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Blog Birding #152

Great writing online on citizen science, duck stamps, and tips for birding the Pacific Coast, choosing a bird tour company, and hawk-watching.

Fall is a fantastic time of year to bird the Pacific Coast of the continent, and Harry Fuller, writing at the Nature Travel Network, shares some tips for covering the left side of the country:

California, Oregon, and Washington are huge states that contain a bounty of bird-watching opportunities. Just as the climate and terrain is unique in those states, so are many bird species. There are dozens of birds that are rarely seen east of the Sierra Nevada or Cascade Mountains. California, in particular, is gifted with endemic bird species: the Yellow-billed Magpie and Island Scrub-Jay. They attest to the unique habitat and isolation of coastal California. Here are some pointers for birders who are new to birding the Pacific Coast states of California, Oregon, Washington.

Over just a few years, eBird has become the go-to site not only for bird information, but for those looking to show how effective citizen science can be in the internet age. Caren Cooper at the Scientific American blog has more:

eBird is successful for conservation. The last two State of the Birds reports, which relied on eBird data to examine species occurrence, habitat types, and land ownership at a level of detail never achieved before, inform decisions of the US Fish & Wildlife Service and the US Forest Service. The Nature Conservancy uses eBird data to identify which rice farmers in the Central Valley of California they should ask to flood their fields at the particular right time for migrating waterfowl.

The Duck Stamp has famously been one the nation’s most remarkable tools for habitat procurement in the nation’s history. Kenn Kaufman has more, and encourages birders to get involved:

Why do birders buy the stamp? Because we like ducks too, and we recognize that the stamp supports many kinds of wildlife. Wetlands for ducks are also ideal habitats for rails, gallinules, bitterns, grebes, terns, various marsh-loving wrens and sparrows, and many other birds.

It’s hawk-watching season, and hundreds of birders are heading to the high places to watch one of the most spectacular examples of visible migration on the planet. Bryan Pfeiffer offers a series of great suggestions to help you get the most out of your day on the mountain:

First, yeah, find a mountain. You’ll want a high perch from which to see lots of sky. But not just any mountain will do. Go to established hawk-watching sites (more on those later), where the topography conspires to funnel southbound hawks in large numbers. Up there, you’ll also find birders willing to share their hawkwatching wisdom.

Is an organized birding tour worth it? What should birders know before shelling out the big bucks for the full treatment? Ms Boice, The Accidental Birder, shares an interview with Jose Illanes with some tips:

So, I had never been on an organized tour. Usually, Steve and I do what our birding neighbors and friends call “freelancing,” which is fancy for saying that we plan our locations and lodging on our own and hire a local bird guide. I like the idea of researching everything and planning it all out. I wasn’t sure I’d like an organized tour.  Would there be too many in the group? Would I be able to keep up? Would I feel trapped? But those same birding friends had such a great experience with a well-known group, Tropical Birding, in Ecuador that we thought we’d try them out. Plus, the more I visit places outside the the U.S. in search for birds, the more I find that I need help. Especially when I don’t know the language.


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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.
Nate Swick

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Recent Comments

  • Nate, in Rare Bird Alert: October 13, 2017... { That's fair about the weather timing. I recall the observers saying something about Hurricane Nate being involved, but how much is not clear. As to... }
  • Gary Bloomfield, in Birding with a Tricorder... { Great essay, Ted! Feel sorry for the guy in the photo who's wearing a red shirt, though. }
  • Steve Shultz, in Rare Bird Alert: October 13, 2017... { I believe the NC swift was seen on Saturday, October 7 (unless the date indicated by the observer on the photo was incorrect). Nate did... }
  • Rick Wright, in #ABArare - Yellow-breasted Bunting - Newfoundland & Labrador... { What a great bird! Sadly topical: }
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