American Birding Podcast



Happening NOW: Snowy Golden Plovers

It’s one of the immutable truths of birding: Bad weather brings good birds. So, when I woke up on a snowy Sunday morning, Oct. 14, 2018, it was patently obvious to me that I would visit my local patch, Greenlee Wildlife Preserve, at the end of my street in the Denver suburbs. Almost immediately I heard the sound of what I knew was a good bird, one I don’t hear all that often in Colorado. It was overhead, invisible in the mist and snow, looking for a place to land.

This American Golden-Plover dropped in for a visit at the author’s local patch near Denver on Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018. As it would turn out, golden-plovers were all over Colorado east of the mountains that day. Why? Photo by © Ted Floyd.

American Golden-Plover! The first in the county in 6+ years. Folks came to see it; that’s nice. But what’s nicer is that folks also didn’t come to see it. Instead, they worked their patches, wondering what other birds the storm might deliver. Good on them! If a birding phenomenon is in progress, the absolute best thing you can do is go somewhere else—to see what else is out there. By day’s end, at least eleven (11) sites in Colorado had eBird reports of one or more golden-plovers.

Let’s put that in perspective. Until Oct. 14, there had been a grand total of two (2) American Golden-Plovers reported to eBird in Colorado in 2018—one in Washington County Sept. 4–8 and one in Kiowa County Sept. 18. I get that the snow resulted in good birding in Colorado this past Sunday, but why was there a very specific impact on American Golden-Plovers? At this writing, I don’t know. But maybe somebody will figure it out. And, if they do, chances are you will read about it in the Mountain West regional report in North American Birds, the quarterly journal of ornithological record published by the American Birding Association. Was the golden-plover fallout more widespread? Was it part of a longer-term phenomenon, playing out over the course of weeks or even months? Again, I don’t know. And, again, the answers to those and other questions will be revealed in North American Birds.


For a bit more than a year now, we at North American Birds have been posting occasional entries in this “Happening NOW” series at The ABA Blog. But we’re scarcely the only ones who notice ornithological phenomena. What’s happening now in your neck of the woods? We’d love to learn about it. And, honestly, I think it’s time to hear from somewhere other Colorado! (But if you just can’t get enough S&D from Colorado, click here and here.)

Anyhow, if you’re onto something, in Colorado or anywhere else in North America, please let North American Birds Editor Mike Hudson (mhudson “at” aba “dot” org) know about it, and he’ll drop everything for you! Seriously, we want “Happening NOW” entries to post immediately, ideally while whatever’s happening is still happening.

In other news, North American Birds just joined Twitter! Check us out at The site is brand-new, so bear with us as we get our bearings. We’ve got a little ways to go, but we also have big hopes for our Twitter page—which we hope will become a sort of “stop press” site for quick news about field ornithological phenomena in progress.

Want more? Go to to subscribe to North American Birds. Or drop Mike a note. He’d love to hear from you.