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Blog Birding #112

At 10,000 Birds, the the newest edition of the venerable bird carnival, I and the Bird, celebrates cormorants and darters:

Pity the poor cormorant. There’s scarcely a bird in the world as unfairly maligned, deemed the world over as a bad seed due to its ungainly proportions and reportedly insatiable appetite for bait fish.  But this awkward family is of an ancient lineage, one of the  oldest of all the birds and with similar ancestors reaching all the way back to the dinosaurs.  The form is a classic one – long-billed, web-footed, and waterborne – and shared in some sense with the order of birds the cormorants, and their sister taxa the darters, lie within, the newly resurrected Suliformes.

In what is now an incredible resource for those looking for natural sounds, Cornell Lab’s McCauley Library has finished digitizing their entire library of analog recordings all the way back to 1929.  Round Robin has the scoop:

“Our audio collection is the largest and the oldest,” explains Macaulay Library director Mike Webster. “Now, it’s also the most  accessible. Having the collection digitized brings the Macaulay Library into the 21st century. Now we’re working to improve search functions and create tools people can use to collect recordings and upload them directly to the archive.”

At Utah Birders, a useful tutorial on embedding google maps into eBird checklists:

Zachary DeBruine, at, has developed a simple tool that will allow you to add a very specific image from Google Maps detailing the exact location of a bird you have found.  This can be a big help to others that go to look for the bird.  For example, here is the location of the exact Himalayan Blackberry bush at Lytle Ranch where I found a Harris’s Sparrow a couple of  weeks ago.

At the Stokes Birding Blog, Lillian and Don look to the tails to gnatcatchers to see what we can learn:

I love the way the top photograph shows the full tail fanned, something they do often. The outer tail feathers are mostly white. In the  bottom photo you can see how, when they close their tail, it’s like a fan closing. The two outer tail feather come together and when the tail is fully closed it would appear all white from underneath. On this bird, there is white extending all the way from the tail feathers continuing down through the fluffy white undertail coverts. This may help ID it as to subspecies.

Amar Ayyash of Anything Larus, considers how angle of observation can affect how we interpret gull wing-tips:

It’s no secret that a single photo of a gull at one point in time can be very misleading. This post is just another example of that. Specifically, note how the apparent shade of this bird’s wingtips go from “sooty black” to nearly “jet black” depending on its angle to  the observer.

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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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