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.
Issue link: http://bg.aba.org/i/753549
12 Birder's Guide to Gear | November 2016 Canon PowerShot SX50 HS wrapping their minds around the fact that there are two species of Streptopelia col- lared-doves in the region: the well-known Eurasian Collared-Dove and the under- the-radar African Collared-Dove. Separating the two is difficult, and I, for one, am cautious about sight records. Audio recordings are the gold standard (the two species sound utterly different), but decent photos are often diagnostic. It's gratifying to me that birders all up and down the I-25 corridor are starting to notice and document African Collared-Doves, and it's not surpris- ing to me that a lot of the documentation is being provided by birders equipped with the SX50 and similar cameras. Expand Your Horizons • Odes and Leps I'll mention briefly that the SX50 is superb for insects and other arthropods. With just a nudge of the focus lever, you go from telephoto to macro—from a songbird in the treetops a quarter mile away to the fine details of wing venation on a skipper or spreadwing. The SX50 performs fine at its maximum zoom of 200x, which I gather is the equivalent of a 1200mm lens on a "normal" camera. Anyhow, cameras like the SX50 are revolutionizing the way we engage insect study, a point I'll develop more broadly in just a moment. Birding on the Brink: Is Our Hobby on the Verge of Total Transformation? A little while ago, I was leading a bird walk at Greenlee Wildlife Preserve. The outing was sponsored by the city, which provided loaner binoculars to anybody who wanted to borrow them. One of the unbinoculared birders declined the offer. She gave the im- pression that she might as well have been offered banding calipers, a DNA kit, or a shotgun. Sure, those things are essential in certain special situations in field ornithol- ogy, but not for an afternoon bird walk. The woman didn't need a shotgun, and she didn't need binoculars. Neither did she in- tend to practice bare-naked birding. In the same breath that she declined the binocu- lars, she asked her friend if she could bor- row a smartphone camera. Her friend, who Backroad Tiger Beetle Photo © Ted Floyd Widow Skimmer (female) Photo © Ted Floyd