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Blog Birding #380

Ron Pittaway’s much-anticipated Winter Finch Report for the winter of 2018-2019 is out, and it looks like it’s going to be a good one in the east.

This is an irruption (flight) year for winter finches in the East. Cone and birch seed crops are poor to low in most of Ontario and the Northeast, with a few exceptions such as Newfoundland which has an excellent spruce crop. It will be a quiet winter in the North Woods. Expect flights of winter finches into southern Ontario, southern Quebec, Maritime Provinces, New York and New England States, with some finches going farther south into the United States. Stock your bird feeders because many birds will have a difficult time finding natural foods this winter. This forecast applies primarily to Ontario and adjacent provinces and states. Spruce, birch and mountain-ash crops are much better in Western Canada. For the details on each finch species, see individual forecasts below.

Need a reason to appreciate birding? I know you probably don’t, but Don Torino of The Meadowlands Birding Blog has some reminders anyway.

It seems every time I pick up a newspaper or magazine there is a feature story on the 10 best of something or another. It might be the 10 best bagel stores or sushi shops, or maybe the 10 best cars or even the best hot dogs. It seems folks just want to know what other folks think the 10 best of anything might be.

Audubon’s and Myrtle Warblers are the sort of “will they or won’t they split it” species pairs that drive birders and ornithologists nuts by virtue of their tendency to hybridize. Some research suggests that those hybrids may be more susceptible to gut parasites than either full subspecies. Jente Ottenburghs at Avian Hybrids has more.

The Yellow-rumped Warbler (Setophaga coronata) complex comprises four subspecies (coronataauduboninigrifronsand goldmani). The first two interbreed along a narrow hybrid zone in British Columbia. Previous work indicated that there is selection against hybrids, but the exact mechanisms could not be unraveled. Camille-Sophie Cozzarolo (University of Lausanne) and her colleagues tested the hypothesis that hybrids are more susceptible to parasite infections. Specifically, they focused on haemosporidian parasites of the genera HaemoproteusLeucocytozoon, and Plasmodium that are transmitted by dipteran flies.

At 10,000 Birds, Jason Crotty explains what prosecution under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act looks like in practice.

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) has been in the news recently, as the Trump Administration has proposed changes to how it is enforced as to activities that harm birds, but only incidentally.  However, there are still instances where individuals intentionally kill birds and there are criminal prosecutions under the MBTA, though they are uncommon.

What do those prosecutions look like?

At the AOS History of Ornithology Blog, Bob Montgomerie shares the hidden history of women in early ornithology.

As I have highlighted previously [2], the national ornithological societies that formed in the 1800s were all founded by men, and women were very much in the minority of their membership for much of the twentieth century. That’s just a fact, and I don’t see any point in attempting to rewrite that history. There is a lot to be gained, however, in knowing more about the women who did contribute to the development of ornithology and celebrating their contributions. Unfortunately, the contributions of many of those women to ornithology were never recorded, so they may forever be invisible—at least by name—to history. Today’s post highlights just one of what must be many instances of invisible women who made a great contribution.

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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.