"Just over halfway through the year, a man named John Weigel
spotted a Buller’s shearwater in California on July 16, making him the holder of the record for most bird species seen in North America in a calendar year: 750. But two days later, Olaf Danielson
[world record nude birder
] of South Dakota saw his 750th bird of 2016, a red-faced cormorant in Alaska. Now the men are in a fierce competition
...." (previous bigyears)
The fantastic Cornell Lab of Ornithology
offers two ways to identify that bird you saw, if you were bird watching in North America, with Merlin
. You can download the free app for Android
and go through a series of prompts to ID that bird, or upload a photo from your desktop
, note where and when you took the photo, tag the tip of the beak, the eye and the tail of the bird and like magic (and with use of the eBird database
), you can learn about the birds you see.
With spring just around the corner (Mother Nature swears for real this time), North Americans are eagerly on the lookout for one of the earliest migratory harbingers of spring, the robin
Wait, what? Robins are a Christmas bird
! Hey, that's not a robin at all! [more inside]
From 1851 to 1858, Henry David Thoreau noted a number of natural occurrences in detail, including the first flowering dates for over 500 species of wildflowers in Concord. Additionally, Alfred Hosmer, a botanist in the same area
, had recorded the flowering dates
of over 600 species of wild plants in 1878 and from 1888 to 1902. With that data, Richard Primack
, a biology professor at Boston University, and fellow researcher Abraham Miller-Rushing
spent years aligning old plant names with current names to study the change flowering patterns
from the recorded past to present. Their phenological
study concluded that plants in Concord, on average, are now flowering 10 days earlier than they were in Thoreau's time
(full article for the journal BioScience). [more inside]
From the mid 40s to the mid 50s Coronet Instructional Films
were always ready to provide social guidance for teenagers on subjects as diverse as dating
, preparing for being drafted
, and shyness
, as well as to children on following the law
, the value of quietness in school
, and appreciating our parents
. They also provided education on topics such as the connection between attitudes and health
, what kind of people live in America
, how to keep a job
, supervising women workers
, the nature of capitalism
, and the plantation System in Southern life
. Inside is an annotated collection of all 86 of the complete Coronet films in the Prelinger Archives
as well as a few more. Its not like you had work to do or anything right? [more inside]
In 1998 three birders--Sandy Komito
, Al Levantin
and Greg Miller
--had their big year
attempt chronicled in 2004 in a book of the same name by Mark Obmascik
. Due to a few fortuitous circumstances including some spectacular fallout
, a remote Alaskan Island, Komito's 1998 record of 745 species has never been surpassed. Their friendly yearlong rivalry is being documented further in a motion picture
featuring Owen Wilson, Steve Martin and Jack Black coming out later this year. [more inside]
Mike O'Connor, owner of Bird Watcher's General Store in MA, writes a column "Ask the Bird Folks", for The Cape Codder newspaper. Five of O'Connor's short but humorously enlightening pieces were chosen by Steven Pinker to be included in the 2004 edition of the Best American Science and Nature writing. Those five can be read here: 
. The full set of articles here
. He started in 2001 and is sort of a "Car Talk" of bird watching.
Suppression is the act of concealing news of a rare bird from other twitchers.
Other twitchers take the more open approach - Sean Dooley
broke the Australian record for most birds seen in a year, and inspired by his example, Alan Davies and Ruth Miller
gave up their jobs and embarked on a quest to see "over 3,662 different species of birds in twelve months, from 1st January to 31st December 2008." On October 31st, they achieved their goal
is The Rock and Roll Kid
. The 11 year old guitar prodigy
from Surrey, BC, has already played the Apollo Theatre in New York, jammed with Les Paul, and opened for April Wine and Colin James. They say he's the next Eric Clapton or Jimi Hendrix. They say he's the next guitar god
. His parents say he has to be in bed by ten. How does Danny
keep himself grounded under the pressure of fame
and the spotlight
? He watches birds
Bird Watchers Guide
on Flickr. "Linked list of species submitted; find all photos of a species here".
The Royal Tit-Watching Society of Britain.
(Shockingly safe for work)
Those Crazy birds
The birdwatchers of Ireland were atwitter Tuesday after spotting a Baltimore oriole in a seaside village named Baltimore.
I've always found falcons fascinating.
A long time ago, I helped out ( in a small way ) with the state effort to re-establish the peregrine falcon in the Midwest. It was in a major Midwest city, where the downtown buildings were a close match to their native nesting habitat of cliff faces and tall trees. The focus for the falcon release was a hack box. Now, the same hack box is being used as a nest by a falcon breeding pair, who have four eyasses ( singular; eyas: i.e., falcon chicks ) this year.
This URL is the webcam of the hack box; it refreshes every 30 seconds. Since falcons eyasses grow fast, they need a lot of feeding, so the parents are primarily out hunting when they are not sheltering their children. Every once and a while you'll see one of the parents feeding the eyasses. In the coming weeks, you can watch these eyasses grow to more than triple their present size and get their flying wings.