American Birding Podcast



Blog Birding #248

The song of the Wood Thrush echos through eastern forests the warmer months, the sign of spring for many birders. The species has also been the subject of a number of high tech research, which has shed some light on their, er, promiscuity, as Gwen Pearson of Wired shares.

Some results were expected: Female thrushes with active nests slept at home, on her nest. Paired males with nests, however, slept all over, sometimes hundreds of meters away from their nest. Mated pairs without nests slept together. The researchers hypothesized the male was sticking close to prevent extra-pair matings (a polite term for bird adultery). Males who had a nest were perhaps roaming around looking for their own bit of bird tail with their nocturnal rambling.

Noah Strycker is bearing down on his goal of 5000 species for the year 2015. He’s in the Philippines now, focusing on many of that nation’s island endemics.

Otherwise, this morning was tough work. We spent hours in a sweaty forest while bird activity remained stubbornly quiet, slowly teasing out one new bird at a time. One of our most-wished-for targets, the Azure-breasted Pitta, remained elusive even though Nicky said they are usually quite common here. After a couple of hours we finally spotted one in a distant, thick tangle, and had a good-enough view through the spotting scope, but it was an assemble-by-parts sighting: See the head, then see the feet, then see the body, one piece at a time.

Debby Kaspari shares some of her gorgeous bird art at her blog Drawing the Motmot. The subject this time around, pelicans and power plants.

On the jetty at Moss Landing, drawing brown pelicans and California gulls, hearing sea lions bark and inhaling aromatic sea salt  mixed with giant kelp. Almost edible.

Harbor seals snore on the beach and sea otters lay on their backs in the swell, their front paws pressed together. The fog is coming in, and the tide is going out.

The Heermann’s Gull of the west coast is undoubtedly one of North America’s classiest species, and fairly common in the right place and time. But despite that ubiquity, the species is still considered threatened as Larry Jordan explains at 10,000 Birds.

Isla Rasa was declared a sanctuary in 1964, and egg-collecting and disturbance during the breeding season are discouraged. With the breeding colony concentrated on one small island this species is vulnerable to a catastrophic weather event. The success of the colony in any one year is dependent on the availability of prey and this is related to the ocean temperature changes brought about by El Niño. These factors have caused the IUCN to rate this bird as “Near Threatened”

Tis the season for LBJs, Little Brown Jobs. Late fall is high time for sparrow migration, and Mike Crewe at View From the Cape has certainly seen more than most at Cape May.

We are well into October and there’s no doubt that fall is in full swing in Cape May. The leaves are turning colors, the Yellow-rumped Warblers are plentiful, and the sparrows have moved in. Just in the last couple weeks we have witnessed as influx of our favorite, LBJ’s. A few Clay-colored Sparrows and Lincoln’s Sparrows have been spotted around Cape Island, as well as a fly-by Lark Sparrow further up the Bayshore. In my own backyard, there is a plethora of White-throated Sparrows and Swamp Sparrows enjoying our new brush pile and recently filled feeders. The soft and sweet chip notes of Savannah Sparrows can be heard around The Nature Conservancy’s South Cape May Meadows as the beautifully streaky birds cross back and forth over the paths.