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Blog Birding #343

Though controversial, playback has no shortage of advantages. One should be careful of using it, however, according to Rick Wright at Birding Bew Jersey and Beyond.

“Playback” — the use of recordings and imitations to elicit responses from otherwise secretive birds — will always be a matter of controversy. Most of the debate has focused on the effect on the birds, which generally have better things to spend their time on than frantically trying to drive off phantom competitors.

But it’s also worth asking how playback alters the experience for birders. Yes, it can be annoying. Yes, it can be disturbing. But most of all, it can be dangerous.

At Missouri Conservationist, march bird aficionados Auriel Fournier, Doreen Mengel, and Lisa Webb have a lot to say about those mysterious denizens of the cattails.

These elusive and cryptic birds, known as “secretive marsh birds,” include rails, bitterns, coots, and grebes, some of which breed in Missouri while others just stop here temporarily during fall and spring migration. Fall-migrating marsh birds stop in Missouri wetlands in August through November to fuel up before continuing on their 1,000- plus mile annual journey from their breeding grounds in the northern U.S. and southern Canada to their wintering grounds on the Gulf Coast of Mexico and farther south. They stop in Missouri again the following spring as they make the reverse trip from their wintering grounds back north where they will initiate a nest and hopefully raise their young before the summer breeding season is over.

Turbines slated for construction on Lake Erie could pose some serious problems for endangered migrants, as reported at BirdWatching Daily.

“Based on our exhaustive review of the EA, we see no evidence to support the claim that the project poses little to no risk to birds and bats,” said Kimberly Kaufman, BSBO’s executive director. “In fact, having conducted more than 30 years of migratory bird research along Lake Erie, we believe the six-turbine Icebreaker project would pose a significant threat to wildlife — not to mention substantially increased impacts that would be triggered by the planned expansion of the project to more than 1,000 turbines.”

Many species of songbird exhibit female singing, but the behavior seems to be becoming more prevalent in species where it hadn’t been recorded before, according to Andy Coghlan at New Scientist.

For the first time, female dark-eyed juncos have been found to burst into song in the wild. Although many female tropical birds sing, singing females are rare among northern, temperate songbirds. However, the behaviour is now becoming more common, and climate change may mean it becomes even more widespread.

Have you seen that viral video about the rebirth of the eagle, with ridiculous facts and an even more ridiculous story? Laura Erickson has some thoughts about it.

Right from the start, the text makes it clear that not one scientist was involved with the production, saying, “The eagle has the longest lifespan of its species.” Not only does the sentence make no sense whatsoever, but the video shows several species called eagles but which are actually not closely related, including Bald, Golden, and Harpy Eagles. The word poppycock was immediately starting to pop out of my mouth.

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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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