He also noticed some of the white ones were smaller and we decided there were probably also some Ross's Geese in these huge flocks.
We talked a little bit about cameras and Phil said he did have a movie feature on his digital camera but he wasn't real certain of how it worked. I encouraged him to give it a try and send me any pictures and video he was able to get after we finished talking. Here's the 10-second video he shot. There is a lot of wind noise, but if you listen real close you can hear the geese calling. The ending is great where you see quite of the geese starting to fly away.
A couple of years ago when I went out to visit them in California, I bought myself the Birds of California Field Guide by Stan Tekiela and the Sibley Guide to Birds of Western North America. When Brother Phil calls me with bird sightings, I pull out my field guides and we try to figure out what he's seen. We determined yesterday that he's also seen the Oak Titmouse which he described to me as a "little gray bird that looked a lot like a junco, but with a crest on its head." He also told me he's feeding peanuts to Western Scrub Jays and Yellow-Billed Magpies in his yard! (I was having a major case of western bird envy right about then....)
Towards the end of the phone call, he shared with me the words that this birding sister has always dreamed of hearing: "you know, Ruthie, I can see myself getting into this birding thing." (sigh) Hopefully I'll be able to get out there for a visit next January or February and we can go birding together.