Blog Birding #114
by Nate Swick
Good news from Earbirding, as Nathan Pieplow announces the production of an field guide to bird sounds, and asks for help filling in gaps for some poorly represented species:
So far, this book project has been nearly a decade in the making. It was in 2003 that I first conceived of an index to bird sounds as the basis for an audio field guide. At the time, I was completely unqualified to realize my vision, but I set out to do it anyway, hoping against hope that nobody would beat me to it. Virtually everything related to bird sounds that I’ve done since — including this entire blog and every single one of my recordings — has been done with this goal in mind.
Kenn Kaufman bids farewell to old friend, and character in his seminal Kingbird Highway, Rich Stallcup:
In the following years I had many chances to go birding with Rich Stallcup, and we even led several tours together in Arizona and Mexico. I was constantly learning from him. Although his knowledge was extraordinary, for me his knowledge was overshadowed by his wisdom. And, yes, I use that term intentionally. He truly was wise in his approach to birds, nature, and people. Endlessly reveling in the joy of nature, endlessly patient and generous with beginners, he inspired everyone to greater awareness and kindness.
At Birding is Fun, Greg Gillson discusses an illness every birder has been susceptible to at some point in their career:
"me too-itis": a behavioral condition afflicting groups of bird watchers, especially on birding mailing lists. This disease usually takes the following course. A single rare bird is reported to the bird mailing list and all of a sudden everyone else and their brother reports the species in all sorts of places.
For instance, in the West, Semipalmated Sandpipers are fairly rare. And smaller shorebirds ("peep") are notoriously difficult to identify--especially for beginners. Nevertheless, every fall, as soon as someone reports a bird on the local birding list, several other "me too" posts appear over the next couple of days.
Can different sexes of Juncos be identified by shape? David Sibley tests this theory and offers some explanations:
While watching a small flock of juncos at my bird feeder on December 17, 2012, I noticed one particularly brownish female. Considering subspecies and watching it a little further I noticed that it seemed more active and alert, darting around quickly and holding its body more upright than the other juncos. Could this be a regional difference? Maybe some western Juncos have a previously unnoticed tendency to stand more upright? Unlikely, but worth watching more to figure out what was going on.
Seagull Steve at Bourbon, Bastards, and Birds has suggestions for more appropriate bird names. How's American Mothmasher strike you?
Never have I witnessed such an act of ruthless moth-bashing, but I have to give credit to the redstart for being effective. Next time I am faced with a piece of living food that is too big to swallow whole, I will simply hit it against things over and over again until is smaller.