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Blog Birding #305

What is it about birds that we find so appealing? For each birder, there’s probably a different response, but Tom Brown, writing at 10,000 Birds, shares what resonates for him.

Perhaps it is that quirk of human behavior, the one that is always looking for a challenge, that makes the difficulty factor of finding each of the species so appalling. Goodness knows they don’t sit around and wait for you to just stumble upon them. You have just to look back at the lengths that each of us have gone to find that new species. I am sure that each of us has our “Unicorn”, that one bird that does not seem to oblige, and provide us with a glimpse. That one bird that we are more than willing to go to the ends of the earth to track down.

In 2016, four birders broke the then-current ABA Area Big Year record. What does that mean for Big Year birding, and is the game done? Dorian Anderson of The Speckled Hatchback has some thoughts.

It has never been easier to find birds in North America than it is right now. There are more birders covering increasingly fragmented habitat, and news of any notable finds spreads instantaneously through phone, text messages, eBird, Facebook, and a host of other electronic means. With everyone privy to exactly the same information, information no longer matters in the Big Year equation. Information rendered moot, money becomes the overriding – almost perversely so – predictor of Big Year outcomes. Number of species observed correlates only to the funds expended; Love of birds, ability to identify them, educate others about them, or desire to conserve them have exactly zero bearing on the numerical outcome of a Big Year. The fact is that anyone with a big enough checkbook can amass 750+ species during a Big Year.

Laura Erickson shares an encounter she had recently with a rare European visitor.

Many birds are named for distinctive features that aren’t always visible in the field, and some of those distinctive features aren’t unique to those species. Yellow-rumped Warblers don’t always part their wings to show their rumps, and a few related warblers also have yellow rumps.

One wouldn’t necessarily expect a Red-shouldered Hawk and a White Ibis to be directly competing for food, but in a really neat series of photos by Lauren Shaffer at Birding Pictures, that’s exactly what they’re doing!

A fascinating food fight took place along the boardwalk at Corkscrew Swamp near Naples, Florida. A variety of wading birds including White Ibis and a few herons were busy feeding. A White Ibis pulled up a Black Racer from the muddy bottom after punching his long curved bill multiple times into the water. He grabbed it by the head and beat it up and down, even giving it a good shake!

It’s almost Feederwatch time again, and Gustave Axelson, at All About Birds, shares some of the more fascinating things we’ve learned about backyard birds from this three decades long citizen science project.

Three decades of data provide a comprehensive look at continental wintertime populations of feeder birds over the late 20th and early 21st centuries—including some compelling stories of range expansions and contractions, populations in flux, and birds adapting to changing environments.

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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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