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Blog Birding #72

Illinois' only record of Western Gull is called into question by Amar Ayyash in a superbly researched post on his blog Anything Larus:

I was recently told that Chicago boasts the longest list of gull species recorded in any one city in the world. That's good gull trivia. Evidently, Alan Wormington from Ontario took the time to collect this information and gave the trophy to the Windy City! Some of the heavy-hitters found on this list include Western Gull (1927), Ross's (1978), Ivory (1991), Black-headed (2001), Black-tailed (2003), and most recently, Slaty-backed Gull (2010).

The most unusual and unexpected record on this list would have to be Western Gull. That may sound surprising at first, but Western Gull is quite sedentary and is not regularly found more than 100 miles or so from the Pacific Coast – the others on the list are prone to vagrancy.

Dave Irons at Birdfellow compares the eBird data on northbound Black-throated Gray-Warblers against conventional wisdom:

On 9 March 2012 a Black-throated Gray Warbler was reported from Bandon State Natural Area on Oregon's south coast. There was modest debate on the local listserv over whether this bird was overwintering or, perhaps, an early northbound migrant. I was in the overwintering camp.

Just a week earlier, I was melding together the Oregon and Washington sections of the Fall 2011 report for North American Birds when I noted that my co-editor, Brad Waggoner, had characterized a November 1st Black-throated Gray at Vancouver, Washington as being "a month tardy."

At Tails of Birding, Chris Petrak celebrates the return of Red-winged Blackbirds:

Nine inches of black feathers – he stretches his neck skyward, opens his pointed bill and pours forth nasally , gurgling phrases, sounds which could only be called a “song” by another of this species. As he sings, his wings open in flightless display, and red epaulets flash with sun-drenched brilliance even on the grayest of days. The Red-wing Blackbird has returned.

At Cornell's Round Robin blog, an interview with Andre Dhondt, author of a book on interspecific competition in birds:

How much of the world we see around us is the result of competition between species? The answer is one of the enduring debates in the field of ecology. Evolution and natural selection are founded on the idea that individuals compete to get the resources they need to survive. It happens within species all the time, but whether competition happens between members of different species has been harder to ascertain.

Non-birding Bill, writing at Birdchick's blog, is introduced to Brooklyn's famous Green-Wood Cememtary Monk Parakeets:

I spent some time in New York City recently, more specifically Brooklyn. Since the weather was so beautiful (especially for February) I took advantage of it to walk around the Greenwood Heights neighborhood, so named because of the historic Green-Wood Cemetery (founded in 1838). I expected to walk along its hills, looking at historical headstones and mausoleums, enjoying a quiet day to myself.

I did not expect to encounter a colony of South American monk parakeets.

“Man,” I thought, “Brooklyn has some noisy starlings. Weird-sounding ones, too.” I walked through the double archway to the cemetery, and the noise got much, much louder. So I did what any sensible person, or even a birdwatcher, would do, and I looked up.

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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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