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

What: Western Tanager, Piranga ludoviciana When: Sunday, May 19, 2019 Where: Greenlee Wildlife Refuge, Boulder County, Colorado

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. [read more…]

Amazing Milestone for Guy McCaskie

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How many bird species are on the official list of your state or province? If you’re an [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…]

How to Know the Birds: No. 8, Why Do Carolina Wrens Sound So Loud?

What: Carolina Wren, Thryothorus ludovicianus When: Friday, May 10, 2019 Where: Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania

I had every intention of sleeping in. I’d flown in late the night before and had nothing planned for the morning.

The Carolina wren had other plans. At 5:39 local time (that’s 3:39 body time), the bird went off. [read more…]

How to Know the Birds: No. 7, What the Swainson’s Hawk Says

What: Swainson’s Hawk, Buteo swainsoni When: Wednesday, May 1, 2019 Where: Waneka Lake, Boulder County, Colorado

Probably everybody knows what a hawk is. Hawks are big and fierce and raptorial; they have hooked beaks and gnarly talons. Like this:

A chestnut-fronted hawk, just back from its South American wintering grounds, rests in [read more…]

How to Know the Birds: No. 6, Smartphone Meadowlarks

What: Western Meadowlark, Sturnella neglecta When: Monday, April 15, 2019 Where: South Teller Farms, Boulder County, Colorado

The dawn chorus on a bright June morning in the foothills of the Appalachians… southbound Sandhill Cranes bugling against a gray sky over the shortgrass prairie… the desert come alive with thrasher song on a still afternoon [read more…]

Birding Photo Quiz: April 2019

I have two pet peeves.

The first is standing in line with nothing to do. If I’m waiting for a flight to board, I absolutely have to be doing something. Give me a newspaper or a math problem or a carpet to sweep or a diaper to change—something, anything, or I’ll explode from the boredom [read more…]

How to Know the Birds: No. 5, Why Do Shovelers Spin?

What: Northern Shoveler, Spatula clypeata When: Saturday, March 30, 2019 Where: Hecla Pond, Boulder County, Colorado

Birds do things. Northern cardinals embellish their songs with squirrel-like chatter; American crows patrol parking lots in their quest for whiskey; sagebrush sparrows flip their long tails expressively, as if they were tiny roadrunners; and American dippers do [read more…]

How to Know the Birds: No. 4, Sagebrush Sparrows and the Subjective Experience of Rarity

What: Sagebrush Sparrow, Artemisiospiza nevadensis When: Saturday, March 16, 2019 Where: Medano-Zapata Ranch, Alamosa County, Colorado

The time is 9:43 a.m., the temperature in the upper 20s. But “it’s a dry cold.” The sky is completely clear, the sun surprisingly warm. I’m at one of my favorite places on Earth, the entrance to The [read more…]

How to Know the Birds: No. 3, Watching Dippers in the Age of #SciComm

What: American Dipper, Cinclus mexicanus When: Saturday, February 23, 2019 Where: Boulder Creek, Boulder County, Colorado

I went birding a short while ago with Nick Minor, co-compiler with Paul Hess of Birding magazine’s popular “Frontiers in Ornithology” (formerly “News & Notes”) column. Time was limited, as Nick had to catch a morning flight out [read more…]