Birds occupy a central part of our lives, but it’s never really just birds, is it?

There is always an “and” when it comes to birds, whether they’re introducing us to other fields of natural history, facilitating friendships, helping us learn geography—the list is endless.

This column will be about exploring the endless ways birds blend with everything else, the many “ands” of birding. As we engage those “ands,” I hope to keep learning not just about how we know the birds, but about how birds and birding connect us to so many other things.

No. 8: Birds and Fall/Winter Plumage

September 21st, 2021|

Birders love fall migration, and they love it for lots of different reasons: there are more birds because it’s after breeding season, migration lasts longer than in spring, and the birds themselves move more slowly, often lingering for longer in desirable habitat and sometimes affording twitchers a little extra time...

No. 7: Birds and Vismig

September 7th, 2021|

Birders know that one of the great things about birding—something that distinguishes birding from most and possibly all other forms of natural history study—is that we can make birding just about as demanding or relaxing as we want it to be. We can travel to the ends of...

No. 6: Birds and Flight Displays

August 24th, 2021|

The American woodcock has to be one of the coolest birds in the ABA Area. A shorebird. That lives in the woods. And has perfect camouflage. And a squiggly bill. And shakes its butt hilariously when it walks. Not to forget the multitude of amazing colloquial names the woodcock has, several...

No. 5: Birds and Vehicles

August 10th, 2021|

Birders have a knack for making friends far their homes, and then meeting up with those friends again…far from their homes. It seems only natural to make friends with a couple at Magee and then see them again two years later at Aransas, or to start a friendly rivalry...

No. 4: Birds and Mishap!

July 27th, 2021|

I learned about Snake Bight after reading about it, like so many dangerous things, on the internet: it was a recommended spot for the mangrove cuckoo. Snake Bight can have spectacular views of hundreds and sometimes thousands of wading birds and shorebirds feeding on the mudflats.

No. 3: Birds and Resistance to Corporate Aesthetics

July 13th, 2021|

The biggest thing was the way the swallows made that place theirs, disrupting the sameness—however soothing—of corporate aesthetics with…mud. And homes. And baby birds. I wouldn’t have expected to find a cliff swallow colony on the side of a hotel. Seeing that brought me real joy.

No. 2: Birds and the Surprise of the Uncommon

June 29th, 2021|

Some birds are like that, I think. You’ll live your life, and while you’re living, the bird will intersect with your own lifepath, shocking and delighting. A ballast during both the good and bad. Not a common bird, but not a once-in-a-lifetime find either. Just a bird that always surprises.

No. 1: Birds and the Surprise of the Common

June 15th, 2021|

A few weeks ago, my wife, Adrienne, quizzed me. “There’s a new study on what the four most common bird species in the world are…want to guess? One is pretty hard I think.” These four birds are the only wild bird species estimated to have populations above one billion.