July, 2019

Being a beginning birder, again

10,000 Birds

It’s a rush any new birder experiences: that of every species being a lifer. But few new birders appreciate that rush, because they haven’t known anything else… yet. Once you’ve been around the birding block a few years, your appreciation for the lifer experience deepens greatly. But the opportunities to see new species become more difficult with each one seen.

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Holidaymakers encouraged to save their lilos from landfill by turning them into designer bags

Green (Living) Review

by Michael Smith (Veshengro) Holidaymakers can see their unwanted lilos transformed into designer bags and pouches thanks to a holiday company that’s pledging to reduce the number of inflatables sent to landfill. Holiday Hypermarket has teamed up with sustainable designer Wyatt and Jack to encourage customers to turn their holiday inflatables into one-of-a-kind bags, with the package-holiday specialist picking up the postage costs for sending the plastic products.

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Review of Environmental Economics and Policy (REEP) is a top 3 economics journal.

Environmental Economics

at least according to the Web of Science Journal Citations Report for 2018. And yes, I'm telling you this because John and I now have a top 3 publication (and I think we deserve a raise dammit

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Why Do Little Birds Mob Big Birds?

Nature Conservancy - Science

Small, angry birds take on big predators – and live. Birds & Birding From the Field Wildlife Birds Traveling Naturalist

2019 87

Put Plants In Your Home To Live Longer

Green Prophet

Summertime, and the green outdoors beckons. It’s tempting to go for a healthy walk outdoors. But what if you live in an apartment, a bus ride away from a park? Or spend the best part of daylight hours in an office building? Most of Western humanity is already living in units stacked up one on top of another, where sidewalk trees and the occasional weedy empty lot is people’s only exposure to plants. How about fresh air?

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Why Is Family Farming Better for the Environment?


Family farming, which broadly speaking means. any farm owned or managed by a family, is the most predominant form of agriculture around the globe. Over 500 million family farms in the world currently supply more than 56 percent of food, feed and fiber [1]. And they are as diverse as they are numerous. Family famers range from smallholders and medium scale farmers, to peasants, indigenous peoples, traditional communities, pastoralists and many other groups.

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Uncommon Yellowthroats

10,000 Birds

The Yellowthroat group is an odd collection of bird species. The one migratory species, aptly named the Common Yellowthroat , can be seen almost anywhere in North America. Another one, the Masked Yellowthroat , can be found in five unconnected resident territories over much of South America. Both are marsh-dwelling species. The next-most-widely-ranging Yellowthroats , the Gray-crowned and the Hooded, favor grasslands and scrub.

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More Trending

Sociocracy - The Movement

The Green Changemakers

By Ted J. Rau The sociocracy experience I’m part of several sociocratic organizations, and we sometimes get requests from what I call “sociocracy tourists”–people who want to attend a sociocratic meeting to see what it is like. I have a standard response that might surprise you: “Come. But you will very likely be disappointed. Sociocracy is almost invisible. Because good governance is quiet. What you can witness is flow but you will have a hard time seeing where it even came from.

In Conservation, Sometimes It’s the Small Things that Inspire

Nature Conservancy - Science

Join Nikolaj Lasbo as he bands American Kestrel chicks in Utah. Birds & Birding From the Field Wildlife Birds Nest Cams Protected Areas

2019 86

One Of The World’s Oldest Mosques Excavated In The Negev

Green Prophet

The rocky brown soil of the Negev desert suggests an empty environment, but recent excavations by the Israel Antiquities Authority have brought to light an ancient mosque from the 7th-8th centuries CE there. It’s one of the earliest known mosques in the world, a surprising find in the area. Dr. Jon Seligman and Shahar Zur, directors of the excavations for the Israel Antiquities Authority, say, “A small rural mosque, dated to the 7th to 8th centuries C.E.,

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Recent Changes to the Costa Rica Bird List

10,000 Birds

Some birders are more learners than listers, others more photographers than birders. However, no matter how one enjoys or takes in interest in the avian side of life, an official list of the birds for a given area is of vital importance.

The longest way to Costa Rica goes around the world!

10,000 Birds

Presuming that you want to bird Costa Rica, you would book a southbound flight (from N. America) or westbound (from Europe). Yet, for most people, birders are all eccentric. What if you were truly eccentric? In such a case, you might opt to book an eastbound flight, or a series of flights, from Lisbon to Sao Tome and Principe, Ghana, Rwanda, Uganda, then Sri Lanka, Thailand, Borneo, PNG, Tahiti, Ecuador, Guyana and finally to Costa Rica….

Perch Wars

10,000 Birds

In April of this year, I had the crazy idea of submitting this article to 10,000 Birds for their consideration. Since I will still be enjoying my last couple of days in Spain on this week’s deadline, I thought it might be the moment to share it with all of you. I’ll post more recent material next week! In spite of being cosmopolitan birds, found on seven of the nine continents, Black-crowned Night Herons are pretty special birds.

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Colorful + Devious = Toucans of Costa Rica

10,000 Birds

For many folks who live in places with cold winters, toucans are the birds on cereal boxes. While growing up in western New York during the 70s and 80s, sure, we could have found some information, some illustrations of toucans at the local public library. But that would have required a lot more time and tedious effort than gazing at a cereal box accompanied by a sugar-soaked breakfast.

The Birds of Washington, DC

10,000 Birds

There are a lot of birds in Washington, DC. Oh sure, you can go to Rock Creek Park or the Tidal Basin to seek out living avian species, or visitors can head to the Smithsonian museums for a dose of past and present bird lore from all over the world. In early June, I took note of each museum bird I spotted. The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History boasts an entire collection of skins of birds native to the DC area, from large Bald Eagles to tiny Eastern Screech Owls.

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The cuckoo tree

10,000 Birds

On a recent trip to India, a non-descript tree caught my attention. It was overlooking the butterfly garden in Sanjeevaiah Park , Hyderabad. The hysterical call of an Asian Koel , Eudynamys scolopaceus , first attracted me and as I turned to look, a Greater Coucal, Centropus sinensis , flew down from its leafy boughs and disappeared into the reeds of a nearby wet patch. The koel and coucal are both from the extended cuckoo family Cuculidae.

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Owls, Owls, and more Owls in SE Arizona

10,000 Birds

The last couple of weeks have really been a boom for me personally, as far as spotting our local owls goes. Getting to actually see four species, in the last two weeks, and to hear two more is almost unheard of in my experience. It all started in getting to photograph the Northern Pygmy-owls in Madera Canyon. Then a quick check up on the Ferruginous Pygmy-owls that are out in Alta Valley.

Birds of Ecuador by Juan Freile & Robin Restall

10,000 Birds

Helm Field Guides, Paperback – May 2018. As we birders like to see ourselves, we aren’t tourists but travellers, even explorers. And hence we do not carry tourist guides with us. Our tourist attractions have feathers and unlike crumbling temples or colonial buildings, do not stay in one place. They wander around and are way harder to find. Still, this does not mean that we have no equivalent of those tourist guides.

Amur Paradise Flycatcher in Jixi, Anhui, China

10,000 Birds

A few weeks ago, I spent a few days at Jixi, Anhui, a relatively rural place about 2.5 hours away from Shanghai by high-speed train. There, breeding Amur Paradise Flycatchers have become an attraction for Chinese bird photographers, and the source of some tourism income for the locals. Amur Paradise Flycatcher (female). Conveniently, one pair is breeding just about 100 meters away from a place renting out rooms and also providing meals.

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Saving Jemima and Julie: a Book Review

10,000 Birds

The last time a Julie Zickefoose book was reviewed on this blogsite, the piece began by saying “This is going to be a rave review.” That sentence will do for this review and this book, too: it’s unavoidable. Who knew? — but there is apparently an entire literature about women who adopt wild birds and devote substantial portions of their lives and psyches to those birds thereafter, often for years and, necessarily, to the point of obsession.

2019 146

Antpittas and Gnateaters: A Book Review

10,000 Birds

Antpittas and Gnateaters by Harry F. Greeney was recommended to me as a book I HAD to review by no less than three birding friends. I hesitated because a 496-page book about two skulky neotropical bird groups is a little intimidating. It’s a fairly large book considering the limited subject matter. I also wondered if a book like this would be of interest to 10,000 Birds readers. Then, I remembered how often 10,000 Birds writers have written about Antpittas.

2019 146

July birding in Northern Germany

10,000 Birds

About two times per year, I spend a few weeks in Northern Germany – Visselhövede, to be exact. This is not generally a very joyful occasion – daily visits to my mother, whose dementia is progressing, tend to be fairly depressing. Fortunately, there also birds here, and as I only started birding in China, I am not even that familiar with them. In fact, some common birds here are quite attractive and/or cute.

Hermit Thrush Brewery: Po Tweet

10,000 Birds

I consider myself fortunate that I learned to love summer birding before I ever knew what the summer doldrums are, if only because summer was the very first season I began birding. Though I never cared much for the season growing up, my initial birding forays to Jamaica Bay in Queens were a welcome antidote to the smelly sidewalks and sweltering apartments that plagued my life in summer in New York City.

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Yellow Bitterns in Singapore

10,000 Birds

One bird that is easily encountered in Singapore without venturing too far off the beaten track is the Yellow Bittern. The Yellow Bittern is often overlooked by visitors to many of the parks and gardens in Singapore. The Yellow Bitterns wander across the vegetation in the lakes and balance on the leaves in the water. Visiting Gardens by the Bay is on most visitors to Singapore itinerary, even if they are only there for a few days.

Great Mexican Bird Names

10,000 Birds

By the time this post is published, I will be on a short trip to Spain, though not principally for birding purposes. So I decided to make it easy on myself, and follow up on the whole name theme we did a couple of weeks ago. Bird names in Spanish have never been successfully standardized, so most serious birders here use either Latin or English to discuss their sightings.

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Madera Canyon: The feeders at Santa Rita Lodge

10,000 Birds

Rarely does the name Madera Canyon come up without most North American birders taking pause to recognize the importance to birding in the Southwest U.S. In addition, any birder who has spent any time in the canyon has invariably spent a little time sitting on one of the hallowed benches that are located outside the gift shop at the Santa Rita Lodge. There is a variety of seed feeders, suet and peanut butter blocks, and most importantly, over a dozen hummingbird feeders.

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Best Bird of the Weekend (Third of July 2019)

10,000 Birds

A hot weekend doesn’t necessarily make for hot birding, but things may be warming up on that front. One truth you learn in the birding business is that birds are always moving in one direction or another. If you didn’t see much this weekend, just wait a few weeks. I definitely didn’t see much, but sometimes the usual species satisfy well enough. Northern Mockingbirds , for example, are charming any time of year but abundant right now in my part of the world.

2019 140

Where Are You Birding This Second Weekend of July 2019?

10,000 Birds

Summer (or winter, depending on where you are this week) rolls on, leading us deep into the dreaded doldrums. Don’t give up on birding, though. Even a small change in routine or location can open up unexpected possibilities. I’m hoping for something out of the ordinary around here, as July birds in the Finger Lakes region rarely deviate from the boring norm. Corey never gets bored of birding, so look for him somewhere in Queens. How about you?

2019 136

Best Bird of the Weekend (Second of July 2019)

10,000 Birds

July birding in the Northern Hemisphere may be slow, but you’ve got to love those adorable baby birds! Does anyone out there keep a separate list for fledglings and chicks? i got my fill of cygnets and goslings this weekend, but the best sighting was an adult Cattle Egret that apparently didn’t realize how far Upstate New York was from wherever it should be. Corey did not do much birding this weekend but he did get out for awhile on Sunday morning.

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High-Altitude Birding in Central Mexico

10,000 Birds

One of the things I love about birding around Morelia, in central Mexico, is the wide variety of habitats I have nearby. Travelling one hour or less, I can reach wetlands, lakes, tropical thorn forest, savannah, oak forest, pine-oak forest, mixed woods, cloud forest, and mixed coniferous (pine-fir) woods. This variety of habitats is almost entirely due to the wild topography of our Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt.

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The first Pied Oystercatcher chicks of 2019

10,000 Birds

This year marks the twentieth year that we have observed Pied Oystercatchers nesting along Cable Beach. We keep an eye on the 23 kilometre length of beach that runs from Gantheaume Point to the southern side of Willie Creek. There are usually 16 pairs of Pied Oystercatchers nesting along this length of beach from late June. Their success rate is pitiful and can hardly be called successful at all.

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Where Are You Birding This Third Weekend of July 2019?

10,000 Birds

While a huge swath of the United States braces for record-setting heat–again–other parts of the world may be suffering equally oppressive though dramatically different weather. Wherever you are, whatever you do, stay safe, but also try to find time to check out some birds! I’m visiting Boston for business, which may disrupt my best birding intentions.

2019 124

Timber Rattlesnakes: Cool Facts and an Uncertain Future

Nature Conservancy - Science

Meet the feared but reclusive and docile snake of the eastern forest. From the Field Wildlife Herps Weird Nature

2019 86

Cepas de Loro: Pisco Puro Muscatel

10,000 Birds

Depending on one’s perspective, it’s either through hilariously misleading irony or outright false advertising that many of the world’s great liquors derive their English names from various native words for a somewhat more wholesome liquid: water. Whisky comes from the Scots Gaelic uisge-beatha (or uisce beatha in Irish), meaning “water of life”, which is in turn a calque of the Latin aqua vitae.

2019 122

Where Are You Birding This First Weekend of July 2019?

10,000 Birds

Many Americans have kicked off the first weekend of July with a very extended weekend. Unfortunately, a week of Saturdays won’t bring the migrants back! With hope, each of you finds yourself exactly where the best birds are. I’m hightailing it to Pittsburgh this weekend, but my plans focus on art and food. Corey is camping in an undisclosed location, so his odds of quality birding are definitely higher than mine. How about you? Where will you be this weekend and will you be birding?

2019 120

8 Ways Wild Animals Beat the Heat

Nature Conservancy - Science

From urine-accented mud baths to “bloody” sunscreen, how wildlife stays cool in the hot summer. Climate Change Wildlife

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Best Bird of the Weekend (Last of July 2019)

10,000 Birds

Those of us north of the Equator should be enjoying our summer weekends no matter how boring the birding might be. Better, though, is finding a way to raise the quality of your bird sightings and enjoyment of them. How is that working out for you? I spent the weekend with some friends in the Southern Tier, where I’ve always complained about the boring birdlife. Somehow, we managed to flip the script on that by spotting all kinds of birds that the whole group could enjoy.

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