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Blog Birding #336

What does the torrential rain and wind of Hurricane Harvey mean for what is one of the most environmentally important places on the continent? Laura Erickson explores.

When the worst hurricanes descend upon us, while thousands of people’s homes are still underwater and the death toll of human beings continues to climb, it can seem inappropriate to consider the impact of the hurricane on birds and other wildlife, but environmental damage is part of the tragedy.

What do birds do doing inclement weather anyway? At Feathered Photography Ron Dudley goes to his archive and shares some photos of birds hanging tough in a difficult situation.

I think they realized on some level that there was nothing they could do to escape the stinging hail so they just endured it. Many much smaller Wilson’s Phalaropes took cover in the grasses behind them (they’re in there, we just can’t see them) but apparently it wasn’t an effective strategy for the much larger avocets with their very long legs.

They stood in the pummeling hail with no place to go to escape it for what seemed like an eternity. My empathy for them was intense, especially since inside my pickup the hail sounded like Armageddon. But as far as I could tell there were no serious injuries and when the hail eventually…

Birders have often looked askance at the claim made by US Fish and Wildlife that there are 43 million bird watchers in the US. Regardless of what you think about it, USFWS is now claiming that the number is increasing by leaps and bounds. More at BirdWatching.

The survey illustrates gains in wildlife watching — particularly around the home — and fishing, with moderate declines in the number of hunters nationally. The findings reflect a continued interest in engaging in the outdoors. These activities are drivers behind an economic powerhouse, where participants spent $156 billion — the most in the last 25 years, adjusted for inflation.

A messy garden is a busy garden, says Becca Rodomsky-Bish at All About Birds. She shares tips to help make your yard more attractive to birds and other wildlife.

Seedheads left on dried flowering plants are a bird’s paradise. Numerous North American song birds eat seeds–finches, sparrows, chickadees, buntings, jays, nuthatches, blackbirds, grosbeaks, etc. One stop in a messy garden packed with dead, seed-filled, native flowers equals a smörgåsbord for resident and migratory birds.

Mottled Ducks and Mallards are remarkably similar in the best of times, at BirdGuides, a look at whether the latter is completeing a genetic takeover of the former.

There are two disjunct populations of Mottled Duck: one is found in Florida with the other along the coast between Alabama and north-east Mexico. In Florida, hybridisation between domesticated Mallards and Mottled Ducks is a cause for concern, but the degree of crossbreeding in the western Gulf Coast region was less well known.

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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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