American Birding Podcast



The ABA Blog’s Most Popular Posts of 2013

Hey, it’s the end of the year! the time when retrospection takes the form of Top 10 lists across the entirety of the internet. It’s been a pretty spectacular year here at the ABA Blog, and I want to publicly thank all of those tho contributed to the blog this year, from regular contributors to guest writers to those who work behind the scenes keeping the whole thing functioning.

The following are the 10 most popular posts published on this blog, determined by traffic, for the year 2013. Most of them, with a couple notable exceptions, were published this year. This may or may not inspire readers to head back into the archives for some of our more fascinating contributions, but more likely will provide a peek into what drove the online bird conversation this past year.


10) The 2013 Snowy Owl Invasion: It’s Getting Crazier by the Minute – George Armistead

It’s clear that birders can’t resist big white owls, and a collection of some of the more amazing photos and videos from the massive irruption still occurring on the east coast from the Maritimes all the way to, just recently, Florida, headed up the charts with a bullet, as they say.

(Photo © Ryan Schain)

(Photo © Ryan Schain)

9) 5 + 2 Species Added to ABA Checklist – Ted Floyd

When the ABA Checklist Committee releases their officially updated list of birds of the ABA Area, it’s a big deal to birders who keep track of that sort of thing – which is to say, probably the vast majority of us. Late last year the ABA CLC added 5 new species, including a couple exotics, and clarified the status of a couple more. More than anything, this post from last December seeks to remind us that the new list ought to be arriving any day now.

8) Open Mic: Hoary Redpoll; A False Dichotomy – Andy Boyce

We’re extremely proud – justifiably, I feel – to feature the work of many ABA and birding community members who have unique insights and interests to share. Graduate student Andy Boyce was no exception, as his intriguing piece arguing that the two North American redpoll species are possibly only one, garnered lots of anxious attention both online and off.

6a00e5505da117883401901e2b8e1b970b-600wi7) Meet Matt Daw – Jeff Gordon

Yeah, yeah, rare birds are exciting and fascinating, but a lot of the time the people behind the finds are just as remarkable. Take Matt Daw, for instance, dread-headed face behind of the famous New Mexico Wood-Rail and videographer of the birding world’s most infamous photo-bomb. In the ensuing circus, ABA President Jeff Gordon had a few words with Matt, and came away with a human face on an avian extranaganza.

6) 2013 AOU Checklist Changes – Michael Retter

If the ABA Checklist Committee’s decisions are hotly anticipated, then the AOU’s Check-list (yes, the spelling is different) is an even bigger deal. This mid-summer prize contains all of the splits and lumps that make or break a birder’s list, and though this year had only one that really impacted the ABA Area in a significant way, the taxonomic rearrangements are always good for at least a couple shocking reveals.

5) #ABArare – Amazon Kingfisher – Texas – Nate Swick

Take the continent’s largest bird festival and its crowds in one of the ABA Area’s most spectacular birding locales and sprinkle liberally with colorful and charismatic regional specialties. Now throw in one Mega Rarity and watch all hell break loose. It’s a recipe for mayhem, but the most wonderful sort involving passionate birders and in a fantastic place. This post about the bird that set off what may have been the continent’s biggest one-day twitch was a sure thing for this Top 10.

photo by Jeff Bouton

photo by Jeff Bouton

4) Open Mic: A New Field Mark for Differentiating Stints and Peeps – Catherine Hamilton

Bird artists can spend spend hours poring over collection skins, which puts them up close and personal to identification challenges from a perspective shared by few others. Catherine Hamilton is both an accomplished artist and birder, a winning combination when it comes to suggesting a possible new field mark with scrutinizing Calidris sandpiper and illustrating it beautifully, too.

Little Stint and Red-necked Stint heads by Catherine Hamilton

Little Stint and Red-necked Stint heads by Catherine Hamilton

3) Open Mic: The Field Glass Ceiling – Brooke McDonald

The question of why there are so few women in position of authority in birding culture is one that we have struggled to explain in recent years. In an insightful and occasionally troubling piece, Brooke lays out the problem and suggests some ways we, as a community, can deal with it. If you haven’t read this one, you should fix that right now.

2) Shoo Fly, Don’t Bot Me – Noah Strycker

We like to fancy ourselves something of an influential website on the internet, but from time to time something comes along that causes us to realize how small the online bird community is relatively speaking. In the early part of 2013, Noah Strycker wrote a piece detailing his, well, “adventure” isn’t quite the right word, with a the famously parasitic botfly in Central America. His graphic turn found its way to reddit, the self-proclaimed front page of the internet, and those few hours of attention were enough to make this oldie the second most popular post of the year.

1) #ABArare – Rufous-necked Wood Rail – New Mexico – John Puschock

It was inevitable really. What was perhaps the most remarkable bird of the year in the ABA Area, the one that got President Jeff Gordon on network television, was the most trafficked post of the year here on the blog. It’s clear that even if we don’t go chasing those birds, we’re still really interested in their presence. Should we expect anything more from a community of birders?

The famous Bosque Rufous-necked Wood-Rail, photo by Jeff Gordon

The famous Bosque Rufous-necked Wood-Rail, photo by Jeff Gordon

Thanks for a fun 2013. Happy New Year to you all.