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Blog Birding #402

At Hakai Magazine, Phoebe Weston looks into how scientists actually count the many millions of bird crossig the Gulf of Mexico this time of year.

Over the next 18 days, from April 19 until May 7, more than one billion birds will attempt the perilous journey north over the Gulf of Mexico to reach their spring breeding grounds in North America. As few as one in five will make it back south to their winter habitat. This arduous journey—by gnatcatchers, flycatchers, warblers, buntings, and others—takes place along one of the most significant migration routes in the world.

As tiny geolocator backpacks get smaller and lighter, researchers are able to track the migration of birds that would never have been able to wear them before. Hilary Cooke at Scientific American explores the amazing things we’re discovering.

Blackpoll warblers are one of the fastest declining North American land birds, suffering an estimated 95 percent population decline since 1970. They breed in forested wetlands across the boreal from Alaska to Newfoundland, as well as in isolated montane fir forests at the southern periphery of their range in the northeastern United States. They are long-distance migrants, wintering in the Amazon basin of South America.

Spring is season of birding joy, and Jen Kepler of Snapshot of Nature shares what she is joyful for.

I Love Birds. This is no surprise to those who know me best. I am instantly your best pal the moment you say, “I like birds.” So, since I love birds, they bring me so much joy. I spend a lot of time in the field with a big dopey smile on my face and saying “hi” to birds, sometimes even giving a little wave. I even talk to them. Don’t judge.

It’s good to have goals, in birding and in life. Traditional birding goals like chasing lifers are certainly valid, but Jessica Gorzo at Avian Ecologist finds value in other aspects of birding, too.

There has been recent criticism of ABA Big Years as privileged and not particularly requiring skill (i.e. if you have enough money, you can do whatever you want). Also, what is any endeavor like that really worth? In other words, what level of experience, effort and takeaway makes seeing a bird “worth it” (and to whose criteria)? For these reasons, I’ve wondered if lifer chasing will become somewhat passé in favor of some other more nuanced and woke way to enjoy wildlife (or maybe, we’ll just talk about it less).

Climate change threatens to upend the habitats of a great many species of birds in ways we can’t always predict, and according to Phys.org, it looks to be a existential threat for a species like Saltmarsh Sparrow.

Salt marshes are globally limited to about 30,000 square miles (45,000 square km), with one-third of the total on North American coasts. Of the 25 species or subspecies limited to tidal wetlands worldwide, 15 are restricted to the US Atlantic and Gulf coasts. Given rapid climate changes and other threats to salt marsh ecosystems, many of these species are in serious danger.

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