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Blog Birding #364

At All About Birds, (and an upcoming issue of Living Bird), Amanda Rodewald and Ken Rosenberg discuss the various types of migratory bird stopover habitat and why protecting each is critical for the conservation of these birds.

But those pit stops, more properly called “mid-migration stopover sites” by ornithologists, have been a bit of a black hole for science. While much is known about birds on their breed­ing grounds, and to a lesser extent about the biological needs of birds in overwintering areas, knowledge is ex­tremely limited in the migration zone from South America to the southern United States.

At Feathered Photography Ron Dudley lays out some of the important things to consider when approaching a bird with the goal of photographing it.

This is something I already knew when I was approaching the bird of course but in the excitement of the moment I either misjudged the distance or, more likely, just spaced it out. Now I have many fairly nice shots of a perched dove and one butchered photo of the bird in flight that could/should have been eye-popping. I sure wish it was the other way around…

A Kirtland’s Warbler in Central Park, New York City, prompted one of the largest twitches in the city’s history, with a great many birders touching base with the incredibly rare warbler. At 10,000 Birds, Corey Finger tells his story.

I was out of the house by 5:30AM, on an F train shortly thereafter. The F ran over the E tracks for some reason so I switched to the 6 train at Lexington Avenue and took it to 96th Street. A couple of long avenue blocks later and I was at the eastern edge of Central Park, just north of the reservoir. Unfortunately, the bird had been sighted on the west side of the reservoir the day before so I had to walk across most of the width of Central Park. In the meantime, word had hit the net that the bird had been refound. Let me tell you, Central Park had never seemed so wide before. (I swear it felt like twenty miles as I speed walked across the park, not even stopping to lay eyes on the Hooded Warbler I heard singing as I walked.)

But the flip side of great joy is great disappointment, and Audubon’s Purbita Saha tells her story, one that saw her unfortunately missing that same bird.

Turns out I’d missed it by half an hour. The bird was seen in the same area foraging at around 8:30 a.m., but after that, it was crickets. Dozens of birders crowded the running path, heads scrunched back in the agonizing “warbler neck” position, waiting, watching, listening for a sign. There was plenty of activity in the trees overhead. Magnolia Warblers showed off their mascara-tear-streaked chests, Black-throated Green Warblers hopped from catkin to catkin, and Black-and-white Warblers tangoed around the wet branches.

As the global average temperature rises, we’re beginning to understand some new troubling impacts on birds, evidenced by a recent study, summarized at Phys.org, that suggests that higher temperature negatively impacts breeding success of tropical birds.

“We found that wren survival did indeed vary with climate – so when temperatures were high, the wrens suffered higher mortality,” he said.

The forests of north-western Costa Rica experience two seasons—a dry season from December to May, and a wet season with as much as three metres of rain from May to December.

Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2018-05-hot-temperatures-swan-song-tropical.html#jCp




Rare Bird Alert: May 18, 2018

The later part of spring is typically a great time for vagrants, and this week is no different. The lingering birds are starting to clear out a bit (not least of which because I was made aware of some ABA Code changes). Florida still has multiple Bahama Mockingbirds (ABA Code 4), and the Eurasian Skylark (3) in Quebec was seen again this week. Both Tufted Flycatcher (4) and Sinaloa Wren (5) highlight the spate of noteworthy birds still being seen in Arizona.

One of the more remarkable records of the year to date comes from Colorado, where a Golden-crowned Warbler (4) was found in Cheyenne. It’s a state 1st and only the second record of this widespread neotropical species away from Texas, where most of the ABA Area’s records have occurred. The record is crazy enough, but it does immediately bring to mind other notable Front Range mysteries, like recent Rufous-collared Sparrow occurrences in Colorado and Montana. Food for thought, at least.

Photo: Glenn Walbek/Macaulay Library

One more first to report, of a slightly more melancholy variety. Ohio’s 1st record of Chestnut-collared Longspur was discovered in the earlier part of the month in Lake. Unfortunately, the bird took to an area near a busy road which it frequently crossed. Such high-risk behavior had it’s almost inevitable end when the bird was struck by a car. On a happier note, the Biggest Week in American Birding reached a crescendo when a Black-throated Gray Warbler was seen on the Magee Marsh boardwalk in Lucas in the last days of the festival.

In Ontario, Point Pelee takes the stage as it so often does this time of year. Both a Black-billed Magpie and a Eurasian Tree Sparrow were seen there this week. Also good for the province, a Ruff (3) in Minesing.

A nice find for Newfoundland, a sharp adult Purple Gallinule was seen near St. John’s.

St. Pierre et Miquelon’s 5th record of Prothonotary Warbler turned up this week.

In Maine, a Wilson’s Plover was seen in Cumberland.

In what might be the biggest twitch in the ABA Area this year, a Kirtland’s Warbler in Central Park in New York, New York, attracted hundreds, if not thousands. Also in the city, a Black-bellied Whistling-Duck was seen in Kings.

New Jersey’s 9th record of Brown-headed Nuthatch made it across the Delaware Bay to turn up in Cape May.

In North Carolina, a stunning breeding-plumage Chestnut-collared Longspur was seen in Dare, the state’s 4th record.

Good for South Carolina was a King Eider in Charleston. 

Wisconsin had a Bell’s Vireo in Fond du Lac.

A Burrowing Owl in Humboldt, Iowa, this week is the latest in a spate of this species along the eastern edge of the Great Plains in the last several months.

The third in the last two weeks, a Painted Bunting was found in Beltrami, Minnesota.

Noteworthy for Nebraska, a Swainson’s Warbler was seen in Lancaster. 

In Wyoming, a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher was seen in Dayton.

Alberta had a Lesser Goldfinch in Mountain View.

In Montana, a Snowy Plover is a nice find in Phillips.

British Columbia also had a Lesser Goldfinch this week, in Princeton.

It’s about time to turn eyes towards Alaska, where a Tundra Bean Goose (4) and a Common Snipe (3) were seen on Adak, and male Smew (4) on Shemya.


Omissions and errors are not intended, but if you find any please message blog AT aba.org and I will try to fix them as soon as possible. This post is meant to be an account of the most recently reported birds. Continuing birds not mentioned are likely included in previous editions listed here. Place names written in italics refer to counties/parishes.

Readers should note that none of these reports has yet been vetted by a records committee. All birders are urged to submit documentation of rare sightings to the appropriate state or provincial committees. For full analysis of these and other bird observations, subscribe to North American Birds <aba.org/nab>, the richly illustrated journal of ornithological record published by the ABA



American Birding Podcast: Birding Without Tears- Stories and Secrets of Birding with Kids

It’s natural for birding parents to want to share their passion with their children. Birding with kids often brings additional complications, but also additional pleasures, and opportunities to appreciate birding in different and delightful ways. Both Birding magazine editor Ted Floyd and I are veterans of birding with children, with a few decades of [read more…]

HAPPENING NOW: Upslope Sparrows


The other day, I saw 9 Clay-colored Sparrows at Greenlee Wildlife Preserve, my local patch. That Monday morning, May 14, 2018, was raw and cool, with a low cloud deck, steady drizzle, and a bit of fog. It’d been a while, it occurred to me, since my last Clay-color sighting at this postage-stamp preserve [read more…]

Blog Birding #363

eBird‘s Global Big Day was a huge success, with just shy of 7,000 species recorded in a single day. You can find the round-up here.

Importantly, this impossibly fun event also provides valuable information to help the birds we all care about. eBirders gathered more than 1.6 million bird sightings on 5 May, which are [read more…]

Rare Bird Alert: May 11, 2018

For the second week in the row Arizona retains many of its ABA Area vagrants, including a Berylline Hummingbird (ABA Code 3) first seen a couple weeks ago. Also in the southeast part of the state, Sinaloa Wren (5), Flame-colored Tanager (3), Tufted Flycatcher (5), Streak-backed Oriole (4), and Slate-throated Redstart (3). In Texas, Tamaulipas [read more…]

Birding Magazine Online: How High School Ornithology Can Save the World

Jeff Manker is a man with a mission. He believes that teaching ornithology to high school students is the best way to bring more birders into the fold and to instill a conservation and naturalist ethic in the next generation. And he has the track record to back that up.

In an essay in the [read more…]

#ABArare – Eurasian Skylark – Quebec

On May 6, Nathalie Rondeau discovered a Eurasian Skylark at Saint-Damien, Lanaudière, Quebec. This is a 1st provincial record and, perhaps most notably, the 1st record of this species in the eastern part of the continent. Subsequent analysis has suggested that this is a skylark of the Eurasian subspecies arvensis, rather than one of the [read more…]

Blog Birding #362

Catharus thrushes are pulsing though the ABA Area right now, and posing some identification challenges along the way. At the Vermont Center for Ecostudies Blog, Kent McFarland writes about a weird phenomenon that might make things even harder.

But then, quite near the Veery was its very close cousin, a Bicknell’s Thrush calling. “How fascinating [read more…]

Birding magazine’s “Year of Hawaii”

ABA members knows that the Iiwi is the 2018 Bird of the Year. Consult the Feb. 2018 issue of Birding, starting with H. Douglas Pratt’s dramatic gatefold cover painting of Iiwis, if you need to jog your memory. But there’s also a sense in which the entire year is a sort of “Year of Hawaii” [read more…]

American Birding Podcast
Birders know well that the healthiest, most dynamic choruses contain many different voices. The birding community encompasses a wide variety of interests, talents, and convictions. All are welcome.
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