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American Birding Podcast

The American Birding Podcast brings together staff and friends of the American Birding Association as we talk about birds, birding, travel and conservation in North America and beyond. Join host Nate Swick every other Thursday for news and happenings, recent rarities, guests from around the birding world, and features of interest to every birder.
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Aug 8, 2019

Fantasy Sports is big business these day, especially now that participants no longer have to do the work by hand. It’s so popular that managing virtual worlds based on real world data has spread beyond sports. Fantasy Birding has become a obsession among a growing cadre of real birders, it has been featured in a number of general interest articles, it was lightly mocked on the NPR show Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, and it’s taken hold of a handful of my colleagues at the ABA. Matt Smith is a computer programmer and birder and is the creator of Fantasy Birding. He joins host Nate Swick to talk about the wild ride. 

Also, some potential changes to the Duck Stamp that seem to cause more harm than good, and Nate reminisces about an amazing trip to Costa Rica with an amazing group of young naturalists.  

Thanks to Zeiss Sports Optics for sponsoring this episode of the American Birding Podcast. 

 

Jul 25, 2019

What does it mean to be an "expert" birder? And do the skills that make one an expert necessarily translate to the skills that are most in demand when it comes to promoting the birding community in a positive way? Birding editor Ted Floyd joins host Nate Swick to talk about expertise in birding and the many ways in which it manifests in the birding world, and why the very birders who are so forward-thinking when it comes to field ornithology can sometimes be their own worst enemy when it comes to prompting the "cause" of birding.

Also, Nate reflects on a trip to Newfoundland and commiserates about what he lost.  

Thanks to Whiting Forest of Dow Gardens Birding Festival for sponsoring this episode of the American Birding Podcast!

Jul 11, 2019

The ABA’s summer camps have long been an avenue for young birders to take in some excellent birding opportunities, to network with other young birders, and to learn about career opportunities in birding and ornithology. So many young people who have gone on to become influential in our community have come through ABA camps and other young birder camps, and many more consider it a seminal experience in their birding lives. Jennie Duberstein, ABA’s long-time Director of Camp Colorado and the Coordinator of the Sonoran Joint Venture bird conservation partnership, and Robert Buckert, a young birder and recent Camp Colorado attendee from Rochester, New York, join host Nate Swick to talk about the camp experience both as a counselor and as a camper. 

Also, Piping Plovers in Chicago threaten to derail a music festival and some thoughts on playback. 

Thanks to the 2019 Hawai'i Island Festival of Birds for sponsoring this episode of the American Birding Podcast.

Jun 27, 2019

Birders love to watch the birds at their feeders from the comfort of their own home, but those windows we depend on can cause quite a few problems for birds, something that Heidi Trudell is all too aware of. She is the creator of the Facebook group Dead Birds for Science and the website Just Save Birds, and an advocate for birds safe glass and construction, as well as getting people comfortable with how their action or inaction affects the birds around us. All of which, she hopes, helps make the world a safer place for birds. 

You can find an annotated list of all the products the Heidi talks about on her website, and help support her work at her Patreon site

Also, the AOS Classification Committee decisions are out, with some interesting decisions and non-decisions. Plus, why you should get involved in the Breeding Bird Survey

Thanks to Zeiss Sports Optics for sponsoring this episode of the American Birding Podcast. 

Jun 13, 2019

It's taxonomy time again, bird nerds! The 2019 proposals to the American Ornithological Society's Classification Committee are chock full of splits, name changes, and a couple proposals that may or may not set some interesting precedents in the way we interact with bird common names. As we have before, we lean again on Dr. Nick Block, professor of Biology at Stonehill College in Easton, Massachusetts, and Secretary of the ABA’s Recording Standards and Ethics Committee, to break it all down. He joins me to talk about some of those 2019’s taxonomy proposals and what they might mean for birders in the US and Canada. 

You can find the American Birding Podcast listener survey that I talk about in the episode here!

Thanks to Caligo Ventures for sponsoring this episode. Caligo is North America's one and only representative for Trinidad's famous Asa Wright Nature Center. Get your birding vacation started by going to caligo.com or call 800.426.7781. 

May 30, 2019

What do birding and board games have in common? More than you’d expect! Birder and game designer Elizabeth Hargrave has made it a mission to bring these two things together and her bird-themed game Wingspan, released earlier this year to great reviews, does just that.

Wingspan has been covered by the New York Times, Smithsonian, and Science magazine among other places and has managed to elicit interest at a time when enthusiasm among the general public for both birding and board games are at an all-time high. She joins host Nate Swick to talk about both. 

Also, Birding editor Ted Floyd shares some thoughts about an extraordinary Western Tanager phenomenon. 

You can find the American Birding Podcast listener survey that I talk about in the episode here!

Thanks to Zeiss Sports Optics for sponsoring this episode of the American Birding Podcast.

May 16, 2019

The ABA's 50th Anniversary and The Biggest Week's 10th Anniversary coincide this year and it's a great time to celebrate both stalwarts of the birding community. We threw a bird party and recorded the very first LIVE episode of the American Birding Podcast featuring special guests, live music, and more! We're excited to share it all with those who couldn't be with us that evening. 

Special thanks to Jason Guerard from Black Swamp Bird Observatory, Wendy Clark and David Mosher for the amazing music, and panelists Jordan Rutter of the American Bird Conservancy, Eliana Ardila Ardila from Birding By Bus, and field guide author David Sibley. We had an amazing time discussion the past and future of birding and the ABA. 

Thanks to L.L. Bean and the L.L. Bean Birding Festival for sponsoring this episode. The L.L. Bean Birding Festival is held May 24-26, 2019, in Freeport, Maine. 

May 2, 2019

Kenn Kaufman is one of America's best known birders, and he has done just about everything a person can do in the birding world. He's a guide, an artist, an incredibly skilled birder, and an author of several books, the latest of which is called A Season on the Wind: Inside the World of Spring Migration. Kenn's new book is a love letter to northwest Ohio, a compelling story about the phenomenon of migration, and a call for action to protect these extraordinary birds and these important places. He joins Nate Swick to talk about the book and all things spring. 

Also, why you should be leading bird walks (seriously), dipping tales from Florida, and a big podcast event at the Biggest Week!

Interested in our West Virginia Adult Birder Camp? Get more information here!

Thanks to Zeiss Sports Optics for sponsoring this episode and their continuing support of the ABA's Young Birder Programs. 

Apr 18, 2019

Birders have been portrayed onscreen for decades now, with mixed accuracy. While this has definitely changed for the better in recent years there's still room to grow and the web-series Birds of North America is pushing the public perception forward once again and it definitely deserves your attention. The series is produced by the media group Topic, it can be found on their website and on YouTube. It is hosted by Bronx-native and bird twitter stalwart Jason Ward and directed by filmmaker Rob Meyer, who wrote and directed A Birder’s Guide to Everything. They both join me to talk about this new venture and what it means for birders.

Also, a great idea in Portland that we might have heard before and a little bit on the LIVE episode of the American Birding Podcast that we're hosting at the Biggest Week in American Birding.

Thanks to Zeiss Sports Optics for their support of this episode!

Apr 4, 2019

Dr. Kaeli Swift knows crows. And she's watched them do some pretty extraordinary things. In fact all corvids-the family that includes crows, jays, magpies, and others-have a well deserved reputation for intelligence and fascinating social behaviors. Dr. Swift's research has provided insights into how crows interact with us, with their dead, and with each other. She joins host Nate Swick from Denali National Park where she is working with Canada Jays to talk about corvid culture and cognition. 

Also, Fantasy Birding makes the big time! Sort of. And some thoughts on the passing of a giant of modern birding

Thanks to the Grays Harbor Shorebird Festival for their support of the American Birding Podcast.

 

Mar 21, 2019

Birders know the South American nation of Colombia as the most bird-rich country on the planet, but Colombia’s reputation among the general public is unfortunately somewhat more mixed. That is something that the Colombian government and non-profits who work there are trying to fix, as Colombia is heavily playing up its bona fides as a travel destination. Luckily for nature-lovers, birding is a big part of that strategy and John Myers of Conservation International has been working to build advise ecotourism initiatives in Colombia that promote conservation and lay the groundwork for an organic birding culture, and he joins host Nate Swick to talk about the amazing things going on in the biodiversity capital of the world. We mention the film, The Birdersas a great example of how birding has taken off in Colombia.

If this episode whets your appetite to visit Colombia, join us at our Colombia event this summer!

Also, more birding in the news, birding board games, and a new birding web-series!

Thanks to the Grays Harbor Shorebird Festival for their support of the American Birding Podcast. 

 

Mar 7, 2019

Spring is finally on its way and with it, the promise of returning migratory birds to the United States and Canada. Among the first to arrive every year, and beloved among birders and non-birders alike, is North America’s largest swallow, the Purple Martin. With their chatty and gregarious nature martins have inspired so many people, one of whom is Dr. Kevin Fraser of the Avian Behavior and Conservation Lab at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg. A migration ecologist with a particularly interest in neotropical migrants, Kevin has worked with Purple Martins for years, and he joins host Nate Swick to talk about the uncommon lives of these common birds. 

Also, congratulations to the ABA's 2019 Young Birders of the Year, don't forget to help the ABA-Leica Subadult Wheatears, and some thoughts on Old Media, New Media, and learning about birds. 

Thanks to Zeiss Sports Optics for sponsoring this episode of the American Birding Podcast!

 

Feb 21, 2019

The February 2019 issue of Birding magazine is noteworthy not only for being the Bird of the Year issue, or for launching the 50th Anniversary of the ABA, but for another, less obvious, reason. February 2019 is the 100th issue of Birding for which Ted Floyd has been editor-in-chief. The 16 years that Ted has been in charge of the ABA's flagship publication have seen a lot of changes, not just in the way that the ABA has reached its members and the birding community, but for birding itself. Ted joins host Nate Swick to talk about how birding has changed over the years, and how Birding has changed along with it. 

Plus, an update on the border wall and a Dark-billed Cuckoo in Florida. 

Come join the ABA in Colombia this summer!

 

Feb 7, 2019

The Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas is one of the most special places in the ABA Area­ for birders and naturalists, hosting some exceptional species and some iconic birding locations. It’s why so many birders have watched the politics around the proposed construction of a border wall in the Valley so closely and why we, along with many other stakeholders, have mobilized to protect those places. One of those on the forefront has been Tiffany Kersten, a biologist, educator, and board member of Friends of the Wildlife Corridor. Her article "Walling Off Wildlife" was published last year in the Birder’s Guide to Conservation and Community. She joins host Nate Swick to talk about birding around a border wall, and the current state of affairs in South Texas. 

Resources that Tiffany mentions in the interview include the No Border Wall Facebook page and and Valley Green Space Resistance Kit

Also, a eulogy for a Great Black Hawk. The song by Troy R. Bennett that plays at the end can be found here

Come join the ABA in Colombia this summer!

Jan 24, 2019

Cornell’s eBird has been around for 16 years now, and 2019 finds it as ingrained in the birding community, especially in North America, as it’s ever been. More users than ever plugging more data than ever into the project, which in turn facilitates a ton of great information that informs research, conservation, and everyday birding. In the last few weeks of 2018, eBird launched a new status and trend database, an incredibly detailed spatial and temporal information on bird populations, combining eBird data with NASA data that takes into account land cover and topography. Cornell's Tom Auer is the Geographic Information Science (GIS) Developer charged with creating these maps, and he joins host Nate Swick to talk about them. 

Also, Fantasy Birding and a little on McCown's Longspur and the question of who bird common names are for. 

Thanks to Rockjumper Birding Tours for sponsoring this episode of the podcast. Come join the ABA in Colombia this summer!

Jan 10, 2019

Multimedia bird artist Megan Massa is the latest artist to create the Bird of the Year cover art, an auspicious list that includes David Sibley, Julie Zickefoose, and Louise Zemaitis, among others. Her experiences have run the gamut from the hobby side of birding to birds research to art and her creation, a Red-billed Tropicbird soaring over a boat full of birders will be featured on the cover of the February 2019 issue of Birding magazine. It's the first Bird of the Year work to exist completely in a digital realm, a fascinating process that allowed Megan to add some cool artistic easter eggs. She joins host Nate Swick to talk bird art, research, and the needs of college-aged birders. 

Plus, a good-bye to the Iiwi, a bird that asked all of us to learn a little more about Hawaiian native birds. 

Thanks to the Space Coast Birding Festival for sponsoring this episode. We'll be there! Will you?

Dec 27, 2018

Days are short, weather is at or near its coldest, and it's easy to just suspend birding for a few months and wait for Spring. But that would be missing out on some truly great birding experiences, including Christmas Counts, which many birders consider to be a highlight of their year. We are currently in the middle of the CBC season host Nate Swick welcomes two birders who are no strangers to winter weather conditions, ABA Web Developer Greg Neise, of Chicago, Illinois, and Birding editor Ted Floyd of Boulder Colorado, to talk winter birding, Christmas Bird Counts, and more. 

Thanks to everyone who made this year a great one. If you enjoy what we do here, please consider making a donation to the ABA's Year-End Appeal, or joining the ABA.

Subscribe to the podcast at Apple PodcastsStitcher, and Google Play, and please leave a rating or a review if you are so inclined! We appreciate it!

Dec 13, 2018

Birds are everywhere. They are in your movies and TV shows, on your sports team logos, even in your Google Street View. There is no shortage of ways that your interest in birds can manifest itself beyond time in the field. Maybe no one knows that better than Nick Lund. Nick is The Birdist on his own blog of that name and on social media, a frequent contributor to National Audubon and Ray Brown’s Talking Birds and works in outreach with Maine Audubon. He joins me to talk about birds in non-bird places, what he calls “Birds at Large”. 

Also, I have enough correspondence to do a mailbag! And I talk a little about the new AOS Taxonomy proposals, which you can learn more about here. 

Thanks to Land Sea and Sky for sponsoring this episode!

Subscribe to the podcast at Apple PodcastsStitcher, and Google Play, and please leave a rating or a review if you are so inclined! We appreciate it!

Nov 29, 2018

We're getting to the end of the year and it's time for a look back at the best bird books published in 2018. Once again, 10,000 Birds book reviewer Donna Schulman joins me to talk about our favorites. Donna and I each share our Top 5, including field guides, family specific guides, and narratives from well-known authors and publishers.

Thanks to Space Coast Birding & Nature Festival for sponsoring this episode. Join the ABA in Titusville this January for great birding and fellowship!

Subscribe to the podcast at Apple PodcastsStitcher, and Google Play, and please leave a rating or a review if you are so inclined! We appreciate it!

 

Donna’s Top 5

1) Birds of Central AmericaAndrew Vallely & Dale Dyer

2) Birds of Prey of the East/WestBrian K. Wheeler

3) Peterson Guide to Bird Identification in 12 StepsSteve NG Howell & Brian Sullivan

4) The Feather ThiefKirk Wallace Johnson

5) Belonging on an IslandDaniel Lewis

 

Nate’s Top 5

1) Birds of Central AmericaAndrew Vallely & Dale Dyer

2) Gulls SimplifiedPete Dunne & Kevin Karlson

3) Birds of NicaraguaLiliana Chavarria-Duriaux, Robert Dean, & Robert T. Moore

4) Birds of Prey of the East/WestBrian K. Wheeler

5) ABA Field Guide to Birds of OregonDave Irons & Brian Small

Nov 15, 2018

One of the more exciting aspects of birding and birding science in the 21st Century has been the reveal of a great many secrets of bird movements and migration, much of it the result of technology. Increasingly small trackers that are fitted to various bird species enable scientists, and those of us on the sidelines, to follow along, sometimes in real time, with where these birds are going. Mike Lanzone s the 2017 recipient of the ABA's Chandler Robbins Award for Conservation and Education, and he's the co-founder and CEO of Cellular Tracking Technologies, the people who develop the devices and figure out the best way to use them. He joins host Nate Swick to talk about how it all works and what amazing things he has planned. 

Also, the 2018 ABA Awards recipients are out, and they are an amazing group of birders, conservationists, and scientists. And Nate share some thoughts about that Central Park Mandarin Duck. 

Join the ABA in Thailand early next year for Birding and Photography. Get more information at the ABA Travel!

Subscribe to the podcast at Apple PodcastsStitcher, and Google Play, and please leave a rating or a review if you are so inclined! We appreciate it!

Nov 1, 2018

It’s the dream of many birders, to travel the US and Canada by car for one entire year, taking in as much of the continent’s birds as you can along the way. It is the reality of Marc Kramer and Eliana Ardila Ardila, the Birding by Bus duo. They’ve spend the whole of 2018 crossing the country in their Volkswagen Westfalia and documenting the whole thing on social media to the delight of those of us who get to follow along. They’re join host Nate Swick from a stop at ABA headquarters in Delaware City to talk about their amazing year and where they'll go from here. 

Also, Major League Soccer is pretty great for birds in a couple different ways. 

Subscribe to the podcast at Apple PodcastsStitcher, and Google Play, and please leave a rating or a review if you are so inclined! We appreciate it!

Oct 18, 2018

For many of us, birding is about community, and for retaining people in the hobby finding a group of people you like to bird with is as important as that first pair of binoculars or a field guide. Molly Adams of Brooklyn, New York, knows this more than most. In 2016 she founded the Feminist Bird Club, an inclusive bird watching club dedicated to providing a safe opportunity to connect with the natural world in urban environments. Molly and the FBC were featured in a New York Times article earlier this year about young urban birders. The group has only grown in numbers and ambition since then and she joins host Nate Swick to talk about it. 

Also, Birds Aren't Real and other avian conspiracies, and ABA President Jeff Gordon shares a story of wonder and melancholy while birding on his bike. 

Subscribe to the podcast at Apple PodcastsStitcher, and Google Play, and please leave a rating or a review if you are so inclined! We appreciate it!

Oct 4, 2018

Few birders would dispute that Cape May, New Jersey, is among the continent’s most storied birding locations, both in terms of birding spectacle and influence on North American birding culture. It feels like Cape May Bird Observatory, New Jersey Audubon’s center for bird research and education, has always been at the center of it all. CMBO has been doing research and outreach about birds and especially bird migration since 1975, and Dr. David La Puma is the current director. He and the New Jersey Audubon crew are hosting the Cape May Fall Festival later this month and he joins host Nate Swick to talk about that, as well as fallouts, next-generation bird research, and what it's like to be the steward of all that history. 

Also, Nate shares some thoughts on his recent trip to Cuba, thinks about the USFWS's recently released Outdoor Recreation Survey, and catches up on all the rare bird news for the last 4 weeks. 

Come join us at the Lower Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival this November!

Subscribe to the podcast at Apple PodcastsStitcher, and Google Play, and please leave a rating or a review if you are so inclined! We appreciate it!

Sep 20, 2018

Have you ever had to describe birding to a friend or family member who just doesn't get it? What analogies do you use? Is birding like a religion? A sport? An obsession? Guest host Greg Neise brings Birding editor Ted Floyd and young birder liaison Jennie Duberstein to bear on the issue in a rollicking discussion that tries to figure it out.

Regular host Nate Swick in Cuba this week so no Rare Bird Focus, but stay turned for it the next time around.

Thanks to our episode sponsor Rockjumper Birding Tours, proudly offering quality birding adventures, expertly guided by passionate and experienced professional tour leaders. Their 300 scheduled tours annually explore the world’s prime birding areas, including Colombia with the ABA next summer.

You can help us out by participating on our listener demographic survey here.

Subscribe to the podcast at Apple PodcastsStitcher, and Google Play, and please leave a rating or a review if you are so inclined! We appreciate it!

Sep 6, 2018

Birders in North America are increasingly keen to combine the somewhat separate skills of birding and photography, but around the rest of the world birding is pretty much synonymous with photography to the point where sometimes you don’t even carry binoculars. It seems strange to us, but it’s the way things are to birder and photographer Keith Barnes, who joins host Nate Swick to talk about how birders use cameras, tips for would-be photographers, and the way birding culture differs in east Asia. Keith is one of the founders of the bird tour company Tropical Birding, a South African expat now living in Taiwan, and he is the architect of the ABA’s Birding with a Camera Tour of Thailand early next year.

Also, is a great list schism on the horizon? And listeners write in with tips for new birders that they wish they knew when they were getting started.

Thanks to our episode sponsor, Land, Sea, and Sky. Since 1940, the optics experts at Land Sea & Sky to purchase just the right pair of binoculars for their birding adventures. This shop has hundreds of binoculars and spotting scopes in stock, an industry-leading 90 day return policy, and experienced staff to lend you a helping hand.

You can help us out by participating on our listener demographic survey here.

Subscribe to the podcast at Apple PodcastsStitcher, and Google Play, and please leave a rating or a review if you are so inclined! We appreciate it!

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