aba events

2014 AOU Check-list Supplement is Out!

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

2014 AOU Check-list Supplement is Out! 2014 AOU Check-list Supplement is Out!

2014 Camp Colorado

July 4, 2014: 10:00 am. I’ve just picked up my rental car at the airport in Denver and am driving by… [read more]

2014 Camp Colorado 2014 Camp Colorado

Limited Edition 2014 ABA Bird of the Year T-Shirt Available NOW!

Now that the Rufous Hummingbirds are starting their slow journey south, stopping off at hummingbird feeders… [read more]

Limited Edition 2014 ABA Bird of the Year T-Shirt Available NOW! Limited Edition 2014 ABA Bird of the Year T-Shirt Available NOW!

How to Record Birdsong—Part 1

  Two years ago in this space I wrote a three-part primer on the use of digital audio recorders for… [read more]

How to Record Birdsong—Part 1 How to Record Birdsong—Part 1

Featured Photo: May/June 2014 Birding

Here are three images that appear in the “Featured Photo” column of the May/June 2014 issue of Birding.… [read more]

Featured Photo: May/June 2014 Birding Featured Photo: May/June 2014 Birding

On Stringing…

(with apologies to “Pat Stringer”) Never identify a bird unless you’re 100% positive. At least… [read more]

On Stringing… On Stringing...
Nikon Monarch 7

    Hookpods to Prevent Albatross Deaths

    Long-line fishing is known to be a significant source of mortality for many specifc of pelagic birds, most notably albatrosses. A British invention, the hookpod, has the potential to eliminate seabird deaths in pelagic long line fisheries. Hookpod Ltd (HPL) had a stand at International Birdfair over the weekend and received lots of enthusiastic support for their vision.

    The devices are effectively a small plastic capsule that encases the bait and hook until the point when a pressure-sensitive mechanist determines it has reached the desired fishing depth. This prevents pelagic seabirds from attempting to grab the bait and becoming hooked. It’s a simple idea, but very effective at reducing bycatch and loss of bait.

    Hookpods have been tested with the fishing industry around the world and are well received by captains & crews testing them.

    HPL now needs to produce 20,000 hookpods to provide samples and set up some demonstration vessels to convince the industry that they work – tests show that they catch marginally more fish, absolutely no seabirds and reduce plastic waste in the oceans by replacing light sticks with an integral LED light.

    Rows of Hookpods on a fishing vessel, ready for use. Photo via Hookpods.com

    Rows of Hookpods on a fishing vessel, ready for use. Photo via Hookpods.com

    To do this requires funding. If you would like to help fund the production of this quantity of Hookpods, HPL has created an online crowd funding website at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/hookpod/hookpod-saving-the-albatross-from-extinction

    As of Monday 18 August, £79,500 has been pledged, but to receive these donations we must reach the £100,000 target within the next 6 days.

    Any help you can give to help us achieve this target will be greatly appreciated and will lead to a reduction in the number of albatrosses, petrels and other seabirds being killed by the longline fishing industry.

    Thanks to those folks who are coming up with creative solutions to a very serious problem.

      Little Year in a Very Big State

      We are departing for Alaska on Sunday, August 24th. By then the movers will have packed up our stuff and headed north with it too. If our cars hold up okay, we should be in Anchorage by the beginning of September. Along with all the fun of looking for and buying a house there, which we hope to accomplish in the month or so after we arrive, I will, of course, be looking for birds. Although we lived in Anchorage a very long time ago, I did not bird much beyond the Anchorage area that year. Although I’ve birded in Alaska a couple of times since then, it was mostly for short jaunts off to the most popular birding spots. I am really looking forward to being a nutty birder and living in the state and having the opportunity to explore more.

      The more I think about it though, the more I am vowing NOT to do a big year of any kind for at least 16 months. Instead, from when we arrive until birds start arriving in spring, I just want to see what I can see around Anchorage, and explore the best places to bird there. Then when the weather gets nicer and birds arrive, I am really looking forward to going out to some of the more remote Alaskan places to get to know what’s there.

      For the three-plus years that I’ve been in Rapid City, I’ve been part of a weekly bird-survey group that counts the birds on Canyon Lake and the surrounding parkland (we call ourselves the “Canyon Lake Ornithological Group” or the “Cloggers”). Canyon Lake is one of the few areas in western South Dakota where a portion of the water does not freeze over in the winter, and it therefore has been a winter mecca for ducks and geese. Even in blizzards and rain, we have done our best to go out there and count the birds, sometimes having to delay our Monday morning survey when roads were impassable until later in the week. That experience not only has allowed me to help in the regular gathering of useful bird records, but also has been extremely useful in helping me learn about the bird populations in southwestern South Dakota. It also helped me see some beautiful birds and some South Dakota rarities.

      canyon lk     wood duck     harly

      What I want to do in Alaska, instead of (or perhaps before) doing a big year, is find a nearby area that seems to have potential for a variety of bird species and then to do regular surveys there for however long I live in Alaska. Or possibly, if there already is an ongoing bird survey in the Anchorage area, I would hope to participate in it.

      Following the arrivals and departures of the different species, as well as seeing which birds stay around an area, can be fascinating. In addition, taking the time to observe the birds regularly in an area gives a better window into their world than flying in, counting and departing.

      Of course, I am NOT saying that another big year is not in my future. I’m just saying that I’m going to try a little year (or two) for a while. A little year could get pretty big in a place as big as Alaska.

      06.02 McKay's Bunting, AK   10.11 Ross's Gull, AK   05.17 Whiskered Auklets, AK

        Blog Birding #200

        Great Black-backed Gulls are massive and brutish, but aging y0ung birds are require a practiced eye. Amar Ayyash of Anything Larus looks at juvenile and 1st summer GBBGs.

        My short semi-annual runs to the East Coast are usually just enough time for me to visit the most popular gull hangouts between Chesapeake Bay, Delaware Bay [read more...]

          #ABArare – Fea’s Petrel- New York

          Mentioned yesterday in the formal Rare Bird Alert, but as it’s a state first, worth mentioning again. The overnight pelagic out of Freeport, New York, was enormously successful. Target birds include White-faced Storm-Petrel, which was seen well, and other deepwater birds that are difficult to come by on day trips out on the continental shelf.

          [read more...]

            Rare Bird Alert: August 15, 2014

            For the second week in a row, the state of Texas leads the week with a rare shorebird. Earlier this week, a Bar-tailed Godwit was discovered in near Corpus Christi, Nueces County. Not only is this a first state record for Texas, but with the recent addition of Black-tailed Godwit to the state list, based [read more...]

              Cell Phone Bird Photography

              Is all this camera gear really necessary anymore?

              Digital camera sales have been in the news lately – or, rather, the lack thereof. Canon recently reported that its compact camera sales have fallen 36% compared to one year ago, and sales of its digital SLRs have dropped by 19%. Nikon, meanwhile, has seen a [read more...]

                Open Mic: A Few Good Tips About Optics For Birders

                By Nina Cheney


                Before you buy:

                 Buy the best glass you can afford.  You can avoid the upgrade game by buying what you want the first time.  Sure, it may take some saving—but it can still be less expensive than upgrading every 2 or 3 years.  Know the return policy of the optics store [read more...]

                  Drought in California likely to Affect Migratory Birds

                  The western part of the ABA Area has been experiencing drought conditions for the better part of the last three years, and none have experienced drought quite to the degree that California has. At last check, 80% of the state is in “extreme” drought, the highest level as determined by the National Weather Service. The [read more...]

                    Blog Birding #199

                    Birders and birding organizations are always thinking about the best way to attract new birders to the fold. Laurence Butler, at Butler’s Birds and Things has a, shall we say, original concept.

                    There are initiatives underway to increase urban birding, and with that, diversify birder demographics. Qualifying species as ‘endangered’ can help with protection, but [read more...]

                      #ABArare – Bar-tailed Godwit – Texas

                      The rare shorebirds continue to highlight late summer 2014, and Texas gets another good one in a Bar-tailed Godwit, found and photographed on 8/9 by Mel Cooksey at Oso Bay in Corpus Christi. Pending acceptance this is a first state record for Texas.

                      The second rare shorebird in as many weeks for Texas, this [read more...]

                      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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                      • Open Mic: My First Breeding Bird Survey August 12, 2014 8:22
                        When I got asked to go on my first Breeding Bird Survey with one of our areas top birders, I jumped at the opportunity! I met Katie Koch, a US Fish and Wildlife Service bird biologist at 4:45am. That was the earliest time I've been birding by 15 minutes. […]
                      • What to Do When You Feel Under the Weather at Bird Camp August 6, 2014 6:47
                        Imagine you are at a bird camp. Camp Chiricahua, for instance. Maybe this year. Maybe even this week. You are having lots of fun making new friends, seeing lots of cool birds, and traveling to all sorts of awesome places. But with all this activity and excitement, you start wearing yourself down. […]
                      • Young Birder Blog Birding #31 August 1, 2014 5:45
                        July is often a difficult month for birders, but the month has come to an end. For many birds, breeding season is long gone and preparation for fall migration have begun. […]

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