American Birding Podcast



Certainty, Experts, and Confirmation

A couple of friends and I were birding around Jamaica Bay in New York a few years ago. We came upon a couple of people, a man and a woman, looking out over the water and discussing a bird perched in plain view, but a bit distantly, out in the marsh. They didn’t seem to [read more…]

Why Is Sound So Hard?

One of the skills most birders use is the ability to recognize birds by the sounds they make. In most bird groups (seabirds being an obvious exception), each species (and sometimes subspecies or regional variations or even individuals) can be recognized by the sounds that it makes. If you've spent much time around serious birders, [read more…]

I Don’t Know

As birders, our goal is to find and identify birds. That is what we do when we are out in the field, driving, doing yard work, or just glancing out the window. Our overriding urge is to see and then identify birds. Fortunately for us, birds are everywhere. No matter where you go in the [read more…]

Believing in the Impossible

Imagine heading out to Hawk Mountain for a day of watching hawk migration. If you’ve ever been to this well-known migration spot, it will be easy to envision the hike through the trees and the anticipation of what avian wonders might pass by over the course of a day’s vigil. This site is known for [read more…]

I’ve got it narrowed down to two…

“I can’t decide; I saw it well enough, but I’m not sure which one it was!” This is a common identification challenge for various pairs of common birds. It is easy to narrow it down to two species, but taking that last step becomes much more difficult. In eastern North America, I think that one [read more…]

Overcoming Expectation

About a year after I began birding, when I was still very much in the beginner phase, a Red-necked Grebe was reported on a reservoir not far from my undergraduate school. We don’t get a lot of Red-necked Grebes in Ohio, and I had never seen one. My friend Tom hadn’t seen one either, so [read more…]

How do we identify birds?

Editor's note: The ABA blog welcomes New Jersey birder Blake Mathys as one of a group of regular  contributors on the subject of Bird ID and field skills.  Blake is presently a professor at Stockton College in New Jersey, and is also a part-time lecturer, teaching Ornithology, at Rutgers University.

We've all had the experience [read more…]