Birder's Guide

DEC 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 40 of 51

by with ease, as your toes tingle with the sharp bite of winter air. Just like the upper layers, wellinsulating socks can keep you warm. When your extremities are warm, you are more likely to feel comfortable. Avoid cotton socks, for they often become clammy, which then leads to being cold. The warmest socks can be quite thick and are made of a wool or wool blend. My favorite sock brand is Darn Tough. These wool-based socks are made in Vermont and are covered under Photo by their "guaranteed for life" policy! Wool-based socks breathe and allow air to be trapped between the boot and your foot. Just like the upper garments, wool socks resist odors naturally, and are a great addition to a suitcase when packing for a long birding trip in the midwinter months. Winter boots are your shield from the cold, as well as droppings from a Ross's Gull (and other winter rarities that might be fying overhead). When considering boots for trekking around during the winter months, make sure that the outermost layer is waterproof. Leather boots are great, and synthetics are also great for beading off the moisture. Boots are one of those varieties of gear that give you pretty much what you pay for. Lots of insulation (often measured in grams) is important. Some boot manufacturers do not mention the weight of the insulation. The best way to fnd out which winter boots are best for you is to try them on in person. Make sure they ft comfortably and have plenty of room for a thick wool sock. I am a fan of Sorel boots. Although many of their products are now made in China (and quality may have decresed), Sorel is a company based out of Canada that specializes in warm footwear. For long hikes in the snow, warm feet will help your body stay warm. Keeping in the Heat With a Hat Wearing a warm and well-designed hat can eliminate those shivers creeping up your feece beanie over the Stormy Kromer can make all the difference. Stormy Kromers are a sweet, northwoodsy way to make sure you stay warm. When you insulate your extremities properly, your core stays warmer. If you're wearing a Stormy Kromer and want to hear a fock of winter fnches fying overhead, just fold up the ear strap and you're good to go! Stormy Kromer hats are awesome, you betcha, don'tcha know! © Bill Stewart back on brisk winter days. Because we lose much of our heat through the tops of our heads, a hat can help with staying warm despite severe temperatures and windchills. I am a huge fan of the Stormy Kromer hats. Those of you that have been through northern Minnesota, northern Wisconsin, or the Upper Peninsula of Michigan during the winter, have seen the "Grumpy Old Men" hats being worn by passers-by. The Stormy Kromer hat is a baseball-like hat made of wool with a short brim on the front. Its claim to fame is that you have the option of protecting your ears against the cold or keeping your ears in the open air while listening to birds. Throughout the sides and back of the hat is a thin band of wool that folds down slightly, just enough to cover the backside of your head and much of the wind-exposed ears. Stormy Kromers are handmade in Ironwood, Michigan, the northernmost connection between the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and northern Wisconsin. Stormy Kromer hats are some of the warmest hats around, even on drizzly days when the hat may become slightly saturated. Wool keeps you warm even if it becomes damp with sleet and snow. One catch is that each Stormy Kromer hat is pre-sized, so you'll need to know your hat size to purchase one. Stormy Kromer has an impressive outlet in Ironwood, where you can fnd hats at a fraction of what they cost online. Sometimes if it gets very cold, adding a thin Final Layer: Overcoat My winter jacket is a three-in-one Columbia. The outer layer is waterproof and acts like a shell over the under layers. Zipped within the jacket (or used by itself) is a thick feece. When used with appropriately layered clothing underneath, this coat is a great way to take on the cold. Deeper pockets are crucial for an effective winter birding jacket, as shallow pockets will drop binocular wipes, camera batteries, and other bird nerd goodies. Deep pockets also allow you to put your entire gloved hand inside to stay warm. Either before or after putting on the jacket, wrapping a scarf around your neck can plug up the fow of heat lost through the neck area, and keep the cold from getting the best of you. W e can only attempt to insulate ourselves as well as birds. Northern birds have amazing adaptations to survive and endure the coldest conditions. As birders (and humans in general), we are poorly suited for the bitter bite of winter. By layering up appropriately, we can enjoy the outdoors during subzero days and stay warm. Whether you're looking for Snowy Owls, Common Redpolls, or Iceland Gulls, it's time to get out and bird the winter months away. Good birding! Editor's note: For more information on keeping warm while birding, check out December 2013 | Birder's Guide to Gear 39

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