Blog Birding #104
by Nate Swick
At The Birder's Library, a nice review of a Pete Dunne's new The Art of Bird Identification:
On the very first page of the first chapter, Dunne neatly sums up “the trick” of birding: “if you don’t know what you are looking at, then you need to know what to look for and how to look for it”. Dunne takes the reader step-by-step through this process. He compares identifying a bird to finding an assigned seat in a stadium. To get to your seat, you first have to make your way to the stadium, then to the correct section, then row, and finally your seat. To successfully pin a name on a bird, you first narrow the choices by habitat (stadium), then subgroup/order (section), family (row), and ultimately to species (seat).
Greg Gillson, of Pacific NW Birder, has been producing a series of posts of eBird best practices. In his most recent edition he takes on the idea of the "casual observation":
The two main categories of effort-based lists are "Stationary" (you birded from a single location and didn't move more than 100 feet or so) and also a "Traveling" count. Traveling counts can be walked or driven (or both). Traveling counts are recommended to be 5 miles or less. If you change habitats, change to another checklist. On the other hand, if you are traveling through miles of identical habitat then it is not necessary to change checklists after 5 miles (think mono-species grasslands or pelagic trips). No eBird checklist should cross county borders. eBird Reviewers are instructed to weed out long trip lists that span county borders or multiple habitats. Thus, if you enter such lists the data will not be used in the maps and bar charts. But they will appear in your personal lists.
A useful piece from Cornell's Round Robin tells you want to look for on your increasingly busy coffee labels to find bird-friendly brews:
It’s not such a stretch of the imagination, York University researcher Bridget Stutchbury told a packed audience at the Cornell Lab’s Monday night seminar series last week. Many of the colorful songbirds that are just now leaving us for the winter, including warblers, tanagers, orioles, and grosbeaks, will spend the next five months in and around shade coffee plantations in Mexico and Central and South America.
Bill Thompson III, known on the web as Bill of the Birds, celebrates the subtle Worm-eating Warbler:
On our farm the worm-eating warblers spend spring and summer in the deep shady darkness of our two wooded valleys, rarely coming to the top of the ridge where our house is. No, if we hope to see them we must go to them. Finding them is not easy. They lead lives as subtle as their plumage.If their colors do not impress with bright hues, the song of the male is even less attention-grabbing. It is a long, dry trill that could be passed off as a cicada or a tree cricket. More commonly it is passed off as one of the sound-alike members of the avian tribe for it is confusingly similar to the chipping sparrow, the pine warbler, and even the dark-eyed junco.
Black Swamp Bird Observatory (BSBO) has learned of proposal to place a large wind turbine at the Camp Perry National Guard facility on the Lake Erie shoreline, just a few miles east of the world-famous birding hotspot of Magee Marsh. The Camp Perry facility itself includes wooded areas near the Lakeshore that provide important stopover habitat for migratory songbirds.