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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…]

Birding for a Cause: Breeding Bird Atlases Need Your Help this Summer

If you’re ready to hit the road this summer, consider putting your birding skills to work for a great cause. Breeding bird atlases are heavily reliant on volunteer effort, and there are several occurring in North America right now that need your help!

New Challenge for Birders

Atlasing adds a new element to birding beyond [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…]

Watch Bill Thompson III receive the ABA’s Roger Tory Peterson Award for Promoting the Cause of Birding

ABA President Jeffrey Gordon (l) and Vice-Chair Julie Davis (r) present Bill Thompson III (c) with the ABA Roger Tory Peterson Award

Earlier this year, Bill Thompson III was presented with the ABA’s Roger Tory Peterson Award for Promoting the Cause of Birding in recognition of his lifetime of service and contributions. The [read more…]

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

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 it all.

Ducks, being birds, do things too. They sit pretty on duck ponds, the drakes sporting [read more…]

A Dozen Things You Can Do to Celebrate Bill Thompson III

 

These are my friend Bill Thompson III’s shoes. Actually, this is just the tip of his footwear iceberg—he owned and wore a lot of shoes. I photographed these as they sat by his front door the day after I, along with members of his family, watched him fly free of his cancer-ravaged body. [read more…]

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

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 Nature Conservancy’s Medano-Zapata Ranch:

Photo by © Ted Floyd

 

There are bison in this [read more…]

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

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 of Denver. But we had to get a dipper, officially known as the American dipper, Cinclus mexicanus. [read more…]

How to Know the Birds: No. 1, On Hearing the First Cardinal in Spring

 

Several days ago I went birding with the express purpose of procuring audio of a northern cardinal. My objective was to obtain an ordinary recording of a normal cardinal. Exhibit A, this guy, an adult male of the species:

In the cut above, our cardinal sings two cheer! notes, then nine birdy! notes, [read more…]

ICYMI: Location, location, location… what’s in a name?

The ABA Blog has been in existence for almost 7 years, and there’s a lot of good content back in the archives that deserves an audience now that it might not have received way back when. So, semi-regularly we will bring some of that stuff back. Here’s one by Jeff Bouton on a common name [read more…]