Mark Hedden

Mark Hedden is a photographer, writer, and semi-professional birdwatcher. He has lived in Key West for more than 25 years and may no longer be employable in the real world. He is also executive director of the Florida Keys Audubon Society.

WILD THINGS: PALM WARBLERS, POETS, PROSE

A Palm Warbler in breeding season tends to glow up. The streaks that line the breast and belly sharpen and get more distinct. The breast itself brightens to a yellow closer to that of a freshly painted school bus. The rufous cap on the crown of its head gets...

WILD THINGS: THE GRAND OLD OSPREY

An osprey does not express his love quietly. He screams it in decibels as sharp as glass shards that carry for miles. He does not proclaim his love from the rooftops, but from several hundred feet above the rooftops. And it’s not all just proclaiming. There’s a lot of...

WILD THINGS: ZEN & THE ART OF THE PATAGONIA PICNIC TABLE EFFECT

Ellen Westbrook and I were pretty much finished with the Christmas Bird Count. We’d spent the morning riding our bikes around Old Town, dutifully marking on the clipboard every bird we saw, even the chickens, though honestly we were counting them by the tens, because there are just so...

WILD THINGS: ASK THE BIRD GEEK — YEAR-END, GOTTA-GET-THIS-DONE-BY-EARLY-DEADLINE EDITION

Why do you refuse to acknowledge the best bird-related song is “The Bird” by Morris Day & The Time? And would it change your opinion if you knew Prince was a writer using the pseudonym Jamie Starr? —  Nan, your wife Answer: How dare you, madam. Have I not told you, multiple times,...

WILD THINGS: BIRDS IN THE NEWS (AND DON’T GIVE ANYONE 12 PARTRIDGES)

Christmas carol mathematics  This has been calculated before, but I started a spreadsheet the other day to double check the math on exactly how many birds are given in the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”  Giving a partridge in a pear tree for 12 straight days gets you to 12...

WILD THINGS: A KLEE KLEE MAY NOT BE A F*CKWIND (HEY, WE DIDN’T NAME THE BIRD)

The thing that rocked me back on my heels most in recent years, avian taxonomy-wise, is the fact that falcons are not closely related to hawks and eagles. Using DNA analysis, avian taxonomists – the people who figure out which bird species are related to which, and where they...

WILD THINGS: BIRDING WITH THE COSMIC UNCONSCIOUSNESS

I was up on Rockland Key, scanning around with my binoculars, somewhere between the highway, the cockfighting district and the roaring jets at NAS Key West, when I saw them – four big, white birds perched atop a small mangrove cluster, like candles on a cake.  And only one phrase...

HOLIDAY TRADITIONS: THE CHRISTMAS BIRD COUNT IN THE FLORIDA KEYS — HOLIDAY MAGAZINE

Holiday traditions are funky things in the Florida Keys. You might roast chestnuts over an open fire, but only if the temperature drops into the 60s and you know someone with a chestnut hook up. Instead of going sledding, you meander around on bikes, looking at Christmas lights with...

WILD THINGS: GETTING A LINE ON SHARP-SHINNED HAWKS

I’d just spent three days up at the Florida Keys Hawkwatch at Curry Hammock State Park in Marathon and was finally catching up on things in my life, so I wasn’t planning on leaving the rock for a while. But then I got the text – the sharpie was...

ARTIST LAUREN McALOON — THROUGH SPACE & TIME

Lauren McAloon starts working in her studio most mornings a little after 6:30. She’d probably get there earlier, but she can’t get a con leche  – large, no sugar – from Five Brothers before then. Her studio is on the second floor of the old armory building on White Street...

WILD THINGS: SUPERSTITION, STATISTICS & PEREGRINE FALCONS

Jeff Bouton is not a superstitious person, though some days it is near impossible to believe that.  By “some days” I mean every Oct. 10, which Florida Keys Hawkwatch considers Día De Los Peregrinos, or Day of the Peregrines. Bouton is always convinced it will be the best and “birdiest” day...

FANTASY FEST FROM THE INSIDE OUT — PHOTOGRAPHER SHIFTS FOCUS

You don’t want to talk too much about the energy of things, lest anyone think you’re the crystal-rubbing, aura-seeing kind. But man, the energy coming from the crowd during the Oct. 29 Fantasy Fest Parade was just so palpable. After its three-year absence, it just felt refreshing and, well, good. Some...

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