Birder's Guide

JAN 2019

Birder's Guide is the American Birding Association's newest publication. Each issue focuses on a key subject, providing tips from experienced birders on a wide variety of topics like Travel, Listing & Taxonomy, Gear, and Conservation & Community.

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Page 15 of 67

14 Birder's Guide to Travel | January 2019 20 Best Birds in the ABA Area prey. Clad with a bright red face, shiny green upperparts, gray collar, and those pink undersides, they are unique. In addition to a churrr call, their high, squeaky chatter doesn't sound anything like other woodpeckers. 7 | LeConte's Sparrow Ammospiza leconteii Catching a glimpse of this ground-hug- ging weasel of a bird is tough, whether on its wintering or breeding grounds. LeConte's is typically described as dif- ficult to see, secretive, or skulking for tween the seasons, wintering as far south as Argentina. 9 | Varied Thrush Ixoreus naevius Stunning in its orange and slaty-blue plumage, a male Varied Thrush provides a welcome splash of color to the damp, heavily-shaded forest floors of the Pacific Northwest. His single-pitched song is a burry, metallic trill that sets him apart from the rest of our vocally talented thrushes. Females come in more sub- tle shades of browns and olives, offset by a paler orange in the same pattern. Taxonomists formerly classified this thrush with the Asian group of Zoothera thrushes. Varied Thrush is now in its own genus, Ixoreus, which references mistletoe, one of the many fruits they feed on during the winter. Interestingly, some aberrant individuals lack the or- ange in their plumage. 10 | Sharp-tailed Grouse Tympanuchus phasianellus It is spring and the steppe, grassland, and shrub habitats of Sharp-tailed Grouse are alive with their enthusiastic dancing. With head lowered, bowed- good reason. Its lifestyle resembles that of a mouse, flushing only when almost stepped on before diving back into dense cover. Patience is rewarded when one is finally seen. There are few truly orange sparrows—most notably LeConte's and Nelson's. Its song—a raspy staccato trill—is reminiscent of a Savannah Sparrow, or maybe a bug of some sort. It is yet another example of a beautiful bird that is an underwhelming songster, versus a drab bird with a great set of pipes. 8 | Buff-breasted Sandpiper Calidris subruficollis Imagine it is a breezy day on the dry Arctic tundra at the top of our conti- nent. A male Buff-breasted Sandpiper lifts one wing high over his back, al- most tilting over before switching to the other wing, showing off his white wing linings to prospective mates. After waving one wing, he then lifts both in a wing-up display that looks like an em- brace. That these birds do so in loose leks is unique among North American shorebirds. Appearances can be deceiv- ing as this doe-eyed, fragile-looking, dainty bird travels vast distances be- # 6 # 7 Photo © Tom Johnson Photo © Harjeet Singh

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