American Birding Podcast



Not Quite the Last of the Carolina Parakeet

Carolina Parakeet, Mark Catesby

Sometimes it’s best not to tell people what you’ve seen.

Birders know how hard it can be to keep quiet when you’ve discovered something really exciting, but there are times when the stakes are genuinely high, as they were along Florida’s Sebastian River in the late winter and spring of [read more…]

The Illiterate Birder

Yikes, that ain’t English! And what on earth is that strange reptilian creature on the cover?

It’s easy sometimes for us Americans to forget that there is a whole vast birding literature out there that is not published in the US or the UK. On those rare occasions when we are reminded, it’s often by [read more…]

The Code

There is some irony in taking more than 3,000 words and two full days on the ABA blog just to reach this conclusion:

Do we have to waste this much time and inbox space ranting about [four-letter codes]? Is it really that important? Don’t we have better things to discuss?

I assume that Derek [read more…]

Audubon’s Little Ruff-necks

This coming spring, we will have what may be for many of us the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see more than 100 of the watercolors John James Audubon prepared for his Birds of America, the original art from which the plates of that most famous of American picture books were engraved. In 1863, Lucy Audubon, impoverished [read more…]

First Hummer East

My books are alive. No, not just in the metaphorical way; they’re alive, active, animated. There’s no other way to explain my waking up each morning to find them in disorder—no matter how carefully and how systematically I think I’ve arranged them, the books go all helter-skelter when I’m not looking, concealing the one title [read more…]

Do You Remember Your First Rufous Hummingbird?

James Cook and the crew of the Resolution could hardly have forgotten theirs. In spring 1778, the expedition spent a month at anchor in Nootka Sound, trading with the local inhabitants. Mammal pelts—especially those of the abundant sea otter—were highest on the Europeans’ list of commercial desiderata, but the local birds were of interest, too, [read more…]

A Well-trod Path: Birding Point Breeze

Moustached Warbler, Nicolas Huet

In 1823, the director of the natural history museum at Leiden, Coenraad Jacob Temminck, published the formal description of a new warbler, first collected “in the countryside near Rome.” Temminck, one of the most famous systematists of his day, graciously credited the type specimen of his new species, [read more…]

North America’s Oldest New Bird?

A review of Snyder and Fry, Validity of Bartram’s Painted Vulture (Aves: Cathartidae). Zootaxa 3613(1):61-82.

I bet it’s been a while since you’ve seen a Small-headed Flycatcher, or a Townsend’s Bunting, or a Carbonated Warbler. But I’m equally sure that most of us have heard of those birds, “nonce species” collected or claimed once [read more…]

Dunne, Sibley, and Sutton: Hawks in Flight

Hawks in Flight, second edition

by Pete Dunne, David Sibley, and Clay Sutton

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012

335 pages, $26–hardcover

ABA Sales / Buteo Books 13648 As a young hawk watcher at Cape May in the early 1990s, I thought the authors of Hawks in Flight were magicians. Pulling identifications out of thin air, they [read more…]

Zickefoose: The Bluebird Effect

The Bluebird Effect

by Julie Zickefoose

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012

355 pages, $28–hardcover

ABA Sales / Buteo Books # 13621

Here is a book whose graceful prose, charming illustrations, and exceptional design fully deserve every bit and byte of the praise that has been poured over it since its publication earlier this year. Julie [read more…]