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Blog Birding #120

Nathan Pieplow of Earbirding wonders if the Rusty Blackbird’s many vocalizations haven’t been poorly defined all this time:

Several authors have described Rusty Blackbirds as having two types of  songs — one more creaking, one more gurgling — and this would make sense given that the closely related Brewer’s Blackbird has also been reported to have two different songs of more or less the same types.  As I went through online recordings of Rusty Blackbirds, however, I came to the conclusion that I was hearing three different types of songs from the species, not two.  Or is that two types of song and a very song-like call?

At Bourbon, Bastards, and Birds, Seagull Steve contends that birders rely on the Hybird Theory of bird identification way too often:

Hybrids. Ugh. We all hate them. The spawn of two different species. Abominations against God and against our trusted field  guides. Hell, they force us to question the very concept of a “species”. They are hard to identify and, unless you keep a serious hybrid list, simply cannot be ticked.

Perhaps you knew all this already…but BB&B is here today to make the bold assertion that the increasing use of Hybrid Theory is not a result of increased hybridzation among birds or an increased wealth of knowledge about interbreeding…unfortunately, it is nothing but good old fashioned laziness.

Dwayne of Nerdy for Birdy asks whether technology has made birding better or worse.  The verdict?  You be the judge:

But as technology gets cheaper, more pervasive and more accessible, it has become more and more ingrained in the practice of birding. Information & Communication Technology (ICT) can be looked at as a broad spectrum of technologies ranging from hardware, networks to software to how we use software, such as social networking. This posting attempts to look at how technology is used in birding and how it has changed birding.

The biggest bird news of the week was undoubtedly the release of the report showing cats to be significant threats to bird mortality.  More on that at The Birders’ Report:

According to Dr. George Fenwick, President of American Bird Conservancy, one of the leading bird conservation organizations in the U.S. and a group that has called for action on this issue for many years, “This study, which employed scientifically rigorous standards for data inclusion, demonstrates that the issue of cat predation on birds and mammals is an even bigger environmental and ecological threat than we thought. No estimates of any other anthropogenic [human-caused] mortality source approach the bird mortality this study calculated for cat predation.”

Bill Thompson III, also known as Bill of the Birds, gets a look at one of the most rarely seen of namesake field mark of any North American bird:

These field marks are reminders to us that many of our native birds were named during the shotgun era of ornithology when men (yes it was mostly men) took to nature with gun and gamebag and shot any bird they saw—especially ones that were unfamiliar to them. These unknown birds were examined in the hand and sometimes given names that seemed perfectly useful to an gun-toting ornithologist who was nearly always going be looking at bird corpses up close rather than living, flying birds at a distance.

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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.
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