American Birding Podcast



eBird Changed My Life

eBird project leader Brian L. Sullivan likes to say that eBird has changed the way he birds. He said so in his essay “eBird and the Evolution of a Birder,” appearing in the January/February 2008 issue of Birding, and he said it again in “A Birding Interview—with Brian L. Sullivan,” which appears in the September/October [read more…]

Stealth Birds

One of my earliest memories of the fourth edition of the Roger Tory Peterson’s Field Guide to the Birds has to do with something that appears on p. 29. Half way down the page, Peterson writes:

“Allan Phillips argued convincingly in American Birds that practically all of the Semipalmated Sandpipers so freely reported [read more…]

The ABA, Wikipedia, and You

Google the word “birding” and one of the very first hits will surely be the Wikipedia entry for our passion and pastime. See for yourself:

The entry runs to 4,982 words, according to my computer, covering such topics as “The history of birdwatching,” “Competition,” “Code of conduct,” and “Famous birdwatchers.” And this: “Networking and [read more…]

Do they get it?

I was recently interviewed as an “expert” by Boxoffice Magazine, for an article they do about new movies called “Expert Opinion”. It was a fun interview, and I think the resulting piece captures most of what I wanted to say about the movie (and, they ran my mug alongside Steve Martin … good work, if [read more…]

The Eubanks Challenge

Ted Eubanks, in a recent post to The ABA Blog, said this:

[M]ost hard-core birders, those who pursue birds as aggressively as collectors once chased Cabbage Patch dolls, appear to care little about the unwashed masses. The crowds are little more than traffic congestion to bypass before reaching the next lifer.

I [read more…]

A Pox on Politics (I Ain’t No Stool Pigeon!)

I, for one, feel no such obligation. I care little for lists. What attracts me to this story is the bird, its improbable appearance and its mysterious origins. Since we can never know its provenance, we can allow ourselves to put birder on the shelf and go back to simple bird watching. We can return to a time and age when committees didn’t matter and we celebrated the simple existance of a wayward soul. There will be many more rare birds for the lists; not all will be so enigmatic. But for this moment, these precious days and hours, we have been offered a glimpse at a bird whose value transcends the constrictions of our recreation. The sparrow humbles us, and reminds us that there is a limit to what we can know. [read more…]

Job Opening at the ABA

Hello, Birders!

This blog post consists of two parts. First is a position announcement; we need somebody to produce our “Sightings” column for Birding and Winging It. Second is some commentary from me about this column.

First things first. Interested in producing the “Sightings” column for Birding and Winging It? Then please carefully study this [read more…]

Return of the Sparrow

One of the most famous passages ever penned by Aldo Leopold goes like this:

One swallow does not make a summer, but one skein of geese, cleaving the murk of a March thaw, is the spring.

He goes on:

A cardinal, whistling spring to a thaw but later finding himself mistaken [read more…]

“The Club,” Take 2

Long, long ago, Pete Dunne wrote in American Birds about bird club meetings. His core message, as I recall, was that all bird club meetings are basically the same. He meant it in the best possible way: Bird club meetings are all the same in all the best ways. Call it the Anna Karenina Theorem of [read more…]

The Great Voice

Sunday, June 5th. With Paul Rodewald, a birding companion from my college days, I’m listening for birds along a country road in Adams County, down in far southern Ohio. It’s not yet dawn. A Chuck-will’s-widow is singing its head off. We hear another in the distance. A Purple Martin calls as it flies over in the darkness.    “Let’s [read more…]