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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Page 62 of 67

Note Location Leads As you lurk on listservs, read birding magazines, or hear about friends' birding adventures, keep notes on the birding hotspots. I have a text fle on my laptop, called "Location Leads", that comprises tidbits of details on birding destinations divided by geographic area. If I must go to Miami, I can quickly look in my notes for nearby birding venues (A.D. Barnes Park) and species of interest to me (Red-whiskered Bulbul). After years of nurturing my fle, you could drop me almost anywhere in the ABA Area, and I'd be prepared with my wish list: Picture Canyon for Lewis's Woodpeckers, Salt Creek Falls for Black Swifts... I'm ready. Listen to Songs You can select eastern or western geography, and Larkwire guides you through progressive tutorials. (For a detailed review of Larkwire, see "Larkwire: Rosetta Stone for Birdsong", Birding, January 2012, pp. 60-62.) If you already have a foundation in recognizing bird songs and are a good selflearner, the new BirdTunes apps are simple yet thorough . Set eBird Alerts The citizen science project eBird is designed frst and foremost for science and conservation, but it's also a phenomenal resource for birders. The frst step is to sign up for eBird's email alerts and to customize your search settings. (For more details on eBird, see "Happy Birthday eBird: Ten Years and Counting", Birding, November 2012, pp. 58-64.) If you're interested in rarities, you never know when a bird you'd love to see might show up within striking range. By signing up for eBird's "ABA Rarities" alerts, you re- St. Augustine, Florida Diana Doyle does one answer a post like that? More often than not, you won't get a response. Rather than asking broad general questions, sign up for the listserv early and read the posts. Then, if you see a post on one of your target species, follow up directly with that individual with specifc questions clarifying location and access, or requesting news of their latest sighting. You're certain to get a reply—and may even get an offer for a local tour! ceive brief email summaries of species and locations . For example, while long-distance driving through Connecticut, I received an eBird alert that a Fork-tailed Flycatcher was being seen— can it be?—two interstate exits away, giving me a life bird for a trivial two-mile detour. In that same eBird screen, you can customize "Rare Bird Alerts" by specifc region, or "Needs Alerts" by species. For example, if you'd like to see an Acorn Woodpecker in Santa Clara County, California, you can customize your settings to receive an email detailing the location whenever someone records that species there. It's almost like knowing the neighbors! Clockwise from bottom right: • The BirdsEye app taps into eBird from your smartphone, such as this display for Key West, Florida. Options show those birds seen recently (122) and the starred species (6) that you haven't seen or are regional rarities. • Expect more birding trails to produce smart apps instead of printed brochures, such as this app by Audubon Washington for The Great Washington State Birding Trail. • Lifebirds Journal transforms your iPad into a feld notebook, checklist manager, and life list. • Now that Larkwire has gone mobile, there's no excuse to not study bird vocalizations while traveling by car or airplane. Nothing scores new birds in a new geography like knowing their songs and calls. En route to Washington State, I spent some airplane time reviewing vocalizations on my iPhone. Once there, I heard "put-WAY-doo" during a neighborhood walk, immediately recognized the sound, and knew to look for a California Quail teed up on a nearby fence post. Knowing what to listen for translates into knowing what to look for. Fortunately, there are some great new tools for studying bird songs. If you prefer a structured learning environment, the new Larkwire software (for laptop and mobile devices) is excellent . August 2013 | Birder's Guide to Travel 61

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