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Blog Birding #365

At The Eyrie, the ABA’s Young Birder blog, Jennie Duberstein interviews newly minted young birder of the year, Teodelina Martelli.

Birds have fascinated me for as long as I can remember—I started drawing when I was three and it was birds, birds, and more birds. I even have pictures of my dad, my sister, and me birding when I was six! Many years passed, however, before birding really became as important in my life as it is now—most of the time I would watch the creatures, maybe marveling at their behavior and flying ability, but unconcerned with their identification or ecological importance.

At CrimeReads, Steve Burrows makes the seemingly unlikely comparison between birders and detectives.

These commonalities aside, however, individual birdwatchers are as varied in their approach as detectives. There are the casual types, the Easy Rawlins bird watcher, one might call them, who drift through their birding day picking up whatever sightings come their way. There are the dedicated drudges, the Sam Spade birders, unspectacular but methodical, putting in the hard yards, slogging through the toughest terrain in all weathers, the gumshoe equivalent of pounding the mean streets on the seedy side of town, while a veil of grey rain soaks them to the skin.

eBird checklists don’t typically read as blog posts, but Ian Davies’s account of a spectacular day at Tadoussec Observatory in Quebec reads like a novella.

For the next 9 hours, we counted a nonstop flight of warblers, at times covering the entire visible sky from horizon to horizon. The volume of flight calls was so vast that it often faded into a constant background buzz. There were times where there were so many birds, so close, that naked eyes were better than binoculars to count and identify. Three species of warbler flew between my legs throughout the day (TEWA, MAWA, MYWA). For hours at a time, a single binocular scan would give you hundreds or low thousands of warblers below eye level.

At Prairie Ecologist, Chris Helzer explores the success and shortcomings of field identification beyond birds, finding it wanting but also an opportunity for someone to make the jargon approachable.

There has to be a better way.  Again, I completely understand the need for technical guides for species identification that use agreed-upon and well-defined terms.  But can we either add accompanying language in common English or create translated versions of those identification books that can be read by non-experts?  If we can translate books of literature, can we also translate books of technical jargon?

Waterfowl are famously unconcerned with how and with what they spread their genes, and hybrids are common. At Avian Hybrids, find a duck mystery that was unsolved for some time.

Hybrid ducks are common. But when you encounter one in the wild, it can be tricky to figure out which species have intermingled. A recent paper in Dutch Birding describes the quest of several Dutch birders to identify a hybrid duck on the island of Schiermonnikoog. Let’s see if you can guess the right answer. Here is the duck.

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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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