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Blog Birding #204

Birding in fall often means seeking out the nearest fruit-bearing tree and waiting for awhile. Laura Erickson sings the praises of her local fruit-eating birds.

Lovely as flying waxwings are, I love being where they set down for a spell in convivial feeding groups. Of course, there are degrees of conviviality. There can be 20 or 30 Cedar Waxwings in a single mountain ash, but seldom will there be more than 2, and usually just one, per cluster of berries. I don’t think I’ve ever seen waxwings pass berries to one another in fall—their mission seems entirely about devouring as many as they can, laying on fat deposits that will help them over days of scarcity come winter.

HMANA’s Hawk Migration Notes blog is a great place to check out some of the more recent findings with regard to raptors. A piece on Broad-winged Hawks and telemetry is a fascinating look into the private lives of a common bird.

The study marks the first time a telemetry unit has ever been placed on a juvenile broadwing, as well as the first time scientists have a chance to compare movements of siblings from the same nest. The research, which started in spring with nest monitoring, is funded by a Pennsylvania Game Commission State Wildlife Grant with support from ATAS International, the Kittatinny Coalition, and other private donors and supporters.

Everyone has an opinion on bird common names. Some are perfectly suited for the species, some are woefully inadequate. The Birdist‘s Nick Lund doesn’t just find fault in those poorly considered names, but attempts to right those wrongs.

It’s not an exact science, but it’s pretty inclusive in the end.  But I’m not just here today to break up bird names, I’m here to help.  I feel bad for all the birds in the Commoners and Comparative-Negative categories, and I want to fix them up right.  There are plenty of words that can get the same ideas across without being insulting – or at least without copying the first name of another bird.  Let’s give it a shot.  Here’s a list of formerly “common” species with new names that I found in some online thesaurus.  There may be SOME repeats, but there are a lot of commons out there (I’m not going to do rare ABA birds like Common Sandpiper).

Fall may have shouldered itself in, but there’s still time to think about the birds of summer, particularly when that summer involves the ABA’s Camp Colorado, as it does for Matty Hack at The Eyrie.

My week at Camp Colorado started off a few hours behind schedule. After my brother and I boarded our plane, we learned that the plane had a broken seal, and would not be flying us to Denver. We switched planes and got about an hour and a half out, when an elderly woman’s medical emergency turned us back to Chicago. Finally, we landed in Colorado three hours late, met counselor Bill Schmoker at our gate, and set off for home base – the YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park. Air Force One landing in Denver slowed our departure from the airport a bit, but we finally made it to the YMCA, to wild applause from the rest of camp.

California is county birding central, even as the practice has taken hold across the continent. But what does it mean to focus on county ticks when you’re not even resident of the same time zone? Laurence Butler, of Butler’s Birds and Things, explores in North Carolina.

Most birders have a life list, and many more keep national, state, and even county lists, in addition to yard or maybe work patch lists. The county listing is often the repast for very experienced birders, those who have seen just about everything they can in their state, or who do not travel very much outside of it. Seeing birds in one’s home county, or every county in a state, provides new challenges with the same birds. EBird even solicits county moderators as the most local level of its information filtration. The longer you’re in the birding circles, the more county listing seems to come up.

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