American Birding Podcast
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How to Know the Birds: No. 16, Calliope Futures

On a not-exactly-a-bird-walk a week or so ago, one of the participants, Roberta, was intent on documenting whatever it is that was happening in the general vicinity of a pot full of patriotic petunias:

Not all that long ago, we went birding with scopes and binoculars. Today we’re at least as likely to [read more…]

Birding Photo Quiz: August 2019

Adult male orioles in breeding plumage are a thing of beauty. And a cinch to identify. You’re in Pennsylvania, say, and it’s May. An Orchard Oriole flies by, or a Baltimore Oriole is singing from the treetops. Easy peasy. The females and second-summer males of those species are more subtly marked, but, still, Orchard vs. [read more…]

How to Know the Birds: No. 15, The Incomparable Coolness and Supreme Glory of Roadrunners

You could make the case that I shouldn’t have gone birding that Friday morning. I had a meeting to attend and a presentation to prep for; I had a crushing load of deadlines in the week ahead; and I was carless at a high-rise hotel at that mother-of-all-intersections of I-40 and I-25 in downtown Albuquerque.

[read more…]

How to Know the Birds: No. 14, Q. T. with a Great Blue

I went out the other evening seeking novelty and adventure. I didn’t know what I would find, but I knew it was to be had out there. That’s because novelty and adventure, when you pause to think about it, are a way of thinking, a state of mind. If you search with a spirit of [read more…]

How to Know the Birds: No. 13, Gannets—Take 2

I’ve been seeing northern gannets, Morus bassanus, for well over 30 years. But I’m going to make the case now that I’d never truly experienced the gannet until I visited the Avalon Peninsula, Newfoundland & Labrador, earlier this month.

I saw my first gannet on a Big Day long ago. Tick. Move along to the [read more…]

Would You Count It If . . . ?

A week ago, Jason Ward and I were on a boat trip out of St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador. Birds were our objective, needless to say, but we were well pleased with our haul of cetaceans—including a particularly photogenic humpback whale. In reviewing his images of the whale, Jason came across this photo:

[read more…]

How to Know the Birds: No. 12, Merganser Musings

The adult male, or “drake,” hooded merganser, Lophodotyes cucullatus, has got to be just about the most ridiculously photogenic bird in the ABA Area. No matter how often I see one—the species has been expanding its range and increasing in number for several decades now—I can’t help myself. I have to take a picture. Like [read more…]

How to Know the Birds: No. 11, Beware Expectation

I was leading a field trip a couple weeks ago, and our group came across this bird:

Telluride, San Miguel County, Colorado; June 16, 2019. Photo by © Ted Floyd.

One of the trip participants needed Hammond’s flycatcher for his county list, and we were at a good elevation—and a good part of [read more…]

How to Know the Birds: No. 10, Dvořák’s Vireo

You might have heard of Mozart’s starling. Lyanda Lynn Haupt recently wrote a book, Mozart’s Starling, that’s received a fair bit of acclaim. The short version of the story goes like this: Back in 1784, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart acquired a captive European starling, Sturnus vulgaris, and somehow taught the bird to sing the opening bars [read more…]

Birding Photo Quiz: June 2019

Don’t blurt out the answer! Pretend you’ve never seen the species of bird in this photo. Or pretend you’re on a bird walk, and you’re showing these birds to someone less expert than you. Less expert, yes, but eager to learn. You’re with someone who wants more than a name—Lesser Zanther or Hoyteenish Shindilly—someone who [read more…]