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Blog Birding #253

The end of November finds Noah Strycker in Bali, where he continues to mine the Indonesian archipelago for birds to add to his already incredible total, now sitting over 5400.

The central part of Bali rises into cool, misty highlands, and we headed straight for a place called Bedugul, where, within minutes, new birds started racking up. I saw a Javan Whistling-Thrush, Blood-breasted Flowerpecker, and Freckle-breasted Woodpecker before lunch, and the hits just kept coming: A nearby golf course held Short-tailed Starlings, Yellow-throated Hanging-Parrots, and Javan Gray-throated White-eyes.

Northern Harriers are graceful in flight, but they also have incredibly long legs. Just where do those legs go when they take to the air? Ron Dudley at Feathered Photography tries to figure it out.

This older photo of a harrier just after take-off at Farmington shows just how long their legs are. It seems logical that those legs and feet could present a potential problem when they’re at cruising speed because anything that might disrupt airflow over their body profile would decrease aerodynamic efficiency and thus require more effort and expenditure of energy to stay airborne. Like most birds, including other raptors, harriers tuck their legs up and against their rump and tail while in full flight but just how effectively do they do it?

Corvids are industrious and clever, beyond most other birds on the continent. Trying to outwit them is a challenge to be certain, but Sharon McInnes at Bird Canada is up to the task.

The moment I put the seed out, though, the jays arrive en masse, like mosquitoes at a picnic. This seems to annoy Dennis even more than me. One morning he commented that “the little birds” weren’t getting any food because of the big bad jays. I commiserated. He wondered if I should stop putting out suet, for which the jays have such a passion. Would they give up and go away? I mentioned that they’re corvids, the smartest of the smart in Birdland, but he was hopeful. (It was quite endearing.) So, for a few days I tried this. But I felt guilty as all-get-out when the young flickers showed up looking for their fat rations. So that didn’t last long.

The white-cheeked goose complex is an underrated challenge in North America, not every Cackling Goose shows that classic dainty bill and domed head, and some small migratory Canadas can be difficult to discern. Shorebirder Nick Bonomo tackles a particularly vexing goose near his home.

On Sunday, Nov 22, I stopped by MacKenzie Reservoir in Wallingford for another check and found a flock of about 180 Canada Geese somewhat close to the road and in nice afternoon light. Upon studying them I found one classic “Richardson’s” Cackler. But that was not the only small or short-billed bird in the flock. I soon realized that this flock had “Canadas” of all sizes, some bordering dangerously close to Cackling size. Not just a couple birds here and there…a significant portion of the flock was puzzling…not our typical migrant Canada Geese, yet obviously not Cackling Geese of any form I knew of.

Texas in April. Ohio in May. Both well-known as excellent places and times for warbler enthusiasts. But Newfoundland in November? Bruce MacTavish makes a case for this underrated, but productive, place to look for warblers.

Waaaaaaay back in 1983 on November 16th a handful of birders in a euphoric state stood in front of maple tree on Waterford Bridge Road that contained seven species of warblers. There was an 8th species of warbler found in the same yard. Six other species of warbler were seen that day in St. John’s.  A ridiculous 14 species of warbler were seen on November 16, 1983 in St. John’s, Newfoundland.
Let’s see if I can remember the list Townsend’s and Pine were both new for the province that day. The other bird in that yard was a Prairie Warbler only the 2nd provincial record. A Hooded Warbler seen but found the week before was a provincial first. There were multiple Wilson’s and Cape May Warblers. There were some Black-and-whites, one Common Yellowthroat,  a Yellow or two, Yellow-rumped, 2 Yellow-throateds, probably Palm, Nashville I think, and certainly Orange-crowned.
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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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