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Blog Birding #362

Catharus thrushes are pulsing though the ABA Area right now, and posing some identification challenges along the way. At the Vermont Center for Ecostudies Blog, Kent McFarland writes about a weird phenomenon that might make things even harder.

But then, quite near the Veery was its very close cousin, a Bicknell’s Thrush calling. “How fascinating having these two birds so near each other,” I thought. And at that moment I heard it, the bird let out a long flute-like song with the first half pure Veery and the second half pure Bicknell’s Thrush, rising upward at the end rather than spiraling downward. The Veery and the Bicknell’s were one and the same. I listened in disbelief as the bird switched back and forth between a full Veery and the half Bicknell’s song. I hatched a new mission. Mountain Birdwatch would have to wait.

Recaptures of banding birds are infrequent, but provide valuable information. Eve more so when a bird is banded in one country and turns up thousands of miles away. Max Witynski tells the story at All About Birds.

The warbler was a breeding male that had been momentarily interrupted from defending his territory among the short willow trees lining a nearby pond. The last time he’d been caught, just 2 months earlier, he had been fattening up for spring migration—2,300 miles away in northern Colombia, South America. What were the chances of flying one-third of the distance between the equator and the North Pole only to fall into the hands of ornithologists once again?

Increasing sea temperatures in the Pacific may cause unforeseen problems for nesting birds, as in the case of the Heermann’s Gull as summarized at The AOU-COS Publications Blog.

Oceanic warm-water events in the Gulf of California have increased in frequency during the last three decades, passing from a historic mean of one or two warm anomalies per decade to five events in the 2007–2016 period. This can lead to massive failures in seabird nesting, as anomalously warm waters accumulate in the ocean’s surface, preventing the upwelling of colder, nutrient-rich waters from the ocean bottom, which in turn deprives seabirds of their food.

With so much garbage on the landscape it inevitably intersects with birds in ways that people aren’t always aware of. At Snapshots of Nature, Jennifer Kepler gives a sobering reminder of mankind’s impact.

I’m going to share some photos from past trips of wildlife among trash, I hope readers will think about their choices and actions and find some ways to change those things to ensure our planet doesn’t become one choked up in plastic and debris…
I have been holding onto this post for a while, but the recent death of one of a pair of nesting Great Horned Owls due to fishing line entanglement in Brooklyn has caused a lot of chatter among birders and the media (see the story here covered by our local Fox Station and here by the Brooklyn Paper).

Finding birds is a skill, but so is telling other people how to find that bird. At BirdWatching Daily, David Sibley shares a quick and easy strategy to help communicate where birds are.

If you’ve been on a few birding field trips, you’ve probably learned about the “clock” method. It involves imagining a tree as the face of a clock, so that top center is twelve o’clock, halfway down the right side is three o’clock, etc. The method can also be used from inside a car or boat, with twelve o’clock straight ahead, etc. The location of a bird can be described by the numbers, but using the clock works well only from a vehicle or if the bird is in a symmetrical, isolated tree. Other situations require more creative solutions.

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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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