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Blog Birding #264

Las Vegas is not the first place one thinks of when considering a birding hotspot, but Jeff Bouton of Leica Birding Blog can find birds anywhere, even right on the strip.

With most of the easy and expected species out of the way, I’d have to work harder now and use intuition. I had a free hour or so in the evening of my first day so put it to good use. Standing on a raised bridge over the strip, I used a “birds-eye view” and thought, “if I were a bird flying over this sea of concrete, where would I go?” A block down, I could see what looked like an oasis. Although when I got there I realized it was a man-made “Mirage”. Still this largest patch of green still represented my best bet in the immediate area at possibly seeing something different, as it offered at least two of the three necessities for wildlife – cover & water (wasn’t sure about food though).

Out annual Craziest Vagrants in the ABA Area post is one of our more popular ones of the year, so we were excited to see Josh Jones at BirdGuides put together one for the Western Palearctic. Well worth a look!

Inspired by Nate Swick and George Armistead’s assessment of some of the finest vagrants to grace the American Birding Association (ABA) recording area during 2015, I decided to compile an equivalent ‘Top 10’ for the Western Palearctic (WP) region. The ABA and WP recording areas are roughly on a par, both in terms of size and list of recorded species, with both producing stunning vagrants on an annual basis — and some of 2015’s standout records deserve to be celebrated.

Wild goose chases are part of the fun of winter birding in many parts of the ABA Area, and Alex Lamoreaux shares some tips to maximize your rare goose finding efforts at The Nemesis Bird.

In general the three types of goose flock scenarios you might encounter are foraging geese, resting geese, and flying geese. As geese migrate up the coast, many spend a few days in a particular area of ideal habitat to rest and refuel, utilizing the expansive natural and agricultural habitats that the Northeast has to offer. During this time, geese have certain roosting and resting locations that they spend the night at, but then depart to their chosen foraging habitat during the day. Roost locations can be in large fields, on ponds and lakes, and along the coast. Foraging locations are in large, open fields and wet meadows. Geese may also be seen flying high overhead in active migration, or they could just be flying between foraging and roosting locations

The boreal forests of North America stretch across the continent from west to east, one of the largest unbroken stands of wilderness on earth. The Boreal Birds Initiative shares a couple important conservation efforts in Ontario and Quebec that go a long way towards protecting large expanses of it.

Although far from the only major developments, perhaps the most notable are two large-scale conservation initiatives set forth by the provinces of Ontario and Quebec (details here and here)—which also feature some of the largest tracts of intact Boreal forest in the world—that commit to setting aside at least half of their northern Boreal regions from development in the coming decades and which will eventually result in around 200 million acres of protection.

Now that Malheur NWR is clear and refuge workers are heading back to work, we can begin to take stock of the impact left by the occupation. At 10,000 Birds, Larry Jordan asks if anything positive came out of it.

To get to my original question of whether there have been any positive aspects of the Malheur NWR occupation, I can only think of one. Hopefully this tragedy has alerted the American people to the possibility of losing access to our public lands. The lands that wise men from Theodore Roosevelt to President Obama have set aside, not only for Americans, but all people on Earth to enjoy. These are OUR public lands.

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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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  • Nate, thanks for linking back to my 10000 Birds post on this important issue. Birders enjoy public lands all across the U.S. from the Reddish Egrets in Key West National Wildlife Refuge at the tip of Florida to the Tufted Puffins at Flattery Rocks National Wildlife Refuge in North Western Washington state. Not only are our National Wildlife Refuges important to the public but also our National Parks, Wilderness Areas and lands protected by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). All these federally controlled lands are open to the public for all kinds of recreational uses including birding. This movement to turn federal lands over to the states is an environmental calamity in the making. One of our major concerns should be that not only are there misinformed ranchers and right-wing extremists that are pushing for this idea, major gas, oil and mineral conglomerates are behind it as well. Worse than that, high ranking government officials are trying to pass laws to make it so. If you haven’t seen it yet, here is an ad by Ted Cruz promising the people of the state of Nevada, if he becomes president, he will make turning these lands back to the states one of his priorities!

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