hardy's writing, follow her to Somewhere in New Jersey.
Best in Conservation
|Sandhill Crane photo by Charlie Corbell|
An Intimate View of Family Life
Noted watercolor artist, writer, photographer and outspoken crane conservationist Vickie Henderson was the reader's favorite in Conservation with her in-depth reporting and intimate look at Sandhill crane behavior and her public opposition to Tennessee's proposal to hunt the bird along its fly-away. Vickie reports that a Sandhill Crane hunt proposal in Tennessee is now in its final stages and inviting public comment. She offers that if the hunt proposal is passed, Tennessee will be the first state in US history to initiate a hunting season for Sandhill Cranes in the east and reveals that other states are lined up to follow. Vickie is the author and illustrator of The Craniac Kids - Whooping Crane Activity Book. She is currently the Featured Bird Blogger of the Week at Birding Blogs.com
|Eric Beck at Bachman Sparrow Camp in Oklahoma|
It should be no surprise that everyone's favorite charismatic megafauna and People Magazine's Sexiest Birder of the Year ends up as an end-of-year-favorite here at NBR. Who doesn't love a six-foot strapping hero that rescues endangered prairie birds with one hand and discovers breeding populations of a rare sparrow with the other. Often referred to as the "Brad Pitt of the Birding World" Eric Beck is the coordinator of Audubon's Important Bird Areas in Oklahoma and a designee of Audubon's Together Green Fellowship. Eric takes his readers on a week-long adventure in the heart of Little Dixie and the back woods of Oklahoma in search of the elusive Bachman's Sparrow. Eric's tales of adventures in Oklahoma proved to be among the best Conservation stories in 2010. Want to see a cougar - just follow Eric Beck.
Best Photo Essay
|Ruby-throated Hummingbird in North Carolina|
In July, NBR readers went crazy for Mary Ferracci's dazzling photographic essay on ruby-throated hummingbirds and it proved to be our most commented story in 2010. Many consider Ferracci the most famous wildlife photographer working today. In 2008, she was named #1 Amateur Photographer in the world by Vagabirding Travel Magazine and later won the 2009 Alpo Leobold Nature Photography Award for her captivating work with warblers at the New River Birding and Nature Festival. The Peregrine Press describes Ferracci's hummingbird work as "luminescent and provocative" and insists that her work ...is some of the most compelling nature photography in decades. Mary Ferracci is changing the way we look at nature. For more incredible photography and equally brilliant writing that stirs the soul -- take a look at Mary's View.
Bird Shot magazine calls Panamanian photographer Jan Axel one of the best new bird photographers working today. His has some of the most dynamic, mesmerizing and visual stunning work to come out of the tropics in years. Jan has been a birdwatcher since the age of 14 and enjoys capturing the incredible diversity of his country. Jan's immensely popular Lazy Birding post takes the reader on a visual tour-de-force through the jungles of Cerro Azul just an hour outside of Panama. Jan encounters white-tipped sicklebills, green honeycreepers, golden-hooded tanagers, fulvous-vented euphonias and along the way gets bird #600 - FOR THE YEAR! Amazing. Come feast your eyes on some of the best new photography out there.
Best Destination Birding
Alex Lamoreaux and Drew Weber of the Nemesis Bird provide a stunning three-part photographic essay of costal birding in New Jersey featuring dunlins, turnstones, gannets, sanderlings, loons, bald eagles, gadwalls, shovelers and more. Alex is a Wildlife Biology Major at Penn State University and recently served as a Yellow-billed Cuckoo Field Technician at Southern Sierra Research Station. When he's not taking stunning wildlife photography he likes to capture and radio-track whimbrels. He and Drew Weber both write and photograph for the Nemesis Bird. Check-out Drew's video of a sky full of blackbirds.
|Audubon Shearwater zipping low off the Costa Rican coast|
Everything's coming up - well, not exactly roses, when writer, expat, and kung-fu birder in paradise Pat O'Donnell ventures out into Costa Rica's open ocean for the first time. He writes, "As they chugged their way out beyond the drift lines and the wave action carried out its unrelenting, uncompromising, barrage upon their land-tuned senses, those who unwittingly added their own personal brand of chum to the vast ocean might wonder if they should have joined me in surrendering all opportunities at getting very cool, tube-nosed lifers. Whatever works, we say, despite the projectile birding, Pat heaves back to dry land with quite an impressive list: Tahiti Petrel, Christmas Island Shearwater, Sabine's Gull and Laysan Albatross to name a very, very few. Check out the entire high-seas adventure at Costa Rica Living and Birding.
Most Viewed Stories
Beloved poet, photographer and now transplanted Arizonan Kathie Brown once of Sycamore Canyon fame is making a new life in New England with a new blog - Kathie's Birds. This week she visits Stirling Silver Bog for some amazing fall photography. Those of us already east of the Continental Divide wonder how much longer Kathie will be enamored with the common grackle - an exciting (to her) new yard bird for her new life.
John Beetham of the immensely popular A D.C. Birding Blog likes his purple sandpipers on the rocks at the Avalon Jetty.
In Hello Mr. Flicker, Minnesota Master Naturalist Sue Martinez of Ecostrides captures some incredible footage of a Northern Flicker.
Brrrrrds! The always amazing Susannah "Wandern' Weeta" Anderson of British Columbia warms us up with some snow, -13 wind and beautiful shots of winter birds at the feeder.
Also lamenting snow and cold, Rick Wright of Aimophila Adventures and his group get to observe lots of predator-prey action while birding on an island in the Pacific Northwest.
Most Emailed Stories
A magnificent dark morph Harlan's Hawk is the star of David J. Ringer's always exciting Search and Serendipity Blog. The former world traveler now serves as Audubon's Mississippi River Initiative communications coordinator.
Arati's gorgeous Spot-billed Pelicans in Lalbagh was the highlight of the Bangalore Birder's November outing. Check-out the stunning imagery at Trees, Plants and More.
A beautiful Mute Swan on a German Lake by Suesan Smith of Information Central Photography was one of the most emailed stories of the year.
|Brown-headed Nuthatch - Diana/Kiroastro|
Everyone's favorite hostess with the mostest Dawn Fine captures on video a brown-headed nuthatch reflecting in her window in one of the year's most popular stories. Dawn writes the Featured Bird Blogger of the Week column for Birding Blogs.com
So, having vouched for his voracity -- I pass on this tale. A little whiles back we had quite a wind storm that tore off part of the barn roof. Of course, like any barn we have quite a few little birds happily nesting and perching in the rafters. He was in the barn working, when he heard a fuss above him...." begins writer Summer Foovay of Foovay's Cauldron as she weaves a compelling story of a Loggerhead Shrike encounter.
Peregrine's Bird Blog Favourite 40 Books about Birds, Birding and Bird Photography proved to be a big hit with our readers. This post lists his Top 10. Check here to to discover some great new recommendations from this fantastic Northern Ireland bird photographer. Peregrine's Bird Blog will be the host of the next IATB #140 on December 16.
Best New Blog
Dazed and confused: Jill Wussow's Yellow-headed Black Bird shows up in the New Mexico desert at Count Your Chickens. Seriously - this blog has some absolutely stunning, tack-sharp, nature photography. WOW! Go take a look at the rest of Jill Wussow's photography! Wow Wow Wow!!! And anyone who uses the words cryptobiotic crust in passing gets our attention! Look at these mushroom shots! This is eye candy for the blog weary! Jill you da bomb! She should be number one with a bullet in the Nature Blog Network photography category. Bookmark this one, now!
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