American Birding Podcast



How to Know the Birds: No. 14, Q. T. with a Great Blue

What: Great Blue Heron, Ardea herodias When: Saturday, August 3, 2019 Where: Hecla Pond, Boulder County, Colorado

I went out the other evening seeking novelty and adventure. I didn’t know what I would find, but I knew it was to be had out there. That’s because novelty and adventure, when you pause to think [read more…]

How to Know the Birds: No. 13, Gannets—Take 2

What: Northern Gannet, Morus bassanus When: Tuesday, July 16, 2019 Where: Cape St. Mary’s Ecological Reserve, Avalon Peninsula–St. John’s County, Newfoundland and Labrador

I’ve been seeing northern gannets, Morus bassanus, for well over 30 years. But I’m going to make the case now that I’d never truly experienced the gannet until I visited the [read more…]

How to Know the Birds: No. 12, Merganser Musings

What: Hooded Merganser, Lophodytes cucullatus When: Monday, July 8, 2019 Where: Hecla Pond, Boulder County, Colorado

The adult male, or “drake,” hooded merganser, Lophodytes cucullatus, has got to be just about the most ridiculously photogenic bird in the ABA Area. No matter how often I see one—the species has been expanding its range and [read more…]

How to Know the Birds: No. 11, Beware Expectation

What: Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Regulus calendula When: Sunday, June 16, 2019 Where: Keystone Gorge, San Miguel County, Colorado

I was leading a field trip a couple weeks ago, and our group came across this bird:

Telluride, San Miguel County, Colorado; June 16, 2019. Photo by © Ted Floyd.

One of the trip participants [read more…]

How to Know the Birds: No. 10, Dvořák’s Vireo

What: Red-eyed Vireo, Vireo olivaceus When: Thursday, June 6, 2019 Where: Table Mesa Marsh, Boulder County, Colorado

You might have heard of Mozart’s starling. Lyanda Lynn Haupt recently wrote a book, Mozart’s Starling, that’s received a fair bit of acclaim. The short version of the story goes like this: Back in 1784, Wolfgang Amadeus [read more…]

How to Know the Birds: No. 9, What Birders Want—Western Tanagers

What: Western Tanager, Piranga ludoviciana When: Sunday, May 19, 2019 Where: Greenlee Wildlife Refuge, Boulder County, Colorado

Across a large swath of the ABA Area, it has been a remarkable spring for seeing western tanagers. These radiant birds have been showing up all across the western Great Lakes region, where they don’t ordinarily occur. [read more…]

How to Know the Birds: No. 8, Why Do Carolina Wrens Sound So Loud?

What: Carolina Wren, Thryothorus ludovicianus When: Friday, May 10, 2019 Where: Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania

I had every intention of sleeping in. I’d flown in late the night before and had nothing planned for the morning.

The Carolina wren had other plans. At 5:39 local time (that’s 3:39 body time), the bird went off. [read more…]

How to Know the Birds: No. 7, What the Swainson’s Hawk Says

What: Swainson’s Hawk, Buteo swainsoni When: Wednesday, May 1, 2019 Where: Waneka Lake, Boulder County, Colorado

Probably everybody knows what a hawk is. Hawks are big and fierce and raptorial; they have hooked beaks and gnarly talons. Like this:

A chestnut-fronted hawk, just back from its South American wintering grounds, rests in [read more…]

How to Know the Birds: No. 6, Smartphone Meadowlarks

What: Western Meadowlark, Sturnella neglecta When: Monday, April 15, 2019 Where: South Teller Farms, Boulder County, Colorado

The dawn chorus on a bright June morning in the foothills of the Appalachians… southbound Sandhill Cranes bugling against a gray sky over the shortgrass prairie… the desert come alive with thrasher song on a still afternoon [read more…]

How to Know the Birds: No. 5, Why Do Shovelers Spin?

What: Northern Shoveler, Spatula clypeata When: Saturday, March 30, 2019 Where: Hecla Pond, Boulder County, Colorado

Birds do things. Northern cardinals embellish their songs with squirrel-like chatter; American crows patrol parking lots in their quest for whiskey; sagebrush sparrows flip their long tails expressively, as if they were tiny roadrunners; and American dippers do [read more…]