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Blog Birding #392

Want to do more birding close to home in 2019? Seagull Steve of Bourbon, Bastards, and Birds explains the 5 Mile Radius and why it should be your goal this year.

Birders of all levels and all stripes have embraced the 5MR, and you should too! Bird Police, civilian bird wizards, “young birders”, geri birders, intermediate birders, and probably some stringy ones…we are all here! Come revel in the places less birded and the luxury of never having to drive more than 20 minutes from your home! Become the master of your local eBird hotspots, or if there aren’t many, you can bring them into existence yourself! Of course, there is no need to sign up for the 2019 challenge to enjoy the fruits of 5MR, but I think it will be fun.

At the opposite end of the spectrum are the global big listers, pushing the boundaries of what one person can see in a lifetime. At Birdwatching Daily, Jesse Greenspan finds out how they tick.

It’s the counting of birds, however, that truly drives him. As of December 2018, Kaestner’s life list stood at 9,193 species, including one bird that’s now extinct (Atitlán Grebe) and two that are extinct in the wild (Guam Kingfisher and Guam Rail). Though no other American has seen more, he remains determined to add to that figure. “I am consumed by numbers,” he says. “I want to get to 10,000 before I die, no question about it.”

Cackling versus Canada Goose is one of the more difficult ID conundrums in North America, Chicago Birder Bob Dolgan shares an experience trying to pick one out.

Birding offers many things, but the joy of discovery is one of its foremost delights. That’s what brought me to Calumet Park in southeast Chicago in November to look for a Cackling Goose, a relatively new species that was once lumped with the Canada Goose. I needed a cackler for my 2018 year list and it seemed a lock since a few birds had been reported online.

It’s not exactly like birding in 1899, but it’s not far off. Nick Lund at Audubon explores the birds of the hit immersive video game Red Dead Redemption II

The gigantic RDR2 playable map is brimming with life. Hawks perch on exposed branches and ducks flush from riverbanks. Wolves chase deer through the woods, and vultures descend to feed on the carcasses. There are alligators, turtles, snakes, frogs, toads, bats, and dozens of species of fish. In all there are about 200 distinct, interactive species of animals in RDR2, and more than 40 different plant species.

At Bird Canada, Monika Croyden explores the end of one year and the beginning of the next.

Balcony-wise, there hasn’t been much to see. Our local Red-tailed Hawk makes an appearance sometimes, but I haven’t been able to take good photos. So this month, in between holiday and family commitments, I’ve made a few trips to my local parks. It’s a nice break and good therapy!  With the generally warmer temperatures, there is still open water in ponds and along the lakeshore, so ducks and waterfowl are active. I’ve made a couple of trips to Humber Bay Parks, both east and west. These parks are by the lake, but as I mentioned in my last post, they’re being encroached on by condo development, and getting busier with local residents visiting and walking their dogs.

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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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