Long Live the Evening Grosbeak!
This month concludes the very impressive reign of the Evening Grosbeak as the 2012 ABA Bird of the Year. Could we have chosen a better year to highlight this amazing bird?! We are getting reports from folks seeing Evening Grosbeaks in places they've not been seen in thirty years. One might imagine that Jeffrey & Liz Gordon have been secretly raising thousands of Evening Grosbeaks behind the ABA office in Colorado Springs and they've been generously distributing them about the country during their travels - just like that jolly elf that comes around this time of year spreading joy. But the reality surrounding this mysterious bird irruption is all the more amazing!
eBird sightings from Aug-Dec 2011 (above)
eBird sightings from Aug-Dec 5th 2012 (below)
In this month's issue of Birding, UC-Davis Ph.D. candidate Aaron Haiman shares his personal experiences studying Evening Grosbeaks. He presents a lesson on sympatric and allopatric speciation that I found very enlightening. Then leads into a discussion of his work identifying the three to five variants or types of Evening Grosbeaks in North America by flight call and their related geographies. It's a fascinating read and we hope you'll want to comment about it here. Aaron's research continues and we as capable birders and citizen scientists can help! Report your Evening Grosbeak sightings to eBird. Take photos. Record their calls if you can. Then contact Aaron directly by email or via his blog.
So, while the Evening Grosbeak's reign may end with the year, we are still in the midst of an amazing EVGR movement worth watching and celebrating.