Birding Skills

Abnormal coloration in birds: Melanin reduction

Albino and partial albino birds The presence of white feathers on a normally dark bird is the most frequently seen color abnormality. Every birder can expect to encounter white or partly-white birds with some regularity, and the more striking examples will stand out even to novices. All black and brown coloration in birds comes from …

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Subspecies by phenology – Great Blue Heron

Phenology is the study of the timing of natural events, and I have recently begun to realize how useful it is for distinguishing subspecies of birds. In San Diego in Mar 2009  I noticed differences in behavior and molt timing that were helpful in distinguishing Belding’s and Northern Savannah Sparrows. I wrote about this again …

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Kingbirds, nightjars, and the perception of bird sounds

In a recent post on his excellent blog Earbirding, Nathan Pieplow points out an issue with the voice description of Buff-collared Nightjar in the Sibley Guide to Birds, which says: Song of rapid, sharp, dry chips in crescendoing series tup to to tu tu ti ti trridip accelerating and rising to flourish at end; pattern similar to …

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Ageing Canada Geese

Determining the age of a goose can be helpful for identification, and can also reveal some interesting behavioral and ecological information by enabling you to sort out family groups and subflocks. Given good views it’s not hard to distinguish Canada Geese that are still in juvenal plumage from those that are in adult plumage. By …

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