Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Birder Profile: Tammy Karr

Tammy Karr
Rockledge, Florida
How and when did you get into birding?

I was fascinated by birds, particularly ducks, when I was a youngster. I was always looking for an opportunity to visit the lake or a pond to see them. I was introduced to bird watching in Florida about 12 years ago by a coworker, Pam, who was an experienced birder. She took me to the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge and that’s when my interest in learning about the birds in Florida was sparked.

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

I am always watching for birds when I am outdoors, whether it be running, walking, biking, playing, or driving. I typically go birdwatching at least once a week, however during the winter I try to go as often as possible. Places I like to visit include the Viera Wetlands, the Moccasin Island Tract (River Lakes Conservation area), the Click Ponds, Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, Helen & Allan Cruickshank sanctuary, and the Sebastian Inlet State Park. I don’t really have a favorite place. Each visit can be so unique. I do like to try and explore new places as often as possible, but with my other commitments I often go to places close to home. I haven’t been anywhere exotic. Most of our travels are to explore National Parks.

How would you describe yourself as a birder?

I guess would describe myself as a watcher. I also have a passion for photography and enjoy photography birds and wildlife.

What kind of birding equipment do you use?

I most often use my camera, a Nikon D90 with a 150-500 zoom lens. I most often have my toddler son with me so one piece of equipment is about all I’m able to handle!

How do you keep track of your bird observations? 

I've very loosely kept written lists over the years. I recently began using eBird and feel confident this will be the most accurate of the records I have kept. I tend to focus more energy learning as much as I can about the birds I see.

What is your favorite bird sighting and what is the story behind it?

Owls are my favorite birds, so any owl sighting is a favorite! My favorite birds I see in my yard are Ospreys. I live near a river, so Ospreys often perch in the oaks in my yard to eat their fish. I do prefer when they don’t eat their fish over my car, though, as that is quite messy! There are many different hawks that make appearances in my yard from time to time. The most amazing sighting would probably be two Bald Eagles that flew through and landed on my neighbors dock. Shortly after, an Osprey went after one of the Eagles, it was quite a sight!

Which birding publications and websites do you read and recommend? 

I read BirdWatching magazine. I enjoy reading lots of blogs! The website www.floridabirdingtrail.com is a great place to finds tons of place to going birding in Florida as well a current checklist of Florida birds. The website www.audubonofflorida.org is another great resource.

Which is your favorite field guide and why? 

My favorite guide is Sibleys because I really like the details of the illustrations. I usually cross check with my National Geographic guide.

What future birding plans do you have?

Camping trips to Sebastian Inlet, Fort de Soto, and Sanibel are all planned for the near future.

What is your current nemesis bird?

The Burrowing Owl.

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

I am married and have a one-year old son.

Outside of birding, what are your other interests or hobbies? 

Running, hiking, traveling, and photography are the main ones.

Any funny or embarrassing birding experiences you could tell us?

My friend and I were mountain biking in the River Lake Conservation area and I was hoping to spot the Burrowing Owl, as I have hoped on the many trips I’ve taken out there. We encountered a sheriff who was patrolling the area and asked if he had any information on the location of the owl. He was attempting to give us landmarks, and referred to the 12 large decoy turkeys in the field that we had just passed. We replied that we did not see any turkeys. He replied with we might want to give up trying to find the owl if we missed those turkeys. We saw the turkeys on the way out and had no idea how we EVER missed them. Twelve large, obvious turkeys right near the trail. We had quite a chuckle thinking about what that sheriff must of thought of us oblivious bird watchers.

Your mission in life as a birder?

To enjoy and share the beauty of birds with others; to learn as much as I can about birds.

You can continue to follow Tammy and her awesome bird photography on her blog I Heart Florida Birds.

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!


  1. Nice profile and fun to read. I can sympathize with passing up those out-in-the-open sightings. If you're looking for movement, it's hard to notice the stationary stuff.
    Your photography is wonderful.

  2. Wonderful profile! How lucky you are to live in The Sunshine State. My parents live on the west coast of Florida and I can't get enough of all the glorious, beautiful birds.

    Tammy, the photographs on our beautiful blog are fantastic!

  3. Hi Tammy from the U.K.,Fantastic site with great photos. If you get a few spare minutes take a quick look at my blog The Broadstairs Birder. With All Best Wishes Phil

  4. Hi Tammy,
    Nice job on your post. You also have a great blog, Florida is one of my favorite birding locations so I will be sure to check your blog regularly.

  5. Hey Tammy just recently saw a picture of yours posted on Facebook of a Black Skimmer laying all lazy like in the sand... I wanted to know if i would be able to purchase a print of it...