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Blog Birding #339

Finding a bird with leg bands is one thing, finding readable bands is another. Those bands, however, can paint a fascinating picture of where the bird comes from, as Dorian Anderson at The Speckled Hatchback reports.

In transiting in and out of Pillar Point Harbor on my many recent pelagic trips, I’ve trying to find and photograph as many banded Brown Pelicans as possible. It’s a fun little game, and I usually find between 4 and 6 birds on our slow exit from the harbor as we head out to sea. Alvaro Jaramillo put me in contact with some folks at International Bird Rescue, and I’ve since been submitting my sightings through the appropriate channels. It turns out that I’ve photographed pelicans that have been banded by a number of different agencies under a bunch of different circumstances. I am going to share this banding information with you so that you two can report a banded pelicans if you are lucky enough to find one.

North American birders are familiar with Barn Swallow, but our birds are fairly distinct from those elsewhere in the world which makes it possible to note, for instance, when an Asian Barn Swallow is documented nesting in Alaska, as Bryce Robinson reports at Ornithologi.

My friend Luke DeCicco and I published a paper in the Western Field Ornithologists journal Western Birds that details an observation I made during my last hours of the 2016 field season in Nome, Alaska. I happened upon four recently fledged Barn Swallows being provisioned by two adults, that were obviously white-bellied Eurasian birds. I couldn’t spend much time with them due to my departing flight, but I did my best to document everything in haste. The flight back to Anchorage was fun, as I sat there with my mind buzzing thinking of how to report this observation in the literature.

As sea level rise inundates coastal marshes it’s more and more important for people to recognize how this affects marsh birds like Saltmarsh Sparrow. A new paper summarized at The AOU-COS Publications Blog has more.

Saltmarsh Sparrows breed exclusively in high marsh habitat, which is the zone of tidal marshes that typically floods monthly during the astronomical high tides. Saltmarsh Sparrows build their nests in the short grasses of the tidal marsh, just a few inches above the ground. As a result, nests often fail due to flooding during the high monthly tides. Most nest failure in Saltmarsh Sparrows is caused either by this nest flooding, or by depredation.

The effect by recent hurricanes on Caribbean birds has been on the mind of many birders in recent weeks. Laura Erickson shares the most recent news.

After Harvey, Hurricane Irma devastated a lot of Caribbean islands on its way to Florida and Georgia, where the damage was extraordinarily widespread. Conservationists have been terrified that Irma’s impact could devastate the Barbuda Warbler, which is endemic to Barbuda, meaning it’s found nowhere else on the planet.

Birding Dude Andrew Baksh offers some tips on dowitcher ID, useful as this year’s migration rolls on.

Let’s start with the jiss (jizz). A classic Long-billed Dowitcher is not that hard to pick out especially if you have one of those nicely fed female types. When I see an LBDO that stands out, I tend to think of an inflated football (American) or think Egg shape. Picture the higher part of the football as the back of the LBDO with tapered ends. In comparison to a Short-billed Dowitcher, one could easily spot this difference as the back of an SBDO is flatter. This physical feature also applies to the lower body as the undercarriage of an SBDO is straighter than that of an LBDO.

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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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