Birder's Guide

NOV 2016

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 38 of 43

Gorbet Oak Harbor, Ohio Ashli Ashli Oak Harbor, Ohio Gorbet 37 GPS for Better Birding ive years ago, I was wandering through my Black-throated Gray Warbler study site in Central New Mexico and stopped dead in my tracks at the sound of a bird song. It was the height of the breeding season, and familiar songs were filling the air. But this one was different, and I knew it didn't belong. It was an eerie, steady, flute-like whistle that could be only one thing: a Varied Thrush. Varied Thrush is rare in central New Mexico, particularly singing ones in late spring. I pished softly and, after getting knock-out views of the gorgeous songster, called a buddy of mine who was doing a county Big Year. "Where is the bird?" he asked. "Uh. Well. Ummm." My reply left a little to be desired. I knew these woods like the back of my hand but had no way of describing the exact location to someone who didn't know and wouldn't recognize the off-trail landmarks I had stored in my mind. Needless to say, my friend never found that Varied Thrush. So where did I go wrong? Well, to begin with, finding a rare bird off-trail in the mountains isn't incredibly conducive to a pro- ductive chase. But short of asking this bird to be kind to birders and hang out near a trail, I could have given far better instruc- tions to my friend. Heck, I could have used my phone to take a waypoint and then texted it right to him. Global Positioning System (GPS) technology and availability has grown by leaps and bounds over the past couple decades. In the past five years alone, nearly all of us have taken to carrying a GPS with us at all times in the form of a smartphone. So if we're all carrying a GPS around anyway, why aren't we using it more? Maybe some of us don't know the best way to get started or even what we can actually do with them. Here I present a brief over- view of the types of GPS you might want to consider and a few ideas to get you on the road to using a GPS for better birding. F Nove mber 2016 | Birder's Guide to Gear

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