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2017 AOS Supplement is Out!

Every summer, birders anxiously await publication of the “Check-list Supplement” by the American… [read more]

2017 AOS Supplement is Out! 2017 AOS Supplement is Out!

Changing the World: the ABA at the First Facebook Communities Summit

The experience, or at least the run up to it, was not unlike fishing. First, you feel a tap. Then maybe… [read more]

Changing the World: the ABA at the First Facebook Communities Summit Changing the World: the ABA at the First Facebook Communities Summit

Happening NOW: Dickcissels on the Move

Dickcissel is a summertime staple of America’s Heartland. However, it has also garnered a reputation… [read more]

Happening NOW: Dickcissels on the Move Happening NOW: Dickcissels on the Move

Birding Photo Quiz: June 2017

Well, it’s an “LBJ,” or “little brown job.” In an article in the June 2017 Birding,… [read more]

Birding Photo Quiz: June 2017 Birding Photo Quiz: June 2017

Hawk “Kettle” Finally makes the Dictionary

Birders have a unique vocabulary, cribbed together from science, literature, and a thesaurus thrown at… [read more]

Hawk “Kettle” Finally makes the Dictionary Hawk "Kettle" Finally makes the Dictionary

Introducing the 2017 Bird of the Year!

It's the moment that surely dozens of you have been looking forward to for hours now, the announcement… [read more]

Introducing the 2017 Bird of the Year! Introducing the 2017 Bird of the Year!
Nikon Monarch 7

Blog Birding #329

Bird vocalization expert Nathan Pieplow of Earbirding takes a look at potential difference between eastern and western populations of the gregarious and familiar Purple Martin.

Only one study on the vocalizations of Purple Martin has ever been published, by swallow guru Charles Brown in 1984. In that study, Brown compared the sounds of Purple Martins at two sites: one in central Texas, and one at high elevation in the Chiricahua Mountains of southeast Arizona. He reported differences between eastern and western birds in several types of vocalizations, as summarized here:

At last, every part of the world can boast a field guide for visiting birders, fulfilling the prediction of the father of the field guide himself. At the Roger Tory Peterson Institute Blog, Dale Mitchell announces the news.

The publication of a new bird field guide is always a cause for celebration among birders. Even if the region it covers is rather distant, there are still many of us who would applaud its debut, want a peek at its glossy plates and gear up to gossip about its expertise and design. Well, there have been several interesting guides trotting onstage recently, but one is special in a way unprecedented and, dare I say it, even historic. For late last year out came Birds of the Indonesian Archipelago: Greater Sundas and Wallacea, by Eaton, van Balen, et al.

At The Birding project, Christian Hagenlocher tells the story of social media forcing a change to a product that turned out to be harmful to birds.

Yesterday, Phoenix Pike posted on Facebook a sobering warning to other Canadian residents wishing to eliminate wasps from their yards: Don’t buy TrapStik glue traps. Instead of catching wasps, the sticky glue trap attracted and killed 7 chickadees. Upset by this incident, Phoenix took to social media posting photos and a heart-wrenching message.

At The Speckled Hatchback, Dorian Anderson explores the opportunities for bicycle based birding in the Bay Area, where he now lives.

It’s been roughly two months since Sonia and I moved from Norwalk/LA to San Mateo/SF, and I am thoroughly impressed with the bike-birding prospects so far! I didn’t do any bike-birding in the Southern California sprawl, and a badly strained calf muscle kept me sidelined for the first few weeks that I was in the Bay Area. Needless to say, I wasn’t in the best shape when I finally resumed bike last month, but I’ve since built up my fitness exploring the bayshore. I now regularly patrol a length of shoreline that runs from San Francisco Airport southeast towards Redwood City. Coyote Point just behind my apartment has proven particularly productive, and I imagine that the entire bayshore will only get better as fall and winter approach.

At Narratively, Elena Saavedra Buckley tells the story of Greg Hanisek, a man singularly devoted to counting hawks.

It doesn’t know that on Monday, October 10, 2016, it will be one of 445 known sharp-shinned hawks in Lighthouse Point Park between the hours of 06:00 and 16:30. It doesn’t call itself a sharp-shinned hawk, and it especially doesn’t call itself a “sharpie,” the word tossed into the air by those designated to do one thing, every morning, August through December, while standing in the same place in the middle of this park: count hawks.

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#MySantaAna: What Birders Can Do RIGHT NOW

Following our concerns about the construction of a wall on Santa Ana NWR, we asked our friend Ellen Paul, who has a great deal of experience in these matters, for practical advice on what birders can do in this situation. 

By Ellen Paul

It’s a very long shot but we must take it. Call or e-mail your members of Congress and ask them to stop the construction of a section of border wall across the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge. Yes, you’ve been inundated with calls-to-arms for the past six months. Every day brings a steady stream of e-mails, tweets, and Facebook posts exhorting you to call Congress. The pace will almost certainly pick up in the coming months and years.

This is different. This is no mere threat. This is happening. Right now.

The Texas Observer reported on July 14 that “For at least six months, private contractors and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials have been quietly preparing to build the first piece of President Trump’s border wall through the Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge…”

The planned wall would run nearly three miles. Its 18-foot structure would consist of a concrete base topped with a fence made of steel bollards. Plans also call for a road south of the wall and clearing refuge land on either side of the wall for surveillance, cameras, and light towers. The CBP has acknowledged that planning is underway.

On July 12 the House voted 232-187 to approve the rule stripping anti-wall language from the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

On July 18 the House appropriations committee approved a bill that included $498 million for 28 miles of new levee wall in the Rio Grande Valley.

Even worse than that, House majority leaders decided to attach that money to a spending bill for the Defense Department, making it even more likely that it will pass when the full House votes next week.

The wall money is strongly opposed by Democrats and some Republicans, especially those who represent the border states.

Why should birders focus their efforts on this one bit of bad news in a deluge of bad news? Simply put, because we are birders [Editor’s note: See a recent post at The ABA Blog for a reason why Santa Ana is important to the ABA and the birders we represent]. Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge is internationally recognized as ‘a birder’s paradise.’ Its 2,088 acres of subtropical thorn forest host many South Texas specialties. Many migrants depend upon this refuge to escape harsh winters or as a critical stop-over as they head to the tropics. The Santa Ana refuge welcomes 165,000 visitors a year, including birders from across the world. A 2011 study by Texas A&M University found that nature tourism in the Rio Grande Valley brought in $463 million a year, most of it from birding.

There’s another reason for birders to step up on this one. Though these calls and e-mails are a long shot, they may be the only shot. Unlike most other potential wildlife conservation and environmental setbacks, litigation can’t stop the wall. Legislation (the Real ID Act of 2005) enacted after the 9/11 attacks gave the Secretary of Homeland Security authority to waive any legal requirements that would impede the expeditious construction of barriers and roads along the border. That means that the many environmental analyses such as an environmental impact statement, Endangered Species Act consultations, and Refuge Improvement Act of 1997 can’t slow, much less stop, this destruction. The law even prohibits lawsuits except on Constitutional grounds.

Appeals to the Department of the Interior are the very definition of the word “pointless.”

That leaves only the calls and e-mails. So do it. Do it now.

–=====–

Nuts-and-bolts

Find your Senators’ phone numbers and webforms at senate.gov and your Representatives at house.gov

Calls are fine but it can be hard to get through. If you call, keep it VERY short. Be polite. Give your name, address, and zip code so you are recognized as a constituent. Simply ask that the Senator/Representative vote against any legislation that would fund construction of the border wall across the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge.

If you use the webform, you can say more, but it isn’t really necessary. The staffers simply record the issue and the position you support.

The National Wildlife Refuge Association has provided a form that is already filled out.  If you want to add something, here are some talking points:

  • Santa Ana is the “crown jewel” of the National Wildlife Refuge System and it is enjoyed by the 165,000 visitors who bring $463 million in revenue to the region.
  • The wall and associated roads and lighting will all but destroy the refuge and its wildlife, resulting in a loss of revenue to nearby communities.
  • Local residents and nearby jurisdictions oppose the wall!
  • Other efforts to deter illegal border crossing have been working. In early July, CBP reported a huge drop in arrests along the Southwest border, down 53% from a year ago, and to a six-year record low. At this special place, use alternative methods to deter illegal border crossings.

Thanks for your help.

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Rare Bird Alert: July 21, 2017

Continuing rarities in the ABA Area include a nesting pair of Black-faced Grassquit (ABA Code 4) and Western Spindalis (3) at the same campground at Everglades National Park in Florida. Arizona also has continuing nesting birds in Tufted Flycatchers (5) and Flame-colored Tanager (4), while a Berylline Hummingbird (4) and Common Crane (4) continue to [read more…]

Protect #MySantaAna From a Proposed Border Wall

Photo: j.p.c.raleigh via flickr

We at the ABA, along with many in the birding community, have been made aware thanks to an article in the Texas Observer, of a plan to construct part of a proposed border wall through Santa Ana NWR in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. This wall would be about three [read more…]

Happening NOW: Wandering Wood Storks and Spoonbills

For many birders, our first encounter with a Roseate Spoonbill or a Wood Stork occurs during a visit to a hazy, mosquito-filled, wetland on the Gulf Coast. This year however, some of us have been lucky enough to find these charismatic waders far to their north of their typical haunts. It isn’t terribly unusual for [read more…]

#ABArare – Wedge-tailed Shearwater – California

I will probably have to adjust how I approach #ABArare with the inclusion of Hawaii, and an ABA Code 4 (currently) Wedge-tailed Shearwater is one of the reasons why. A pelagic trip led by Alvaro Jaramillo out of Half Moon Bay, San Mateo, California, found one just offshore this past weekend. The bird was even [read more…]

Blog Birding #328

We usually focus on blogs here, but occasionally a bird-related story passes through the traditional media and is so good that it needs to be shared here. Nick Neely’s fascinating deep dive into the new Cassia Crossbill, published in High Country News, is well worth your time.

Little wonder that crossbills settled in the South [read more…]

Rare Bird Alert: July 14, 2017

The potential ABA Area 1st Pied Wheatear in Nome, Alaska, continued into at least the early parts of this week, providing a welcome and exciting respite from the long-staying Tufted Flycatcher (ABA Code 5) and Flame-colored Tanager (4) in southeast Arizona, and the amazingly consistent Common Crane (4) in the northern part of the same [read more…]

American Birding Podcast: Birding, Social Media, and the Facebook Summit

It’s time for another episode of the American Birding Podcast!

Birders have always been great at taking advantage of technological tools to pass on birding information. From the early days of the internet in Usenet groups, to listservs and web forums, to omnipresent social media platforms, birders find ways to share sightings and local [read more…]

Support Birders and Bird Conservation – Buy Your 2017 Duck Stamp Through the ABA

For the last few years, we at the ABA made the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp, known far and wide as the Duck Stamp, available through our own store. We hoped this would give birders an opportunity to vote, as it were, for how they want their voices to be heard as consumers of [read more…]

For decades, we have worked hard to mentor and encourage birding’s next generation.

Please help us build a brighter future for birds and for birding. Click here to donate now.

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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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Recent Comments

  • Nate, in #MySantaAna: What Birders Can Do RIGHT NOW... { Birders can help the ABA become a more active advocate for issues like this by making a generous donation to the ABA's Conservation and Community... }
  • Chris Feeney, in #MySantaAna: What Birders Can Do RIGHT NOW... { I fully agree with this. The ABA should stand up and do something. For the leadership just to pawn off the responsibility to it's members... }
  • [email protected], in #MySantaAna: What Birders Can Do RIGHT NOW... { Signed and sent! }
  • arun bose, in Rare Bird Alert: July 21, 2017... { With regard to the Roseate Spoonbills in Charles City Co. VA. I have been called by the property owner with the instructions to shut it... }
  • Barbara Volkle, in #MySantaAna: What Birders Can Do RIGHT NOW... { If the ABA is to mature as an organization, this is the obvious next step. Your headquarters are a couple of hours from Washington DC.... }
  • Older »

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  • Open Mice: Kestrels–An Iowa Legacy May 16, 2017 6:29
    A few years ago, a short drive down my gravel road would yield at least one, if not two, American Kestrels perched on a power line or hovering mid-air above the grassy ditch. Today, I have begun to count myself lucky to drive past a mere one kestrel per week rather than the daily sightings. […]
  • It’s the Maine Young Birders Club! May 13, 2017 4:03
    York County Audubon is helping to launch the Maine Young Birders Club (MYBC)—the first of its kind in the state! […]
  • Announcing the 2017 ABA Young Birders of the Year! February 28, 2017 10:48
    The judges have reviewed all of the outstanding entries. ABA staff has compiled the scores. After much anticipation, we are thrilled to announce the winners of the 2017 ABA Young Birder of the Year Contest! Your 2017 ABA Young Birder of the Year in the 14-18 age group is 18-year-old Johanna Beam from Lyons, Colorado. […]

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