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Blog Birding #306

Few birds are as evocative as a Snowy Owl, as impressive a bird as there can be in North America. At Notes from the Wildside, ABA Blog contributor Justin Cale shares his first experience.

On a cold, dreary Saturday morning, my father and I awoke at 4 a.m. in preparation for a trip to the Lake Erie shoreline. Northwest Ohio can provide a plethora of birding opportunities year round, and we had a feeling that we would not be disappointed. There were reports of Northern Saw-whet Owls and Northern Shrikes earlier in the week, and I received a late report of a Snowy Owl the night before, so we excitedly got geared up to spend a windy day on the lake.

At Audubon, Kenn Kaufman tells the story of the Ring-necked Pheasant, a speices often maligned as an introduced exotic, but with a long and storied history on the continent.

Most histories say the first successful introduction was in the early 1880s in the Willamette Valley in Oregon. The man behind that effort was Owen Denny, the U.S. consul general in Shanghai at the time, America’s highest-ranking diplomat in Asia. During his service in China, Denny developed a keen interest in Ring-necked Pheasants as wild game birds. Since they thrived in open country near Shanghai, he thought they would do well in the climate of his home state of Oregon, and he arranged to send several shipments home. The birds took hold, establishing themselves in the wild and spreading from there.

Bird photography has a way of focusing your attention on bird behavior in a way that simply watching them might not. In order to get that great shot it helps to be able to predict what the bird is going to do, as Ron Dudley of Feathered Photography explains.

I photographed this male two days ago while he was diving for food on a partially frozen pond near my home. Like most bird photographers I try to get diving shots when I can but many diving species are so quick that their head and eye are often already underwater by the time of our first shutter click. But if we can anticipate the dive our chances of getting a series of shots of the entire diving process vastly improve.

And that requires noticing and interpreting subtle behaviors.

eBird has a way of slicing your data in tiny useful snippets, but for a really cool map of all the precise locations where you’ve seen birds check out this tool Drew Weber of The Nemesis Bird has for you.

I’ll show you some of the maps I created, and then you can scroll down to see a tutorial on how to make your own eBird History map. Hopefully you’ll give it a try and share it on Facebook or Twitter with tagged with #myebirdhistory for all to see!

The first map I created showed my entire eBirding history at the time, although I’ve since added Spain to my map. There are little blobs of sightings in various states from some of my historical records before eBird was around, but you can see that the majority of my eBirding was in Pennsylvania and New York.

What does the song of a Swainson’s Thrush mean to you? At Bourbon, Bastards, & Birds, Cassidy Gratton shares his story and polls the masses to describe the ethereal song.

Here, tucked just south of the 49th parallel, our solar rations grow a little larger each day and though we are still firmly in the icy grips of Deep Winter, we are allowed to dream a little. With caution we cultivate small embers of hope. Meager longings are given longer leash. Thoughts of what the spring will bring forth, if it should ever come again, are again permissible. In the low angled light we venture out, bundled in earth toned rags and loud stocking hats, seeking the sparse rays that occasionally, miraculously penetrate the gray gloom.

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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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