One of the most valuable bits of advice – so it has been proven to me by experience – that I received back when I first took up bird watching was “always look at the ducks.” The logic was that ducks, being – like crows and gulls – so commonly seen by most people in […]
Bird Watching / Birding
You likely already knew that the national bird of the United States is the American Bald Eagle, and – if you know a bit about birds – you could probably have guessed that the national bird of Guatemala is the Resplendent Quetzal, but what is the national bird of Estonia? How about Israel? Jamaica? If you don’t know, don’t feel bad; I didn’t either – at least until I read Ron Toft’s new book National Birds of the World.
When it comes to bird families whose members are tricky to learn to identify, gulls and warblers would likely be near the top of most any bird watcher’s list. However while gulls do present the challenges of multi-year plumage cycles and frequent identity-confounding hybridizations, they are fairly large, often lethargic birds that can commonly be approached and observed for lengthy periods of time. Warblers, on the other hand, are very small feathered darts that even when they do perch to glean are rarely stationary for more than a second or two. Yet while a number of books have been published on learning to identify gulls, warblers have generally been treated as simply another family to puzzle out like the rest included in field guides.
Although perhaps not the first geographic location that springs to mind when the topic of U.S. birding hot spots arises, the northwest corner of the lower forty-eight states is truly an under-appreciated wonderland of bird species. Encompassing as it does a wide range of habitat types – from sage-covered high desert and alpine meadows to […]