American Birding Podcast



Blog Birding #130

The newest edition of I and the Bird is up at 10,000 Birds, the subject this time is the predictably spring-y robin:

It’s one of the few phenological happenings of which the general public is ostensibly aware, burned into the psyche of so many  from childhood stories and poems and well-intentioned but completely wrong adults of no less acclaim than the Belle of Amherst herself. It’s not really spring until the American Robins return, they say. They’re better predictors than that more famous overgrown rat in Pennsylvania, bob-bob-bobbing along with the first warm winds to begin caroling from our maples and stalking our lawns.

Stories about opportunities to mentor the next generation of birders are always welcome in our community. Josh, writing at A Boy Who Cried Heron is the middle of a three generation birding story:

Despite our busy day ahead, we had a somewhat leisurely morning and slept in a little. When I did my dog chores I noticed that the Common Redpolls weren’t too scared of me when I’d pass within a few feet of the feeder.  I had a little time to kill, so I thought this would be the perfect time to try hand-feeding these birds – something I’ve seen online.  I grabbed some seed off the feeder and rested my open hand on the base of the feeder while I looked down and remained motionless.  Within seconds the redpolls were buzzing around me and started landing on the feeder again.  Then it happened.

Kenn Kaufman has been on the set of the new independent film A Birder’s Guide to Everything as an advisor over the last few months. He checks in with some stories from the set:

Undoubtedly the best-known actor in the film is Oscar-winner Sir Ben Kingsley, who plays an expert birder, author, and editor.  I may write about him in a separate post; for the moment, suffice it to say that it was astonishing and inspiring to see him at work.  James LeGros, a well-known film and television actor, plays a major role as the father of the main character.  I had a chance to talk with him and found him to be funny, intelligent, with wide-ranging knowledge and interests; for example, we had a great conversation about water policy issues in the westernstates.

It’s getting close to flycatcher time, and David Sibley illustrates how hedging your IDs based on time of year can be very productive:

Here are some eBird maps showing all records for the month of April for several species of small flycatchers in eastern North America. A glance at these maps will show which species are possible in your area in the next few weeks, and this greatly simplifies flycatcher identification. For most of the east, through most of April, small flycatcher identification can be summed up in one short phrase – ”It’s a phoebe” (see Eastern Phoebe map at the end of this post below).

A first for the palearctic Common Grackle photographed in the Netherlands offers some interesting insight into the species’ migration in North America. Roy Slaterus at Birding Frontiers has the scoop:

On 8 April 2013 a Common Grackle was seen by five  observers at migration hot spot Kamperhoek in Flevoland, the Netherlands. It was flying Northeast just like thousands of other birds that day (see here on for the totals of that day). The observers were not really prepared for such an unexpected bird to appear and it was only after studying photographs that they were convinced of the identification. The bird showed a black plumage, with a contrast between glossy purple head and neck and glossy brown upper- and underparts, a pale eye, strong bill and a very typical ‘grackle tail’.