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Presenting the 2013 ABA Bird of the Year!

It’s here!


ABA Bird of the Year website

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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

Latest posts by Robert Mortensen (see all)

  • Shelley Rutkin

    I love it! Great bird and great intro!

  • Thanks so much Shelley. Thanks for being a supportive memeber of the ABA. Happy birding in 2013!

  • Great stuff, Robert! Is this possibly a new wrinkle on planking? I’ve seen more than enough videos of people, “mimicking a wooden plank,” but I don’t think I’ve ever seen one of a BIRDER mimicking a BIRD mimicking a wooden plank!

  • “Nighthawking” is the new thing for the kids these days. It’s pretty cool. You should try it!

  • Robert, your Nighthawking is truly inspired!
    I guess I was a tiny bit saddened not to see you eating bugs out of the air while swinging, but that is a lot to ask…

  • Let it be known that I suggested this very thing.

  • this will either find us new birders. or scare the shit out of them. either way, good stuff man.

  • Great! We’re in a Common NIghthawk migration corridor in NH and have seen 1,000 migrating past our house in 1 night. (Love the out-takes!)

  • Rob


  • Well, there are a few scenes I’ve got to save for a future CONI video. I can’t go showing all my cards.

  • Thanks Paul. Coming from a video marketing genius like you, that’s a real compliment.

  • Lilian, I knew you’d be excited about this species. I’m betting you have tons of great experiences that can be retold about the CONI as we celebrate it this year.

  • Thanks Rob. I hope you and everyone else enjoys this year’s bird!

  • Great choice! I always look forward to the couple of weeks in the fall when they migrate along the CT River Valley. It’s a thrill to watch them feeding on flying insects. Sadly they don’t linger!

  • Don’t forget to “like” the official ABA Bird of the Year Facebook page.

  • I just got an email asking about the “deep sexy voice” of the Common Nighthawk. That was ABA President Jeffrey Gordon…from his sick bed. He’s awesome! Many of the photos used in the video are from’s Alex Lamoreaux.

  • So are prominent eyebrows a required feature of the BOY?

  • Lance Tanino

    Awesome choice for BOY. Fantastic video, performances, and outtakes.

  • Excellent, excellent choice for BotY! And a great video to kick things off right.

  • Thanks Hilke! I know you’ve done a couple great posts with migrating Nighthawk images. Thanks for joining us in celebrating this species this year!

  • A good eyebrow is key to handsomeness. Is it not? Sure helps with face paint anyway! 😉

  • Thanks for the nice words Lance!

  • Thanks Rick! I sure appreciate your help in editing the Common Nighthawk web page. Some of your revised verbiage was used by Jeff in the voice-over work on the video too.

  • Love it! ╚(•⌂•)╝

  • Thanks Bill! I love your Nighthawk images shared on The Eyrie this morning. I should have known to come to you with images for the webpage and video. Really fantastic! I hope we can get your permission to use your images for future blog posts, articles, and videos!

  • Any time, amigo!!

  • Bernie Sloan

    Great selection for Bird of the Year, great video, and great use of the State Farm Insurance “Mayhem” commercial meme!

    Bernie Sloan
    Highland Park, NJ

  • Oh my gosh I love this bird and have been fasinated by them since I was a child!
    Love your video!

  • I love this bird and I love your sense of humor! What fun! Do I need to write a poem for this one?

  • Rick, I agree!

  • awesome video Robert! Bravo sir, bravo.

  • So suave!! So swingy! So planky! Kudos on the swooping, Robert!! And a very nice head portrait, too. Looking forward to seeing the cover painting. Even as I wave goodbye to EVGR. Waah.

  • Here’s a tease.

    Louise Zemaitis’s 2011 Bird of the Year painting was so cool, in large part, if you ask me, because of the luxurious background. Tikal. Wow. Loved it. Still love it. From time to time, I wander over to the shelves, pull down the March 2011 Birding, and just admire Zemaitis’s cover art of an American Kestrel at Tikal.

    Julie Zickefoose’s 2012 Bird of the Year painting was so cool for much the same reason. The background, equal parts lavish and intimate, really takes your breath away. In Zickefoose’s painting, I can just feel the warm spring breeze and smell the flowers. Love it. And, oh yes, I wander over the shelf for that one, quite a bit too.

    Any day now, you’ll be seeing Andrew Guttenberg’s 2013 Bird of the Year painting. Yes, the bird–birds, plural, actually–are dramatic and accurate. But wait ’til you see the background. That’s really what does it for me.

    I think it’s great that all three of our Bird of the Year artists thus far, as different as they are artistically and temperamentally, nevertheless share a united vision of the bird in its ecological and, yes, human context.

  • Mark Amershek

    According to my Sibley Guide under the Common Nighthawk = “Voice: Male gives a rasping nasal buzz BEEErzh.” I translate that into BEERS. Any bird that is searching for a good brew is my kind of bird. Great selection!

  • Thanks Bernie! We’ve been channeling the Mayhem guy and the Dos X’s Most Interesting Man in the World for both this video and the EVGR art contest video. Glad you liked it!

  • Thanks Kathleen! I hope you have some awesome photos of Common Nighthawks…or that you’ll get some this year. By the way, do you see them on your tours in Central America?

  • Poetry about the Common Nighthawk is always welcome! You’ll have to enter it in the multimedia art contest coming up later this year.

  • Gracias Andy! It was fun to put together. I have more outtakes that I may have to post soon.

  • Thanks Julie! At least we get to enjoy the EVGR for a couple more months before the CONI’s show up! My motto regarding the ABA Bird of the Year is that once a Bird of the Year, you are always a Bird of the Year. Long live the Evening Grosbeak and your wonderful artwork!

  • Amen to all that you said Ted!

  • CONI certainly has that cool bird “it” factor, doesn’t it?

  • David Stirling

    Great bird for the year. One of my favorites but now very rare here.I miss its “beeeg” (peent?)and its inimitable “booom.”

  • Hello to ABA and your members. I like what you’re doing and I find it very interesting. If I knew about American birds like I do British Garden Birds then I’d be laughing. I’ve been a keen ‘Bird Watcher’ since as long as I can remember. I’ve been on TV, various radio stations and featured in local newspapers about my ‘bird impressions. I have a website have a look at it, you might be amazed tooooooo. Keep up the excellent work. It’s “Tweet”.

  • Yes we see both the Common and the Lesser Nighthawk on our Majestic Feathers birding tours in Costa Rica and we have also seen the Short-tailed Nighthawk as well. Very wonderful!

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