HowToKnowTheBirds

How to Know the Birds: No. 30, There are Crossbills. But. And.

This is a type 2 red crossbill because it sounds like one, looks like one, and acts like one. But check this out: We didn’t know any of that stuff when I started birding close to 40 years ago. Bird populations are changing, and so is our knowledge of bird populations.

How to Know the Birds: No. 30, There are Crossbills. But. And.2020-03-24T11:47:52-04:00

How to Know the Birds: No. 29, Mind of the Magpie

I’ve encountered an awful lot of black-billed magpies in my life, and, truth be told, I rarely if ever encounter the “perfect” bird. That’s because magpies are far too busy being admirably, absorbingly, utterly fascinating. Spend an hour with a pair of magpies, as I did late last month, and you will come away from the experience amazed and humbled.

How to Know the Birds: No. 29, Mind of the Magpie2020-03-17T11:05:17-04:00

How to Know the Birds: No. 28, A Prairie Falcon for the Twenties

Birding together has always been about learning and discovery, and it always shall be. There is something wonderfully nerdy about birding, and I make no apologies for that. But birding in the decade ahead is destined to be embraced more fully as a force for good—good for our bodies, good for our minds, good for humanity.

How to Know the Birds: No. 28, A Prairie Falcon for the Twenties2020-02-28T09:44:29-05:00

How to Know the Birds: No. 27, El Cacique

You heard it here first: Before too long, places like San Blas will be on the birding circuit. And sightings of birds like El Cacique will in some sense be routine.

How to Know the Birds: No. 27, El Cacique2020-02-18T20:17:05-05:00

How to Know the Birds: No. 26, The Fantasy Nuthatch

Why do you go to birding? Is it to “chase” a rarity? To find one on your own? Is it for exercise? For contemplation? Is it to spend time with friends? To get away from it all? For science? For conservation?

How to Know the Birds: No. 26, The Fantasy Nuthatch2020-02-10T14:26:37-05:00

How to Know the Birds: No. 25, Butterbutt, We Hardly Knew Ye

One of the greatest things about being a birder (and, to be fair, a butterflyer or a botanizer or an astronomer) is that things like yellow-rumped warblers are even out there at all. A warbler of all things! In the dead of winter! In frigid Denver!

How to Know the Birds: No. 25, Butterbutt, We Hardly Knew Ye2020-02-17T11:40:34-05:00

How to Know the Birds: No. 24, The Owl of the Decade

The great horned owl is the most widespread and, you might say, the most ordinary owl in the ABA Area. But here’s the deal. Tweet a 7-second video of B. virginianus, and the entire twitterverse takes note. Not all that long ago, we birders were just a tad embarrassed by the star power of owls.

How to Know the Birds: No. 24, The Owl of the Decade2020-01-07T22:09:37-05:00

How to Know the Birds: No. 23, Parakeet Possessions

The parakeets own this place. They shriek and squeak and squawk like nobody’s business. They’re green, for crying out loud. Like Huckleberry Finn, that most exemplary and free-spirited of Americans, they come and go as they please. The Monk Parakeets are Brooklyn originals, born and bred in Green-Wood Cemetery, native New Yorkers to the core.

How to Know the Birds: No. 23, Parakeet Possessions2020-03-05T10:33:08-05:00

How to Know the Birds: No. 22, The Common Kiskadee

Without giving it too much thought, What are some of the great places in the ABA Area? Alaska and Hawaii, for starters. The Chiricahuas, the Salton Sea, and the Everglades, needless to say. Cape May and Central Park and Montrose Point, of course. But I want to make a special shoutout here to South Texas, and to the lower Rio Grande valley in particular.

How to Know the Birds: No. 22, The Common Kiskadee2019-12-07T20:32:25-05:00

How to Know the Birds: No. 21, Hawaii’s Most Perfect Bird

As I watched the snoozing tattler, I gave thought again to the matter of belonging—to the conundrum of a bird that “belongs” to salt spray and sea rocks in the tropics, but also to remote and rugged mountains in the arctic, to lonely expanses of open ocean, to homeless encampments along a multi-use trail, to the glitz and glitter of the big city.

How to Know the Birds: No. 21, Hawaii’s Most Perfect Bird2019-12-07T21:15:10-05:00