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Blog Birding #318

The ABA’ 2017 Bird of the Year, Ruddy Turnstone, is a remarkable species, as Mia McPherson of On the Wing Photography explores.

Some Ruddy Turnstones migrate through Utah in the spring starting the last week of April until around the end of May and can be seen when they feed to refuel for the rest of their journey to the high Arctic to breed.  They are beautiful, colorful shorebirds with calico patterns in breeding plumage. When I lived in Florida I photographed them during the fall, winter and early spring along the Gulf coast.

The Barn Swallow is a true cosmopolitan, breeding on six of the seven continent. Some more recently than others, as Kenn Kaufman explains at Audubon.

In my travels, I always look for their nests, and I’ve found them on a wide variety of manmade structures: in barns, sheds, and abandoned houses, on porches, under bridges, and in culverts. The northernmost breeders I’ve seen were north of Juneau, Alaska, where they built nests under docks along the coast. In a magazine article a few years ago, I announced that I’d never seen a Barn Swallow nest in a natural site. Ironically, about the time the article was published, I saw a few pairs nesting under overhanging cliff ledges on an island in Lake Erie. Never say never!

At All About Birds, Scott Weidensaul shares an amazing and comprehensive look at the science of migration.

Every age thinks it’s a gilded one. A hundred years ago, no doubt, ornithologists congratulated themselves on living in a Golden Age of smokeless gunpowder and fine-grade birdshot that made collecting specimens easier. But today really is a truly exceptional time for migration science, with so many new avenues for documenting the journeys of birds.

At Ontario Birds and Herps, Josh Vandermuelen offers a glimpse into the current birding at Point Pelee, easily one of the most storied spring migration hotspots in North America.

I touched on the birding during Sunday morning briefly in my last blog post. Obviously the Lark Sparrow was the main highlight but I did see a few other birds.

This Point Pelee Mississippi Kite, errr I mean Northern Harrier,  flew over me as I was walking down the main park road. Always a species I enjoy seeing as they have to be one of our more unique hawk species in Ontario.

The ever-shifting taxonomic order poses a problem for field guide authors looking to keep up to date, and Jochen Roeder at 10,000 Birds has a solution. Just scrap it.

Way back in the days when blog posts still got a lot of comments, I wrote a piece on why field guides that arrange species in a more or less strict taxonomic order regularly frustrate me. I gave a number of reasons in a great number of paragraphs and got an enormous amount of comments, many of which were highly critical of what I had said. The original post is here, and if you have some left-over time, spending it on going through the comments is time well spent.  My reasons for not liking a strict taxonomic order were essentially twofold:

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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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