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Blog Birding #358

A fun story of Montana birding by Sneed Collard at Father-Son Birding.

This year we headed out Monday morning, March 26 (Spring Break), hoping to find an abundance of the white birds. We first stopped in Great Falls to observe a good variety of ducks, especially Common Goldeneyes, on the Missouri River. Making our way up to Freezeout, we also encountered 1,000 Snow Geese feeding in fields near Powers, Montana. At Freezeout itself, however, our biggest finds were about 300 Northern Pintails and a few Tundra Swans.

Spring is coming and with it stories of bird window collisions. Laura Erickson has more.

One of my close friends recently wrote to a Minnesota architect to share her own experience of having birds collide with glass in her home, because she noticed this architect’s houses had similar design with lots of glass. To share awareness, she mentioned upcoming information presentations that Minneapolis Audubon and other organizations are putting together about the magnitude of the glass collision problem.

eBird’s open source data makes for some fascinating opportunities to parse opportunities for birds, including a recent attempt by Matt Boone to determine how many species are possible in counties across the United States.

How many birds are there supposed to be in every county? While counties containing large cities are likely reasonably accurate in their species richness, we may never know how many birds actually exist in underbirded areas. I wanted to figure out if I could use these highly bird areas as test data to model what factors might affect birding diversity. Specifically, I wanted to model how many birds including vagrants you might find, not just expected winter/summer bird diversity (which has been calculate before). I modeled eBird diversity in highly birded counties against climatic, physically, and biological variables that might affect bird diversity.

Many bird-feeders are familiar with House Finches with various eye maladies, and research into the spread of those diseases has impacts that go far beyond birds, according to Gustave Axelson at All About Birds.

It’s all part of a pathogen strategy to overcome the immune systems of these common rosy backyard birds, according to research published March 2nd in the journal Science. The findings—from researchers at Virginia Tech, Cornell, Princeton, San Diego, and North Carolina State universities—show that this strategy makes the pathogen much stronger and more dangerous for its next victim.

Sometimes your subject will challenge the way you approach photographing it, as Ron Dudley at Feathered Photography learned from a young Burrowing Owl.

But on July 7 of that summer this newly fledged Burrowing Owl along the Antelope Island causeway finally made me realize that I should rethink my strategy. This bird and a few others nearby were some of my first opportunities with owls of any species and my excitement with them was palpable. Over about a week I was able to get many thousands of nice photos of them while they were stationary or moving slowly and I thought my “go to” settings were about perfect for the situation. I was in bird photographer heaven!

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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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