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Blog Birding #404

At Avian Hybrids, Jente Ottenburghs documents how populations of Red-necked Phalaropes who breed quite close to each other winter on opposites sides of the world.

An international team of scientists equipped several Red-necked Phalaropes from different populations with geolocators. The results showed two distinct migrations routes. Birds breeding in Scotland, Iceland and Greenland migrated to the west and wintered in the Pacific. Birds from Scandinavia, Finland and Russia, on the other hand, flew to the Arabian Sea in the east.

Linda at Philly Bird Nerd wraps up her thoughts on last weekend’s World Series of Birding in New Jersey.

Doing the full state competition is really tough. You start up north in the Great Swamp at midnight and bird all night and day and end up in the south at Stipson’s Island marsh at 10 PM or later. We put hundreds of miles on Harvey’s mini van and counted 180 bird species in total. Don’t confuse this contest with “birding”. It isn’t birding. It is identifying and checking off bird species. We rarely stopped to look at any birds. We mainly listened for their call or caught a glimpse of them before moving on to our next target and destination.

At 10,000 Birds, Jason Crotty introduced birders to the concept of “conservation banks”, and how it applies to the Endangered Species status of the Golden-cheeked Warbler.

In some areas, conservation banks have been created to facilitate “off-site mitigation.” These banks are touted as market-based solutions with advantages for both developers and imperiled species. For example, rather than numerous small piecemeal mitigation efforts spread across many parcels, a conservation bank can preserve large contiguous parcels and specifically manage them for an endangered species. Moreover, larger sites are better for wildlife and are easier and less expensive to manage. For developers, a one-time transaction permanently satisfies its obligations and provides regulatory certainty.

There are more wild parrots in the US than there may have ever been, Ryan Mandelbaum at Gizmodo explores their impact on native birds.

A team of scientists, led by Cornell graduate student Jennifer Uehling, reviewed parrot observations from 15 years of community science observations—specifically, the annual Christmas Bird Count and Cornell University’s ubiquitous eBird database. Birders log their sightings along with comments, and reviewers confirm any rarities with more details, further observations, and photos. The researchers determined that a bird population was “established” if birdwatchers had observed the species 25 or more times (a purposely high but relatively arbitrary number) and if records included observations of breeding.

At Birdwatching Daily, David Sibley explains what birders can learn from a bird’s wing feathers.

When the wing is folded, the greater coverts form a roughly diagonal patch around the middle of the folded wing. Only the long flight feathers extend behind them. The smaller coverts, arranged in front, are often hidden under fluffy body feathers. One thing that helps to distinguish the coverts from the body feathers is their texture. Body feathers are loose, fluffy, broad and curved, while coverts are stiff, narrow, and flat. Even as the feathers on the rest of the bird move around, the arrangement of wing feathers stays more or less the same.


Rare Bird Alert: May 17, 2019

Notable ABA rarities continuing into this, the third week of May, include Slate-throated Redstart (ABA Code 4) in Texas, both Zenaida Dove (5) and Bahama Mockingbird (4) in Florida, and Little Egret (4) in Maine. The White-tailed Eagle (4) that overwintered on St Paul Island in Alaska turned up again this week, as did the Black-tailed Gull (4) reported last week. Also, a Barnacle Goose (4) continues to be seen in Quebec.

And it is in Quebec that we begin this week, where a Burrowing Owl in Abitibi was a one-day wonder but also a 1st provincial record. The speckled crown suggests that this is of the western subspecies which is a medium-distance migrant with a pattern of showing up in the east from time to time.

That was not the only 1st record to report. Kentucky also had a western bird representing a state 1st in the form of a Brewer’s Sparrow in Jefferson. The bird showed up at a feeder at the end of April, baffling the homeowner for good reason. The bird was identified after it had vanished, but remains a state 1st and another data point for this species that is likely underappreciated as a potential vagrant.

Continuing in the southeast, North Carolina had a Curlew Sandpiper (3) in Dare. 

A pair of Black-bellied Whistling Ducks were seen in Berks, Pennsylvania, the farthest afield record of this species so far this year.

In New York, a Wilson’s Plover was seen in Suffolk, yet another extralimital record of this species this spring.

Rhode Island had not one, but a pair of Tufted Ducks (3) in Middletown.

In Connecticut, a Yellow Rail was discovered near the town of Old Saybrook. Several birders have contributed recording of it calling.

Good for Nova Scotia, a Blue Grosbeak was seen in Dartmouth.

Ohio’s 4th record of Townsend’s Warbler was seen in Lucas at Biggest Week, precipitating a mass exodus of birders from the festival HQ.

Illinois became the latest state to host a Kirtland’s Warbler this spring, in downtown Chicago no less.

Missouri had a small flock of Fulvous Whistling-Duck in Mississippi. 

In Arkansas, a Lazuli Bunting was seen near Centerton.

Minnesota had a Bullock’s Oriole, surprisingly only the state’s 3rd, in Brown this week.

In South Dakota, a Prairie Warbler turned up in Brookings. 

Colorado had a Common Gallinule in Larimer and a Swainson’s Warbler in Washington. 

Two Mexican Violetears (3) were seen in different parts of Texas this week, one at a feeder in San Antonio and another in the Valley in Hidalgo. 

Notable for Arizona was a Hooded Warbler in Maricopa, and the return of the Common Crane (4) in Coconino that has been seen in each of the two previous years.

Nevada’s 5th record of Cassin’s Sparrow was seen in Nye, not much more than a week after the state’s 4th record was seen.

Oregon also had a Hooded Warbler, this one in Corvallis. 

In British Columbia, the province’s 2nd record of Greater Black-backed Gull was seen well inland in Kelowna, Also noteworthy for BC, a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher was seen in Campbell River.

And in Alaska, a Little Stint (4) was seen on Shemya.


Omissions and errors are not intended, but if you find any please message blog AT 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 <>, the richly illustrated journal of ornithological record published by the ABA.


American Birding Podcast: LIVE from The Biggest Week-The ABA at 50

The ABA’s 50th Anniversary and The Biggest Week’s 10th Anniversary coincide this year and it’s a great time to celebrate both stalwarts of the birding community. We threw a bird party and recorded the very first LIVE episode of the American Birding Podcast featuring special guests, live music, and more! We’re excited to share it [read more…]

Watch Bill Thompson III receive the ABA’s Roger Tory Peterson Award for Promoting the Cause of Birding

ABA President Jeffrey Gordon (l) and Vice-Chair Julie Davis (r) present Bill Thompson III (c) with the ABA Roger Tory Peterson Award

Earlier this year, Bill Thompson III was presented with the ABA’s Roger Tory Peterson Award for Promoting the Cause of Birding in recognition of his lifetime of service and contributions. The [read more…]

Happening NOW: Wilson’s Plovers WInging North

As I was packing for an international trip recently, I received a text from the Maryland rare bird alert that almost made me drop my pre-travel plans. At Assateague Island, on the other side of the state, a Wilson’s Plover had just been seen and a short time later a second bird appeared to be [read more…]

Blog Birding #403

Are you watching the last season of Game of Thrones? Nick Lund at Audubon writes about the birds of westeros and interviews the sound engineer who is responsible for making this fantasy world sound somewhat realistic.

Much of that consideration comes from the show’s supervising sound editor, Tim Kimmel, who has worked on [read more…]

Rare Bird Alert: May 10, 2019

Apologies in advance for any missed rarities this week. I’m writing this post from the Biggest Week in American Birding and things are rather busy. Please include any omissions in the comments and I’ll be sure to include them next week.

Continuing rarities in the ABA Area include the Slate-throated Redstart (ABA Code 4) in [read more…]

How to Know the Birds: No. 7, What the Swainson’s Hawk Says

Probably everybody knows what a hawk is. Hawks are big and fierce and raptorial; they have hooked beaks and gnarly talons. Like this:

A chestnut-fronted hawk, just back from its South American wintering grounds, rests in a tree at the edge of a meadow in Colorado. Photo by © Ted Floyd.

Everything checks [read more…]

Rare Bird Alert: May 3, 2019

Texas is still the epicenter of continuing rarities, with the Slate-throated Redstart (ABA Code 4) reported last week singing as if on territory, and the long-staying Crimson-collared Grosbeak (4)in the Valley. Pink-footed Geese (4) are also scattered about, this time in Newfoundland and Quebec.

We’ll lead off with Maine, which is once again hosting Little [read more…]

American Birding Podcast: A Season on the Wind with Kenn Kaufman

Kenn Kaufman is one of America’s best known birders, and he has done just about everything a person can do in the birding world. He’s a guide, an artist, an incredibly skilled birder, and an author of several books, the latest of which is called A Season on the Wind: Inside the World of [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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