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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…]

How to Know the Birds: No. 9, What Birders Want—Western Tanagers

Across a large swath of the ABA Area, it has been a remarkable spring for seeing western tanagers. These radiant birds have been showing up all across the western Great Lakes region, where they don’t ordinarily occur. Birders at oases in the Desert Southwest have been reporting migrants in numbers considerably in excess of normal. [read more…]

Amazing Milestone for Guy McCaskie

How many bird species are on the official list of your state or province? If you’re an ABA member, there’s a decent chance that total is somewhat less than 500. Okay, now how many species have been reported from your county? There are a tiny handful of outliers, but the vast majority of U.S. and [read more…]

Whither the Field Notebook?

Note: This blog post is intended specifically for entrants in the “Field Notebook Module,” ABA 2020 Young Birder of the Year contest. However, it is hoped that the opinions and counsel contained within shall be of interest to anybody who records sightings of birds and other objects and phenomena in nature.

 

Every good birder [read more…]