OVER THE TOP

December 23, 2015

It is often heard, that remark that something is “over the top.”  Well, now it is certainly true of ace Oregon birder Noah Strycker.  He is now ace Global Birder.  He set out to try to see 5000 species in a single year.  As the days dwindle down he is nearing 6000.  Can he get there?  Click here to follow the final days of this extraordinary feat of birding, logistics and stamina.

Congrats, Noah.

WORLD’S OLDEST MOTHER BIRD

December 8, 2015

Humans call her Wisdom, her mate calls her “dear” and she’s back on her nest again. At the young age of 62. Click here for images of this Laysan Albatross as she continues to set an avian record.

BIRD MEN ON THE RADIO

October 26, 2015

Last week, NPR’s “Fresh Air” featured an interview with photographer Gerrit Vyn and writer Scott Weidensaul, both venerable contemporary birdmen. The occasion was a new book on bird song published by Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Click here to hear that 35-minute radio segment.

Vin travels the world photographing and recording songs of birds. Both men are professionals in the world of bird research. Weidensaul is now working on project to track owl migration. He speaks about the widespread migration of the common, rarely seen, Saw-whet Owl.

There is also a section where they discuss the apparently doomed Spoonbill Sandpiper. It has a great call, BTW.

This show features many recorded bird calls.

THIS COULD BE THE DAY

October 26, 2015

OCTOBER 26, 2015

This is the day that Noah Strycker may break 5000 in his global big year. He ended yesterday with 4990. Click here for updates daily.

It is getting harder to add many new species. Noah has long ago gotten his mynah, his Rook, his common gulls and woodpeckers. Now he’s chasing down the shy, the rare, the bird in obscure corners or limited range. However, he has wisely saved the southern hemisphere for his end of the year birding, where days are much longer than up here where days are getting shorter and shorter.

TAKE NOTHING FOR GRANTED

March 30, 2015

We now take for granted the success of two of our most common, weed species of bird in America, the House Sparrow and the Eurasian Starling. Both birds are in trouble in England where intensive agriculture and pesticides have altered the landscape and habitat. Loss of old-fashioned hedgerows may have hurt the sparrow along with other rural species like Yellowhammer. Read here for details.

Back in the 18th Century when Gilbert White was observing and writing about the Wiltshire countryside the Wood Pigeon was a scarce bird. The drop in forest hunting and the bird’s adaptation to city parks has changed all that. As large as our Band-tailed Pigeons, they’re now are as common as Rock Pigeons over much of England. The abundance of Collared-Doves in suburban England does not seem to have hurt the Wood Pigeon. WOOD PIGEON2

wopi face

WOPI WALKS1

LOST AND FOUND

March 27, 2015

Species come, and species go. But virtual extinction occurs when a species is undiscovered by man, or when it goes decades without being found. For two birds we have good news. They’re still here!
Herdon’s Babbler is first on our back-from-the-dead list. Click here for full story. It’s been rediscovered in Myanmar.
The babbler family is full of dark brown skulking birds. The only one who lives in the New World is our Wrentit, and any Oregon or California birder can tell you they are easy to hear in coastal scrub, but to see one…
The rail family has suffered mightily around the world. Many species have gone extinct in limited habitat, like Pacific island chains. Many others have suffered from human encroachment and draining marshes. Just recently a dedicated ornithologist has proved the Zapata Rail survives in Cuba. Click here for details.
If you want to see some rare and even endangered birds on your next trip outside the U.S., contact PIB.

PARTNER TO PUBLISH GREAT GRAY OWL BOOK

March 23, 2015

ggow-shneckOne of Partnership for International Birding’s founding partners is publishing a book om the Great Gray Owls of the Pacific Slope. Harry Fuller, PIB co-founder, and photographer Peter Thiemann have worked on this book for two years. It draws together many of Peter’s fine photos of the Great Grays in action. It also includes much information of the world’s southernmost population of this phantom bird. The Great Gray Owl is notoriously difficult to survey for and to track during nesting season. Yet once found the owl is aloof and easy to observe because it ignores mere humans, far preferring to concentrate on voles and pocket gophers. The Canadian population concentrates on lemmings.GGO COVER-JPEG

The book covers the GGOs in California, Oregon and Washington State–a population largely overlooked in most previous books on the species and even in widely distributed general field guides. Many books still in print describe Great Grays as a “boreal species” yet the authors have verified breeding populations along the Pacific Slope that summer where temperatures regularly climb above 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
The book will also include original, detailed breeding range maps for the species in the three Pacific States.PARTIAL CAL MAP-JPEG If you’d like to see nesting Great Gray Owls near a meadow full of wildflowers in the glorious Cascades Mountains, contact PIB about a trip to Oregon. Some bonus birds will include Vaux’s Swift, Williamson’s and Red-breasted Sapsucker, White-headed & Lewis’s Woodpecker, Hermit Warbler, Wrentit, Black Tern, Tricolored Blackbird and White-tailed Kite.

If you’re interested in the owl book, email Harry Fuller at: atowhee@gmail.com
GGO photo by Karl Schneck.

HOW DRY I AM

January 30, 2015

drought 4_800x618 US DROUGHTThe severe drought and almost tropical “winter” that is occurring along the Pacific Coast will speed up the breeding season for many resident species.  Difficult to find birds like Wrentit and California Gnatcatcher are easiest to locate during breeding before they become even more secretive.  In southern Oregon the Turkey Vultures have returned a month early and Scrub-Jays have been seen building nests.  In an area where snow should be likely until April I have seen not a single snowflake, just warm rains out of the south.  Frogs are singing in seasonal ponds.  A bat flew past my car window on January 25; they are supposed be asleep, with the bears and Belding’s ground squirrels.  Mushrooms are sprouting at 6000′ in the mountains where there should be snow on the ground.  Lakes at 5000′ are ice free and full of Canada Geese.  I wouldn’t be surprised to suddenly see a small flock of Tree Swallows up from California, or an Osprey fishing.  All this is unseasonally early.  So if you are planning a Pacific Coast trip, think of doing it earlier in the year than in a normal year which this will not be.

SOME CONSERVATION NOTES

January 8, 2015

Not-so-hopeful news from Brazil where a politician dubbed by some “chainsaw queen” has been named to a post where she will influence policy on deforestation there.

A brighter spot: the Pope has begun to openly push for more action to curb climate change.

And there may be help on the way for Europe’s glorious, huge Griffon Vultures.  A veterinary chemical that is deadly to the birds is beginning to get banned in some countries.  The drug: diclofenac.  If you’d like to see a Griffon Vulture in France or Spain, PIOB can get you there.

And here in the U.S. the Red Knot has been put onto the list of threatened species by the federal government.

WE SHOULD PAY ATTENTION TO THE WARBLERS’ WISDOM

December 22, 2014

I already knew that we humans are woefully slow to see what’s happening in the natural world, but here comes scientific evidence that even without TV weathercasts, warblers foresee weather problems far better than some slow-moving bipeds.

Here’s one newspaper account of how warblers fled the U.S. to avoid a killer storm.

Here’s a summary of that same report on warbler wisdom from a science website.

That violent series of storms killed 35 humans who chose not to migrate.  Final Score: Warblers +1, Humans -35.


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