Thursday, October 28, 2010

Birder Profile: Daniel Huber

Birder Profile is a weekly blog segment at "Birding is Fun!" spotlighting a fellow birder.  If you would be interested in sharing a little about yourself and your birding experiences, please send me an email.  Is there a birder you'd like to see featured?  Please nominate that person by sending me an e-mail too.  Enthusiasm for birding is the only prerequisite!
Special thanks to Daniel Huber for being my first guest.

Daniel Huber
Vernon, CT
How did you get into birding? Did you or do you have a birding mentor and can you tell us about that person? Did you have a “spark bird”?

I first became interested in birding in 2007 on a vacation to Acadia National Park in Maine, when I saw Sibley’s Guide to Birds, and bought it to peruse during the week. My interest in nature felt heavily piqued by the book, that I read cover to cover that day. I then went out the next day to go “birding”. My first official bird that I consider my spark was a Pileated Woodpecker.

How long have you been birding?

In true obsessive form since 2007

How often do you go birding? And where do you regularly go birding?

I am often always birding, whether checking trees/lamp posts on road sides, birds at my home feeders, or out the office window. I try to get in at least a 30 minute session on a hike or sit in my favorite spots 1-3x/week. I live in CT and have a few local spots that I consider my favorites as well. I often stop for a five minute spotting before work at Belden Preserve in Vernon, and also regularly go to Valley Falls Park in Vernon and Bolton Notch Park in Bolton.

Where is your favorite place to bird in Connecticut? In the U.S.? in the world?

Along with the above locations, Case Mountain Park in Manchester, CT and Northwest Park in Windsor CT are wonderful spots with several different habitats. Station 43 is famous for being a wonderful spot and I go there as well, although less often, as it is not really a hiking spot, and I like to get at least a little exercise as well. I also have a large interest in shorebirds, and enjoy Hammonasset Park and Milford Point on the southern shore of CT. I have been to Plum Island, MA several times and it is a favorite, but far, spots off of Cape Cod are also great spots but far, and Jamaica Bay in Queens NY a superb spot I have been to once. Brigantine in NJ was a wonderous spot for birding I have been to once and may not frequent again due to a severe reaction to the Green-Head flies that got me (hundreds). My wife and I went to Puerto Rico specifically to bird the rainforest in El Yunque, our first birding vacation, and we had an amazing time with 30 life birds seen there.

Do you have any local birding hotspots that may be yet unknown to other birders that you would be willing to share with us?

Of the above, Bolton Notch may be less known, and I run into very few birders there. It has a pond, scrub shrubs, and frue forest, and I get to see a great variety year round here.

Muddy Ruddy Turnstone
How would you describe yourself as a birder? A “watcher”, a “lister”, a “chaser”, all of the above, or something else?

This is a difficult question I have been back and forth on over the last year. I tend to get heavily into my interests, and with now over 40 books on birds or birding, I think I am more than a watcher. When time permits, I peruse the message boards and use Birdseye on a iPod to check for local sightings. I have chased several birds, but have not chased some recently due to time/work/kids. Last year I listed all of my sighting kept obsessively in a small journal in my pocket that went with me at all times. I would then enter them in eBird online. I enjoyed counting and tracking, but with little time, started to enjoy this less, and now track my birding outings only.

What kind of birding equipment do you use?

I have a pair of Nikon binoculars 8x40. These do the job and I figure without a significant cost, I won’t get much better. I have a Barska spotting scope, the real inexpensive model with 20-60x and horizontal eyepiece. It fit in my budget and I have to say it comes in very handy and I really enjoy it. My camera is the Canon powershot SX20 digital, my most expensive piece of equipment. Photography is a seperate joy of mine. I carry all but the scope in a shoulder bag along with a pocket field guide, spare hat/gloves in case of cold. The scope and mudwaders I keep in the trunk.

Which birding publications and websites do you read and recommend?

I read and track over 100 blogs on birding and nature as my main source of reading, many by Audubon societies, along with the ABA and Audubon magazines, Wildbird, and others I buy when buying birdseed at my local Agway. Websites I frequent other than the blogs I follow (listed on my blog) are Cornell Ornithology and CT Ornithological Association which has a message board for sightings in CT and links to others.

Which is your favorite field guide and why?

This is a tough question. I am biased towards Sibley’s guide as it was the one that started this all, but Peterson’s, Kaufman’s both have advantages., and I also will use the National Geographic for ID help or variations. I like Sibley’s as the sketches have good highlights of the markings, in flight, perched and other positions that help a lot. I have a few shorebird guides as well and several more in depth books. I have to say the iPhone version of Sibley's and iBird Explorer are also main guides I use and find their birdsongs very helpful in the field.

Which three books from your personal birding library would you recommend?

It is tough to pick just three. Sibley’s Field Guide, Pete Dunne’s Essential Field Guide Companion and All Things Reconsidered by Roger Tory Peterson (edited by Bill Thomspson III) would be the three I would take if I could have no others.

If a fellow birder had a question about a bird, do you consider yourself an expert (or at least proficient) on any specific family of birds?

I really consider myself a beginner, but I have looked through field guides a lot, so I feel semi-qualified at an educated guess on some of the shorebirds and many of the passerines. I have limited experience with and am just learning raptors.

What future birding plans do you have?

My plans are to be able to watch and learn about as many birds as I can, and using sketching, photography and time watching I am trying to research different groups of birds and write about them on my blog to help me learn.

Are you involved with any local or national birding organizations?

I am a lurking member of National Audubon and ABA. Due to time constraints I have yet to join any local organizations, but will go on walks by them.

What is your nemesis bird?

I don’t really have one as my life list is still fairly small (243) and consider any bird I have not seen well a reason to see it again and again.

Least Sandpiper
Anything about your family you’d like to share with us?

I am married to a wonderful and tolerant woman, who recognizes my need to bond with nature at times, and thankfully shares my joy of nature and birds, without the obsession. I have two wonderful children as well, who think birds and nature are great.

Any funny birding experiences you could tell us?

I was in a hurry and saw a swan in a local pond. I took some quick pictures of a very cooperative Tundra Swan. Looking at the photos later that day, I saw why it was so cooperative, it was a decoy.

Anything else that you would like to humbly brag about?

Nothing to brag about, but I do enjoy my blog where I show my sketches and photos of birds, and nature.

Your mission in life as birder?

To learn as much as I can.
Ruby-crowned Kinglet


  1. Really liked the interview format, it gives the reader the perspective of others and their birding experience. Nice detailed photos. Thank you once again.

  2. I liked reading about Dan as I know him a little from his blog. It's nice to get to know him better! I may check out some of those places in CT while I am here on the east coast. Love the story about the swan!

    Hey Dan, keep on blogging (and drawing, a birding, and watching...)!