Blog Birding #74
by Nate Swick
This week's Blog Birding is a special shoutout to all the blogs that have mentioned the ABA's Bird of the Year. If I missed you, let me know in the comments!
According to recent studies from data collected by Project Feeder Watch, the overall population of evening grosbeaks has decline by 50% between 1988 and 2006…and no one knows why. This used to be a common winter feeder bird. Some years you would see more than others, but even I haven’t seen that many the last few years and I live in a place where I should be able to find them easily.
As well as the ABA's Young birder blog, The Eyrie:
Evening Grosbeaks are large Fringillidae finches with short tails and wings and large heads. The name “grosbeak” comes from the French “grosbec,” which means “large beak.” Males have blackish-brown heads and throats, yellow superciliums and flanks, dirty yellow sides, large white wing patches, and black primaries. Females and immatures are gray overall with faint yellow on their necks and sides.
Some beautiful photos of this charismatic bird at The Nemesis Bird:
Evening Grosbeaks populations fluctuate with spruce budworm outbreaks and populations have declined as the effort to control spruce budworms has expanded. They are irruptive migrants and their lower population numbers have meant they are only rare visitors to the state, often showing up in just a couple isolated spots across the state each year.
The amazing Amy at Birdorable has created some Evening Grosbeak themed Birdorable art for the ocassion:
Birdorable is proud to support the ABA by offering Evening Grosbeak apparel and merchandise with 25% of sales going directly to the organization. All Birdorable Evening Grosbeak designs are participating in this promotion; soon we will offer more styles featuring the ABA Bird of the Year 2012!
Robert Mortenson, the coordinator of the BOTY program, weighs in on Birding is Fun:
In reality, at Jeff Gordon's request, I simply prepared a list of a dozen or so birds that I felt would be great totems for the ABA. I shared my list with the ABA staff including my thoughts on the pros and cons of each species. I felt that the bird should be "possible" to see in most of the ABA area, that it should be striking and interesting in appearance so that it might spark the interest of non-birders, and that it have some aspect of conservation connected with the species. Everyone on the staff had a chance to weigh in by way of an email discussion and the Evening Grosbeak just seemed to quickly rise to the top of the list by general consensus
I mentioned it at my own blog, The Drinking Bird:
Not only is the Evening Grosbeak flashy and gregarious, but it’s also a shout out to our ABA friends on the west coast and in the far north, where these birds are far more likely to be seen. I recognize my own east coast bias in my work for the ABA, and it’s always nice to throw our other friends a bone once in a while. I certainly wish I lived in an area where Evening Grosbeaks are likely to occur. They’re pretty few and far between down this way, and we’re worse for it.
And a new member from Alberta, Prairie Birder, shares her excitement as well:
Last night, Jeff Gordon, president of the American Birding Association, announced the 2012 ABA Bird of the Year: the Evening Grosbeak, a bird I have yet to see. To read more about the Evening Grosbeak visit the ABA Bird of the Year page. The artwork on this month’s cover of “Birding” magazine and on the stickers are from the very talented artist Julie Zickefoose.
ABA Blog contributor Laura Erickson has something to add as well:
When my first book came out, my publishers called me one day and asked if I wanted to go to the ABA convention in Los Angeles for a book signing. I was thrilled until I realized that they weren’t talking about the American Birding Association—they were inviting me to attend a convention for the American Booksellers Association.
If I missed your post, please leave a link in the comments!