American Birding Podcast



Blog Birding #241

Truth told, our birding failures often out-number our birding successes by a large margin, so it’s a good thing there’s always something to learn from a nemesis, as Justine Hausheer shares at The Nature Conservancy’s Cool Green Science.

The only word running through my head isn’t fit for print. This was my one chance to find the trogon, and the stupid bird wasn’t there.

It’s my deep, secret, and possibly unfounded belief that most birders experience this occasional rage. (If they don’t, they’re either better people than I am or they’re lying.) The birding community even has a word for these epic birding fails: nemesis birds. The more times you fail to see a bird, the greater a nemesis it becomes.

As social media looks more and more like a 24 hour personal nature identification help desk, it’s important that we all try to abide by a certain sort of etiquette when taking our questions to the giant internet field guide. Eric Eaton of Bug Eric writes about insects, but the sentiment can be applied broadly.

There are plenty of knowledgeable amateur naturalists, Master Naturalists, and citizen scientists, as well as professional scientists, online who can help make identifications. If you do not consider yourself in one of those categories, it may be best to refrain from commenting. That way, there is no need for someone else to correct you down the line. That said, you can be a professional and still be incorrect, but at least you’ll be in the ballpark.
 Noah Strycker is spending his summer working his way through Europe, finding all the localized breeding species on the continent. Follow his journey at Birding Without Borders.
Only later did Gorka mention that, at least earlier in spring when most birders go looking, you don’t have to get up early to find a Dupont’s Lark. They sing all day long. “We just helped perpetuate the sunrise myth,” Gorka said. “Foreign birders all think you have to get up early to see one!” It was fun to be out there, anyway, especially when we came across a dozen drop-dead dazzling Pin-tailed Sandgrouse a few minutes later.
And speaking of European birders, Jochen Roeder at 10,000 Birds writes about why North American birders should care about the Great Egrets over there.
You see, the Great (White) Heron/Egret is a polytypic species with four subspecies: alba in Europe, egretta in the Americas, melanorhynchos in Africa, and modesta in Asia and Oceania. Now, with so many subspecies scattered over areas with a high degree of geographic isolation, it is no wonder that the status of the various forms is a matter of dispute, but the overall trend is clearly towards splitting the great white long-necked bird into several species. The data for splitting off modesta is pretty compelling, but the rest are still in limbo. Accepting the splitting-off of modesta, this essentially means that six birders scanning a wetland somewhere in Asia could conceivably report the same individual as Casmerodius albus, Egretta alba, Ardea alba, Casmerodius modestus, Egretta modesta and Ardea modesta.
If you’re interested in keeping tabs on the day-to-day birding on St. Paul Island, Alaska, do yourself a favor and follow Cory Gregory at See You at Sunrise. His latest describes finding a Pribs first Euro Golden-Plover.
When describing the birding here on St. Paul Island, we find ourselves saying things like:

“If you stay long enough, you WILL see rare birds.  However, not all of them are expected ones.”

It’s totally true too.  Sure, if you spent a season here, you’ll probably see things like Brambling and maybe a Wood Sandpiper or two.  You’ll probably even see some rarer things but you may as well stop predicting there.