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 18 of 67

17 January 2019 | Birder's Guide to Travel for the young to become independent enough to escape rising tides on their own. Incredibly, Saltmarsh Sparrow eggs can survive being submerged 90 minutes, just so long as they don't float away. Between human alterations of wa- ter flow and rising sea levels and their associated high tides, it's hard to imag- ine a bright future for this species. Many worry that Saltmarsh Sparrow will be the first of our birds to go extinct due to higher sea levels. 14 | Yellow-billed Magpie Pica nuttalli Perched on trees or fence lines, or roam- ing about the ground in groups along the sides of the road, Yellow-billed Magpies were a familiar sight as my family drove back and forth across the Central Valley to the Sierras. Their iridescent black feathers gleamed, in stark contrast to the brilliant white sections. The yel- low bill and skin about the eyes adds some more color to this flashy corvid. Unfortunately, they are not as common as they once were. Like many corvids, Yellow-billed Magpies were hit hard by the West Nile virus. As West Nile is as prevalent as ever in the region, the pop- ulation of this California endemic may struggle to fully recover. 15 | Canyon Wren Catherpes mexicanus The liquid descending song of a Canyon Wren echoing off sheer rock walls brings shivers of joy to my soul. Perched on a rock, these birds may bounce up and down like a dipper. As their name im- plies, Canyon Wrens live in rocky ter- rain, often near water, all over the West. They pluck insects and spiders from amongst cracks and crevices. Wrens, in general, have spunky personalities ac- companied by a wide variety of vocal - izations, with Rock and Carolina wrens coming in close seconds. But Canyon, with its dapper, rich, rust coloring off- set by a white throat and upper breast, cheers me like no other wren. 16 | Wood Thrush Hylocichla mustelina The fluting melodious song of a Wood Thrush emanates from temperate wood - lands of the East. It is a quintessential song that many, including myself, feel is one of the best birdsongs of the region. This is a gorgeous thrush with huge black eyes, brilliant rufous upperparts, and white coloring with massive black spots below, all supported by bubble- gum pink legs. The Wood Thrush is one of many woodland birds in decline due to habitat loss and fragmentation and cowbird parasitism, but it's hard to imagine the Eastern hardwood forests without this bird's ethereal song. # 14 # 15 Photo © Marcin Kojtka Photo © Gail West

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