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Blog Birding #377

At Avian Hybrids, a fascinating look at hybridization of sharp-tailed sparrows by Jente Ottenburghs. 

Hybridization can work as an evolutionary stimulus. For example by transferring beneficial genetic variants from one species to another. This process, adaptive introgression, has been described for numerous taxa, such as butterflies and snowshoe hares. However, examples in birds are quite rare. A recent study in the journal Evolution provides evidence for adaptive introgression between two sparrow species.

Bryce Robinson of Ornithologi shares some nice illustrations of North American Buteos.

I’ve been illustrating raptors in flight for some years now, which really took off when I met Jerry Liguori. Jerry took me under his wing, so to speak, and filled my head with everything he himself has learned over his many years studying the identification of raptors, particularly in flight. His tutelage accelerated my skills and knowledge in raptor identification, and I can confidently say that without his selfless teaching, my illustrations wouldn’t be the same.

At, an interesting study on how hybridization influences migration.

Thus, for instance, it has been believed for a long time that the timing, direction and length of migration of passerines with a shorter lifespan is mostly determined by genetic factors, and for bigger birds with a longer life-span, it is more important to learn from their parents and others of the same species. It has previously only been possible to conduct experiments with small passerines in order to check these assumptions. The research of migration of big birds with a longer lifespan has been hampered by inadequate technical capacities.

Pileated Woodpeckers are often association with mature forests, but in Seattle at least, they co-exist well with humans according to research summarized at the American Ornithology Pubs Blog.

These results show that retaining at least 20% forest cover, including standing dead trees, over large suburban areas may help sustain Pileated Woodpeckers and perhaps even other species tied to them. Despite potential risks from threats such as feral cats and collisions with windows, the researchers believe that cities can play an important role in the conservation of biodiversity.

Seabirds are one of ornithology’s last frontiers, and we’ve learned some fascinating things about them in recent years. At Birdlife, Michael Brooke has more.

Seabirds have always proven elusive subjects to study. They spend much of their lives roving the open ocean, or nesting on remote islands far from human eyes. But thanks to modern innovation, increasingly small and lightweight devices can be attached to a wide range of species, giving us a completely new outlook on their movements and behaviour. Here are just some of the highlights.

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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.