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Blog Birding #21

Dan at Flight of the Fossil Penguins explains how studying modern Dippers can provide clues as to how wing-propelled diving evolved in Meet the Tiniest Wing-propelled Diver:

Dippers look rather unassuming when on land, and it would be easy to mistake them for catbirds or other garden variety songbirds at a glance.  However, detailed studies have revealed many evolutionary novelties associated with more efficient waterproofing of the feathers, modified wing musculature to assist in the underwater “flight” stroke, and physiological properties of blood haemoglobin that make them very efficient at employing their unique feeding strategy.

David Sibley seeks a more universal way to explain bird flight in his Identifying Small Songbirds by Flight Style:

It’s easy. Experienced birders do it subconsciously, using clues from the wingbeats, rhythm, and path of a bird’s flight. These are usually described in vague terms – the roller-coaster flight of a goldfinch, the slightly undulating flight of a blackbird – but I don’t know of any published effort to really define what is different about each species. To remedy that I thought I would make a start here on a more objective and detailed description of bird flight.

Bill “of the Birds” Thompson spins a tale of life bird longing and last chances with Bohemian Quest: The Final Day:

I’d sent out another plea for help on the MI-birds listserv and got some good leads on BOWAs both farther north and farther south. Since we were running out of time, we needed to make a strategic move, and fast.  By 10 am I was getting both restless and slightly annoyed. So Heets and I decided to head south to a hopeful-sounding sighting in Traverse City. A kind soul named Holly had e-mailed me to share her day-before sighting of a sizable flock of BOWAs in a neighborhood with ornamental fruit trees. It was time to man up or clam up.

Taking on a nemesis bird is no easy task, but Mike Bergin at 10,000 Birds is up for it, and successful, in Finally Saw-whet:

Taking down a nemesis bird always takes a place of honor on any birder’s litany of triumphs. The act of overcoming a string of dips through sheer ornery optimism surely serves one well in every sphere of one’s life, but when it comes to chasing birds, resilience redounds to success. I’ve been chasing Northern Saw-whet Owls, those adorable little predators, for years now. Every March, hope springs anew that I’ll cross paths with one of these feral fluffballs, but as April ends, so do another year’s delirious dreams. But here we are in March again, so off I trudged to Owl Woods, Rochester’s surest spot for Saw-Whets.

Listservs definitely change the way we report birds, but can they change out perceptions of migration timing? Dave at Birdfellow explains how in How Listservs may be altering notions of Early and Late:

There has been much discussion surrounding apparent changes in the timing of migrant arrivals and departures. One consistent discussion point is climate change and how birds may be responding to it. While it seems plausible to attribute record early and late dates to climate change (and we should continue to look for evidence of such), perhaps the real elephant in the room is observer effort or, more importantly, talented observer effort.

Blogger and Piping Plover project volunteer Andrew at Birding Dude follows a Piping Plover from the Bahamas to New York and back to the Bahamas again:

Throughout this winter, I had hoped to hear if any of the birds were seen back in the Bahamas. Imagine my excitement when I received an e-mail from Peter Doherty (one of the banders) on March 1st, informing me that one of the Piping Plover’s that I had photographed at Breezy Point was seen and photographed in the Bahamas on February 23rd 2011.

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Nate Swick

Nate Swick

Editor, Social Media Manager at American Birding Association
Nate Swick is the editor of the American Birding Association Blog, social media manager for the ABA, and the host of the American Birding Podcast. He lives in Greensboro, North Carolina, with his wife, Danielle, and two young children. He is the author of Birding for the Curious and The ABA Field Guide to Birds of the Carolinas.
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