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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.”


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.


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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Blog Birding #350

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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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