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Blog Birding #335

Bobolink is one of the oddest birds in North America, so perhaps it is appropriate that its common name has an origin equally odd. Rick Wright, writing at Birding New Jersey and the World has more.

Washington Irving preserves the clearest view into this sinister reading of what seems to us a harmless and attractive bird. In Knickerbocker’s History, Irving makes an offhand mention of “the luxurious little bobolink,” a phrase that seems innocuous, even complimentary, until we remember that “luxurious” retained well into the nineteenth century the meaning of “given to self-indulgence.” That is no praise.

A recent study reveals that the range-restricted Bicknell’s Thrush might be the rarest bird in the United States, explains Ken McFarland at Vermont Center for Ecostudies.

During the winter months, this species retreats to wet broadleaf forests in the Greater Antilles, where it faces ongoing habitat loss in its wintering range on the islands of Hispaniola, Cuba, Jamaica, and Puerto Rico. In light of its small geographic range and threats to its breeding and winter habitats, Bicknell’s Thrush is currently a candidate for listing under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. The species is already listed as Threatened under Canada’s Species at Risk Act.

Climate change and habitat degradation will effect different species in different ways. According to a new study, summarized at The AOS-COS Publications Blog some species are better at adapting to change than others.

Before habitat degradation from impacts like grazing begins to cause population declines, the first response by wildlife usually comes in the form of behavioral changes—for example, switching their diets in response to changes in food availability. A new study from The Condor: Ornithological Applications looks at the diets of seed-eating birds in a South American desert and finds that while some can switch between seed types when grazing alters local plant communities, others continue to stick to old favorites, limiting their options.

Hurricane Irma is currently bearing down on the east coast of North America through bird-rich seas. What does this mean for birders looking for hurricane waifs? Brandon Holden of Peregrine Prints offers a video explanation.

Arizona’s Second Spring is a unique phenomenon brought on by the arrival on monsoon season. Cory Gregory of See You At Sunrise explains why it’s so amazing.

How exactly does that work? Simply put, the monsoon season is a shift of winds. Typically the winds that blow from the west and southwest into that part of the state are dry. However, in July and August, the winds shift to the south and southeast which brings up moisture from the Gulf of California. That moisture, coupled with the heat of summer, fuels the monsoon thunderstorms.

 

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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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