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July/August 2021

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.

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United States
Madavor Media, LLC
$7.79(Incl. tax)
$35.04(Incl. tax)
6 Issues

in this issue

2 min
for the birds

When I was about 20, while waiting for a food order at a restaurant near my college campus, I struck up a conversation with an older man who lived in the area. I was lamenting a planned development that would replace the building we stood in with a student apartment building, and he said something that I’ve always remembered: “The only constant is change.” His words came to mind this spring after I posted a story on our website about the potential for bird species named after people to be renamed in favor of more descriptive names — a story that prompted several angry, hyperbolic emails from readers. (A longer version of the story is on page 32.) Their messages ran the gamut: that this effort is a waste of time, that…

2 min
montana marvel

In June 2020, BirdWatching reported on the work of Debbie Leick and her colleagues recording and identifying nocturnal flight calls of migrating passerines through western Montana. Further data analysis has revealed a startling pattern of migration not just by passerines but also by Upland Sandpipers. Leick and her boss, Kate Stone, both work for MPG Ranch. When they installed their first three microphones in 2013, they were astonished to identify a trio of Upland Sandpiper calls among their many other recordings that year. Eventually, they installed 50 listening devices throughout the Bitterroot Valley, and with more microphones, the number of Upland Sandpiper detections ballooned — to 29 in 2018 and a whopping 51 the following year. The result is surprising given that Upland Sandpipers are almost unrecorded in Montana west of the…

2 min
partnerships make a big difference for birds

Joint ventures (JVs) are self-directed, nonregulatory partnerships working to conserve birds and their habitats. The JV network spans the U.S. as well as much of Canada and Mexico. The second-oldest joint venture, the Lower Mississippi Valley Joint Venture (LMVJV), founded in 1987, initially focused on recovering waterfowl populations. Today, it also addresses the conservation needs of landbirds, waterbirds, and shorebirds from eastern Oklahoma and Texas to the eastern edge of the Mississippi River’s floodplain. Sharing a common vision of bird conservation, the LMVJV has a 17-member management board that includes state and federal agencies and nonprofit organizations such as American Bird Conservancy. As a result of these partners’ efforts since the 1990s, more than 1 million acres have been reforested in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley alone. Anne Mini, LMVJV’s science coordinator, works…

1 min
potential checklist changes

The American Ornithological Society committee that makes taxonomic changes to the official North American bird checklist will likely announce its 2021 decisions in June or July. Here are a few of the proposals it is considering this year. • Split Mew Gull. This suggestion would recognize the North American subspecies brachyrhynchus as a full species, separate from subspecies in Europe and Asia. The North American birds breed in Alaska and western Canada and winter mostly along the Pacific coast. The proposal also calls for the common name to be Short-billed Gull.• Split Band-rumped Storm-Petrel. A recent study shows significant genetic differences among the various populations of this seabird. The suggestion is to split it into three species.• Split Magnificent Frigatebird. This proposal would split the birds that breed on the Galápagos…

1 min
a high honor

Researchers from Germany say the “most Instagrammable” bird family is the frogmouths — a group of 14 nocturnal species characterized by large eyes, flat, broad bills, and a froglike gape. They occur in India, Southeast Asia, and Australia. Writing in the journal i-Perception, Katja Thömmes and Gregor Hayn-Leichsenring said the top showing by the frogmouth “seems to be a matter of poetic justice, as this nocturnal bird with very distinct facial features was once designated ‘the world’s most unfortunate-looking bird.’” They scored photos featured on nine of the largest bird accounts on Instagram and evaluated each image’s aesthetic appeal based on the number of “likes” they received from users. The study covered 116 bird families that had at least 50 photos each. Other bird families at the top of the list include colorful…

1 min
‘a sense of loss and grief’

The lead story in “Birding Briefs” in our February 2020 issue described a project of government agencies and conservation groups on the island of Maui aimed at saving one of the rarest and most critically endangered Hawaiian bird species, the Kiwikiu, or Maui Parrotbill. Surveys in 2017 estimated its total population at just 157 individuals. The last wild population is found in the high-altitude native forests of East Maui. After years of planning, the conservation project was set to establish a second “insurance” population at a site called the Nakula Natural Area Reserve, on the leeward slope of the Haleakalā volcano. A total of 14 Kiwikiu were released at the new site in October 2019. By late November, according to a report published in March 2021, “all birds either had died or…