American Birding Podcast



Blog Birding #407

At Shorebird Science, Metta McGarvey and Stephan Brown share what they hope to accomplish this season in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Our surveys in the Arctic Refuge are part of a project we helped initiate in 2000 called PRISM (the Program for Regional and International Shorebird Monitoring). The goal of PRISM is to systematically survey shorebird habitats across the entire North American Arctic every 20 years to measure population status and trend.  Our upcoming expedition will measure shorebird population change, determine population trends, and enable us to better understand the current status of shorebirds in this important area. Shorebirds are the most populous and among the most threatened groups of birds in this part of Alaska. Data from high-quality habitat surveys prior to development will aid our efforts to ensure that any impacts from impending development include mitigation to replace lost habitat functions that may result from future industrial development.

In the heavily farmed parts of Northern California, the Tricolored Blackbird is increasingly finding itself squeezed out, as Ben Goldfarb writes t All About Birds. 

Soon I’m seeing tricolors, or “trikes,” everywhere—atop fenceposts, arrayed along power lines, even alighting on obliging sheep. Every few minutes the birds lift in a whoosh of wings, rising and falling in hypnotic murmurations. During one such flight, a Peregrine Falcon, its steely back glinting, glides through the flock in a half-hearted attack, parting the startled blackbirds like Moses striding through the Red Sea.

National Park Service rangers have confirmed the hatching of two California Condor chicks at Zion National Park in Utah, the first successful hatches in the state since before it was a state, or the US was a country.

If the chick survives, it would be Utah’s first successful hatchling. Zion spokeswoman Aly Baltrus says three chicks have been born at the park but have died before they were old enough to fly.

National Park Service records show the condors were the only breeding pair in Zion as of last year. Park rangers estimate they’ve been together for two years.

At The History of Ornithology Blog, Bob Montgomerie looks at field guides and how they’ve changed over the decades.

By early October, I had pretty much decided to study gulls in Newfoundland for my PhD when I had one of those life-defining coincidences. My fellow graduate students and I drove from Montreal to Cape Cod to attend the AOU meeting in Provincetown. I told various people about my research dilemma and most commiserated with the problems of field identification in the tropics. Then, in a break between talks, I went to the vendors’ tables and there was the latest Peterson Field Guide—Peterson and Chalif’s A Field Guide to Mexican Birds. The book had actually been published in January 1973 but there was no internet in those days and we usually only found out about new books when the publisher sent around flyers, or we heard by word of mouth.

Trips to the Gulf Stream are about more than simpley seeing seabirds, but witnessing some incredible interactions between them, as Kate Sutherland writes at Seabirding.
As we approached the birds, there was a Scopoli’s Shearwater that flew away from the scene of the crime.  Perhaps the second of the two birds we had seen in the distance with the first falling prey to the South Polar Skua.  We were able to spend time watching the skua as it first plucked the shearwater, then began pulling its entrails from the body cavity.  As we watched, a large bull Atlantic dolphinfish, aka Mahi mahi, came and grabbed the head of the shearwater in its mouth!  Surprising us and the skua!!!  (photo Brian Patteson)