Blog Birding #107
by Nate Swick
At 10,000 Birds, New Yorker Corey Finger finds time after the storm to help those in need:
It suddenly dawned on me how absurd it was that I was burning precious gasoline looking for birds when people were suffering. Yeah, I’m a bit slow sometimes. I decided that barrier beach birding was done for the day and that I would instead spend my time trying to help out with what was clearly a disaster beyond what could be handled by the people and resources that were already on the Rockaways.As soon as I made that decision, and, no, I am not making this up, a small flock of Evening Grosbeaks flew over.
Amar Ayash, of the fascinating Anything Larus blog, offers some insight on molt in the ubiquitous Ring-billed Gull:
One thing worth noting here is that the mirrors on P10, and particularly P9, are relatively small. This may be an indication as to what an adult this young (6th cycle) should look like, but it's not uncommon for some adults to be without a mirror on P9 entirely. Are these young adult females? Also, might the choppy black markings up the inner web of P8 become "cleaner" as this bird ages? The black marks on the outermost greater primary coverts above P10 are not a sign of "subadultness" - this is an expected feature on adult Ring-billeds.
Bird of the Year coordinator Robert Mortenson, who writes over at Birding is Fun, is talking about doing a local Big Year next year. Have any tips to share?
The idea of a birding "Big Year" - striving to see as many birds as possible in one calendar year - has always intrigued me. I don't see myself in much of a position to attempt a Big Year on a grand scale like the ABA area or even my own state of Idaho. Just the thought of a Big Year in Ada County in which I live, seems daunting enough. It's a large county as far as square miles to cover and hosts a nice diversity of habitat and birds. According to eBird, there are right around 300 bird species documented here. I think it would be a fun and exciting challenge, but I'm trying to give myself a reality check about how much time and effort might be involved before approaching my family for support. When I do things like this, I go all the way, fully committed. My personality type would not allow me to do this casually.
At Vermont Birder, Dick looks at some research recently published on the subject of chickadee caching strategies:
Take the chickadee, for instance. Chickadees put tens of thousands of food items a year into short-term storage. They usually retrieve and eat the food in the space of several days. Each food item is cached in a different place to make it difficult for thieves to steal all the food at once. When hiding a new item, they remember their previous storage sites and avoid placing caches too close together.
At Utah Birders, Ryan O'Donnell shares some photos and stories of a summer spent among cliff-nesting birds on St. Paul Island, Alaska:
Most of the birds that breed on the island use cliffs, like the ones shown above, for breeding sites. Some of these are widespread species, like Common Murres and Thick-billed Murres. Many of the smaller alcids here are unique to the Bering Sea region, like Parakeet Auklets, Least Auklets, and Crested Auklets. Another big draw, especially for photographers, is the puffins: both Horned Puffins and Tufted Puffins nest on the island.