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Blog Birding #63

Happy New Year from the ABA!

I hope the first bird of the calender year was an exciting one.  For me, birding in 2012 began with the raucous predawn calls of 50,000 Ring-billed Gulls as I stood on the lakeshore for the Jordan Lake, NC, Christmas Bird Count.  What was your initial avian sighting of 2012?

Bug Girl shares a bit on roaches and why birders, at least, should show a little appreciation towards these oft-reviled insects:

Red-cockaded woodpeckers need large stands of old growth long-leaf pine to survive–they are unique because they nest in living trees, not dead trees.  And here is where roaches come into the story–69.4% of the food given to nestlings is wood roaches.

A fascinating piece by Heidi Ware, writing at Birding is Fun, on bird ventriliquism, and how it drives birders crazy:

Maybe you’ve heard this before (or maybe you haven’t) but a few times when I’ve been out birding with someone and we come upon a flock of robins, we remark on how they seem to be able to “throw” their voices. You can be looking at a few birds sitting together in the top of a tree, and when they make those high pitched calls, it sounds as if they are coming from a completely different place. That’s not just a figment of your imagination; in a way, robins actually are able to throw their voices.

Greg Gilson, of Pacific NW Birder, offers a really useful piece on separating young Thayer’s Gulls from hybrid ‘Olympic’ Gulls, no doubt the sort of thing birders on the northern Pacific coast are well-versed in:

Right here in the Pacific Northwest we have one of the most confusing arrays of winter gulls in the world.

As if the 13 regular gull species weren’t enough, we have numerous rarities and hybrids. In fact, in many locations on the Oregon and Washington coast, the hybrids between Western and Glaucous-winged Gull may be more common than the pure parent species. But we also have hybrids between Herring and Glaucous-winged, Herring and Glaucous, and Glaucous and Glaucous-winged!

Greg Neise at North American Birding Blog has sought to better know his owls this year, and by focusing on vocalizations beyond the classic ones, he’s been hearing and seeing more than ever:

All I ever got were Screech and Great Horned, because there simply were no Barred Owls in the Chicago area, and Saw-whets either didn’t call back or simply weren’t there. Barred Owls seem to be expanding, and are filling up woodlands all over northern Illinois. As for Saw-whets, well, it turns out that I didn’t know what kinds of noises they made in the winter. Now I do, and everything has changed.

In the last week of his ABA-Area Big Year, John Vanderpoel gets Great Skua in NC, dips on the Smew in Ontario, and finishes up on Day 365 with Nutting’s Flycatcher for an impressive 744.  Well done, John.  It’s been a blast reading your adventures:

I suppose it was meant to end this way.  One last chase accompanied by my brother Bill.  Bill was with me on the first chase of the year and now was along my side here in Arizona for the last chase.

We arrived at Planet Ranch Road in the Bill Williams Delta just after 8:00 AM. A birder from Ontario, John Lemay, was already on the scene We heard the Nutting’s Flycatcher as soon as we reached the three Sagurao cactus, but it took another hour to properly see and photograph it.

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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.
Nate Swick

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