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Blog Birding #319

Undoubtedly one of the most beloved warbler in North America is a strange little Black-and-White Warbler, with its endearing nuthatch behavior. At 10,000 Birds Corey Finger explains its appeal.

Mid-to-late April keeps birders in the northeastern United States on edge as we want to see every species as it arrives and we don’t want to miss anything. We had some great birding in New York City parks this past weekend and I managed to get my Queens wood-warbler count up to nineteen for the year. And while the bright and colorful wood-warblers are always a crowd-pleaser, I spent some time paying attention to our colorless wood-warbler this weekend, Mniotilta varia, the Black-and-white Warbler.

When considering bird vocalizations, we tend to focus on the things we know well. But as Nathan Pieplow of Earbirding shares, sometimes unfamiliarity is a useful field mark too.

When it comes to identifying bird sounds, unfamiliarity can actually be a very useful mark. Of course, it becomes more useful as you learn more bird sounds (and can therefore rule them out). The legendary Ted Parker knew almost all the bird sounds in the Western Hemisphere — so when he heard something unfamiliar in a tape from Bolivia, he postulated that it must be a species new to science (and it appears he was probably correct). Most of us are never going to arrive at this level, of course.

Warbler season at Cape Sable Birding means the return o some pretty wonderful birds, as Mark Davis shares.

These early arrivals soon set to marking their places, driven by an evolutionary desire to be first to get the mate, then, job done, it is back to kicking back and smelling the aphids. They sing loud and long and are often easy to watch and photograph. It gets harder when the trees catch up and decorate the countryside with leaves but, for now, if you find a singer, the chances are you will get a good view and photo.

Josh Vandermuelen checks in from southern Ontario with a report on the weathery birding there, at Ontario Birds and Herps.

It is the most wonderful time of year! Every birder in this part of North America loves early May The days are longer, the temperatures are showing a warming trend, the flowers are blooming and nearly every species in on the move migrating, somewhere. The wood-warblers are some of the more coveted migrants by many birders and over the next two weeks it shouldn’t be too difficult to come up with 20 or 25 species  in your local patch, wherever that may be. Down at Point Pelee likely 37 or 38 warbler species will be seen, with at least 20-25 species observed daily. And of course, crowd pleasers like Indigo Buntings, Scarlet Tanagers, Baltimore Orioles and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks are easily seen as they migrate through or arrive on breeding territories in the area. The chances of coming across a rarity are higher in the next few weeks than they are at any other time of the year.

At A Symphony of Feathers, Devin Griffiths explores the potential impact on birds of a western Massachusetts pipeline.

Or not—with a little hope. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service sent a letter to TGP recommending that they do any clearing and cutting outside of breeding seasons, to minimize any potential impact. But it’s only a recommendation. It has no teeth, and it’s entirely up to TGP whether or not they follow it. The fate of the birds remains to be seen. Now, they’re not bad people. From many who’ve dealt with them, the general impression is that TGP officials are professional, respectable, and polite. But there’s a lot of money on the table, and they’re determined to get it. And when money is the goal, what chance do the birds have? What consideration do their needs receive?

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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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