Birds

The next 10 North American bird splits

A favorite activity among avid birders is speculating and pontificating about which species should be “split” into new species (and new checkmarks on the life list). Another way of stating the question is “which subspecies should be elevated to full species status?” I’ve always tried to emphasize the value of paying attention to subspecies even when they don’t …

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A chance to own an original painting of Spoon-billed Sandpiper

I’ve donated this original painting of Spoon-billed Sandpiper which is being given away over at 10000 Birds. In order to have a chance to win it all you have to do is donate $25 to become a member of their Conservation Club, and virtually every penny of the money raised will be given away to …

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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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The two faces of Downy Woodpecker

A few species of birds with false eyespots are well-known: pygmy-owls and American Kestrel come to mind. In these species of birds, spots on the back of the head produce the illusion of eyes, and create what is called deflective (or parasematic) coloration. Deflective coloration is defined as patterns which “produce the impression of a head at the …

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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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Obsolete Bird Names

Have you seen any Field Plovers lately? Blue Nutcrackers? Day Owls? These are all alternate common names of North American birds. Richard Banks has assembled a complete list of outdated English names of North American birds along with the current official names for those species, and it makes a great resource to find out what …

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Updated bird names for The Sibley Guide to Birds

This list covers changes (through Nov 2009) to the official names of birds as published by the American Ornithologist’s Union (AOU) in periodic supplements to the AOU checklist. The checklist and all supplements can be found here. Note that the names printed in the Sibley Guides have not been revised. These are the changes that …

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