Henry David Thoreau was famously a better botanist than ornithologist, but he wasn’t too bad with his birds either. In spring, he would get warbler fever like the rest of us and travel to a place called Holden Swamp to look for them. It only takes a little stretch of the imagination to hear Henry [read more…]
If you’ve ever had the privilege of birding with Ted Floyd, you know that in addition to being a supernaturally good birder, he’s a pretty chill guy. He doesn’t care much for chasing or target birds. He appreciates rarity as much as the next birder, but only when serendipitously encountered. Birding with Ted is relaxing, [read more…]
Birders are well aware that even the unlikeliest of things can sometimes come true. Rarities and mega-rarities bring us so much joy, but an unlikely thing made this past year a very difficult one for me. For the second time, I was diagnosed with colon cancer, this time Stage 4. I thought I had beaten [read more…]
In the March/April 2014 issue of Birding is an article I wrote discussing the many common bird names like “flycatcher” and “shrike” that are used in multiple taxonomically distinct families. As I compiled the list, it became clear the entire list was way too long to publish in the magazine. At least 53 different common [read more…]
The immensity of the psychic and linguistic distances between us and birds is something we rarely think about. It doesn’t make us sad that we cannot talk to or become friends with the birds we encounter in the field, at least not typically. Which is exactly why I found the chapter “The Friendly Bicolored Antbird” [read more…]
Peter Matthiessen, the esteemed writer and naturalist, has passed away. I imagine many ABA members are familiar with his work and mourn his passing. For me, his writing is an inspiration, from At Play in the Fields of the Lord, an excellent novel about missionaries in the Amazon, to The Snow Leopard, a travelogue about [read more…]
One of the most interesting facets of birding culture is its unique vocabulary. From lifers to dips to cripplers, there’s an inherent joy in communicating with others about the highs and lows of birding using our own terminology. Maybe the best part of birding vocabulary is that it shows how alive and dynamic the culture [read more…]
When learning about the immense migrations of many North American birds, the more zoomorphic among us may find themselves imagining what wondrous things these birds must encounter throughout their travels. From high Andean cloud forests to tropical Central American beaches to stark Alaskan tundras, these birds see a lot. Which may in turn lead us [read more…]
When I read the following words in Leonard Nathan’s illuminating Diary of a Left-handed Birdwatcher, I was delighted:
Valmiki is the first, the father, of all poets. He is also the first known birdwatcher, and it is his birdwatching that has occasioned his invention: from shoka (grief) comes shloka (poetry).
So there you have it. [read more…]
After a love of birds, the most commonly shared interest in the birding world is probably a love of books. Even with the rise of apps and massive internet databases, birders reliably look forward to the latest book about species identification, life histories, birding memoirs, and any number of other ornithological topics.
I think [read more…]