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Blog Birding #15

10,000 Birds: Slaty-backed Gull(?) in Gloucester Harbor:

This morning, after we Bloggerhead Kingbirds competed at the Superbowl of Birding all day Saturday (more on that later), we made our way to the Gloucester fishing pier (in Essex County, Massachusetts) and into a gull-conundrum.  You see, a couple of other birders, Tim and Brian, had a gull and it wasn’t just any gull.  They refused to prejudice us by putting a name to it but it quickly became clear we were looking at a third-cycle dark-mantled gull that could maybe be a Slaty-backed Gull, which, of course, is a heck of a bird in Massachusetts.

This is totally self-serving, but do any gull experts want to weigh in on this oddball we had in Massachusetts this weekend?

Aimophila AdventuresBird Drifts:

I wouldn’t have wanted to disturb the birds like this, but what a feeling it must have been to be surrounded by that flickering fluttering cloud of prairie blackbird–like a musical storm of snow and ash.

EcobirderThere's Gold in Them There Hills:

Over the past few years I have spent the second Saturday in January driving around southern Minnesota participating in the annual golden eagle survey that is sponsored by the National Eagle Center located in Wabasha, MN. This January I had to decide whether to help in the golden eagle survey again this year or participate in the first ever Brrrrdathon in northern Minnesota, since both were held on the same weekend. It was a tough choice. Both events are great events for the naturalist and photographer in me and both support a worth while goal.

Pacific NW Backyard BirderDabbling Duck Silhouette Quiz:

Yet no field guides tell you how to bird by shape. Not that it can't be done, just that no one has sat down and created the vocabulary that would identify and explain the shapes. Well, actually, that's not entirely true. An ornithology manual would describe and define such bill shapes as spatulate, acute, pointed, recurved, etc. And then it would explain the terms long and short as it relates to bill length. Nevertheless, shape is used as an identification tool far too infrequently in field guides.

Biological RamblingsGulls, Part 1:

The word “gull” probably has the ability to elicit the widest range of emotion among birders and non-birders alike of any bird name. To some birders, “gull” means woe and misery, but to others, it means joy and excitement. To the average non-birder, gulls, or “seagulls,” are a nuisance, “flying rats” that steal food at picnics and eat garbage at the dump. It's also probably one of the few groups that has some of the most sought-after rarities, along with some of the most common “trash” birds.

Brownstone Birding BlogSnow Buntings Help Lift Winter Spirits:

It has been a rough start to winter this year in Connecticut. Snowfall amounts exceeded two feet during a recent snowstorm and yesterday's icy conditions left thousands without power (mine went out while working on this post). One of the bright spots during this tough stretch of winter has been the arrival of large flocks of Snow Buntings, welcome visitors from the arctic region.

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