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Blog Birding #354

The ABA-Leica Sub-adult Wheatears are preparing for the Champions of the Flyway. If you are need more reasons to donate, hear directly from one of the members, Aidan Place, at The Eyrie.

Anyone who has been present at a young birder camp, or perused the results of the ABA Young Birder of the Year Contest, or just generally come into any sort of contact with the young birder community can attest to just how much skill, talent, and potential is captured within it. It should therefore come as no surprise that the ABA’s young birders now have yet another feather in their cap (pardon the unintentional bird pun). For the first time ever, a contingent of young birders from the ABA Area will be headed to Israel to compete in the annual Champions of the Flyway bird race!

American Dipper is one of North America’s more endearing little birds. Bryce Robinson gives it the Ornithologi treatment.

I enjoy supplementing each illustration I do with a bit of deeper discussion pertaining to the subject at hand. Because I’m beginning more in-depth study of evolutionary history and relationships in birds, I’ll give a brief synopsis of our current understanding (thanks to Gary Voelker) of the evolution of the five species belonging to the dipper family (Cinclidae) and the origins of the American Dipper (Cinclus mexicanus) to complement this illustration.

If you’re a bird photographer you know that the ration of good photos to bad often tilts overwhelmingly towards the latter. At Feathered Photography, Ron Dudley offers a reason to appreciate the flaws.

I photographed this male Gadwall this past New Years Eve as he was landing on a local pond. I like his “water-skiing” pose, the sharpness of the duck, the water plume thrown up in front of him and the excellent eye contact but the image has at least one significant flaw.

The bird was too close to the top of the frame to get the composition I prefer so I had to compromise with this near-pano crop to make it look as good as it does. I could have added canvas up top but that’s something I try hard to avoid for reasons I’ve mentioned before. If this bird had been taking off instead of landing I probably would have deleted it.

Hydraulic Fracturing wells are popping up across North America, and the impacts on the environment are still unknown in many cases. A recent study on Louisiana Waterthrush nesting success, summarized at The AOU-COS Pubs Blog however, suggests that efforts need to be undertaken to protect waterways.

The central Appalachian region is experiencing the country’s most rapid growth in shale gas development, or “fracking,” but we’ve known almost nothing about how this is affecting the region’s songbird populations—until now. A new study from The Condor: Ornithological Applications demonstrates that the nesting success of the Louisiana Waterthrush—a habitat specialist that nests along forested streams, where the potential for habitat degradation is high—is declining at sites impacted by shale gas development in northwestern West Virginia.

While fire is an important part of maintaining certain ecosystems in the west, they can be harmful when they are too intense or too frequent, as explained at Phys.org.

On the tail of California’s most destructive and expensive year of firefighting ever, it might seem obvious that vegetation removal would reduce the risk of such a year happening again. But scientists from the University of Arizona and the University of California, Berkeley, are showing that in chaparral, California’s iconic shrubland ecosystem, management can devastate wild bird populations and that fire-risk reduction is only temporary.
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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.
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