What did the DSP ever do to Them?

One of the unique and most charismatic birds in South America, high if not top on any birders’ list of target species when they visit its range, is Phegornis mitchellii, long known as Diademed Sandpiper-Plover, or affectionately abbreviated as DSP. Its long and droop-tipped bill is unlike that of typical plovers, hence the compound sandpiper-plover, conveying a history of taxonomic uncertainty. Now, because it appears to be ‘simply’ an aberrant small plover, some authorities have castrated the name to Diademed Plover, or ‘just another’ plover, which DSP most certainly is not. But why stop there? I mean, everyone knows what…

Army Ants and Antbirds

Have you ever stood in the middle of an army ant swarm? Leica Birding Team member Jennie Duberstein takes us to Pipeline Road in Panama.

Counting spoonies

Geoff Hilton is Head of Research & Chief Scientist at the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust. The work of Geoff and his team supports the conservation of numerous species including spoon-billed sandpiper, Madagascar pochard, Greenland white-fronted geese, red-breasted geese and common scoter.

Leica Stories: Ana Ágreda

Enjoy this special bilingual edition of Leica Stories and meet Ecuadorian wildlife biologist Ana Águeda, who works hard to conserve shorebirds and waterbirds.

My Log from the Sea of Cortez

Climbing up into the panga felt so familiar. I was instantly transported back in time, suddenly 15 years younger. The tractor backed us down the boat ramp, the boatman started the motors, and we were off on a Gulf of California adventure.

Pounding Hearts and Beating Wings: Cape May Migration Madness

Cool morning temperatures and crisp organic scents saturate the forest floor while lush blankets of red, yellow and gold adorn the treetops; autumn has fallen across North America. The chaos and excitement of breeding season is over. Young birds are learning the ins and outs of functioning on their own while their parents adjust to being empty nesters once again. The days grow shorter and the air crisper while migratory birds scramble to fill their fat reserves in preparation for their long journeys ahead. The first of many cold fronts to come passes over, creating favorable winds and triggering ancient…

Split or Get Off the Pot: Genetics and the AOU vs. Reality?

“Surely one of the core virtues of birding is its independent, even anarchic spirit” (Gordon, 2015). The North American Classification Committee (NACC) of the American Ornithologists’ Union (AOU) comprises appointed members who pass judgment and make determinations on species limits, English names, and related issues for the birds of North America. To this end, the NACC proclaims the AOU Checklist as “the official source on the taxonomy of birds found in North and Middle America” (http://checklist.aou.org, accessed May 2015). The American Birding Association (ABA) Checklist follows the AOU, for the most part, but will that union endure?  I often hear…

Migration Magic in the Land of Milk and Honey-buzzards

May 3, 2015. I stand at my station in the Eilat Mountains, overlooking the Gulf of Aqaba, at the north end of the Red Sea. Stretching away to southwest, the mountains of Israel seamlessly give way to the mountains of Egypt, the boundary only recognizable thanks to the hand of man: the large, re-enforced border fence, interlaced with jagged barbed wire, threatening any foolish soul who would approach from either side. To the east, across the Gulf, loom the red mountains of Jordan’s Edom Range. South of these, through the morning haze that often hangs over the sea, we can…

Feathers Over Freeport

Now in its 9th year (see previous post LINK), the Bradbury Mountain Spring Hawkwatch in Pownal, Maine attracts an average of over 1200 visitors annually. Furthermore, many times that number visit the summit throughout our two month season and briefly chat with the Official Counter or read our count board and display. Of those 1200+ folks, many have never heard of, or at least never visited, a “hawkwatch” before, as the culture of hawkwatching in Northern New England isn’t as ingrained in the birding culture or as widespread as in such places as Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. For my…