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Blog Birding #142

Meet the newest ABA Young Birder of the year in her own words as Ioana Seritan introduces herself at The Eyrie:

I started birding just over three years ago. My interest in birds came almost out of nowhere. In the fall of 2009, I took my bird to  the vet. While my parents and I sat in the waiting room, I saw vets walking around with cockatiels on their shoulders and canaries in cages. I realized that there are adults who work with birds for a living. The moment I had that realization, I was done for. There was nothing I could imagine that was cooler than working with birds. It took me two seconds to decide to become an ornithologist. Once school got out for summer break, I borrowed my brother’s binoculars and tried bird watching for the very first time.

They’re one of the most enigmatic birds in North America and Ryan O’Donnell, writing at Birding is Fun, has some spectacular images of Black Swifts on the nest:

This was an exciting species for me because it was an “eBird lifer,” that is, I had seen them only once before (June 2000), and it was before I was keeping detailed enough notes that I could later enter the sighting into eBird.  Black Swifts are a mysterious species as birds go: only about 200 nesting sites are known, and they made big news last year when their wintering range was finally discovered in western Brazil.  The total population is estimated at about 15,000 individuals worldwide, and is declining at about 6% per year.  Here are a few photos from my recent trip to see this intriguing bird at a nesting colony.

Red-tailed Hawks are among the most variable raptors in the world, Jerry Liguori at Utah Birders looks at their belly bands:

I have had the unique experience to follow juvenile Red-tailed Hawks molting into adult plumage. Now, obviously the coloration changes in several ways, but one thing I learned that is unpublished (just a neat fact that isn’t worthy of an entire article) is that most juveniles have a prominent bellyband,  which often becomes less prominent as adults. Here is a local Utah breeding pair of Red-tails with minimal bellybands, and one of the fledglings (on fence post) showing a prominent bellyband. By all accounts, this juvenile will have a sparse bellyband when it gets its adult plumage next year. This is one factor that makes some juveniles confusing to ID to a specific race, particularly outside of the nesting
season.

We love hearing about encounters with the ABA’s Bird of the Year, Common Nighthawk. At Bird Canada, Dan Ardnt finds a few in Alberta:

The appeared to be flying over the river, hunting the flying insects that were certainly in abundance, as my many mosquito bites spoke testament too. The Cottonwood Trail is a fairly short loop that follows the river on the north end of the main driving loop, and I figured it would be my best opportunity to get a bit of a closer look at the Common Nighthawks, hoping maybe I’d even find one perched down low.

Amar Ayyash at Anything Larus almost always has some fascinating aspect of gull identification teed up for us, and this look at an unusual Franklin’s Gull is no different:

Of all the world’s gull species, Franklin’s Gull is the only one that is known to replace all of its feathers twice a year (complete  prebasic and prealternate molts). It’s said that this phenomenon is more common in adults than in first cycle birds. Seeing a northbound Franklin’s in migration, therefore, is somewhat of a unique experience as it provides the observer with an opportunity to asses whether a complete prealternate molt took place on the wintering grounds, or, if the molt is suspended, or never took place at all.

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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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