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Blog Birding #349

The ABA’s 2018 Bird of the Year, Iiwi, is not only distinctive visually, but it evidently has a unique odor as well. Rick Wright at Birding New Jersey and Beyond has more.

The stunningly scarlet and black iiwi was the first endemic Hawaiian landbird known to European science: it was the first to be drawn by a European — in 1778, by John Webber aboard Captain Cook’s Resolution — and the first to be formally described — two years later, by Georg Forster.

The line between a great photograph and one that is merely ok can often be maddeningly difficult to find. At Feathered Photography, Ron Dudley tries to find it.

Bird photography is largely a game of chance, particularly in action shots or when our subjects are in flight. Many things can go wrong and it really burns my butt when everything else comes together except for a single chance event out of many.

I’d almost prefer to botch the shot entirely.

It’s hard not to be morbidly fascinated by the lifestyle of North American vultures. At Incidental Naturalist, David Rigden explores the appeal of the “Angels of Death”.

I am patiently waiting for a chance to see one of the Old World’s great scavengers of the air, such as the Griffon vulture, or perhaps even the mighty Lammergeier. But in the mean time it was the New World vultures of the United States that provided me with my first encounter with these avian angels of death. I discovered that it is a common sight to see the shadows of Turkey Vultures dancing across the great American highways.

An ugly experience in the field prompts ABA board member J. Drew Lanham to reflect on the community of birders at Audubon.

There was the deep feeling of kinship and community that came from knowing that listing a Barn Owl or a White-crowned Sparrow wasn’t as important as doing the right thing by a friend. In the moments of that understanding that seem to happen more and more frequently in my life, birding becomes more than just a hobby. It’s a necessity for my sanity and well-being.

Red Crossbills are turning up all over the continent this winter, and Kent McFarland shares a primer for dealing with the nomadic birds at the Vermont Center for Ecostudies Blog.

Ornithologists have discovered that each Red Crossbill population gives a distinct flight call. The flight calls are the sound typically described as jip-jip-jip and usually heard when the birds are flying overhead, but sometimes even when they are perched. As many as 10 ‘call types’ of Red Crossbill can be found across North America. These call types have been found to correspond to slight differences in size, genetics, and core habitats.

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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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