Birding Online: June 2023

Associate Editor, Birding magazine

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On the Cover: In the ABA Area, Hook-billed Kite is only present in South Texas, where birders strive to find this sometimes-elusive species. Learn tips for increasing your chances by reading Tiffany Kersten’s latest entry in the Codebreakers series, beginning on p. 22. This male eating a snail, its favorite prey, was photographed in Bentsen–Rio Grande Valley State Park, Hidalgo Co., Texas. Photo by © Bob Hurs

In the June issue of Birding, we visit birds & birders throughout the Americas, from Missoula, Montana, for deep appreciation of kingfishers, to South Texas for charismatic Hook-billed Kites, the Neotropics for expert photography advice, and beyond. Let’s hop right in and see where we land.

Birders visit South Texas to see all kinds of spectacular birds – one of them being the unique, and uniquely gorgeous, Hook-billed Kite. Hook-billed Kites can be tricky to find, and Tiffany Kersten is here to help. In her Code Breakers article, she breaks down their features, their habits, and all the tips that will increase your chances of actually encountering this stunning bird.

One of the highlights of spring migration at Delaware Bay is the arrival of tens of thousands of shorebirds, especially Red Knots, to feast on horseshoe crab eggs. Conserving these birds also requires conserving the horseshoe crabs and their beaches, and that conservation takes work. Joe Moore describes his experience volunteering as a Shorebird Steward in 2021, teaching members of the public about the wildlife and their protection.

Zooming over to Missoula, Montana, author Marina Richie takes us on a deep dive of the seven years she spent observing Belted Kingfishers while she wrote her book, Halcyon Journey: In Search of the Belted Kingfisher. Marina shares some of the amazing observations she made, how spending time connecting with kingfishers helped her heal after the death of her father, and why she advocates for all of us to spend more time “deep birding.”

The Neotropics are a spectacular place to enjoy birds and bird photography, but it can bring some unique challenges, such as fast-moving hummingbirds and dark surroundings from thick canopy cover. Birder, guide, and photographer Jesús Antonio “Chucho” Moo Yam gives us his best tips and tricks, as well as shares some of his beautiful work.

In Knoxville, Tennessee, Jacob L. Wessels has observed molting warblers in the late summer that are not breeding birds in his local area. Through his own sightings, observation of molt, and eBird reports, he was able to identify a number of species that appeared to be dispersing post-breeding, like Cerulean Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler, and Blue-winged Warbler. Jacob encourages birders to pay attention to our own areas in late summer/early fall, both for our own edification, and to help fill in scientific gaps of knowledge.

Young birder programs are important to all of us at the ABA, and Laura Guerard especially. In this month’s Birding Interview, hear from Laura about her first couple of years as the Young Birder Programs Coordinator, how she started the teen birding camp on Hog Island, and what young birders can look forward to in the future. On that topic, we hope you will donate to our Nesting Season Appeal, so that we can continue to support young birders through camps, the mentoring program, the Fledgling magazine, and more. Click here to read Nikki Belmonte’s words on why the Appeal, and your donations, matter. And thank you for your support!

Don’t forget to check out the Book & Media Reviews for reviews from Rachel Clark, Daniel Jonas, Heidi Trudell, and Aisha White, as well as Rebecca Minardi’s Bird Book Bulletin for some of the latest books & media on the market.

Frontiers in Ornithology has breakdowns of how radar data teaches researchers about migration, and what bird extinctions in the past show us about bird extinctions in the present.

And Rick Wright brings us a delightful exploration of a 1658 bird book for children, Johann Amos Comenius’ Orbis sensualium pictus, or the “illustrated world of visible things.” Rick walks us through some of the best entries, where bird biology melds with fairytales and moral lessons.

As always, we hope you enjoy! If you have any stories or milestones you would like to share (about our Bird of the Year, or otherwise) in “Celebrations,” email me at I would love to hear from you.