American Birding Podcast



Blog Birding #260

Noah Strycker’s global Big Year was remarkable for a lot of reasons, part of it being that he eBirded the whole thing.

eBird was a key player in my Big Year. I used it to plan ahead, to connect with other birders, and to keep track of and share sightings. Many of us are used to eBird in the U.S., but I was inspired by how quickly it is spreading around the planet – almost 25% of eBird checklists today come in from outside the U.S., and that figure keeps going up. Pretty amazing, considering eBird only went global five years ago. eBird has become a truly international network, and I saw firsthand how it’s helping mint new birders in far-flung places.

If you’re interested in renewable energy, you’ve probably heard something about the Ivanpah solar energy plant and its problem with exploding birds. You’ll be happy to know, then, that they’ve most fixed the problem, as Greg Laden explains at 10,000 Birds.

Engineers working at Brightsolar have solved the problem. Here’s the thing. Most of the birds, possibly all, that were being vaporized were running into a ring of intense solar radiation that formed around the plant’s tower during standby periods. This is when the sun’s energy is not concentrated around the tower, but instead, in plain old air. So, the engineers changed the direction in which the sun’s energy was pointed during stand down, and ended up creating less of a concentration. Now, the concentrated sunlight at its maximum is hot but quite survivable. It is about the strength of four suns shining at once on one spot, which does not vaporize a bird flying through it.

American Kestrel is already an attractive bird, a strange reddish bird in Pennsylvania which crossed paths with Alex Lamoreaux of The Nemesis Bird even moreso by virtue of its dramatic and attractive plumage abnormality.

This female is unusual in that her cap and front mustachial stripe are a burnt orange color; just slightly richer in color than the dark-orange of the bird’s mantle. A typical ‘Northern’ female would have a blueish cap with dark orange on the very top of the head, and a black front mustachial stripe. The underside streaking of this kestrel is more finely patterned with darker, pointed markings that almost form loose barring across the front of the kestrel compared to the longer, and more blob-shaped streaks on a typical female.

Did we miss our opportunity to elect a birding president? According to Nick Lund at The Birdist, apparently so.

Pataki, apparently, was another. I had no idea! It certainly didn’t come up during the debates, which focused instead on screaming and yelling.  Pataki positioned himself as the centrist Republican candidate, but didn’t mention that he was an award-winning conservationist. (Which was probably smart, considering the audience).

Ravens, and all corvids, are will known for their intelligence and personality. Laura Erickson has a story featuring all that and more.

Ravens, along with jays, magpies, and crows, belong to a family known for tight family relationships, and strong ties with neighboring birds. One day when I was rehabbing a Blue Jay named BJ, who I kept in a cage next to my education Blue Jay Sneakers, Sneakers managed to get out of her own cage. When I came into the room, she was passing mealworms through the bars to BJ. I bet she’d taken at least a few for herself first, but still…