Travel & Outdoor


May/June 2020

BirdWatching is a must-read for anyone who loves birds, whether you are a casual birdwatcher or avid birder. Each issue includes articles by the best known, most respected names in birding, identification tips, spectacular photography, hands-on information about the best birding locations in North America, answers to intriguing reader questions, and much more.

United States
Madavor Media, LLC
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6 Issues

in this issue

1 min.
bird on!

We’re wrapping up the editorial and production work on this issue in mid-March while the COVID-19 pandemic circles the globe. At this point, the world has had 156,400 cases and 5,833 deaths. The U.S. has had more than 3,000 confirmed cases and about 60 deaths. I’m sure much will change by the time this issue reaches you, our readers. To protect public health and prevent community spread of the virus, several spring birding festivals and other events were canceled, and some organized birding tours around the world were called off. Birdwatching is, of course, an outdoor pursuit. You can take part at home in your yard, but most of us like to travel, even if only across town to a park, to find more birds. So, since our mission is to bring…

2 min.
amazon nears a tipping point

The Amazon rainforest, one of the most important ecosystems for birds in the world, is on the verge of reaching a “system-wide tipping point as soon as 2021,” according to a study published in March in the journal Nature Communications. Deforestation, mining, climate change, and other threats have scarred the 2.1-million-square-mile forest for decades. If the Amazon passes the tipping point, researchers say, the entire ecosystem could collapse in less than 50 years. In the study, researchers from Southampton University and elsewhere used statistical relationships backed up by computer models. They calculated the speed at which ecosystems of different sizes will disappear once they have reached a point beyond which they collapse — transforming into an alternative ecosystem. If the Amazon rainforest passes a point of no return, they say, it could shift…

2 min.
potato farming, birds, and an important grassland

North America’s largest remaining grassland ecosystem, El Tokio, sits on a highland plateau in northeastern Mexico, where desert grasslands run across flat expanses between hills and mountains. American Bird Conservancy (ABC), our Mexican partner Pronatura Noreste (PNE), and other groups have worked hard to protect it and other key grasslands south of the U.S. border. Our efforts have led to the area being designated the El Tokio BirdScape and as a Grassland Priority Conservation Area by the Commission for Environmental Cooperation. However, El Tokio now faces an existential threat — expanding, large-scale potato production that could convert nearly 35,000 acres to agriculture, likely wiping out an endemic mammal species upon which many declining bird species depend. Community cooperatives, or ejidos, have worked with conservation groups since 2008 to embrace sustainable grazing practices,…

3 min.
since you asked

Q I have a robin’s nest on my property and noticed the female sits in it and guards it aggressively, but it is empty. Why would a robin sit in and protect a totally empty nest? — Trish Cain, via email A For decades, a wide variety of birds have been reported sitting on empty nests — owls, hawks, corvids, woodpeckers, and a variety of songbirds, including European Blackbird, a relative of the American Robin. It’s not unusual for this to happen a day or so before females begin to lay eggs, but it is more unusual for a female to occupy and defend an empty nest for days or weeks at a time. The phenomenon is difficult to explain due to the challenge of locating enough of these females and…

1 min.
on the move

Bullock’s Oriole Bullock’s Oriole, the most widespread oriole of western North America, is a well-known species to many birdwatchers since it’s commonly found in riparian woodlands with cottonwoods and willows, as well as in gardens, city parks, and golf courses. The June eBird map above shows the species is recorded from southern British Columbia and southwestern Alberta to northern Mexico and east to the Dakotas and central Texas. Bullock’s Oriole is replaced in the eastern U.S. by Baltimore Oriole, with which it hybridizes in the Great Plains. By January, Bullock’s primarily occurs in central Mexico, though some birds overwinter along the Pacific Coast (especially in southern California), and vagrants are rare but annual along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts. Bronzed Cowbird Bronzed Cowbird is the lesser known of the two brood parasite cowbirds…

1 min.
photo gallery