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Blog Birding #274

It’s spring in New Jersey, and though Cape May gets much of the accolades, there are other parts of the Garden State worth exploring, as Don Freiday of Freiday Bird Blog shares.

Everybody knows I love Cape May, but from early May through early June there is place that eclipses the Cape May birding mecca. That place is Sussex County, NJ, and I feel blessed to have spent a few days in this place recently, visiting my daughter, spending time with a dear friend, and just absorbing the best spring has to offer. Some time ago I wrote that every May is precious, because none of us know how many more Mays we will have. Get out in it, now.

The Northern Beardless Tyrannulet is famously the bird with a name longer than its body. How does each part of the whole relate to a small brown flycatchery thing? Carrie Laben of 10,000 Birds has more.

Once you eliminate the risque jokes (I know, I know, but it’s a family blog) the Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet might have the most comical name in American birding. How did this itty-bitty bird come to be saddled with a moniker that sounds exactly like a punchline about bird names? For once, the answer doesn’t lie in the ego of its discoverer or a folk interpretation of its call. To find out more, we must work backwards.

Anisha Pokharel loves birds, and it’s that passion that has taken her from her home in Nepal to Hawk Mountain, where she gets to share that love among birds she does not get to see at home. She writes more at Out There With the Birds.

Alarm buzzes at 6 a.m., boots tightened, equipped with my binoculars, field guide, notebook/pen, and my lunch, we head towards the mountain: Hawk Mountain. It has become my daily routine since March as a Hawk Mountain conservation science trainee at this small paradise in Kempton, Pennsylvania. Coming here was overwhelming already. I come from Nepal, a small and a beautiful country in Southeast Asia, where the USA is regarded as the distant land of dreams. Only some lucky ones will ever make it here.

We have spark birds, nemesis birds, life birds, but the question of the “favorite bird” is one that too many of us have trouble answering. Julia Zarankin of Birds and Words explains why.

My favorite question, when I meet other birders, is to ask them about their favorite bird. I know it’s an annoying question, but I’m always so curious! It’s also a question that I myself hate answering, because the answer changes almost every day.

My spark bird — the one that started this whole obsession — is the ubiquitous red-winged blackbird, whose shrill call and scarlet epaulets still thrill me every time I see it fly. The bird is common and reminds me of the necessity of admiring even the most habitual birds.

The AOU/COS blog‘s regular Top Cited feature is a who’s who of fascinating and influential bird studies, including a recent summary of a study on cowbirds and egg mimicry. Because we could always stand to better appreciate one of the most maligned species in North America.

Unlike some nest parasites, the Brown-headed Cowbird has not evolved to lay eggs that mimic those of its host. Still, some host species’ eggs look more like cowbird eggs (white and spotted) than others, and these birds should face more selection pressure to produce clutches of very similar-looking eggs so that cowbird eggs will stand out and be easier to detect.

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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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