Birding Online: June 2020

Associate Editor, Birding magazine

Welcome to Birding Online! Here, all ABA members can access the extended online content from the June 2020 issue of Birding magazine. The complete issue, containing both print and online content, can be found at:

When the pandemic and shelter-in-place started, interest in birding skyrocketed nationwide. We at the ABA are delighted to see that so many people have joined us in birding. We welcome all of our new friends in the birding community!

However, the truth is that not everyone has the same ability to watch birds.

Without a doubt, you know of Christian Cooper’s video of a racist white woman, Amy Cooper, threatening to call the cops on him because he asked her to leash her dog. Cooper is a Black man and a prominent birder in New York City. In response, a number of Black birders, including (but certainly not limited to) Corina Newsome, Chelsea Connor, Jason Ward, Danielle Belleny, and Anna Gifty Opoku-Agyeman, created Black Birders Week to bring attention to the issues that Black birders face in the field.

The goals of Black Birders Week were to counter the narrative that Black people are not birders and nature-lovers, to educate non-Black people about the discrimination that Black people experience in the field, and to encourage diversity in the fields of birding and conservation. The first Black Birders Week occurred from May 31-June 5 and garnered national attention, being prominently featured at major media outlets.

We all have a responsibility to challenge anti-Black racism. Birding is a very white hobby. Birders who are white, like myself, must act in real, tangible ways to change the status quo. The status quo is not good enough. The status quo leads to Black people, especially Black queer and transgender people, dying at the hands of police. The status quo is how the average white family has a net worth of $171,000, and the average Black family has a net worth of $17,150. The status quo is how Black birders, like Christian Cooper, get angry white women, like Amy Cooper, calling the police on them.

At the ABA, we are committing to anti-racism. You can read about the tangible changes that we are making by clicking here and here for further thoughts in Birding magazine. And as always, if you have any feedback, we are always listening.

We are thankful that we have been able to host two “ABA Live” events with Black birders in recent weeks. You can explore all of our ABA Virtual Bird Clubs by going to The two recent Black-hosted episodes are:

  1. Juita Martinez’s Virtual Bird Club about the Brown Pelicans of Coastal Louisiana, which you can watch by clicking here, and
  2. Birding for Everyone: A Discussion with Tykee James, Nicole Jackson, and John C. Robinson, which you can watch by clicking here

While you’re on our website, take a look around! The website has been completely redesigned in the past half-year so that everything we do is accessible on You can also follow our Instagram, @AmericanBirdingAssociation, to keep up with events as they are announced. And, have you been keeping up with the American Birding Podcast from Nate Swick? Click here to visit the podcast page and give it a listen.


The June issue features more online content than ever before. The ABA is still impacted by decreased revenue from ads. If you are in a stable financial position, we would appreciate your support to help us get through this time. You can contribute to the Spring Appeal at

“Celebrations” has an extra special online piece about the ABA’s participation in the Yard Squad Challenge, which was created by Matt Smith with Fantasy Birding. Click here to enjoy extra stories and photos of the birds (and bugs!) that the ABA team, the Masked Go-Away-Birds, saw during the contest.

Paul Hess’ Frontiers in Ornithology has an extra digital piece titled “What’s Up With Collared-Doves?” “In light of the species’ staggering population explosion the past quarter-century, you may be surprised to learn that numbers have actually declined recently along the Gulf Coast and in California.” Click here to read this piece.

In Rob Fergus’ online article, he says, “In 2015, while Birding Associate Editor Noah Strycker was pursuing his epic global Big Year, I set out to see how many birds I could see in the wilds of my own back yard. Now, at a time of global travel restrictions and sheltering at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the backyard Big Year may be an idea whose time has finally come.” Click here to flip open to this story. And be sure to keep reading! Along with Rob’s story, the online edition of Birding includes Bridget Butler’s tips for doing a backyard Big Year with three young children.

Ken Warren brings us a conservation success story about the endangered Florida Grasshopper Sparrow. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service worked together with diverse public and private partners to capture, hand-rear, and release sparrow chicks successfully into the wild. Don’t let me tell you about it though – read the online article yourself by clicking here.

Townsend’s Solitaire. Lafayette, Boulder County, Colorado; Apr. 2, 2019. Photo by © Ted Floyd.

The amazing saga of a Townsend’s Solitaire in Ted Floyd’s yard continues. The bird first graced the pages of Birding magazine in the April 2019 issue in “Celebrations.” Then, it appeared in a story on the ABA website. Then, molt expert Robert S. Mulvihill noticed that this bird, based on Ted’s (and daughter Hannah’s) photos, was rather unexpected in several respects. And now Peter Pyle chimes in to ask if it was the same bird all along! Robert & Peter encourage all of us to keep our eyes open and our mind curious about any and all birds. You can read Robert’s analysis of the solitaire, and Peter’s additional thoughts, by clicking here.

The Book & Media Reviews, as always, take their full form online. You can click here to flip open to the beginning of the reviews in the online issue, and click here to explore the Book & Media Reviews on the ABA website. Peter G. Kaestner reviews the Lynx and BirdLife International Field Guides for Southeast Asia (Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia). Katie Fallon reviews Julie Zickefoose’s “Saving Jemima: Life and Love with a Hard-Luck Jay.” And Robert O. Paxton reviews “The End of the End of the Earth” by Jonathan Franzen.

We hope you enjoy the rest of the June issue. Click here to go straight to the Table of Contents and explore. Until we meet again, wash your hands, wear a mask, and please consider supporting our Spring Appeal at so we can keep bringing you the resources you love.