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Blog Birding #372

Will Ford writes a non-birder’s guide to dating a birder at Outside Magazine.

My greatest birding accomplishment remains spotting a pack of endemic fowl crashing through underbrush in Borneo, making loud, chicken-like noises. I spotted them because I didn’t have binoculars and was limited to looking only at the ground. Jessie gave me a pat on the back and said, “Good boyfriend.” Then she went back to looking at them. I was thrilled.

Corvids are widely acknowledged as being some of the most intelligent birds, but that doesn’t mean they don’t do some weird things around dead crows. Kaeli Swift of Corvid Research explores this odd behavior.

What crows do around dead crows is something I’ve dedicated much of my academic life to understanding.  In the course of my first study, my findings made for a nice clear narrative: crows alarm call and gather around dead crows as a way of learning about dangerous places and new predators.  Although there are other hypotheses we can’t rule out, certainly danger avoidance is at least partially driving this behavior.

At 10,000 Birds, Dragan Simic explores the edges of the eBird map.

Still, thinking where to travel next, you may have only two weeks and cannot make up your mind which areas to visit. It may be slightly impractical to focus on big countries such as Brazil or Indonesia.

Hence try the comparison of the species richness not per country – but per square mile. Then you get a more realistic picture and those tiny tropical countries rightfully stand out in the spotlights. Mongabay.com has done exactly that.

At The AOS-AOU Pubs Blog, Junya Watanabe explores the extinction of a mysterious cormorant in east Asia.

Through our study of Japanese fossil birds, my colleagues and I identified 13 fossil bones of the Spectacled Cormorant from upper Pleistocene deposits (dated ~120,000 years ago) in Japan. The fossil bones were recovered from Shiriya, northeastern Japan, through excavations led by my co-author Yoshikazu Hasegawa of the Gunma Museum of Natural History. Through detailed examination of the bird fossils from the site, it became evident that a cormorant species much larger than any of the four native cormorant species in present-day Japan was represented in the material. At first, we suspected the presence of a new species, but this turned out not to be the case.

Laura Erickson tells the story of her favorite bird, the subtle LeConte’s Sparrow.

On April 30, 1976, Russ and I left for a Michigan Audubon field trip to northern Michigan. He and I camped in a state forest close to the Michigan State Prairie Chicken Management Area in Osceola County so we could meet the other field trip participants well before first light on May 1. We got little sleep because the spring peepers were calling up a storm that whole night, and we had to get up while it was still quite dark to meet the group where the blind was to observe the state’s last remnant population of prairie chickens dancing.

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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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