Blog Birding #101
by Nate Swick
Some recent work on the extinct Carolina Parakeet, as elaborated on by Grrlscientist, offers some clues as to their place in the evolutionary history of New World parrots:
Also mysterious are the precise evolutionary relationships between the Carolina parakeet and other neotropical parrot species. Although this parrot is the only member of its genus, Conuropsis, its long, pointed tail and wings, feathered cheeks and lores, the combination of yellow and orange head plumage and blue feathers in its wings, and its comparatively broad and heavy bill closely resemble these same features in several parrots in the genus Aratinga, leading most authorities to argue they are close relatives.
Think you have your fall Empids nailed down by voice? Nathan Pieplow at Earbirding suggests you should think again.
But Empids make a lot of sounds. Forget about learning “the song” and “the call.” Most Empids have repertoires of 6-8 different songs and calls. Some species, such as Pacific-slope and Cordilleran, have a dawn song that’s different from anything they say during the day. Several, including Least, Yellow-bellied, Hammond’s, and Dusky, have complex, rarely-heard flight songs. The species with the largest vocabulary appears to be Acadian Flycatcher, which has all of the above types of song plus another type, sometimes called the “evening song,” which is the most complex of all. (It may or may not be fully separate from the flight song.)
Seagull Steve, of Bourbon, Bastards, and a Birds, shares a few tips for taking on those adicting mystery bird photographs:
Over the past few years of checking out these Birds of Mystery, certain patterns begin to emerge that I think are representative of the challenges that birders throughout the U.S. and Canada often face. So, now, I give to you, The Final Guide to Identifying Mystery Birds. Chances are, if you've only been addicted to birds for a few years or less, the fuzzy, blurry, anonymous bird you have a picture of will be pictured or mentioned somewhere in this post. You are welcome.
A beautiful day. A killer shorebird. Drew at The Nemesis Bird spins a tale of fall joy:
Now, being that I had never been to this spot, I didn't bring anything special. This was a mistake as the best vantage to view the mud flats was out on another muddy flat. Luckily I was able to find a spot to perch at the edge of the muck on some fallen logs and phragmites and keep my feet clean. It didn't take long to find the Sharp-tailed Sandpiper foraging with the Pectoral Sandpipers since it was in juvenile plumage and its red cap and reddish-orange breast stuck out compared to the Pecs.
As we get closer to the great Rio Grande Valley Bird Festival in November, Dave Irons of Birdfellow asks why Harlingen has done so well as the new gateway to the valley:
Prior to the late 1980s, when I first started noticing advertisements extolling its virtues as a birding hotspot, I had never heard of Harlingen, Texas. At the time, Brownsville to the southeast and McAllen to the west, were the well-known towns most of us thought of when we heard someone talking about birding the Lower Rio Grande Valley. Over time, Harlingen has supplanted these communities and become known to many as the gateway to birding the RGV. How did this come to be?