Birder's Guide

MAR 2017

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 37 of 95

Birds of Midway Atoll 36 Birder's Guide to Travel | March 2017 (plenty of snorkeling opportunities exist as well). At night, a different avian shift takes over on Sand Island, with Bonin Petrels and Wedge-tailed Shearwaters emerging from burrows and returning from foraging offshore. The comically ghostly and bizarre calls of the shearwaters have raised goose bumps on many bird- ers and non-birders alike over the years. Lucky birders may come across a Bulwer's Petrel or Tristram's Storm-Petrel near the old chapel. The extremely rare and little-known Bry- an's Shearwater, described as a full species only a few years ago, was first discovered on Midway and may potentially occur again. The ensemble of birdlife to be found on the atoll is not only amazing but also fairly tame. The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, most of which were never per- manently settled by Polynesians or Euro- peans, have (until recently) been largely devoid of avian and mammalian predators for countless millennia. Midway's seabirds have, for the most part, not evolved with predators and are astonishingly approach- able. Indeed, these islands have often been called America's Galápagos. Approaching within feet of albatrosses, Bonin Petrels, and White Terns is a routine occurrence. Certain wetlands on Sand Island have shorebirds and waterfowl much of the year. The large water catchment basin near the runway is a big draw for migrants and a good place to check for unusual ducks and gulls. It also happens to be the only place in the world where Least and Little terns nest side by side. This is also the best spot to find unusual shorebirds; a good

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