Friday, December 21, 2012

Birds of Concord: Crowd-Sourcing a Big Year with Ludlow

On January 1, 2013 a virtual birder will be joining eBird.  His name is Ludlow G., and he will be a virtual field observer of every bird encountered in the town of Concord during 2013.  Being a bit old school, Ludlow doesn't own a computer (even though he enjoys being a avatar), but he certainly understands the value of a database that contains effort details, links to photos and sound files, and that can be mined for data on status and distribution.  After all, he wrote the seminal book, Birds of Concord (1949), using this approach.

On behalf of Ludlow, I will be accepting all shared eBird lists and non-ebird sightings in the town of Concord and entering them on his behalf during the year.  His goal is typical Ludlow, a modest 200 species, which he figures is possible given that several locals have northwards of 160 in 2012 and life lists over 190 in Great Meadows alone.  Ludlow is a bit flexible in how he defines town lines; if he can throw a stone from the town line and reach the location, it's in.  This brings in School Street fields, Kaveski Farm, Hanscomb at Virginia Rd.  Locals will know; out-of-towners can ask.

So, let's do a local Big Year with Ludlow!  In honor of the man and the book, share your sightings and let's see what he can find!

Share your sightings with davidswain79 [at]

Go Ludlow!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Northern Lapwing (Finally)

Over the past month I have agonized over all the sightings of Lapwings that arrived in Massachusetts in the wake of Hurricane Sandy and associated weather systems.  The bird in Bridgewater alone remained to taunt me, and today I finally was clear enough from the semester and endless grading and family obligations to go down and see it.  Driving along Summer St., I spotted a pullout with a car by a corn field and figured this must be it.  I pulled up, looked to my right, and saw the lapwing, not 50 feet away.  As I got out, ambling up the road was the inimitable and indefatigable and helpful Bob Lessard, who has directed countless twitchers to the bird and daily checks on its status.  Here's to you, Bob!

There were also two Harriers working the fields, an adult male, and this "pumpkin" juvenile.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Snow Goose, Great Meadows Concord, Oct. 22, 2012

A handsome Snow Goose dropped by Great Meadows NWR in Concord, MA this morning during the weekly survey.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

2012 AOU Checklist Supplement

Time for guidebook authors to shuffle the deck again.

The AOU has just published its 53rd Supplement to the Checklist.  Of most interest is that the AOU has moved the falconiformes (caracaras and falcons) and psittaciformes (parrots) to a pivotal position between Picidae (Woodpeckers) and Tyrannidae (Tyrant Flycatchers).

Yup, right before passerines.  As the Supplement notes, "recent phylogenetic analyses of mitochondrial and nuclear DNA sequences have shown that the Falconiformes, Psittaciformes, and Passeriformes form a monophyletic group" (Chesser et al., p. 578).

Here are some more detailed summaries by  Paul Hess and Rick Wright.

Black-Bellied Whistling Duck, in Massachusetts

On July 3rd a Black-Bellied Whistling Duck turned up during the evening at Great Meadows NWR in Concord, Massachusetts, and a lucky group of nature walkers got to see it (and a few highly mobile birders).  I missed it, and just when we were chalking it up as a frustratingly casual sighting, it returned, and to the exact spot where it was first seen.

Jason Forbes spotted it early on July 15th and got the word out immediately.  I was camping that weekend, and returned around noon only to read the email and check messages and ditch the family to go see it.  Hundred of birders saw this unbelievably cooperative bird until early evening that day.  Here are a couple shots of this lovely duck.  Where will it wander next?

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Ivory-Billed Woodpecker Rediscovered (Again)

Well, you clicked it, so your reward is these two delightful posts for this most special of all days.

Ted Floyd has a scoop on the "gentleman's agreement" between publishers and the AOU to schedule regular shake-ups of the ABA Checklist. It's back to the future!

David Sibley, who has been introducing new platforms for his e-guide almost daily, has a new video tutorial on learning bird sounds.  Step aside Nathan Pieplow!

And in a final note, I will continue my current pace of blogging new, fresh material every day!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Revised Sibley Guide due in 2013

David Sibley is never one for much fanfare, so we find, tucked into an exchange on his new Facebook page, that he is currently revising the big guide for release some time in 2013.  Terrific.  While my big guide largely lives at home, my small Eastern is beginning to accumulate duct tape.

If you don't already follow it, his blog has lately been a treasure trove of tricky ID tips (I would bet some of this material is part of his revision). His post today follows up on yesterday's New York Times article on the Snow Owl "invasion."