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Blog Birding #303

It’s the coldest time of the year in the northern hemisphere, and still we want to get out in the field. Kyle Carlson, writing at Out There with the Birds has some tips on staying warm in cold conditions.

Today I spent part of my lunch break standing along the Ohio River in blowing snow and single-digit temperatures with the wind chill factor at twenty below zero, scanning for birds. It was totally worth it: I scored my first-of-year common goldeneye.

I was scanning from a public park (typically) frequented by walkers and runners. On this particularly frigid day, I was the only human around.

Tim Avery’s Undercover Big Year was a fun read, his new blog, Birds Big Years & Boredom, looks to be a similar sort of ride if his piece on sapsuckers is any indication.

Check out this gorgeous piece of sapsucker art from Salt Lake City.  The non-birders who found it sent me a picture of the bird for help identifying it–the grainy cell phone shot looked like it might be a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker which is a pretty damn good bird for northern Utah–it would be a county lifer for me.  I’ve asked the homeowners to let me know if it comes back so I can maybe have a looksie.

White-winged Crossbills are fascinating birds, with their weird habits and nomadic lifestyles. At Audubon, Kenn Kaufman shares their story.

I didn’t have the heart to tell her then, but I could almost guarantee this bird wouldn’t come back. In fact, that’s the oddest thing about this species. You might think the weird crossed bill to be its most curious trait, but no, something else is even more remarkable: the White-winged Crossbill is the bird that never goes home.

There aren’t many day lists that would include both Pink-footed Goose and Red-headed Woodpecker. At Field and Footnotes Sarah (oldseapeabody) tells the story of such a remarkable day.

And there were a lot of Canadas. A conservative count brought me to at least 500, at which point I gave up trying to do a complete tally. Scattered among the geese were a good number of mallards, a couple of hooded mergansers, one stalking great-blue heron, and then…something smaller. Something with a brown head, grayish coverts, and a pair of pink feet looming just below the surface of the water.

Amar Ayyash is an unapologetic guller, and he wants everyone else to be one too. Or, at least, as he writes at Anything Larus, don’t be so hard on it.

There’s a certain subculture that exists in birding that generally sways birders from delving into this group altogether. Beginning birders are often given the impression that they’re to stay away from the dark abyss of gulls—namely four-year gulls (so-called large white-headed gulls). Those species are said to be the work of the devil. Countless times I’ve heard birders remark that “gulls are impossible” and “too hard” to identify. After hearing this enough times, a birder can be overcome with a defeatist attitude, and sadly some—including birders with decades of experience—never get around to sufficiently learning how to identify the gulls they see.


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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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