Birder's Guide

NOV 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 15 of 67

What the Heck is a Tanager? 5• Fringillids (a.k.a. true fnches or "winter fnches"). Some small and sparrow-like, some thick and grosbeak-like, but always conical. 6• Hawaiian honeycreepers. Incredibly diverse bills. Some crossed at the tips for prying, some long and decurved for nectar-feeding, some short and stout for cracking large seeds, others chisel-shaped for pounding into wood or long and sickle-shaped for extracting insects (these last two simultaneously on the same species!). The greatest bill diversity of any group of birds. 7• Tanagers. Diffcult to characterize, but often stout bills intermediate between "thin and pointed" and "short and conical". Often for fruit eating. As birders know, ornithologists are constantly updating our knowledge of the relationships among birds. For our purposes, the story of the nine-primaried oscines starts in 1983. In that year, the American Ornithologists' Union (AOU) lumped several major families into one huge family, the Emberizidae. This new family Emberizidae consisted 14 Looking like a big yellowthroat and acting like a mockingbird, the Yellow-breasted Chat (above) remains a taxonomic enigma. Photo © Larry Selman. Their lifestyles may be similar, but our brightly colored wood-warblers, like this Cape May (below), are a sharp contrast to the duller and distantly related warblers of the Old World. Photo © Phil Brown. Birder's Guide to Listing & Taxonomy | November 2013

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