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Blog Birding #331

It’s the time of year for baby shorebirds on eastern beaches, and at Readings from the Northside, you can learn about how those babies are monitored and banded.

Restoring a little balance to the shore requires a little work, and some sacrifice, but these people have already done the heavy lifting for us. This is our chance. We’ve been given a tremendous gift that we didn’t really even ask for. Let’s not squander it!

Get involved. Even if it is only at the very simple of level of saying “Yes. Our beaches are a little more fun with our local animals thriving here; and yes, they are locals too and deserve a little respect.”

At, seen how researchers are using isotopes in birds’ feathers to determine where they’re breeding, with some fascinating surprises.

Using isotope fingerprints in feathers, researchers have pinpointed the northern breeding grounds of a small, colourful songbird.

Myrtle warblers breed across much of Canada and the eastern United States, but winter in two distinct groups—one along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, another along the US Pacific Coast. They are also one of the few breeds of eastern warbler that have been able to extend their range into the far northwest of the continent.

At eBird, your observations are being incorporated into impressive, hemisphere-wide, visualizations of bird migration which are used in Cornell’s important State of the Bird report on bird populations and conservation.

eBird data are inherently uneven, with birding effort clustered around cities, well-known parks and refuges, and even at certain times of year. These models account not just for variability in effort and time of day, but also for spatial and temporal variability in order to make smooth predictions across the continents and throughout the year. First released in 2009, these STEM models have since been used in numerous papers and reports including three State of the Birds Reports, most recently in 2016.

Don’t be fooled by messy molting birds this time of year, enjoy them in their uncomfortableness says Mia McPherson of On the Wing Photography.

I spotted a preening sparrow high up on a bush last week while up in the Wasatch Mountains and when I was able to put my lens on it I could see how messy its plumage was, it was messy enough that I didn’t feel 100% confident in my identification of immature Song Sparrow as the species and later asked a friend, fellow birder, photographer and bird guide, Mark Stackhouse,  what he thought it was and he agreed with my ID. His initial response of “It’s sure a ratty-looking beast” still cracks me up. It is ratty looking.

There’s no place like Nome, as they say on the Seward Peninsula. Phil Creighton at Out There With the Birds writes about what makes this place so special.

Located on the edge of the Seward Peninsula and just south of the Arctic Circle, Nome in May and June offers up an amazing diversity of migrating and nesting birds that can be seen on the mainland of North America. From rare Asian vagrants, to long-distant migrants and hardy residents, approximately 160 bird species are recorded in this unique area of Alaska.

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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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