Birder's Guide

OCT 2015

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 9 of 35

Biking for Birds 8 Birder's Guide to Listing & Taxonomy | October 2015 tiwake) in the stretch from Massachusetts to Philadelphia. In this stretch, one snow- storm dumped 20 inches of snow on me. Another dropped 12. These storms cost me four full days of riding. Black-headed Gull, Dovekie, Thick-billed Murre, and King Eider were all found in coastal Massa- chusetts. Fox Sparrow in Connecticut was #100. Barnacle Goose, Long-eared Owl, and Northern saw-whet Owl also appeared in Connecticut. Northern Shrike in Phila- delphia was the last of my winter targets to be ticked. The next fve weeks were spent migrat- ing south. Upon reaching Florida, I added Yellow-throated Warbler for bird #200. Sporting shorts instead of thermals, I quickly cleaned up the Florida birds, both introduced and native. I also added my lifer La Sagra's Flycatcher in Miami. This was presumably the same bird that Neil saw in 2013! I missed Mangrove Cuckoo, but this was not completely surprising for this time of year. I also missed some of the nesting specialties, such as Black-whiskered Vireo. I expected this, though, as I needed to be out west during the summer months. Un- like someone traveling by plane, I couldn't be in two far-away places in the same day, week, or even month. From Florida, I traveled along the Gulf of Mexico to reach the upper Texas coast on April 12. I added a few neotropical migrants en route, but a particularly nice push came during a moderate fallout at Sabine Woods on April 14. On that day, in 2007. During this June-to-June effort, Malkolm tallied an incredible 548 species! In preparation for my eco-adven- ture, I designed a route around the lower 48 states that I thought might yield 600 species. I would have to visit seven key birding areas at par- ticular times to approach this total. These were the Northeast in January, Florida in March, the Texas Coast in April, Arizona in June, the Rockies in late summer, the Pacifc Coast in September and October, and the Rio Grande Valley of Texas in December. Breaking the year into seven smaller trips made dealing with logistics a bit more manageable. At every stage, I would have to fnd safe routes, pla- ces to eat, and sites to stay. I would need to liaise with local birders and monitor the weather, particularly the wind, with an obsessive-compulsive vigor. My margin for error on a bicycle was a frac- tion of that for petroleum-based birders. It was this inability to quickly retrace my steps that would make the year so unique. The Northeast in January presented nov- el logistical challenges. A bicycle doesn't come equipped with heat. I would have to brave subfreezing temperatures both while birding and while slowly and carefully traveling between ice- and snow-covered destinations. Despite record cold during the winter of 2013–14, I found all but one of my target birds (Black-legged Kit- Crossing the Golden Gate Bridge in September. Photo © Josiah Clark This cooperative Pacifc Golden-Plover posed in Half Moon Bay, California in September. Photo © Dorian Anderson All smiles after an incred- ible June ride through Monument Valley, Utah.

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