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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 Thursday for news and happenings, recent rarities, guests from around the birding world, and features of interest to every birder.
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May 28, 2020

The American Birding Podcast brings you This Month in Birding, a panel discussion covering the best bird news we might have missed here at the ABP for the last month.

This episode features a panel of birding podcasts, Sean Milnes of Fowl Mouths Podcast and Sarah Bloemers and Mo Stych of Bird Sh't. It's a conversation that covers the gamut from Piping Plover love and the best birding clothes to Fast and the Furious and Samuel L. Jackson. 

Links to topics discussed:

AOS changes the name of The Auk

Piping Plovers in Chicago

What to Wear While Birding When You Want to Look Good

Scientists Discover Why Some Birds Live Fast and Die Young

Bird Diapers

Gateway Arch Turns off its Lights for Birds

ABA members are eligible for a 15% discount to Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Birds of the World subscription. Log into your ABA account to get the code.

May 21, 2020

More than ever, birders are turning their attention to the birds immediately outside their front door, and for millions of North Americans there is scarcely a more ubiquitous bird than the feral Rock Pigeon. But that humble Rock Pigeon can provide some interesting insights into how natural selection is impacted by the urban environment. In fact, that is the work of Elizabeth Carlen, a PhD candidate at Fordham University in New York City and the lead author of a recent article in Evolutionary Applications that looks at genetic connectivity of Rock Pigeons populations in various cities in the Northeast United States. She joins host Nate Swick to talk about the unique issues with studying urban Rock Pigeons.  

Also, Nate sings the praises of his Fantasy Birding yard squad, and talks about the birding that has kept him sane in a COVID-19 world. 

ABA members are eligible for a 15% discount to Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Birds of the World subscription. Log into your ABA account to get the code.

May 14, 2020

In recent years it has seemed as though doing an ABA Area Big Year means that you have to write a book about it, but the form's roots can be traced to Roger Tory Peterson himself. What makes them so popular? Are they travelogue, sporting conquest, adventure, or some combination? Or is the appeal as simple as wish fulfillment? 10,000 Birds media reviewer Donna Schulman and Birding magazine media review editor Frank Izaguirre join host Nate Swick to talk about Big Year narratives and what makes them great in the first edition of the ABP Birding Book Club. 

Also, the USFWS disappoints with new rules for the Duck Stamp. 

ABA members are eligible for a 15% discount to Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Birds of the World subscription. Log into your ABA account to get the code.

May 7, 2020

Welcome to the new weekly American Birding Podcast!

Jennifer Ackerman is the New York Times best-selling author and essayist who wrote The Genius of Birds and a great many other science books. Her newest, out this week, is The Bird Way: A New Look at how Birds Talk, Work, Play, Parent, and Think. It's a companion to that much loved earlier book, exploring the many creative, novel, and bizarre ways in which birds approach problems that they face and what they says about bird cognition and intelligence.

Also, a Cedar Waxwing story from Karina Li of Big Sky, Montana.

ABA members are eligible for a 15% discount to Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Birds of the World subscription. Log into your ABA account to get the code.

Apr 30, 2020

The American Birding Podcast brings you the first installation of This Month in Birding, a panel discussion covering the best bird news we might have missed here at the ABP for the last month. 

In this episode, host Nate Swick is joined by #birdtwitter stars Nick Lund (@TheBirdist), Jordan Rutter (@JERutter) and Jason Ward (@JasonWardNY) to talk about COVID closures, celebrities in birding, predatory journals, and more. 

Links to topics discussed:

Stevie Nicks and White-winged Doves?

Dan Baldasarre wonders "What's the Deal with Birds?"

Breeding Bird Survey Canceled for 2020

The World's Ugliest Birds

Apr 16, 2020

The COVID-19 crisis has forced us all to take stock of how we do everything, and birding and birding community events are hardly unique. It's impossible to think about anything else so we just decided to devote an entire episode to it. Host Nate Swick is joined by Brodie Cass Talbott, an educator from Portland Audubon, in Portland, Oregon, who have been adapting to this situation in novel ways, and frequent guest Birding editor Ted Floyd. They talk about how bird clubs are adapting and what we should expect from our fellow birders as the pandemic continues. 

Apr 2, 2020

It’s hard to step out your backdoor these days without being overwhelmed by birdsong. Spring is easing northward across the continent and with it, an increase in the activities of birds. Few people know this like ornithologist and author Donald Kroodsma, professor emeritus or ornithology at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and the author of a great many books on bird vocalizations. He joins host Nate Swick today to talk about his most recent book, Birdsong for the Curious Naturalist just in time for the annual explosion of birdsong in the northern hemisphere. 

Also, is birding seeing a renaissance in the COVID era? And more Cedar Waxwing stories from our listeners. 

Mar 19, 2020

The world of bird rehabilitation is a unique aspect of the way that people interact with birds, and those that do the dirty work of helping wild birds get back to normal following scrapes with human things get an up close and personal look at birds that many of us just look at through binoculars or scopes. Birding Magazine Associate Editor Ioana Seritan does just that in her day job. She's a Wildlife Rehabilitation Technician at the International Bird Rescue in California’s Bay Area and she joins host Nate Swick to talk about bird rehab from the inside. 

Also, the first of our Cedar Waxing stories and birding in the age of COVID-19

Mar 5, 2020

Of the 1116 species on the ABA checklist, around 50 are what we classify as “non-native”. These are species from other parts of the world introduced either to the North American mainland or, frequently, to Hawaii. The ABA has always tried to keep track of those non-native species through our checklist committee, and whether or not these populations can be counted on an ABA list is always a hot topic. ABA Checklist Committee chair Peter Pyle of the Institute for Bird Populations at Point Reyes, California, joins host Nate Swick to update birders on the status of many of these populations, and the weird circumstances that bring them to North America. 

Feb 20, 2020

Many states and provinces are increasingly interested in tackling a comprehensive survey of the birds in their regions. With the help help of technology, this ambitious undertaking is more achievable than ever. Maybe you’ve heard of Breeding Bird Atlases. Maybe you’ve participated in them in the past. But it’s easy to get involved with this important conservation and natural history initiative. Gabriel Foley is the atlas coordinator for the Maryland-DC Breeding Bird Atlas and he joins host Nate Swick to talk about what these atlases are trying to accomplish and how birders can get involved. 

Also, Birding editor Ted Floyd recently returned from Mexico and thinks ABA birders should add it to their travel plans. 

Feb 6, 2020

When we seek out to bird with others, it is to share in the joy of birds. Whether intended or not, along the way we build a sense of community. In order to appreciate that joy to its fullest, we shouldn’t have to worry about who we are or be second guessing our most basic actions around others in that community. And it's that concept, that birding is an extension of our true selves, that prompted the creation of Queer Birders of North America. A fellowship group for LGBT+ birders and allies, QBNA now host all sorts of events for all sorts of birders based on a shared interest in birds and a dedication to inclusivity.  QBNA leaders Jennifer Rycenga and Michael Retter join host Nate Swick to talk about why QBNA came about and why it's still essential. 

Also, Nate rants a bit about the USFWS's proposed changes to the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and encourages you to leave a response to the rule change here

Jan 23, 2020

We're back to the Bird of the Year basics for 2020--Cedar Waxwing! While the past two ABA Birds of the Year have been extremely range restricted (Iiwi 2018) or a vagrant to the ABA Area (Red-billed Tropicbird 2019), the 2020 Bird of the Year is truly a bird of the people. The Cedar Waxwing is an exquisite example of North American birddom and a favorite of so many birders in the US, Canada, and beyond. We chose it, in part, because they are known for flocking and sharing, two wonderful characteristics of the North American birding community. And to illustrate these perennial crowd-pleasers, we are fortunate to have multimedia artist Tony Fitzpatrick. Tony's work has been featured in major American museums and on the covers of roots albums. He is every bit as gregarious as a Cedar Waxwing, as you'll see in this interview with host Nate Swick from this year's Bird of the Year reveal party in Tony's hometown of Chicago, Illinois. 

Also, Nate tells a story of nostalgia for people who inspire our birding and places that it takes us. 

Thanks to Vortex Optics for sponsoring this episode and the Bird of the Year reveal party. 

Jan 9, 2020

When birders think of southeastern Arizona, they think of hummingbirds. And when they think of hummingbirds, they think of Sheri Williamson. The author of the Peterson Field Guide to Hummingbirds of North America and director of the Southeastern Arizona Bird Observatory, she played a crucial role in protecting one of the region's most beloved birding hotspots, the Ash Canyon Bird Sanctuary. She talks with Nate Swick about her path to hummingbirds and her work with SABO. 

If you're going to be in Chicago, come join us as we reveal the 2020 ABA Bird of the Year

Dec 26, 2019

The end of 2019 means that we’re coming to the end of the ABA’s 50th, looking forward to the our next 50. Any big milestone encourages taking stock of where you’ve been, where you’re going. And here at the ABA we’ve been doing a lot of that internally, and in our various publications this year. But to sort of close the book on these 50 years we bring you a conversation about the ABA at 50 and beyond with a couple people listeners to the podcast are no doubt familiar with. ABA President Jeff Gordon and Birding editor Ted Floyd join host Nate Swick to talk about the past, the present, and the future of birding and the ABA. 

We're in the middle of our and of year appeal, and if you're able to make a donation to the ABA and this podcast, we appreciate any support you can offer

Happy holidays and Happy New Year list to you all!

Dec 12, 2019

As is our tradition, the end of the year means it’s time for a look back at the best bird books published this year. 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 Zeiss Sports Optics 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!

Donna's Top 5

1) Oceanic Birds of the World - Steve Howell & Kirk Zufelt
2) Peterson Reference Guide to Sparrows of North America - Rick Wright
3) Mastering Bird Photography: The Art, Craft, & Technique of Photographing Birds and Their Behavior - Marie Read
4) Urban Ornithology: 150 Years of Birds in New York City - P.A. Buckley, et al
5) Ruby's Birds - Mya Thompson (author) & Claudia Dávila (illustrator)
 
Nate's Top 5
 
1) Oceanic Birds of the World - Steve Howell & Kirk Zufelt
Nov 28, 2019

The ABA's 50th Anniversary roadshow rolls on, this time to the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival for another LIVE show. Our special bird-themed game show features guest appearances from Birds of North America's Jason Ward and Birding magazine editor and podcast stalwart Ted Floyd. Listen in for fun birdy games, Rio Grande Valley anagrams, real or fake bird mnemonics and an Eagles themed parody song quiz. We had a ton of fun and you will too!

Thanks to Turismo de Lisboa for sponsoring this episode.

Nov 14, 2019

Many birders throughout the ABA Area have been paying attention to the ongoing situation in South Texas with regard to the construction of the border wall. So many of our favorite birding sites have been under threat, and the situation has been alternately sad and triumphant and frustrating. Filmmaker Otilia Portillo Padua offers her insight into the often fraught affair with Birders, a short documentary recently released on the streaming platform Netflix. She joins me from Mexico City to talk about the film and her journey from Texas to Veracruz through the eyes of birds and the people who love them. 

Also, exciting news about a hummingbird oasis in Arizona and thoughts about the recent Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival. 

Oct 31, 2019

How many of you out there have dressed as a bird for Halloween? Many, we're sure! But there is obviously so much more that can be done in the realm of bird costuming, and Dr. Lisa Buckley has taken bird inspired cosplay to its logical extreme. In her day job she is a vertebrate paleontologist in British Columbia but on the side she has created Bird Glamour, eye makeup inspired by a whole host of birds. She's a singularly appropriate person to chat with on Halloween and she joins host Nate Swick to talk about how birds inspire a very unique form of art. 

Also, the ear-splitting White Bellbird and your bird costumes at the blog

Thanks to Turismo de Lisboa for sponsoring this episode.

Oct 17, 2019

The incredible variety of bird song in a morning chorus on a spring or summer day is a phenomenon that a lot of birders are familiar with. But even after centuries of study there is still a lot we don’t know about bird vocalizations, especially the world of female birdsong. The vocalizations of female birds are frequently as complex and important to the lives of birds as the songs we associate with male birds, and it’s only relatively recently that we’ve begin to really look into that. Dr. Lauryn Benedict, from the University of Northern Colorado, has been on the cutting edge of this science and she joins me to talk about bird vocalizations and other aspects of female bird biology. 

Also, Kirtland's Warbler is off the Endangered Species List and what is birding like after LASIK surgery

Thanks to Turismo de Lisboa for sponsoring this episode.

Oct 3, 2019

3 Billion breeding birds have been lost in the last 40 years in the US and Canada. These are certainly sobering numbers. This was the conclusion of a paper published recently in the journal Science, and the core of the 2019 State of the Birds report. This report, spearheaded by American Bird Conservancy, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Canadian Wildlife Service, and others certainly made waves among the general public as much as in the birding community, and it seems to have really resonated. Jordan Rutter, director of public relations at the American Bird Conservancy, and Birding magazine editor Ted Floyd join me to talk about this study, what it means, and what you can do about it. 

Also, the 2020 Duck Stamp has been chosen, and it's a really sharp one. 

Thanks to Turismo de Lisboa for sponsoring this episode. 

Sep 19, 2019

All birders intuitively understand the value of birding, even if we're not so great as a community as expressing that value. Birding as a means for personal growth, and coming to grips with the changing world around us is an important part of why we enjoy this hobby. It's certainly a fascinating topic with a lot of rich veins to mine. It's something that Dr. Trish O'Kane of the University of Vermont's Rubenstein School of the Environment and Natural Resources has thought a lot about. Her piece Of Fledglings and Freshmen was published recently in The New York Times, and she joins host Nate Swick to talk about her program "Birding to Change the World" and how birding can be a salve in this age of environmental anxiety.

Also, the most metal birds, and a few outstanding questions from a recent What's This Bird Live Q&A session.

Sep 5, 2019

The 2019 Atlantic hurricane season is underway with a handful of storms already named. In the last couple decades human meteorologists have gotten pretty good at predicting the strength and track of tropical storms in the Atlantic basin, but still less good at predicting the severity of any individual season. But as it turns out, that's something Veerys, the ruddy Catharus thrush with the swirly song, are quite good at it. Dr. Christopher Heckscher of Delaware State University made the connection, and using the behavior of Veerys as a guide, beat most, all, meteorologists last year in accurately predicting the hurricane season in 2018. He joins host Nate Swick to talk about this amazing work, and the predictive powers of birds. 

Also, some news on our upcoming live show at the Rio Grande Valley Bird Festival and some thoughts on what bird clubs can be in the 21st Century. 

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

Aug 22, 2019

Located in the northeast corner of the ABA Area, the island of Newfoundland is known for its incredible rarity pedigree. But there's far more to this beautiful place than European vagrants. The city of St. John's is a gateway to unbelievable nature experiences, from seabird colonies containing thousands upon thousands of charismatic Atlantic Puffins and Northern Gannets, to the sight of dozens of whales feeding near shore, to caribou and ptarmigan on the southernmost tundra on the continent. Last month, host Nate Swick had the good fortune to explore part of it with Birding editor Ted Floyd, Birds of North America host Jason Ward, and The Birdist Nick Lund. 

Led by the inimitable Jared Clarke of Bird the Rock tours, they covered the birding hotspots of the Avalon Peninsula, including Witless Bay Ecological Reserve, Cape St. Mary's, and Cape Race among others, finding amazing birds and generally having an amazing time. Come along with them on this week's episode. 

Also, updates on the proposed south Texas border wall and a way for you to make your voice heard

 

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!

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