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Blog Birding #332

The question of how to diversify birding has been one the outdoor community has been attempting to answer for some time with varying degrees of success. Jacqueline Scott of Black Outdoors shares her thoughts on what we all can do.

There was a rare bird among the birders. Me. A Black woman participating in an activity that is almost exclusively white. I raised my binoculars too and spotted the great blue heron flitting above the tree line. A turkey vulture did lazy circles high in the blue-less sky.

At Audubon’s Kenn Kaufman Notebook, Kenn Kaufman explains the mystery of the wintering kestrel territories.

Another researcher, John Smallwood, pursued these questions in central Florida. He was able to show that, yes, the more open habitats really were better for wintering kestrels. When migrating kestrels were arriving in fall, those open areas were occupied first, with territories in the more wooded sites filling in later. Kestrels on winter territories in wooded areas had to spend more of their time hunting in order to get by. Life was better in the more open sites.

Desert birds are perfectly adapted to live in a dry and hot environment, but as Maya Kapoor writes at High Country News, climate change may make things too difficult for many of them.

Because of human caused climate change, the desert Southwest’s heat waves are projected to become more frequent, intense and widespread. According to recent research, this may take a deadly toll on songbirds by century’s end. Songbirds don’t sweat, but because they pant when they’re hot, they still lose water staying cool. During heat waves, birds can lose so much water trying not to overheat that they die of dehydration. Most animals can’t survive losing more than 15 percent of their body mass to dehydration.

A Double-crested Cormorant is capable of handling a great diversity of fish. But as Tom Brown at 10,000 Birds discovered, some are more difficult that others.

With this remarkable defense, there are very few predators, bird or fish, that bother with them. This Double-crested Cormorant, took exception to the rule, and decided that this small Guineafowl Puffer looked tasty. In many circumstances, this can be a fatal mistake. If the offending party should actually get the puffer eaten, or partially swallowed, before it can inflate itself, then they are stuck with this poisonous fish, all blown up, in their stomach, or throat. With the barbs that are now protruding, regurgitation is not an option either.

Planning to check out the solar eclipse next week and need a pair of binoculars up to the task? Dawn Hewitt of Out There With the Birds has a suggestion.

The 10×42 model is a Porro prism design. These binoculars are hefty in the hand, but not unmanageable. Eye relief is 12.7 mm, and I don’t see how field of view or close focus is relevant for sun watching. My eyes are super close-set, and folks with an even narrower nose bridge than mine might be looking through just one barrel of this binocular, but at the tightest adjustment, I could see the sun just fine through both barrels.

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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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