American Birding Podcast



Blog Birding #401

Warblers that migrate less tend to sing pair duets more, the reasons for this are explored by Liam Mitchell at The AOS Pubs Blog. 

We tested whether migrating and duetting are correlated in the evolutionary history of New World warblers. Essentially, we were looking to see if duetting and the absence of migration show up in similar places on the birds’ family tree. We collected data on each warbler species and determined whether or not they performed duets and whether or not they migrated. We used these data to perform our analyses.

Novice birders tend to focus on field marks when they identify birds, but as David Sibley writes at Birdwatching Daily, habitat is a very important field mark.

Much of this happens at a subconscious level, creating expectations for certain species. Those species become top candidates in our mind, and we identify them more quickly knowing that they are likely to be present. At the same time, we have to understand the inherent uncertainty. Habitat is not a reliable field mark on its own, but it plays an important role in every identification we make. That ambiguity can be hard to grasp, but a successful birder will be able to use habitat as a clue and also quickly set it aside when necessary.

The story of the Night Parrot rediscovery in Australia is one of the weirdest bird stories of all time. Brendan Borrell, at Audubon, breaks down the most recent twists and turns.

But since AWC’s former CEO, Atticus Fleming, hired Young as a senior ecologist in 2016, the organization has fended off a growing chorus of critics. The debate exploded publicly with the release last fall of Olsen’s book and with Audubon’s publication of an uncropped photo Young had taken that revealed wire mesh in one corner, suggesting he had temporarily captured that original Night Parrot, despite his claims to the contrary.

A new family tree for perching birds upends a lot of what we thought we knew about half of the world’s birds. Learn more at 

“In our on-going work piecing together the evolutionary history of all bird species, natural history museum research collections like the one we have here at the LSU Museum of Natural Science have been absolutely essential. By sequencing DNA from these invaluable specimens using new technologies, we can begin to understand how species evolved over the course of millions of years at a resolution that is unprecedented,” said co-author Brant Faircloth, an assistant professor in the LSU Department of Biological Sciences and a faculty associate at the LSU Museum of Natural Science.

The New Jersey birding community suffered a great loss last week with the death of Pete Bacinski. Brian Aberback of Meadowlands Birding Blog pays tribute.

He directed the Sandy Hook Bird Observatory for NJ Audubon, Owl Haven Nature Center and the All Things Birds Program. He led Eco-Tours across North America and had a weekly column on birding in the Star-Ledger for 14 years. He was part of the first World Series of Birding winning team with Roger Tory Peterson, Bill Boyle, Pete Dunne and David Sibley. He was the leader of the original Meadowlands Birding Festival while he was with NJ Audubon.