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Blog Birding #356

Yes yard-listing can be fun, but it’s limited. Steve Tucker at Bourbon, Bastards, and Birds is here to introduce to you the idea of the five-mile radius.

The idea (my interpretation) is that you should bird a lot within your 5MR, because almost everyone should be birding more locally than they already are. Less fuel burned, less time in the car, less going to the same old places where everyone else goes. If you think it is fun to get to know the birds of your county (let’s face it, that is definitely your idea of a good time), then just think of the joy and ecstasy of mastering the status and distribution of birds within 5 miles of where you live! Plus it gets you exploring more, and what can be more rewarding than finding a gem of a hotspot or a gem of a rarity in your own backyard, so to speak?

The ABA’s newest endemic species, the Cassia Crossbill, is a mystery to many on the continent. At Ornithologi, Bryce Robinson looks to shed a little light.

The Cassia Crossbill represents our continued refinement of understanding the natural world. How peculiar it seems that in the 21st century, while beginning to recognize and understand incipient speciation in some taxa, we are also finding well established independent evolutionary lineages that have until now gone unnoticed. Even more peculiar is that the Cassia Crossbill is certainly not restricted to a place where ornithologists and bird enthusiasts rarely visit. They breed in areas with extensive road networks and occupy ranges with nearly year round access. My point is that we certainly haven’t missed them, we have only overlooked them. I don’t consider this an embarrassment, I find it extremely exciting. How many other patterns such as this have we yet to notice?

From the “We knew this was true, but it’s always nice to have confirmation” files, a study that shows that yards with native plantlife are more attractive to birds, summarized at the Vermont Center for Ecostudies blog by Ken McFarland.

The idyllic setting for nesting songbirds in our backyards is one filled with native plants, according to research published last summer in Biological Conservation. Desirée Narango, a graduate student at the University of Delaware and lead author of the study, found that yards with more native trees and shrubs have more Carolina Chickadees, southern cousins to Black-capped Chickadees.

Julie Zickefoose tells a story, in the way that only she can, of a wounded, but persevering, Mourning Dove.

 I envisioned her struggling beneath a Cooper’s or perhaps a sharp-shinned hawk, held down while her wings were plucked nearly bald. Somehow, she must have struggled free and gotten away. I couldn’t imagine how, unless she hid in dense cover. Even that would be a weak defense against an accipiter; they tend to go in feet first after prey. For all I know, it happened right here, where the little male sharp-shinned hawk who’s been hunting the yard this winter likes to hang out.

No matter when we began our birding careers, we all had mentors that helped us along the way. At The Eyrie, Sebastian Casarez tells the story of his.

My parents were not birders. At that time, my parents could only identify maybe two or three bird species. They were not able to mentor me, so I ended up teaching myself about birds and birding. My parents constantly took me to bookstores to purchase bird books. As I got older, I spent time enjoying my two favorite hobbies: reading books and birding. I learned a lot about birds and wanted to share with everyone around me. So I started teaching my friends and community about birds and birding. I knew as a nine-year-old that I loved teaching my fellow Texans and others about birds and birding.

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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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