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Blog Birding #353

News about Hawaiian birds always seems to be good news mixed with bad. Mark Devokaitis at All About Birds shares the latest on Iiwi and Alala.

The Iiwi is under siege on several fronts. Avian malaria, transmitted by mosquitoes, is killing the birds outright. Warmer temperatures have allowed mosquitoes to move to higher elevations on forested slopes, into areas where the birds once found refuge from the blood-sucking insects. Additionally, a fungus is killing the ohia trees in Hawaiian forests. The ohia is a primary nesting tree for the Iiwi, as well as a source of food—the bird’s long, curved bill is perfectly suited to sipping nectar from ohia flowers.

Herring Gulls are the meat and potatoes for a Larophile; dirt common but endlessly variable. Amar Ayyash at Everything Larus looks at a few variations on a theme.

In the spirit of appraising the limits of 1st cycle American Herring Gulls, I put forth several individuals with interesting plumage aspects and upperpart patterns.

All were photographed during the last week of January in Volusia County, Florida. 2018.
Keep in mind this region borders the southern range limits of wintering smithsonianus.

At For the Birds, Laura Erickson takes a look at the unusual relationship between mass and size in owls.

The first Sunday of February tends to coincide with important annual rituals for many Americans. I spent the day, which I call Superb Owl Sunday, birding with my friend Lisa trying to find a superb owl, or even a standard one. Many more Americans call that day of the year Super Bowl Sunday and watch a football game rather than spending the day in nature looking for owls. Based on what we saw, we could have predicted the football game’s outcome: we encountered several Bald Eagles but not a single person who we could be sure was a patriot.

At 10,000 Birds, Redgannet explores the potential of birding during an unusual astronomical phenomenon.

On January 31st 2018, skygazers were treated to a rare spectacle. The super, blue, blood moon came about when a number of circumstances coincided. Our satellite was at a very close approach, appearing larger in the sky (the super bit), it was the second full moon of the month (known as a blue moon) and it passed through The Earth’s shadow which cast a red colour across its face (the blood bit).

This winter has seen an unusually high number of auks moving south along the east coast, an unusual event witnessed by Brian Patteson at Seabirding.

There was not much wind for us when we headed out to sea Saturday morning. It was blowing pretty hard south of the Cape, but off Oregon Inlet there was not even a white cap, but the swell was already starting to build. As for birds, it was pretty quiet close to shore. We saw just a few loons, gannets, and Razorbills as we jogged down toward Wimble Shoals. This can be a great area for birds, but was sparsely populated by them the morning of Feb. 10. We did, however, find quality over quantity, and less than an hour after clearing OI, we were looking at our third species of alcid for the day. Surprisingly, it was a Thick-billed Murre, which is quite rare at this latitude.

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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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