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Blog Birding #351

From Rick Wright at Birding New Jersey and Beyond, an interesting Iiwi sidenote featuring an epic museum burn.

On February 24, 1911, Outram Bangs at the MCZ named a new subspecies of the iiwi, differing from the “true” iiwi of the island of Hawaii in its stronger bill and orange rather than scarlet tones to its plumage. Though Bangs claimed that specimens of his new suavis (“smooth”) “could be picked out easily” in the museum tray, most recent authorities consider the iiwi monotypic.

Interested in participating in the “Year of the Bird”, Hugh Powell at All About Birds offers some tips to get involved.

This isn’t just any new year, it’s the beginning of the Year of the Bird. So if ever there were a year to break free from those “normal” resolutions like getting more exercise and waking up earlier, 2018 is it. May we humbly suggest the goal of getting to know the birds that share your home turf? (It could even help with those other two resolutions.) Here are some great ways to get started:

The eastern half of North American dealt with a serious cold spell last week, forcing birders to seek other outlets for their hobby, as Corey Finger at 10,000 Birds shares.

Though temperatures have rebounded from the nadir and were temporarily above freezing here in New York City, the mercury has plummeted again and long outings out of doors are distinctly less pleasant than they would be if it were T-shirt weather. What’s a birder to do when weather fails to cooperate? After all, you don’t want to sink to spending time with family or doing chores, do you? Of course not! Here, then, are five birding-centered activities you can do to keep you busy when the birds aren’t.

At the Vermont Center for Ecostudies, an important essay on why the Migratory Bird Treaty Act is a critical tool for bird conservation, and what recent changes to the act will mean for birds and birders.

Last December, a team led by scientist Tatsuya Amano from the University of Oxford’s Conservation Science Group published an important paper on waterbird conservation. Using data collected across the globe, they examined population changes over the past 3 decades in 461 species of waterbird, including everything from ducks to shorebirds to flamingos. During this time, waterbirds in some parts of the world thrived, but in other places they experienced steep declines. When the scientists looked for an explanation for this pattern, they were able to isolate two key predictors of whether waterbird populations shrunk or grew.

Research into female birdsong is an underrepresented part of the ornithology record, something that many researchers are trying to fix according to Julia Travers at Discover Magazine.

To participate, citizen scientists use their smartphones or other recording devices to document female songs and upload them to project-sponsored online databases. Principal investigator Dr. Karan Odom, a behavioral ecologist at Leiden and Cornell, says every recording is important because, “Female birds are so under-represented in collections and we know so little about their songs.”

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Rare Bird Alert: January 19, 2018

The same batch of continuing ABA rarities persists into another week, headlined by the ABA 1st record Mistle Thrush in New Brunswick. Nazca Booby (ABA Code 4) and Garganey (4) are still being seen in California and the Sinaloa Wren (5) is still in Arizona. Both Blue Bunting (4) and Tamaulipas Crows (4) continue in Texas, and the Hawfinch (4) continues in Anchorage, Alaska. And has been the case for much of the winter, Pink-footed Geese (4) and Barnacle Geese (4) are present at a number of sites in the northeast.

One of the more interesting birds of the year thus far was a Steller’s Eider, found in Clatsop, Oregon this week, the state’s 4th record. This Arctic duck is quite infrequent away from Alaska, with a handful of records down the west coast and even in the Atlantic basin.

Oregon’s 4th Steller’s Eider is one of only a handful of records of this hardy Arctic duck away from Alaska. Photo: Russ Morgan/Macaulay Library

No 1sts to report this week, but California had two Rusty Blackbirds in the state this week, one in Monterey and another in Los Angeles.

Good for Nevada, a Long-tailed Duck was seen in Pershing.

Arizona had a Laughing Gull in Mohave this week.

A noteworthy bird for Colorado, a Smith’s Longspur was photographed in a longspur flock in Kit Carson.

A Golden-crowned Warbler (4) has returned to Refugio, Texas, for the 3rd straight year.

Louisiana’s 2nd record of Pacific Loon was found in St. James.

Alabama had an American Tree Sparrow at a feeder in Hale this week, the 2nd report of this species in the southeast this month.

In Florida, a Cassin’s Kingbird was seen in Leon.

Tennessee had a Yellow-headed Blackbird in Washington.

As did Kentucky, with a Yellow-headed Blackbird in Muhlenberg.

And in New York, a Slaty-backed Gull (3) was seen in Oswego.

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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

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ICYMI: Darwin, Schoenberg, and Sibley: A New Dawn for Nature Study?

The ABA Blog has been in existence for almost 8 years, and there’s a lot of good content back in the archives that deserves an audience now that it might not have received way back when. So, semi-regularly we will bring some of that stuff back. Here’s an post from our staff provocateur, Ted Floyd, [read more…]

Check Out the New ABA Website!

It’s been a long time coming, but the ABA is excited to announce a new and improved homepage that will hopefully help members more easily find information they need and for potential members to be impressed by what we have to offer.

Note that there are still a few kinks being worked out, the [read more…]

THE TOP 10: Craziest ABA Vagrants of 2017

It is time again for the annual Top 10 Vagrants post, which has become one of our most popular, and most discussed, posts on The ABA Blog every year. I, with help from my ABA colleagues, have looked back and assembled the following list of notable and unexpected birds that got twitchers across the continent [read more…]

Blog Birding #350

National Geographic launches the Year of the Bird with an essay by author Jonathan Franzen, published online but to be included in the next print issue as well.

For most of my life, I didn’t pay attention to birds. Only in my 40s did I become a person whose heart lifts whenever he hears a [read more…]

Rare Bird Alert: January 12, 2018

It was a relatively slow week in rare birds this week, with the continuing ABA rarities almoat as numerous as the new birds of note. The ABA 1st record Mistle Thrush is still holding court in Miamichi, New Brunswick. Texas boasts both Blue Bunting (ABA Code 4) and Tamaulipas Crows (4) in the lower Rio [read more…]

American Birding Podcast: 2018 Bird of the Year Artist Doug Pratt

When we chose Iiwi to be the 2018 Bird of the Year, there was really only one person we could ask to do the artwork. H. Douglas Pratt is a bird artist, author, and researcher, currently based in Raleigh, North Carolina, whose work has been featured in the National Geographic Field Guide to Birds of [read more…]

The ABA Blog’s Most Popular Posts of 2017

Before we rush headlong into 2018 I want to make a small acknowledgement of the year that was, one that saw a lot of changes at the ABA, from the official inclusion of Hawaii to the official announcement of new big year records to a heckuva lot of rare birds. Thanks to readers, commenters, guest [read more…]

2018 AOS Classification Committee Proposals, Part 1

2018 is a new year, and time for new bird taxonomy proposals submitted to the American Ornithological Society’s North and Middle America Classification Committee, the volunteer group of ornithologists who make the split, lump, and name-change decisions that influence the ABA Checklist and our field guides.

We suggest the usual caveat, that it’s important to [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.
If you like birding, we want to hear from you.
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