Birding News #93

Bird news (from a fairly slow week):

:: GrrlScientist writes about the annual Christmas Bird Count — the “granddaddy” of all citizen science projects — for The Guardian.

:: There’s a possibility of training birds to bring down drones.

Great posts in birding blogs this week:

:: From Josiah at Birds in Your Backyard: My Field Guides

:: From Terry at Birding FrontiersAn Exotic Robin in China

:: From Don and Lillian Stokes at Birding Is FunPhotographing Birds in Flight Tips

:: From Clare at 10,000 Birds: Pied Oystercatcher Family Starts To Disperse

:: From Nathan at Nemesis BirdNew York Townsend’s Solitaire Plus More

:: From Josh at Ontario Birds and HerpsNiagara to Oakville – December 5, 2014

Birding News #92

:: Afghan police shoot down a “bird bomb”

:: A researcher in Indonesia discovered a new bird species- the Sulawesi Streaked Flycatcher.

:: Another new bird species discovered, this one in Brazil

:: An amendment to the San Jose, California, General Plan that would require surveying migratory birds during the nesting season has been tabled for fear of hindering development in the city.

:: Great Antshrikes have been observed using stone “anvils” to break open the shells of land snails, behaviour which is apparently recent since the snail was only introduced to the habitat in the 1980s.

:: A highly pathogenic bird flu strain in Europe is representing a major threat to the poultry industry in countries crossed by migrating wild birds.

:: Urban Northern Cardinals and Gray Catbirds live longer than their country cousins, one Smithsonian study found.

:: Researchers have found that hummingbirds fly more like insects than like other birds.

Great posts in birding blogs this week:

:: From Sharon at Bird CanadaKinder Morgan & The Birds of Burnaby Mountain

:: From Michael at Knob and KettleHeated bird bath from Wild Birds Unlimited

:: Larry at The Brownstone Birding BlogRating My Interest In Random Birding Topics

:: From Bruce at The Bruce Mactavish Newfoundland Birding BlogSnowy Owl Echo Invasion – Here We Go Again

:: From David at the Sibley Guides Blog: A hawk in pigeon’s clothing

Birding News #82

:: A remarkable photo, taken last December, of a Mascarene Petrel — not only is it one of the first photos taken at sea of the rare species, but it’s the first picture of any bird flying while obviously bearing an egg, and is also the first evidence of the species’ return from its pre-laying exodus.

:: One day last week, three different airplanes landing at LaGuardia Airport in New York in four hours experienced bird strikes; it’s not known yet what species were involved.

:: A company in the Netherlands is testing remote control operated robotic eagles and falcons, called “Robirds”, to scare away real birds from airports and farms.

:: Some researchers are tricking Steller’s Jays with tainted eggs to help save the threatened Marbled Murrelet

:: An influx of Cattle Egrets has closed a playground in Houston, Texas.

Great posts in birding blogs this week:

:: From Pat at Bird Canada: What Hawk Is This? Or Is This A Hawk?

:: From Shyloh at beakingoff: TLBO… My Autumn Home Away From Home

:: From David at 10,000 Birds: The Complete Guide To Dodo Relatives Living and Dead

:: From Kathie at Kathie’s Birds: Birding Viles Arboretum

:: From Nicholas at Hipster Birders: Mountain Birding, Part 1

:: From Josiah at Birds in Your Backyard: Churchill Day 2

Birding News #18

:: Rare Bird Alert in Canada: A Purple Sandpiper was found May 9th at the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary in Calgary, Alberta.

:: Rare Bird Alert in Canada: A Little Egret (Code 4) has been spotted in Fair Haven, Newfoundland.

:: Birds in Egypt are being threatened because hunters are putting out nets to trap the birds for illegal proposes. You can sign a petition here set up by the Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union to encourage making the trapping of birds in Egypt illegal.

:: A group of blind birders in Michigan are teaching others about the joys of birding through birding by ear.

:: Bird Studies Canada has a new citizen scientist program for monitoring Barn Swallows as part of NestWatch.

:: The Bahamas National Trust is taking measures to protect crucial wintering habitat for the endangered Kirtland’s Warbler.

:: Bird songs are used in more ways than you might think!

:: An environmental adviser with an Alberta electric utility company has established  Canada’s first Avian Protection Plan, to prevent bird collisions with the power lines.

Great posts in birding blogs this week:

:: From Linda at Photo Feathers: A Canoeing Adventure at The Biggest Week

:: From Dan at Birds Calgary: Wednesday Wings: Chasing Rarities — Purple Sandpiper — First Alberta Record

:: From Larry at Brownstone Birding Blog: Spring Census Mystery Bird Makes Number 100

:: From Tami at CabinGirl: A Curious, and Hungry Chestnut-sided Warbler

:: From Mia at On The Wing Photography: Ospreys of Flaming Gorge

:: A new friend I met at the Snow Goose Chase has just started a bird blog so please head over to his new blog, Bird Boy!

Birding with Technology

As a pretty typical 15-year-old, I like technology! I love my laptop and iPod. And best of all, they can be used very well with some other things I love, birds and birding.

I didn’t get hooked on birding because of the technology, but as I’ve become more involved with social media, I am finding various technologies to be a very useful tool. For example, I am working on a project with a friend for a birding event in April, preparing a “Young Naturalists’ Corner”. It would be much harder — and slower — getting everything done without email, digital photography, etc. Especially because I live on a farm in a very rural part of Canada, it’s very nice to have online and digital technology to keep in touch with others and to get, and send, information.

No-one in my family has a cell phone (my parents are quite frugal and also don’t like the interruptive nature of cell phones), so I’m not able to use birding apps. However, I have been downloading the good free ones to iTunes whenever they become available, so I’ll be ready when I do get a smartphone! You definitely don’t need a smartphone to enjoy birding technology.

Many organizations like the ABA, Pledge To Fledge, National Audubon Society, and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology are trying to get more young people interested in birding and nature. One thing which seems to spark that interest is the use of technology and social media.

Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites can be used very easily by birders. There are quite a few Facebook bird groups to join. Some of my favorites are for the American Birding Association, ABA Area Rare Birds, Birders who Blog, Tweet, and Chirp, the Alberta Birds group I started in May — the list just keeps going. On Twitter you can follow a variety of birding organizations, retweet links, and keep tabs on your favorite blogs. I’ve also found Facebook very helpful for keeping in touch with other birders I’ve met across the country and in the U.S., including the friends I made at the Long Point Young Ornithologists’ Workshop.

eBird is one of my favorite birding websites and a very useful birding tool. I try to submit a checklist everyday, but don’t always have time. It’s a great way to keep track of multiple lists (for example, patch list, year list, life list, county list). eBird is also a great place for learning about rare birds in your area or North America, looking at species distribution, and migrations routes. It’s an easy and fun way to enrich one’s knowledge of conservation and science about birds. You can also try to be a top lister in your province/state or county; in the province of Alberta, I’m 38th out of 100 for species seen this year. I highly recommend joining eBird!

Most states and provinces should have at least one birding listserv, for example, at Yahoo groups. The ABA has a list of all the provincial, state, and worldwide listservs. Also, Birding News from ABA is a very simple way to navigate through the listserv posts on just one site, and with BN you don’t need to join any listserv if you don’t want to.

There are quite a few good birding apps available. One thing to remember, though, is that they aren’t priced like the usual 99¢ apps. The Sibley eGuide to the Birds of North America costs $19.99 which might seem high, however, you’re getting audio for almost every species, all of the information from the book is in the app, the search functions make it very easy to search for birds, and the app is much more convenient than lugging around a printed field guide on a birding trip. Birding Is Fun has a survey of birding apps, which shows what apps are available for phones and tablets.

Birding podcasts are another type of technology. I really enjoy them and learn a lot about birding news. It’s also a fun way to listen to some of your favorite birders. My favorite is the Birdchick Podcast, very entertaining, great birding stories; I highly recommend subscribing the this podcast! Laura Erickson’s For the BirdsWREN Radio, and This Birding Life are great podcasts too!

Two of the birding radio shows I listen to most often are Ray Brown’s Talkin’ Birds out of Massachusetts and Bird Calls Radio of Connecticut. I listen to them live on my laptop, or as podcasts.

And of course there are the bird blogs! A full list of all the blogs I follow is on my sidebar at right under Bird Blogs and Canadian Bird Blogs.

Another Alberta birder, David Pugh, just wrote a blog post and gave a presentation on technology for birders. You can find it here at his blog Calgary Birder.

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Edited to add: I almost forgot to mention another way I like to use my iPod — one item I usually take along with me is a Grace Eco Extremea rugged waterproof iPod case with speakers. My mother found it for me at Amazon.ca (for the same price as at Amazon.com, which is unusual), and bought it in orange, so it’s easy to spot if I set it down. I use it with my Ipod Classic which has almost 1,500 bird songs on it, from a variety of sources (Stokes, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, etc.). The Grace Eco Extreme has very good volume for playing bird songs and excellent sound quality.