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Blog Birding #119

Since Nate Swick is so weighed down with enormous responsibilities at the Space Coast Birding Festival and surely is having no fun at all, it has fallen upon me, your frozen humble servant in Idaho – one who’s birding has nearly been limited to observing others blog about discovering state firsts, mega-rarities, and such – to share the interesting or humorous stuff I’ve come across in the birding blogosphere in the last week or so.

Ron Dudley gives us a photographic guide to aging Bald Eagles at Feathered Photography.

  • As we go into prime “eagle watching” season here in northern Utah I thought it might be timely to present a guide that would be helpful in aging Bald Eagles as they progress through the 5-6 year process of becoming adults. Many of these younger birds are mistakenly identified as Golden Eagles by the general public. Eagles that have not reached the adult stage are referred to as immature, juveniles or sub-adults. Plumage stages are highly variable, depending on molt sequence, age and timing so other factors like iris and beak color are also taken into account when estimating age. Eyes gradually change from dark brown to yellow while the beak goes from blackish-gray to yellow.

At the awesome new ABA website Listing Central, there is also a blog. I really appreciated Adam Sell’s approach to a Different Dind of Big Year.

  • One day in late December, I was going through some big year numbers on my home state’s version of “Lister’s Corner” and to my surprise, found a category that hadn’t crossed my mind. A site list! That was it! As I sat at my computer, all of my goals clicked and the inner rush became palpable. It took only a few seconds to come to fruition. The nebulous became concrete. It was going to be a patch big year for me. Shoot, even choosing the site was easy for me. I was going to do a site Big Year at Waukegan Beach. This all happened in a manner of about 10 minutes.

Tim Avery shares a funnly look back at his run-ins with law enforcement while birding at Utah Birders.

  • The first time I had a run in with the law while birdwatching was when I was 20. I was home from college for Christmas break and Colby Neuman and I had gone to the Bountiful Landfill to look through the gulls. Afterwards as I “sped” back towards Salt Lake, I was pulled over on a desolate street in west Bountiful for going 14 mph over the 25mph speed limit. I didn’t know the speed limit was 25mph, as the street was a large, wide, main throroughfare. The street was in a front of a grade school–but it was a Saturday, and the school was out for the holidays to boot. I had made a mistake in not paying attention to the street signs in my pursuit of birds. The officer asked if we were, “looking for the eagles?”. I was a tad snide when I replied, “no, we were looking at gulls at the dump.” I wish I had been more witty at the time, and replied with something like, “yes, and I sped up to avoid hitting one of them–so no ticket right?” In any event, I took the ticket, paid the $65 fine, and went about my way.

Just because the White House petition for a Wildlife Conservation Stamp didn’t get the traction many had hoped for, Larry Jordon is doing his part to push the issue to the forefront with his recent post at The Birder’s Report. Beautiful photography helps convey the importance of the national wildlife refuge system followed up with a call to action…

  • Would you like to be part of creating an additional income stream for our National Wildlife Refuge System? If you haven’t heard of our proposal for a Wildlife Conservation Stamp, please check out our new website where we will be promoting a plan to get an alternative stamp issued to increase revenue for our refuges.
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Robert Mortensen

Robert Mortensen

Robert is most widely known as the host of, a multi-author blog sharing enthusiasm for birds and birding. He is also the ABA's Bird of the Year program coordinator. Robert began birding in the summer of 2004 when his father-in-law handed him a pair of binoculars to go on a Sunday afternoon walk at Deer Flat Wildlife Refuge in Idaho. Birding was an instant addiction. Married to Jessica since 1999, they have four children that keep them hopping. They live in Bountiful, Utah adjacent to spectacular birding at parks and refuges on the eastern shore of the Great Salt Lake. Robert earned his degree in Construction Management from Brigham Young University and somehow fits his construction career around his birding. He is a "well-rounded nerd" who enjoys adventures with his family, serving in his church and Boy Scouts of America, family history, music, and an avid college football fan. Robert plays clarinet and saxophone and enjoys singing too. For question about the Bird of the Year program, you can reach Robert at [email protected]
Robert Mortensen

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