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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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Apr 15, 2021

There are a few lucky places in the ABA Area where parrots still fly free, even if most have captive origins these day. But these big loud flashy birds have a history and future than is perhaps more interesting than many birders might imagine and these feral populations can even give us some insights into the frequently threatened wild birds in Mexico and Central America. John McCormack, director of the Moore Lab of Zoology at Occidental College in Los Angeles, is one of the authors of a paper about how two closely related Amazon parrots in southern California more or less fit into the landscape together and he joins us to talk about it.

Also, as promised, the link to sign up for the Bird Names meeting on Friday, April 16

Thanks to Field Guides for sponsoring this episode. Check out their new video series, Out Birding with Field Guides.

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!

Apr 8, 2021

Migratory birds undertake some of the most extraordinary and exhausting undertaking of any living things on the planet, an endurance test made all the more difficult by climate change, habitat loss, and illegal hunting. Few know this better than Scott Weidensaul, a bird researcher, prolific nature writer, and the author of more than 30 books, mostly about birds. He first tackled bird migration with 2000’s Living on the Wind. He comes back to the topic with a new book A World on the Wing: The Global Odyssey of Migratory Birds, out this month. He joins Nate Swick to talk about the new book and the the limits of bird migration. 

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.

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!

Apr 1, 2021

It’s the time of year when Arctic birds are moving south into the populated parts of the continent, and citizen scientists are there to meet them, trap them, and use cutting edge technology to track their movements. It’s a testament to our interest in nomadic tundra birds that that could apply to a couple different projects, but this time around we are talking about Snow Buntings and the Canadian Snow Bunting Network. Dr. Emily McKinnon is a researcher at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg and the administrator of this project that has found out a number of fascinating things about these consummate winter birds.

Also, the ABA added three species to its checklist last month, each with a different story. 

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.

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!

Mar 25, 2021

It’s the last Thursday in March and that means This Month in Birding. It's the first of 2021 that can officially, meteorologically, and birdingly, be said to be in spring, even if that spring is tumbling in like an awkward albatross landing. And to this first spring panel of 2021 we welcome three excellent birders Nicole Jackson of Black in National Parks week, Mikko Jimenez of Audubon's Migratory Bird Initiative, and Ryan Mandelbaum of the Finch Research Network and Birdmodo. 

Also, want to join the ABA team? Here's the info you need!

Links to articles talked about in this episode:

What does the Anthropause mean for birds?

Winter Finches are coming back north

The world's oldest gull discovered in Cleveland

Philadelphia joins Lights Out Initiative

Black-browed Babbler Rediscovered After 180 Years

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.

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!

Mar 18, 2021

Spring is here and birders across North America, including new pandemic birders for whom this might be their very first spring migration as a birder, are looking forward to birds return. And to help them along, we're starting a new regular feature on the American Birding Podcast, an identification roundtable. This time we welcome Field Guides early spring ID challenges with a couple crack birders Tom Johnson from Field Guides and artist and ornithology graduate student Marky Mutchler. Join us as we chat waterthrushes, blackbirds, and strategies for tackling big groups of migrating birds. 

Also, it's March Madness and kudos to Creighton for having the best bird mascot in the field. 

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.

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!

Mar 11, 2021

Birding editor Ted Floyd and host Nate Swick try something a little different this time around. They went birding, each in their respective neighborhoods, and come back together to talk about it. Join them as they wend their way through sparrows, crows, and Bushtits of their homes, with a detour into gannets  and gulls (which neither saw). It's birding, annotated. 

And in case you wanted to follow along, here's Ted's checklist from Lafayette, Colorado, and here's Nate's from Greensboro, North Carolina

Plus, congratulations to our 2021 ABA Young Birders of the Year, Katie Warner of Vancouver, Washington, and Joaquin Galindo of McAllen, Texas!

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.

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!

Mar 4, 2021

GPS devices have been a boon for migratory bird research, and it seems that every year a new species gets a turn in the spotlight. This year, it's the amazing Common Nighthawk's turn. Our guest this week is Elly Knight, a researcher at the University of Alberta in Edmonton and the leader an initiative to describe the migration of Common Nighthawks, the subject of a paper recently published in the journal Ecography

Check out a picture of "Maurice" the fake nighthawk at our website

Also, the Meidum Geese fraud and why it feels like stringing, and a Pileated Woodpecker story from Charley Hesse of the Naturally Adventurous podcast. 

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.

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!

Feb 25, 2021

It’s the last Thursday in February and that means it’s time for This Month in Birding! We're pleased to welcome some birding friends to talk about the birding news of the month, and in this month maybe more than most, we need each other. February's winning panel consists of Jennie Duberstein of Sonoran Joint Venture, Jordan Rutter of the American Bird Conservancy, and Brodie Cass Talbott of Portland Audubon, who come ready to talk about owl ethics, the debunking of the Patagonia Picnic Table Effect, bird extinctions, and more. 

Articles to topics discussed:

Owl Drama in New York City's Central Park

Is the Patagonia Picnic Table Effect a real thing?

(plus the cool PPTE charts Jennie mentions)

Extinct Birds were Not Declining Prior to Colonization of North America

Leave your Comments in Support of Rolling Back Proposed Changes to the MBTA

A Two-headed Grouse in Nova Scotia?

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.

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!

Feb 18, 2021

One of the most underrated bird stories of the last few years, has been the rapid decline of the resident Florida subspecies of Grasshopper Sparrow. In 2017, that population reached a record low of 75 wild birds, and many thought it would fade into extinction much like Dusky Seaside Sparrow before it. But a working group of biologists and conservationists led by the Fish & wildlife Foundation of Florida have stopped that decline. The foundation's president Andrew Walker joins Nate Swick to talk about how they did it. 

Also, congrats to the hummingbird heroes of the polar vortex, and some thoughts on "seen anything good?".

Thanks to Field Guides for sponsoring this episode. Check out their new video series, Out Birding with Field Guides.

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!

Feb 11, 2021

The year 2020 was an especially difficult one for many of us, but for writer and birder Rebecca Heisman, perhaps more than most. In addition to the responsibilities of being the parent of a young child in a year of pandemic, she dealt with a cancer diagnosis that upturned what was already something of a turbulent year. Through it all, birds became, what she calls in an essay recently published at Audubon, a thread of sanity She joins Nate Swick to talk about her trying year and what comes next. 

Also, Pileated Woodpecker stories from Cecelia Dumois and Redmond Brubaker, and a congratulations to Wisdom the Laysan Albatross, a mother again at 69. 

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.

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!

Feb 4, 2021

Pity the poor cowbird. Under-appreciated at best and outright hated at worst, the cowbird and its nest parasitic ways certain lend themselves to strong opinions. But it is a remarkable bird in its own right, capable of amazing developmental feats that allow it to fit into its very odd niche. Ornithologist Sarah Winnicki of the University of Illinois's "cowbird lab" makes the case for cowbirds, arguing that you don't have to love the, but you should respect them.

Also, a Snowy Owl in Central Park? Uh oh. And another Pileated Woodpecker story from listener Jordan Leahy. 

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.

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!

Jan 28, 2021

It's This Month in Birding for January 2021, and we start the new year off with a panel as impressive as Lady Gaga's gigantic bird pin. Guests including #cemeterybirder Danielle Belleny, host of Always Be Birdin' Sam DeJarnett, and host of Fowl Mouths podcast Sean Milnes talk Audubon internal issues, condor recovery in the northwest, weird birdy presidential pardons and much more!

Articles to topics discussed: 

Audubon in hot water

Condors and the Yurok

An MBTA presidential pardon

Great Snobbery

Birding with Gucci and North Face

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.

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!

Jan 21, 2021

Long-time bird blog fans might remember Clare Kines and his blog The House and other Arctic Musings. It was was a familiar voice on the birding internet, with stories about the nature of Arctic Bay, Nunavut, on Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic. Clare is still out there as a birder and photographer sharing stories and images of a part of the world we don’t get to see very often, and he joins Nate Swick to talk about his home north of the Arctic Circle. 

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.

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!

Jan 14, 2021

The wide open spaces of the North American west are frequently spotted with signs of human industrial energy production. Oil and gas wells, massive wind turbines, and the like are impossible to miss and impact, occasionally significantly, the birds that live in these vast prairie ecosystems. Dr Janet Ng studies the effects of this industrial incursion into these wild places in the southern Canadian plains, and works with various partners to keep landscapes "hawky". 

Also the first batch of North American Classification Committee proposals are out with no mention of #birdnamesforbirds. 

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.

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!

Jan 7, 2021

John Kricher is well known by anyone with an interest in tropical ecology. He's professer emeritus of biology at Wheaton College in Massachusetts and the author of many books, notably Tropical Ecology and A Neotropical Companion, re-released as A New Neotropical Companion in 2017. His most recent book, however, is about birds and their behavior, appropriately titled the Peterson Reference Guide to Bird Behavior, and podcast regulars might remember that it was one of our favorite books of 2020. John joins Nate Swick to talk about his book and the nuances of science communication. 

Also, Nate fixes his finch anxiety and waxes poetic about the 2021 ABA Bird of the Year, Pileated Woodpecker

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.

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 31, 2020

We didn't intend to make an episode this week, but friend of the podcast Jordan Rutter came to me and suggested that instead of the regular podcast we should do a special one where she interviews *me* for a change. 

So that's what we did. Enjoy and Happy New Year!

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.

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 17, 2020

The winter of 2020-21 is one the likes of which we have not seen before. It's a finch superflight year, with boreal grosbeaks, finches, siskins, crossbills, and more pouring out of the north and into places where birders can more easily experience them. This means that it’s an incredible opportunity for us to learn more about why this phenomenon happens, and Matt Young has always been one to have that conversation. He is a leading authority on Red Crossbill call types and now the founder of the Finch Research Network. He joins host Nate Swick to talk about this incredibly finch phenomenon. 

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.

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 10, 2020

It’s finally December of 2020, the month of annual superlatives. It was a pretty interesting year for bird books and we convene the Birding Book Club crew to talk about them. 10,000 Birds book review columnist Donna Schulman and Birding media review editor Frank Izaguirre join host Nate Swick to run down our favorites for 2020, including new field guides, books on bird behavior, and lots of fantastic narrative prose in both memoire and essay form. 

Find all of their lists here!

Thanks to our friends at Buteo Books 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!

Dec 3, 2020

Nate Swick is out of the studio this week so we're sending you a mini-cast to enjoy while he's gone. This one features a pair of ABA friends telling stories of great birding days, one high intensity and one low. 

First, ABA webmaster Greg Neise shares the tale of his epic Illinois Big Day run. Spills, thrills, and warbling trills take stage as Greg and his teammates race the clock and the previous record. 

And then, high schooler Hannah Floyd, daughter of ABP regular Ted Floyd, shares the joys of winter birding during a pandemic. You might expect either of those concerns to be hindrances, but that's not the case. 

While I've got you here, please check out the ABA's Year-End Appeal going on now. It's been a strange year but if the ABA or this podcast has provided you with any joy in 2020, please consider making a donation. 

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 26, 2020

The last Thursday of November means it’s time for This Month in Birding coming to you for the holiday. As Thanksgiving is the most bird-centric holiday on the US calendar, why not talk birds instead of eating them? Our panel includes Jody Allair of Birds Canada, Tom Johnson of Field Guides and Out Birding, and Jordan Rutter of the American Bird Conservancy. 

Topics discussed include:

The continuing winter finch explosion adds redpolls

Looking for Red Crossbills

Voter Fraud in New Zealand

Saw-whet Owl trapped in a tree in New York City. 

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 19, 2020

We now see ourselves on the cusp of a change in leadership in the United States. A brand new administration will replace the current one in January, and we’re already seeing people looking forward to what this means for birds, public lands, and conservation. Into that conversation comes Tykee James, who is, among other things, the host of the wildlife and politics podcast On Word for Wildlife of the Wildlife Observer Network. He joins host Nate Swick from Washington, DC, to talk about what we can expect in coming months. 

Also, a wild story about the on and off sale of Salineño Preserve in South Texas. 

Thanks to Field Guides for sponsoring this episode. Check out their new video series, Out Birding with Field Guides.

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 12, 2020

Despite being one of the most ubiquitous birds in the Americas, the poor Turkey Vulture is saddled with a mixed reputation. Sure, they look weird and eat dead things, but vultures are more than just nature's garbagemen. Katie Fallon, author of the recently rereleased Vulture: The Private Life of an Unloved Bird makes the case that vultures are not only important, but worthy of adoration. She joins host Nate Swick to talk about her hands-ons experience with these amazing birds. 

Also, the distant Rio Grande Valley Bird Festival is this week! Join birding celebrities for a game of "Harlingen Squares"!

Thanks to Field Guides for sponsoring this episode. Check out their new video series, Out Birding with Field Guides.

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 5, 2020

Birders and non-birders alike love urban nesting birds. The drama of life and death in a place where you wouldn’t necessarily expect wildlife is certainly appealing, and when a pair of American Kestrels took up at Cleveland, Ohio's busy West Side Market filmmaker and media producer Najada Davis documented their story, a project that became the documentary Kestrels in the Hood. He joins Nate Swick to talk about that work. 

Also, the pandemic has been good for bird songs

Thanks to Field Guides for sponsoring this episode. Check out their new video series, Out Birding with Field Guides.

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 29, 2020

It’s the last Thursday in October and that means This Month in Birding, wherein we convene a august panel of birders to discuss the news that we missed this month, or more likely saved till the end of the month because they’re more fun to talk about with other people.

The panel this week is, for the first time, all returnees, including #cemeterybirder Danielle Belleny, Birdmodo creator Ryan Mandelbaum, and Popular Science writer Purbita Saha

Topics discussed include:

New Duck Stamp Rules put in place

Cassia Crossbills at risk from wildfires

Massive finch movement this winter

Cemetery Birding is the new hot thing

Gynandromorph grosbeak found

Eastern Black Rails put on Endangered Species List

Thanks to Field Guides for sponsoring this episode. Check out their new video series, Out Birding with Field Guides.

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 22, 2020

We are now in the 7th month of this COVID pandemic purgatory, and way way back in April of this year Birding magazine editor Ted Floyd and host Nate Swick had a conversation about what birding will look like during the pandemic. Well, here we are in October, looking at a long winter wherein COVID is still a concern, but at least we have a slightly greater perspective on what we know and what we don’t about everything.

Also, join Nate for Auk the Vote this weekend!

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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