Birder's Guide

AUG 2013

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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Photo © SuSan MyerS and bugling in unison, performing their complex and graceful dances in the snow. Both birds throw their heads back and point their beaks skyward as the male lifts his wings over his back during the unison call, while the female keeps her wings folded at her sides—all followed by bouts of  bowing, jumping, running, stick tossing, and wing fapping. 13•Philippine Frogmouth (Batrachostomus septimus) The Philippines. Frogmouths are crazy. You can tell just by looking at them. Of course, all of those crazy features (the bug eyes, the improbably wide mouth, and the ridiculous hairdo) have functions proscribed by millennia of evolutionary pressures. Whatever the reason, they combine to make the Asian frogmouths a fabulous group. I picked this Philippine "Froggy" because I adore this photo. 14•Malaysian Rail-babbler (Eupetes macrocerus) Photo © SuSan MyerS Thai-Malay Peninsula, Borneo, and Sumatra. A secretive, ground-dwelling (and good-looking) bird, this inhabitant of the amazingly rich lowland tropical rainforest is intriguing and charismatic. Its habits are poorly known, and it is a diffcult bird to observe, which only adds to its appeal. Its taxonomic affnities are somewhat mysterious, too. This bird may be related to the African  Picathartes  rockfowls or to the rockjumpers of southern Africa, but it seems most likely that it belongs in its own family. The best way to fnd it is to listen for its easily overlooked vocalizations and then to wait patiently and hopefully for it to walk past a gap in the thick vegetation to allow a brief view. This is my favorite kind of birding—trying to get a glimpse of a shy but splendid bird in beautiful forest. 15•Satanic Nightjar (Caprimulgus diabolicus) Sulawesi, Indonesia. The combination of a fascinating history, a fantastic name, and good looks earns this species a place in my list. An Indonesian  endemic, it was discovered in 1931 at Klabat Volcano on Sulawesi and was known only from a single specimen until it was refound in 1996 in Lore Lindu National Park  in  Central Sulawesi.  The name refers to a local superstition associating a mysterious nighttime plip-plop sound with the nightjar, which is said to be a demon that tears out the eyes of sleeping people, the sound being that of the quickly-removed eyeballs! It turns out the bird is not the author of the sound, but the name persists. As for what makes the popping eyeball sound…maybe a frog? 16•Oriental Bay-Owl (Phodius badius) Western Ghats in India, Sri Lanka, Southeast Asia, Borneo, Sumatra, and Java. Handsome and mysterious, the Oriental Bay-Owl is one of the strangest of all the owls, and its secretive nature only adds to the mystery. I was lucky to be able to watch and photograph this amazing creature in the daylight for more than an hour during one of my trips to Sri Lanka. The Photo © naethan VeeraSaMy 28 Birder's Guide to Travel | August 2013

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