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This site is a launch pad to all the full-feature content in the September/October 2014 Birding. Think of it as your online Table of Contents. Click on the links below, and off you go!
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Cover photo by Greg Neise
Book Reviews. Poetry, woodpeckers, and avian psychology...We’ve got it all covered in the book reviews in this issue of Birding!
Al Schirmacher leads off with a review of a major new anthology of English-language haiku. If you’re scratching your head, bear with us, for birds and birding play a major role in modern haiku. And modern haiku is one of the most important movements in contemporary nature writing.
From haiku to the avian sensory world we go. In the past two decades, there has been a revolution in our thinking about the avian brain. We used to think birds weren’t very smart (and we used to think haiku are “just” 5-7-5 ditties). Julia Zarankin reviews an important work on what it’s like to be a bird.
Speaking of what’s like to be a bird...Imagine what it must be like to bang your head into wood all day long. Noel Snyder wraps up our September/October 2014 book reviews with a look at a beautiful book on the familiar yet constantly amazing woodpeckers of the world.
A Birding Interview with Michael O’Brien. What does it take to be one of the greatest birders of all time? In this Birding Interview, we go straight to the source! Michael O’Brien, one of the all-time greats, answers questions about paying attention, learning birdsong, painting birds, and whether we really need yet another field guide to the birds of North America.
Check out the complete Table of Contents for the print issue of the September/October 2014 Birding.
This site is a launch pad to all the full-feature content in the July/August 2014 Birding. Think of it as your online Table of Contents. Click on the links below, and off you go!
What is the “agenda” for Birding magazine? Well, the magazine’s very name provides a strong clue. The magazine isn’t Birds or Bird Biology. Rather, it’s Birding, an affirmation of a human undertaking, a human perspective, a human agenda. Read more about “The Birding Agenda,” and join the conversation at The ABA Blog.
Left: Art by © Jen Brumfield.
In “Birding Together,” ABA President Jeffrey A. Gordon invites birders to explore questions of identity and agenda as they relate to the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp, better known as the “Duck Stamp.”
Read Gordon’s article [0.8-megabyte PDF download], and join the conversation online.
Right: Buy your Duck Stamp through the ABA.
Recent technological advances have had inarguable consequences for birder identity and for the birding agenda. In an essay in the July/August issue [1.4-megabyte download], Birding Editor Ted Floyd ponders twelve years of change in birding (the hobby) and at Birding (the magazine). Is all this change good or bad? Folks are discussing it at The ABA Blog, and we welcome your input.
Left: Two different ways of representing the Olive-sided Flycatcher’s “Hic! Free Beer!” song.
More than anything else, ABA members are at the heart of the agenda for Birding magazine. ABA member “milestones”—personal listing achievements—fill the pages of Birding. If you are an ABA member and would like to have your milestone written up, please contact Editor Ted Floyd. In your submission, be sure to include all the relevant details of your milestone: the exact date and location of your special sighting, your full name, your city and state or province, and any additional details you wish to share.
On October 16th of this year, a birding team from the Louisiana State University (LSU) Museum of Natural Science will set out to break the world Big Day record: 331 species, set more than 30 years ago. In a feature article in the July/August Birding [4.3-megabyte download], Gregg Gorton introduces us to the LSU team and interprets the conservation and scientific backdrop for their run at the Big Day record.
Follow the team as it prepares for the Big Day. Click here to learn about their route and strategies, click here to learn about research supported in part by funds raised through the Big Day effort, and click here to sponsor the team.
Update! They did it! Click here to read about the LSU team's new World Big Day record.
Bird ID. If there’s one constant on the pages of Birding magazine, it’s bird identification—not just how to put a name on a bird, but analysis, interpretation, and even a bit of philosophy. It’s a central part of “The Birding Agenda” mentioned above. And so it is in the current issue of Birding.
Bird ID content in the July/August issue is highlighted by articles on godwits, nightjars, and even a “Townsend’s Bunting.” For the challenge of identifying nightjars by sight, click here. To learn about a new field mark for separating Black-tailed and Hudsonian Godwits, click here. And if you’re dying to learn what the heck a Townsend’s Bunting is (one was seen in Ontario earlier in the year), click here.
Photo by © Kyle Blaney.
Book Reviews. We birders love diversity, and that diversity is reflected in this issue of Birding both in the books reviewed and in the reviewers themselves. Professional bird guide Gavin Bieber reviews Russell Cannings and Richard Canning’s Birdfinding in British Columbia, biologist Graham Etherington reviews Steve N. G. Howell and coauthors’ Rare Birds of North America, and writer Chelsea Biondolillo reviews Joy M. Kiser’s America’s Other Audubon.
Check out the complete Table of Contents for the print issue of the July/August 2014 Birding.
This site is a launch pad to all the full-feature content in the May/June 2014 Birding. Think of it as your online Table of Contents. Click on the links below, and off you go!
Our cover photo depicts a White-breasted Nuthatch. But which White-breasted Nuthatch? As Steven G. Mlodinow explains in a feature article in the current issue, the bird currently classified as a single species—the White-breasted Nuthatch—may well be a complex of three or more species! The proposed names are Carolina Nuthatch, Rocky Mountain Nuthatch, and Slender-billed Nuthatch.
Left: Cover photo by © Garth McElroy.
In his article, Mlodinow notes that the best way to tell apart the three nuthatches is to listen to them. That’s hard to do on the print pages of Birding magazine. But it’s no problem at all online. Click here to listen to the distinctive call notes of Carolina, Rocky Mountain, and Slender-billed nuthatches.
In a little more than a month, birders will note the centenary of the extinction of the Passenger Pigeon. The pigeon’s extinction story is inescapably human—involving almost unimaginable human thoughtlessness and profligacy, but also inspiring efforts by the handful of bird lovers who tried in vain to save the species. In a feature article in the May/June Birding, ornithologist and historian Joel Greenberg tells the human story of the extinction of Ecopistes migratorius. Greenberg’s article is accompanied by evocative art by the award-winning natural history illustrator Kate Garchinsky.
Below: Pastel on Arches paper–2013, by © Kate Garchinsky–penguinart.com
Along with Greenberg’s words and Garchinsky’s pastels, we present in this issue a first for Birding magazine: origami. Thanks to generous support from The Lost Bird Project–Fold the Flock, every ABA member has received with the May/June Birding an origami insert of a Passenger Pigeon, plus folding instructions and general information. Please consider posting a photo of your pigeon to the Facebook pages of the American Birding Association and Fold the Flock.
Right: Sarah Adams of Dahlonega, Georgia, posted this selfie to Facebook. Adams, who begins her junior year in high school next month, wryly commented, “We’re already best friends.”
Book Reviews. Continuing with the theme of the Passenger Pigeon, our first review in the May/June Birding is of Joel Greenberg’s A Feathered River Across the Sky: The Passenger Pigeon’s Flight to Extinction. Click here for Rick Wright’s review.
Next up is a review of “just” a regional avifauna. But oh what a region! It’s Birds of the Sierra Nevada: Their Natural History, Status, and Distribution, by Edward C. Beedy, Edward R. Pandolfino, and Keith Hansen. Click here for Jennifer Rycenga’s review.
Last but certainly not least is Jen Brumfield’s review of the long-awaited second edition of the epochal Sibley Guide to Birds. Click here for Brumfield’s review of the book widely known among birders as “The New Sibley.”
Featured Photo. Quick! Can you think of some of the hardest groups of birds to ID? There are the classic ID challenges: dowitchers and scaup, empids of course, “peeps” and sparrows, and the “confusing fall warblers.” But how about gnatcatchers? Seriously, the ABA Area’s four gnatcatcher species are quite tricky—especially when we’re dealing with plumages other than adult males in the breeding season.
Tom Johnson’s “Featured Photo” in the May/June issue is of a gnatcatcher. We’ll tell you that much. And Johnson’s full analysis appears in the print issue. But maybe you want to try to figure it out on your own first? Then click here for the photo; you can join the discussion online, or work on the challenge by yourself.
Below: Photo by © Tom Johnson.
Commentary. Harriet Davidson’s commentary, “On Rereading Jean Piatt’s Adventures in Birding” is a trip down memory lane. The commentary also implies a question: Are we birders really all that different now than we were in the mid-20th century, when Piatt penned his birding classic? Click here for further musings and interactive conversation.
Right: Harriet Davidson, 95, reflects in the May/June Birding on how birding has changed—and stayed the same.
Check out the complete Table of Contents for the print issue of the March/April 2014 Birding.
The Sage Thrasher can be tricky to identify. So it helps to know the song! In a feature article in the March/April issue, Tom Stephenson looks at key features of the songs of the ABA Area’s “desert thrashers”—pauses in the songs, variation in pitch, and the presence or absence of harmonics.
Left: Cover photo by © Bob Steele.
This site is a launch pad to all the full-feature content in the March/April 2014 Birding. Think of it as your online Table of Contents. Click on the links below, and off you go!
Note: We want to get you as much content as possible prior to the ABA Convention, at which time most of the ABA staff will be fully involved in convention activities. So some of the links below aren’t yet live. Please check in frequently, as we expect to have all content up by the end of the month.
Commentary: Know “S&D.” Paul Lehman, former Birding Editor, exhorts birders in a commentary in the March/April issue to learn “S&D”—shorthand for “status and distribution.” Read Lehman’s commentary, then join the conversation online.
Right: What’s a good way to identify the Orange-crowned Warbler? One of the best “field marks” isn’t physical; instead, it’s the date of the sighting. Know when Orange-crowns show up in your area—and when they don’t!—and you’re much more likely to get the ID right. Photo by © Tom Johnson.
ABA MEMBERS ONLY: “Sightings Online.” Even though the March/April issue is larger than usual, we still weren’t able to squeeze Amy Davis’s “Sightings” columns in. So we’re providing the content online, to ABA members only, in the form of high-quality PDFs. Rarities in January 2014 [coming soon!] include Terek Sandpiper (Hawaii), Common Snipe (Newfoundland), and Streak-backed Oriole (Utah); and Rarities in February 2014 [coming soon!] include Yellow-nosed Albatross (North Carolina), Nutting’s Flycatcher (Arizona), and a remarkable Common Raven (Hawaii).
Left: This Yellow-nosed Albatross stunned birders on a February 22, 2014 pelagic off North Carolina. Photo by © Jeffrey S. Pippen.
What’s in a Name? There’s only one bird species with the name “Veery.” But a great many birds have the name “thrush.” In a fun and authoritative article in the March/April Birding, Frank Izaguirre looks at how certain bird names appear over and over again; Izaguirre’s focus is on names that are especially promiscuous—“warbler,” “wren,” “flycatcher,” “thrush,” and so forth. But what about all the rest? Check out this supplement to Izaguirre’s article, with an enumeration of all bird names that appear in at least two avian families.
Right: This is a Bar-winged Flycatcher-Shrike. Does that mean it’s a flycatcher in the family Tyrannidae, or a shrike in the family Laniidae? Answer: Neither. The flycatcher-shrikes are in the family Campephagidae—not to be confused with the shrike-flycatchers in the family Platysteiridae! Photo by © Saleel Tambe.
Thrasher Songs. In a feature article in the March/April issue, Tom Stephenson explains, in words and “pictures” (sound spectrograms), what thrasher songs sound like. But you can’t really hear a thrasher on the printed pages of Birding magazine. So let’s listen! Compare these actual sounds with the text and figures in the article, and you’ll be well on your way to mastery of the “impossible” songs of the desert thrashers.
Left: This sound spectrogram shows you what to “look” for in the song of a Crissal Thrasher.
Puzzling Flickers. Where their ranges overlap, the “Red-shafted” and “Yellow-shafted” populations of the Northern Flicker hybridize. These hybrids (or intergrades) are far more common than many birders realize. In the March/April issue, Stephen A. Shunk tells us how to recognize hybrid flickers: the obvious hybrids (first-generation adult males), as well as the trickier ones (females, backcrosses, etc.). In an expanded online version of the article [coming soon!], Shunk provides considerable additional information and perspective on these puzzling—and surprisingly pervasive—flicker hybrids.
Left: This flicker is a Red-shafted x Yellow-shafted hybrid. Note the red extending down from the base of the bill (a Red-shafted character) and the red on the nape (a Yellow-shafted character). Photo by © Bill Schmoker.
Featured Photo 1—Carnacle Geese? Barkling Geese?
These aren’t your garden variety golf course geese in New Jersey. So what are they? Tom Johnson’s definitive analysis appears in the March/April Birding. Do you want to give it a go at ID’ing these unusual geese before you read Johnson’s answers? See what others are saying, and contribute thoughts and questions of your own.
Right: Photo by © Tom Johnson.
Featured Photo 2—A Problematic Hummingbird in Delaware
This is a beautiful hummingbird. If you don’t look too carefully, it matches well to field guide images of a male Anna’s Hummingbird. But if you take a second or third look... As with the geese above, you can go straight to the March/April Birding for Tom Johnson’s definitive analysis. But if you want to try your hand at the ID challenge before digging into Johnson’s facts and insights, then check out the online discussion and speculation—and even a bit of intrigue!
Left: Photo by © Tom Johnson.
Diversity—It’s one of the touchstones of the whole birding experience. In our book reviews, we strive for a diversity of topics, genres, and perspectives. In this issue of Birding, Amar Ayyash reviews Ken Behrens and Cameron Cox’s Peterson Reference Guide to Seawatching, Drew Weber reviews Nick Bolgiano and Greg Grove’s Birds of Central Pennsylvania, and Luke Tiller reviews Conor Mark Jameson’s Looking for the Goshawk.
Check out the complete Table of Contents for the print issue of the March/April 2014 Birding.
It’s late winter, and eBird range maps are starting to light up with records of Rufous Hummingbirds migrating north along North America’s Pacific slope. With this issue of Birding, we welcome the ABA 2014 Bird of the Year, the Rufous Hummingbird. In the print version of the magazine, you’ll find your 2014 Bird of the Year stickers, a Bird of the Year coloring page (a first for Birding), a thorough and enlightening interview with Bird of the Year artist John Sill, and Sill’s painting, “Meadow Beauties,” commissioned for the ABA.
Right: John Sill’s watercolor painting, “Meadow Beauties,” graces the cover of the January/February 2014 Birding.
This site is a launch pad to all the full-feature content in the January/February 2014 Birding. Think of it as your online Table of Contents. Click on the links below, and off you go!
Your Letters. In this issue of Birding, all of the letters to the editor touch in one way or another on the ethics of birding. Our behaviors have consequences—for the birds themselves, for our human companions, and for the entire birding community. What do you consider to be some of the important ethical questions for 21st-century ABAers? Join the conversation at The ABA Blog.
ABA MEMBERS ONLY: “Sightings Online.” If you’re an ABA member, you’ve already seen Amy Davis’s recent compilation in the print issue (pp. 28–31, 64) of North American rarities in November 2013. Do you crave more recent “Sightings?—December 2013 “Sightings” and even January 2014 “Sightings” [coming soon!] are available online as high-quality, full-color PDF downloads.
Right: Tundra Bean-Goose in Nova Scotia, November 2013. This bird is one of only about five ever reported in North America away from Alaska. Photo by © Ronnie D’Entremont.
Breaking Down Bird ID. Many field marks are well known to birders: a Red-tailed Hawk’s belly band, a fall Blackpoll Warbler’s yellow toes, a Lesser Scaup’s pointy head, and so forth. Other field marks can be just as important for bird ID, but are strangely little known. In his article in the January/February Birding (pp. 36–39, click here for the free PDF download [1MB]), Nick Lethaby describes one such field mark. Can you think of others? Share your insights and experiences with other birders.
Left: This “Little Brown Job” (it’s a Brewer’s Sparrow) can be identified entirely by the pattern on its nape. Photo by © Peter Gaede.
Mistakes Were Made. Amar Ayyash’s article (pp. 40–45) is about a famous gull that was misidentified for the better part of a century. But you know the old saying: We learn from our mistakes. The best birders are the ones who have made mistakes, including some real whoppers. Let’s talk about our mistakes—and about the important learning experiences that have ensued.
Right: This gull, collected in Chicago in 1927, was identified at the time as Illinois’ first Western Gull. But it’s probably something else. Photo by © Amar Ayyash.
A Friendly Argument. Birders love to debate the fine points of bird ID. That’s good, that’s healthy—as long as it stays respectful and civil. Spirited back-and-forth promotes learning and discovery. What have you learned from the ongoing debate in Birding (see Peter Pyle’s article, pp. 46–53) on the molts and plumages of Northern Harriers?
Left: How old is this male Northern Harrier? Photo by © Bob Steele.
Photo Quiz Answers. Tom Johnson’s answers and analysis appear on pp. 54–56, but do you want to take one more crack at the November/December 2013 photo quiz? The conversation and speculation are ongoing, and we welcome your input. Or feel free just to eavesdrop.
Right: Photo by © Tom Johnson.
Book Reviews. How do we learn about birds? All four of the books reviewed in this question get at that question in one way or another. Tom Johnson reviews a technical guide to the Pterodroma petrels of the North Atlantic; Julia Zarankin reviews a compendium of avian trivia; Rick Wright reviews a film on junco biology; and Robert O. Paxton reviews a massive exploration of the relationships between birds and humans.
Featured Photo. Ah. “White-cheeked Geese.” Once it upon a time, it was so simple...when all we had to deal with in North America, really, was the Canada Goose. No more. What the heck are these birds? Take a crack at the New Photo Quiz in the January/February Birding. (Answers appear in the March/April 2014 issue.)
Right: Photo by © Tom Johnson.
Another quiz! Our online quizmaster, Tony Leukering, is up to his usual trickery. Have fun with this one! And if you get it right, you are eligible to win a prize.
Left: Photo by © Tony Leukering.
Order the entire January/February 2014 issue of Birding at The ABA Shop. Or better, yet, join the ABA today, and get the January/February 2014 Birding, plus all the other benefits of ABA membership.
Check out the complete Table of Contents for the print issue of the January/February 2014 Birding.
Young birder Ibrahim Ayyash of Frankfort, Illinois, chuckles at the American White Pelicans decked out across pp. 52–53 in the November/December Birding. Ibrahim’s father, Amar Ayyash, is a gull nut who blogs at AnythingLarus.com, administers the Facebook Group North American Gulls, and writes about gulls for Birding (his next article appears in the January/February 2014 issue).
This page is a launch pad to all the full-feature content in the November/December 2013 Birding. Think of it as your online Table of Contents. Click on the links below, and off you go!
Conservation, Going Forward. The gatefold cover photo for the November/December Birding depicts one of the greatest avian spectacles in North America: migration at the Great Salt Lake. What are the prospects for conserving this amazing natural resource? More broadly, where are we going with bird conservation as we head into the heart of the 21st century? Share your thoughts in this interactive forum.
Cover photo by © Mia McPherson.
Your Letters. Birders are, by and large, a pretty well-rounded lot—interested in and knowledgeable about everything from philosophy to physics to poetry. It oughtn’t come as a surprise, then, that the letters to the editor in this issue (pp. 10–12) deal with botany and mammalogy. Which of your interests intersect with birding? Join the discussion online.
ABA MEMBERS ONLY: “Sightings Online.” If you’re an ABA member, you’ve already seen Amy Davis’s recent compilation in the print issue (pp. 20–24, 62) of North American Rarities in September 2013. Do you crave more recent “Sightings"?—October 2013 “Sightings” (pp. 68–74) and even November 2013 “Sightings” are available online as high-quality, full-color PDF downloads.
Right: Virginia’s Warblers occur in arid habitats in western North America. But his one was at St. John’s, eastern Newfoundland, almost 1,000 miles northeast of Boston! Photo by © Bruce Mactavish.
ABA Checklist Changes. It’s one of the annual highlights for ABA members: the publication in Birding of the ABA Checklist Committee’s annual report. The main body of the report (appearing on pp. 30–37 of the November/December issue) provides extensive details on the committee’s recent votes regarding the Hawaiian Petrel, Purple Swamphen, Common Moorhen, Common Chiffchaff, and Nutmeg Mannikin. A supplemental document (pp. 75–79) discusses the Sage Sparrow split, the Little Shearwater split, and more.
Left: Our knowledge of the identification and occurrence in ABA Area waters of the Hawaiian Petrel has increased greatly in recent years. Photo by © David Pavlik.
Nighthawks—The Last Hurrah. The bird art of Ray Nelson (featured in the November/December issue on pp. 38–39) is often beautiful, sometimes strange, and almost always provocative. Enjoy this online gallery of Nelson’s art.
Right: “Nighthawks”—acrylic on wood by © Ray Nelson. This painting was commissioned in connection with the ABA’s recognition of the Common Nighthawk as the 2013 Bird of the Year.
Discuss Bird Conservation. All of us want healthy bird populations. But how do we translate that desire into action? That question motivated the proceedings of the Fifth International Partners in Flight Conference and Conservation Workshop, reported on pp. 48–53 of the November/December issue. And it’s a question on the minds of many birders, so share your ideas and insights at The ABA Blog. [Note: This link takes you to the same discussion mentioned above for the gatefold cover.]
Right: Partners in Flight (Compañeros en Vuelo) is an organization that promotes a multi-agency and cross-disciplinary approach to bird conservation across the Americas.
Photo Quiz Answers. Ah. The warbler. This one occasioned a lot of discussion over at The ABA Blog. Now, Tom Johnson’s “official” analysis appears on pp. 54–55 of the print version of the November/December issue. But if you want one last go at this mystery warbler, check out the online discussion, still in progress.
Left: Photo by © Christopher L. Wood.
Book Reviews. How do we enjoy birds? Answer: There are probably as many ways to enjoy birds as there are people who enjoy studying and learning about birds. In the book reviews in this issue, Bertie Gregory looks at the photographic appreciation of birds and Joy M. Kiser explores our fascination with breeding biology.
New Photo Quiz. Birds in flight can be tough to identify. They’re in motion. They’re fast. And their shape changes with every wing-beat. What are some things to look for on birds in flight? Take a crack at the New Photo Quiz in the November/December Birding. (Answers appear in the January/February 2014 issue.)
Right: Photo by © Tom Johnson.
Another quiz! Our online quizmaster, Tony Leukering, is up to his usual mischief. Have fun with this one! And if you get it right, you are eligible to win a prize.
Left: Photo by © Tony Leukering.
Order the entire November/December 2013 issue of Birding at The ABA Shop. Or better, yet, join the ABA today, and get the November/December 2013 Birding, plus all the other benefits of ABA membership.
Check out the complete Table of Contents for the print issue of the November/December 2013 Birding.
Now that she’s read the September/October 2013 Birding, Clara KirkPilger of Colorado Springs, Colorado, may quite possibly know more about Clapper Rail taxonomy than any other human being her age. (Clara’s aunt, LeAnn Pilger, is the ABA’s tireless and ever-helpful Membership Coordinator.)
This site is a launch pad to all the full-feature online content in the September/October 2013 Birding. Think of it as your online Table of Contents. Click on the links below, and off you go!
Sitting on the Split Rail Fence. The Clapper RailKing Rail complex, currently recognized as consisting of two species, may actually comprise five speciesthree of which would occur in the ABA Area (see cover, pp. 25–26, and pp. 28–39). Learn how to tell them apart in this online tutorial based on Michael Patten’s authoritative monograph.
Magnanimity. In his regular column in the print version of Birding (pp. 8–9), ABA President Jeffrey A. Gordon exhorts ABA’ers and birders everywhere to be “magnanimous”more than simply generous, but also possessed of a can-do, proactive engagement of the cause of birding and of avian welfare. Learn more about birderly magnanimity, and discuss your own experiences with magnanimous birders.
Right: U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM) ogles the famous Rufous-necked Wood-Rail in New Mexico. Photo courtesy of the Office of U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich.
Your Letters. “The internet has changed everything”—including Birding magazine. On which side of the “digital divide” (print Birding vs. online content) do you fall? Or is that the wrong question? Could it be that print and online content are complementary? Join the conversation online.
ABA MEMBERS ONLY: Birding in Australia. In this informative and beautifully illustrated WebExtra for ABA members, Australia’s most famous birder outlines his dream itinerary for American birders Down Under. Travel with Sean Dooley to the land of Pink Robins and Powerful Owls, Brolgas and Rockwarblers, Regent Honeyeaters and Mallee Emu-wrens.
Right: Pink Robin. Photo by © Dean Ingwersen.
ABA MEMBERS ONLY: “Sightings” Online. If you’re an ABA member, you’ve already seen Amy Davis’s recent compilation in the print issue (pp. 22–25, 62) of North American Rarities in July 2013. Do you crave more recent “Sightings”?—August 2013 “Sightings” and even September 2013 “Sightings” [coming soon!] are available online as high-quality, full-color PDF downloads.
Left: South Polar Skua—in Oklahoma City! Photo by © Steve Metz.
Sympathy for the Twitcher. “Twitching” (or “chasing”) has been massively facilitated by the internet. Is twitching bad for birds and for birders? Or do the positives outweigh negatives? Read Jason R. Straka and Devin M. E. Turner’s feature article (pp. 40–46 in the print issue), then share your thoughts online.
Right: Twitchers at Point Pelee, Ontario. Photo by © Sandy McRuer.
Photo Quiz Answers. The ABA Area’s two “spine-tailed swifts” in the genus Chaetura are an underappreciated ID challenge. Quiz yourself! Before reading Tom Johnson’s definitive answers in the September/October issue (pp. 48–52), go online and see if you can figure out the birds on your own.
Left: Photo by © Tom Johnson.
Book Reviews. Have you ever been in a book group? Be part of the ABA’s online book group! Read the reviews, then discuss them online. In the September/October Birding, Alan McBride reviews field guides to the birds of Oceania, Edward J. Burtt, Jr., reviews a field guide to ABA Area warblers, and Alexandria Simpson reviews a biography of ornithologist Thomas Sadler Roberts.
New Photo Quiz. This warbler from Minnesota has generated a lot of discussion. Is it “just” a Mourning? See what everyone’s saying, and weigh in with your own thoughts.
Right: Photo by © Chris Wood.
Another Quiz! We’ve all been in the situation where a bird of interest isn’t actually seen until it’s flying away. The under-parts are all but invisible, and the head can’t be seen at all. So it is with this month’s ABA–Birder’s Diary photo quiz. At least, this bird won’t keep flying away; you can study it for as long as you want. And with this quiz, you can even win a prize!
Left: Photo by © Tony Leukering.
Order the entire September/October 2013 issue of Birding at The ABA Shop. Or better yet, join the ABA today, and get the September/October Birding, plus all the other benefits of ABA membership.
Check out the complete Table of Contents for the print issue of the September/October 2013 Birding.
Photo: Noah Swick of Greensboro, North Carolina, is fascinated by the feature article in the July/August 2013 issue on the rise of birding China. (Noah’s dad, Nate Swick, manages The ABA Blog and the ABA’s other social media initiatives.)
Remembering Betty Petersen. This issue of Birding celebrates the life and legacy of Betty Petersen (1943–2013), who for years served as Director of the ABA’s widely admired Birders’ Exchange program. Please read the tributes by ABA President Jeffrey A. Gordon (pp. 8–9) and by former ABA Publications Committee Chairman John Kricher (pp. 44–51), and please take the time to reflect on ABA Graphic Designer Ed Rother’s compelling cover. Most of all, please share with the birding community your own memories of and experiences with Betty.
Your Letters. On the matter of molts and plumages in the Northern Harrier, we can safely say that Jerry Liguori and Brian Sullivan aren’t quite in agreement with Peter Pyle. For sure, they disagree on certain technical matters. At the same time, they’re united on a broader matter, one of philosophy and worldview. See what they’re all about, and please weigh in with your own thoughts.
“Sightings” Online. If you’re an ABA member, you’ve have already seen Amy Davis’s compilation in the print issue (pp. 22–25, 62) of North American rarities in May 2013. Do you crave more recent “Sightings”? ABA members only: June 2013 “Sightings” and even July 2013 “Sightings” are available right now as high-quality, full-color PDF downloads.
Right: Rufous-necked Wood-Rail. Photo by © Bryan J. Smith.
Photo Quiz Answers. Redpolls in August? Yes, of course, if you live and bird in Canada and Alaska. But even down in the sweltering Lower 48, the Great Redpoll Invasion of ’12 –’13 is still on many birders’ minds, as records committees are still sorting through the hundreds of records from this past winter. Brush up on redpoll ID with an online tutorial, brought to you by experts Tom Johnson and Luke Seitz.
Left: Hoary Redpoll. Photo by © Tom Johnson.
Birding in China. Fact: Interest in birding has surged in China in the early 21st century. Fact: There are more human beings in China than in the entire western hemisphere. Corollary: One of the major themes for modern birders—including ABA members—is the rise of birding in China. Please join us in an online forum that explores what Chinese birding means for the rest of us.
Mandarin Ducks. Photo by © Yu Shrike Zhang.
Tools of the Trade. Diana Doyle’s article (pp. 52–55) tells birders how to record and interpret the avian vocalizations we hear in the field. But what do those bird sounds, well, sound like? Listen online to the recordings Doyle made for her article. For the best learning experience, listen to the recordings and “see” the sounds (graphs of frequency plotted against time) at the same time.
Right: Bachman’s Sparrow. Photo by © David Cree.
Book Reviews. In this issue of Birding, we tackle some weighty subjects. Rick Wright reviews new works on the art of Audubon and Wilson, Fredrick Davis reviews a critical assessment of the life and legacy of Robert Ridgway, and Eric Salzman reviews a pair of books on the world’s rarest and most endangered birds.
Birding in the Age of Anxiety. The full title of John Rakestraw’s commentary is “Most Birds, Least Harm: Ethical and Effective Birding in a Time of Peak Oil, Economic Collapse, and Mass Extinctions.” Clearly, the guy harbors a few opinions! What are yours? Please read Rakestraw’s commentary, beginning on p. 56 of the print issue, and then chime in with your own thoughts about “ethical and effective” birding in the modern era.
New Photo Quiz. Let’s be honest. Most of us identify the ABA Area’s two Chaetura swifts (Chimney and Vaux’s) by range. But swifts have wings—very long and powerful ones, in fact—and can wind up in the “wrong” place. The quiz answers will appear in the September/October 2013 Birding, but let’s first discuss the quiz photos online
Right: Photo by © Tom Johnson.
Another Quiz! The redpoll and swift quizzes just weren’t enough for you? Then try your hand at the latest ABA–Birder’s Diary photo quiz. This one looks like one of those tricky seabirds you see from a pitching boat. At least, you get to view the bird from the comfort of your den or office. And with this quiz, you can even win a prize!
Left: Photo by © Tony Leukering.
Order the entire July/August 2013 issue of Birding at The ABA Shop. Or better yet, join the ABA today, and get the July/August 2013 Birding, plus all the other benefits of ABA membership.
Check out the complete Table of Contents for the print issue of the July/August Birding.
Photo: Corinna Wren La Puma of Madison, Wisconsin, was eager to crack open this May/June Birding! She’s especially keen on the prospect of picking up Purple Swamphen in Florida the next time she visits her cousins. Corinna Wren’s dad, ornithologist and Leica representative David La Puma, will be an instructor with the ABA’s Camp Colorado in July 2013.
About the Cover. This story of the Purple Swamphen (Porphyrio porphyrio) is strange and perhaps disturbing. Bill Pranty, one of North America’s foremost authorities on exotic birds, delivers a thorough and fascinating overview on pp. 38–46 of the print issue. But what of the primary literature—including Pranty’s—that provided the basis for the Birding article? See for yourself in this compendium of original scientific articles, available only to ABA members.
Your Letters. Legendary birder Steve Howell puts it well in a letter in the May/June issue (p. 12): “We all make errors. Hopefully, we can learn from them. We should also feel free to speak up when decisions appear to have been made without due consideration or prudence, in the wider field of life as well as in birding.” Please, speak up! What are your thoughts on “official” bird taxonomy and nomenclature as it relates to birding and the ABA?
Birding Together. No question about it, the ABA’s publications are in a time of transition. ABA President Jeffrey A. Gordon lays it all out for us in the May/June installment of “Birding Together," then says: “There’s much more to tell you, but not on the print pages of Birding. Let’s continue the conversation online.” Yes, let’s do exactly that, as we share together our ideas and insights about Birding and other ABA publications. Photo by © Liz Gordon.
News and Notes. Ranching and bird conservation are often portrayed as opposing forces. But as Paul Hess notes in the May/June 2013 installment of “News and Notes” (pp. 26–28), ranchers have a potentially important role to play in reversing population declines in the Mountain Plover. In an online story about the Karval Mountain Plover Festival, we discover that ranchers and bird conservationists share a good deal of common ground. Left: The tiny ranching outpost of Karval, on the high plains of eastern Colorado, contributes importantly to Mountain Plover conservation. Photo by © Seth Gallagher.
Sightings Online. If you’re an ABA member, you’ve already seen Amy Davis’s compilation in the print issue (pp. 22–25, 66) of North American rarities in March 2013. Do you crave more recent “Sightings”? ABA members only: April 2013 “Sightings” and even May 2013 “Sightings” are available right now as high-quality, full-color PDF downloads. Right: This Common Ringed Plover, Massachusetts’ third, was at legendary Plum Island May 21–24. Photo by © Dorian Anderson.
Purple Swamphens. See “About the Cover,” above, for members-only access to the original, peer-reviewed scientific literature on the fascinating Purple Swamphens of Florida. Read Bill Pranty's feature article, available as a free PDF download from the ABA.
Hic! Three Beers! “Ear-birding,” the acoustic enjoyment and identification of birds, has really taken off in the digital era. But as Diana Doyle notes (pp. 56–59), good ole-fashioned mnemonics are as helpful as ever. And good-ole fashioned, er, beer is as beloved as ever. Try your hand at this fun and educational online birdsong quiz with a beer-drinking theme.
Left: Click on the icon to listen to a mystery bird that seems to be saying something about beer. Sound recording by © Brian Sullivan.
“Photo” Quiz “Answer.” It’s not exactly a “photo,” and Ted Floyd’s analysis (p. 54) isn’t quite an “answer.” So check out this 26-second video to see what the bird is. First, quiz yourself; next, eavesdrop on or participate in the online conversation with other ABA members; finally, scroll down to the bottom of the comments field for the “official” photo quiz answer.
Right: Click on the image to watch the bird actually doing something.
Book Reviews. The birding literature is inexhaustibly varied, which point is well exemplified by the diverse titles reviewed in this issue of Birding. Julia Zarankin reviews a tribute to museum ornithology, Nic Fieldsend reviews a treatise on the birdlife of Nova Scotia, Rick Wright reviews a documentary film on shorebird migration, and Soheil Zendeh reviews the latest in a series of “Crossley Guides.”
New Photo Quiz. One of the biggest birding stories of the past year was the Great Redpoll Invasion of 2012–2013. Bird records committees are still sorting through all the redpoll records, and now you get to join in the fun! Share your thoughts about these redpolls, and, if you think they’re “easy,” let us know what subspecies, sex, and age each bird is. Answers and analysis, courtesy of bird ID experts Tom Johnson and Luke Seitz, will appear in the next Birding, but let’s try to work things out together online first.
Left: Photo by © Tom Johnson.
One More Quiz! If Ted Floyd’s LBJ (“little brown job”), Diana Doyle’s beer quiz, and Tom Johnson and Luke Seitz’s lookalike redpolls still aren’t enough for you, we have one more. Tony Leukering’s long-running online quiz is always edifying, and check this out: You can even win a prize. So check it out, and go for the gold!
Right: Photo by © Tony Leukering.
Click here to order the entire May/June 2013 issue. Or better yet, join the ABA today, and get the May/June 2013 issue, plus all the other benefits of ABA membership.
Check out the complete Table of Contents for the print issue of the May/June 2013 Birding.
Photo: Young birder Mia Hartley shows us Bill Schmoker's photo of a rosy-finch, appearing on p. 37 of the March/April Birding. The caption says it's a Brown-capped Rosy-Finch, but it looks like a Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch. What's up with that? Join the discussion online.
About the Cover. No question about it: The Pribilof Islands, in the middle of the Bering Sea, are iconic in North American birding lore. Read the article, pp. 44–51, or, better yet, join us on “the Pribs.” That’s right—we’re offering ABA members a special opportunity to bird the Pribilofs. Note that this tour can be combined with an unforgettable arctic expedition to search for migrating Ross’s Gulls past Barrow. (Some years hundreds are observed). Photo of Chris Benesh (front) and participants in a Field Guides, Inc., tour by © George L. Armistead.
Birding Together. ABA President Jeffrey A. Gordon, in his regular column in the print Birding (pp. 9–10), introduces and welcomes us to “The New ABA.” Gordon shares additional thoughts online, and solicits your input on recent and future developments with the ABA and the broader birding community. Photo by © Liz Gordon.
Your Letters. There’s no topic birders won’t touch! Letters to the editor in the March/April 2013 Birding delve into such matters as eBird, Evening Grosbeak speciation, the legacy of Chandler S. Robbins (b. 1918), and—wait for it—how to render the plural forms of Hawaiian bird names. Please join the discussion online. Photo by © Jacob Spendelow.
Sightings Online. Starting with the March/April 2013 issue, you’re getting a double dose of Amy Davis’s must-read “Sightings” column. That’s not quite right: You’re getting more than a double dose. Along with the print content (mid-January through mid-February 2013, pp. 22–25, 62), you’re getting expanded online coverage, with especially generous photo reproduction, of North American rarities from mid-February through mid-March 2013. Photo by © Dick Rowe.
Another Checklist Shuffle. Paul Hess reports in “News and Notes” (pp. 26–28) on the possibility of a major reshuffling of the sequence in which shorebirds appear on our checklists. Do you “like” it when the AOU makes changes to our checklists? Join the discussion at The ABA Blog. Figure by © Kei Sochi.
Surprising Harriers. Everybody knows that adult male Northern Harriers are “gray ghosts,” pale gray with inky black tips. Except it turns out now that that’s not right! Read Jerry Liguori and Brian Sullivan’s article in the print Birding (pp. 30–35), and go online for further insights, discussions, and photos. Photo by © Alan Murphy.
Jackpot Birding! Please refer to “About the Cover,” above, for links to your Bering Sea and Arctic Ocean adventures with the ABA. Photo by © Doug Gochfeld.
Photo Quiz Answers. Test yourself! Before you read quizmaster Tom Johnson’s answers and analyses (pp. 52–55), go online to see just the photos. If you want a bit more help, view the comments posted just below each photo. Click here for Quiz Photo A, click here for Quiz Photo B, and click here for Quiz Photo C. Photos by © Tom Johnson.
Book Reviews. In a brief but important essay in the print version of the March/April issue (p. 60), Rick Wright celebrates the varied voices that breathe life into Birding magazine’s venerable and much admired Book Review column. Click on the photos of the reviewers, and read their diverse and thoughtful book reviews.
New Photo Quiz. Stumped by the series of grainy photos on p. 64 of the print version of the March/April issue? Then be sure to view this 26-second video of the quiz bird. In the video, you can see behaviors that the still photos cannot show. Watch the video, and become a better birder!
Click here to order the entire March/April 2013 issue. Or better yet, join the ABA today, and get the March/April 2013 issue, plus all the other benefits of ABA membership.
View the Table of Contents of this issue here.
Thanks for stopping by! We hope you enjoy all the online content in the January/February 2013 issue of Birding magazine.
Photo: Young birder Andrew Floyd delights in our coverage in this issue of the status and distribution in the ABA Area of the Lesser Black-backed Gull.
Here’s the lineup for the January/February 2013 issue:
About the Cover. Artist Andrew Guttenberg reflects on his childhood experiences with the 2013 ABA Bird of the Year, the Common Nighthawk (Chordeiles minor). And we invite you to do the same. Check out Andrew’s essay, and then share with us your own experiences with and impressions of the 2013 Bird of the Year.
Birding Together (by Jeffrey A. Gordon, p. 9). In a spirited and informative interview, ABA President Jeff Gordon (pictured here at right) and artist Andrew Guttenberg (left) discuss the genesis of the 2013 Bird of the Year art. Watch the 11-minute video, and feel free to follow up with questions for either Jeff or Andrew. Photo by © Liz Gordon.
Your Letters (by ABA members, pp. 12–18). Birding is a members’ magazine. You, the vibrant membership of the ABA, play a key role in determining the magazine’s content. Take a look at this brief overview of how we decide what to publish in the magazine, and please consider sharing with us—either in print or online—your own thoughts about content in Birding.
News and Notes (by Paul Hess, pp. 32–33). In a short news item (“Soft Songs are Potent,” p. 33), we learn about the surprising “soft song” of the Song Sparrow. But what does this soft song sound like? Listen to a few audio recordings, and find out. For more detail, read the complete online article—accompanied by additional sound recordings and sound spectrograms. The full online article, plus the complete array of recordings and spectrograms, are for members only. Join the ABA today, and get access to all members-only online content.
Young Birders (by Chad Williams, pp. 48–53). This feature article, on the rise of “YBCs” (young birder clubs), has prompted extensive online commentary, much of it quite thoughtful. See what everybody is saying, and join in on the discussion, still ongoing. Other feature articles offer surprising insights about the status in the ABA Area of Lesser Black-backed Gulls (by Amar Ayyash, pp. 34–41) and Common Black-Hawks (by Charles J. Babbitt, pp. 42–47). Photo by © Chad Williams.
Photo Quiz Answers (by Tom Johnson, pp. 54–55). Challenge yourself! Before you read Tom Johnson’s analysis, see if you can figure out the birds on your own. Click here for a shorebird flock in flight (Quiz Photo A), and click here for a small flock of gulls loafing on a beach (Quiz Photo B). We’re delighted that so many folks have chimed in with their own analyses, and we hope you will, too. Photos by © Tom Johnson.
Book Reviews (commentary by Rick Wright, p. 60). You really owe it to yourself to read Rick Wright’s short yet revolutionary commentary in the print version of the magazine. Then see what Rick’s talking about. Our January/February 2013 book reviews start off with Steve Rooke’s detailed analysis of a major new field guide to the birds of Central Asia; next up is Eric Salzman’s charming review of two quirky books about extinct, er, “boids”; and we wrap up the January/February reviews with Rick’s own thoughts on an intriguing but problematic book on the role of birders in the amateur science ethic in the United States.
New Photo Quiz (p. 64). Quizmaster Tom Johnson’s answers will appear in the March/April 2013 Birding. But there’s no need to wait that long for all-out debate and discussion about these birds. Join the online conversation about each of the three quiz photos: Quiz Photo A (a flock of ducks); Quiz Photo B (a pointy-headed gray bird); and Quiz Photo C (a hawk in flight). Photos by © Tom Johnson.
Not an ABA member? But you’d like to get Birding magazine, plus access to members-only online content? Please join the ABA today—We’ll rush you a copy of the January/February 2013 issue, and we’ll set you up with a password for all your members-only online content. Click here to join, or call us at 800-850-2473.
In addition to all the print content in the November 2012 issue of Birding, we are pleased to bring you substantial additional online content. Here’s a guide—think of it as an electronic Table of Contents—to the extensive online material in the November 2012 issue.
About the Cover. Native to Africa, the Rosy-faced Lovebird has become solidly established in recent years in the Phoenix, Arizona, metro region. Photographer Cindy Marple introduces us to these bewitching birds, and shares with us some thoughts on how to study and appreciate them. Click here for Marple’s essay.
Hawaii. In “Birding Together” (p. 9), ABA President Jeffrey A. Gordon presents the results of a nonbinding referendum on expansion of the ABA Area. And, man, are they ever talking about it on The ABA Blog! Click here to see the results of the referendum (including figures not included in the print version of Gordon’s article), and join in on the discussion.
Your Letters. ABA members are thoughtful, opinionated, and fun. In the November Birding, members share their opinions on the ABA Code of Birding Ethics, expansion of the ABA Area, and other matters (pp. 10–16). Click here to see what everybody is saying, and please consider joining the conversation. We’d love to hear from you!
Nocturnal Flight Calls. You’ve read the interview (pp. 18–21), and you know that Andrew Farnsworth is one of the world’s foremost experts on nocturnal flight calls. But what do those mysterious flight calls sound like? And how do you recognize them? Click here for Andrew Farnsworth’s Expert Advice for Learning to Appreciate Flight Calls, exclusively for ABA members.
New Birds on the Checklist! In their annual report (pp. 28–33), Jon Dunn and members of the ABA Checklist Committee reveal the latest additions to the ABA Checklist. The committees’ actions have generated tremendous discussion among ABA members and friends. Click here to join the conversation, which is still ongoing.
Camp Colorado. Teen birder Rosemary Kramer tells the story of Camp Colorado–2013. Blood pressure alert: Kramer’s approach to birding is about as high-octane and caffeinated as it gets. And it comes through in Kramer’s writing! (Is she channeling her inner Jen Brumfeld?) Click here for Kramer’s recap—and stunning bird photography.
Bird of the Year. In his feature article (pp. 34–40), Evening Grosbeak expert Aaron Haiman tells us about the five distinct call types of the ABA 2013 Bird of the year. As a supplement to the print version of Haiman’s article, we provide ABA members with soundfiles and sound spectrograms of the different call types. Click here for this members-only exclusive.
Interactive Book Review! With the November 2012 issue, we begin a new era for book reviews in Birding magazine. All book reviews now appear online, in an interactive format. You can comment on the book (or the review). And if you like what you’re reading, you can buy the book. We’ve made it as easy as possible to buy each book, and your purchase benefits the ABA.
Click here to read Rick Wright’s review of Julie Zickefoose’s The Bluebird Effect.
Click here to read Rick Wright’s review of Robert Burton and John Croxall’s Field Guide to the Wildlife of South Georgia.
Click here to read Brian L. Sullivan’s review of Pete Dunne and coauthors’ Hawks in Flight, second edition.
Click here for discussion and speculation about the main quiz photo (shorebirds, right) on p. 72.
Click here for discussion and speculation about the supplemental quiz photo (gulls, left) on p. 72.
Not an ABA member? But you’d like to get Birding magazine? Please join the ABA today, and we’ll rush you a copy of the November 2012 issue. Click here to join, or call 800-850-2473.