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Blog Birding #351

From Rick Wright at Birding New Jersey and Beyond, an interesting Iiwi sidenote featuring an epic museum burn.

On February 24, 1911, Outram Bangs at the MCZ named a new subspecies of the iiwi, differing from the “true” iiwi of the island of Hawaii in its stronger bill and orange rather than scarlet tones to its plumage. Though Bangs claimed that specimens of his new suavis (“smooth”) “could be picked out easily” in the museum tray, most recent authorities consider the iiwi monotypic.

Interested in participating in the “Year of the Bird”, Hugh Powell at All About Birds offers some tips to get involved.

This isn’t just any new year, it’s the beginning of the Year of the Bird. So if ever there were a year to break free from those “normal” resolutions like getting more exercise and waking up earlier, 2018 is it. May we humbly suggest the goal of getting to know the birds that share your home turf? (It could even help with those other two resolutions.) Here are some great ways to get started:

The eastern half of North American dealt with a serious cold spell last week, forcing birders to seek other outlets for their hobby, as Corey Finger at 10,000 Birds shares.

Though temperatures have rebounded from the nadir and were temporarily above freezing here in New York City, the mercury has plummeted again and long outings out of doors are distinctly less pleasant than they would be if it were T-shirt weather. What’s a birder to do when weather fails to cooperate? After all, you don’t want to sink to spending time with family or doing chores, do you? Of course not! Here, then, are five birding-centered activities you can do to keep you busy when the birds aren’t.

At the Vermont Center for Ecostudies, an important essay on why the Migratory Bird Treaty Act is a critical tool for bird conservation, and what recent changes to the act will mean for birds and birders.

Last December, a team led by scientist Tatsuya Amano from the University of Oxford’s Conservation Science Group published an important paper on waterbird conservation. Using data collected across the globe, they examined population changes over the past 3 decades in 461 species of waterbird, including everything from ducks to shorebirds to flamingos. During this time, waterbirds in some parts of the world thrived, but in other places they experienced steep declines. When the scientists looked for an explanation for this pattern, they were able to isolate two key predictors of whether waterbird populations shrunk or grew.

Research into female birdsong is an underrepresented part of the ornithology record, something that many researchers are trying to fix according to Julia Travers at Discover Magazine.

To participate, citizen scientists use their smartphones or other recording devices to document female songs and upload them to project-sponsored online databases. Principal investigator Dr. Karan Odom, a behavioral ecologist at Leiden and Cornell, says every recording is important because, “Female birds are so under-represented in collections and we know so little about their songs.”

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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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