Birder's Guide

NOV 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 44 of 51

Durango, Colorado Kristi Dranginis few weeks ago, a friend of mine sent an ecstatic Facebook message asking if I could identify a bone he'd found washed up on the beach in California. He was nearly certain that he had just discovered a baby dragon skull. Have you ever seen any- thing like the bone pictured to the right? Kind of wild, isn't it? I love these kinds of challenges. Just about every week, a new one comes across my desk: "What kind of feather is this, Kristi?" "I came across a depression on the ground under a giant pon- derosa pine tree with two speckled eggs in it. Who laid them?" "I found some tracks in the snow that look like someone drew a forward K and a backward K right next to one anoth- er. What the heck are they from?" Most people come to me with out-of-the-ordinary birding questions because they know about my pe- culiar area of study in the birding world. From 1998 to 2003, I was a lead fa- cilitator for the Wilderness Awareness School. This school is devoted to teaching people all over the world how to deeply connect with the natural world, as well as how to identify the tracks, scat, and sign of just about any liv- ing creature you could imagine. Jon Young, author of What The Robin Knows, was the original founder of the school. Back in those days, I was often discouraged that I couldn't find elders to help me learn more about the natural world. I was craving a depth of connection and understanding that the courses in college just never quite touched. When I told Jon about my desire for el- ders, he said, "The elders are still here, Kristi. They're just in a different form than what you might imagine." I looked a little befuddled A Guide to the Wild & Dirty Side of Birding n A friend of the author sent this photo of a bone that washed up on a Cali- fornia beach. With the resources outlined in this article, you can identify it yourself. Check out to learn what creature this belongs to. Photo © Frank Marchetti n Students and instructors from the Wilderness Awareness School inspecting a set of tracks on the shore of the Skykomish River in Washington. Photo © Kristi Dranginis n left: The photographer's Wildlife of the Pacific Northwest: Tracking and Identifying Mammals, Birds, Reptiles, Amphibians, and Inverte - brates and Mark Elbroch's Bird Tracks & Sign: A Guide to North Ameri- can Species are both helpful in identifying bird tracks, such those made by an owl, as seen here. Photo © David Moskowitz 43 November 2017 | Birder's Guide to Gear A

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