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Blog Birding #235

Interesting in learning about the inspiration and motivations of the ABA’s new Young Birders of the Year? At The Eyrie Jennie Duberstein shares an interview with Dess Sieburth of California on, among other things, why he took on the challenge of the Young Birder of the Year contest.

I learned a lot from participating in the contest. Keeping a field journal improved my overall birding skills, as sketching forced me to look at small details in plumage and behavior that I wouldn’t have noticed otherwise. I learned that small conservation projects can make a big difference. For example, my article in the local newspaper about what people can do to help the birds in our neighborhood reached over 6,000 readers. I learned that giving presentations is another effective way to teach many people about conservation. I gave talks to Pasadena Audubon Society and Los Angeles Audubon Society about my projects.

House Sparrows are considered dirty, invasive interlopers to North America’s bird scene, but are they really so bad. At 10,000 Birds, Jochen Roeder attempts to sell us on Passer domesticus.

Bird blogging in May always gives me the creeps. This ridiculous focus of the Birding Internet on North American wood-warblers is boring on a quiet day and highly annoying during peak migration. Birders in the Americas may not be aware of it, but from the higher ground of a European perspective the American “warblers” are intensely overrated. To us on the traditional side of the Atlantic, they’ll always belong to the family Iznogoudae, the birds who want to become warblers instead of the warblers. And do they ever try so hard. Imagine, they think they can beat the original by applying colours to their plumage. Who enjoys seeing that?! Not me, that’s for certain. I therefore decided to counter this month’s heinous wood-warbler attack on my retina by choosing the good old trusty House Sparrow as the topic of my May post. The House Sparrow exemplifies all we love about birds and birding

in many parts of North America, reduction in the population of Barn Owls has been blamed on depredation by Great Horned Owls. At Feathered Photography, Ron Dudley tries to get to the bottom of that story, at least in one case.

Many (perhaps most) local birders, nature lovers and bird photographers are aware of the resident Great Horned Owls in the “hay barn” on Antelope Island. They’ve been there for years. Usually during daytime they’re high on the interior metal girders and in the shade but earlier this week I found this adult basking in the morning sun on the exterior of the building. The bird was so sleepy that it usually had its eyes closed.

I rarely visit these birds because the setting and lighting leave a lot to be desired and I like to leave them in peace but occasionally when the gate to the area is open (which isn’t often lately) I take one turn around the barn just to check on their welfare.

As the leaves come out in force in May, the birding gets much more difficult and many birders really more and more on vocalizations for identification. At The Zen Birdfeeder, Nancy Castillo shares a great reference for learning bird vocals.

Every spring, as migration gets underway, I bring out my Birding by Ear sets for a number of reasons.  First, I want to take a refresher course on the bird songs and calls I already know (or think I already know).  I often end up picking out something a little different even on the commonest of bird song, just helping to further reinforce those connections.

Noah Strycker is still working his way up the Americas. He’s recently been in Mexico, where an encounter with one of that country’s most impressive endemics is a highlight.

The Tufted Jay Preserve is an interesting case study of local conservation in action. It’s not a park, and it isn’t run by some NGO or governmental branch. Officially, the preserve has no protected status. Years ago, a local community just decided that it would be worthwhile to leave this patch of pine forest for the birds, so to speak, for the greater environmental (and touristic) good. Now the preserve has several cabins, a caretaker, and a night guard from the community—and, of course, the Tufted Jays.

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