What does a birder do when the wait for the peak of spring migration is just taking too darned long? One option is to head south. Early April is a great time to visit the parks of the southeast for a little bit of the warbler action that won’t get to the north until May. Florida is certainly one option, but for a little more seclusion with plenty of songbirds, Congaree National Park in South Carolina is the place to be.
Birding in the National Parks
Last year, around this time, I made a plea for everyone to take part in the Rusty Blackbird Spring Migration Blitz. I’m back again with the same pitch in this, the third and final year of the blitz.
I’ve written a few times about the national parks I consider the best for birding, but several readers have asked which would be the best to visit to maximize the diversity of birds seen. When we talk about number of different birds seen, I always think about a big year. During a big year, a birder tries to see as many birds as possible in one calendar year within a certain geographic range, or under certain conditions.
It’s a safe bet that not too many travelers reading this post have visited Canada’s Wood Buffalo National Park. It’s Canada’s largest park and one of the largest national parks in the world at nearly five times the area of Yellowstone, but to say it’s a thirty-hour drive northeast of Seattle is an understatement of its remoteness.
I’ve talked at length about the best parks for birds and the parks where all the birders go. Everglades National Park usually tops that list. Big Bend and Acadia are also extremely popular birding parks. But which of the 59 national parks gets the least birding attention? That’s tough to quantify, but I’ve made an educated guess from perusing eBird data.
I like birding New Year’s resolutions. They seem easier to keep than the traditional ones. Losing weight and giving up assorted vices aren’t really all that fun, but there’s not much about birding that isn’t fun.
Over the last decade, the explosion of books related to birding has seen the formation of a subgenre focused on the GISS concept. GISS (typically pronounced jizz) is an acronym for General Impression, Size, and Shape. This refers to the method of identifying a bird by visible features other than the color and markings. It’s how most seasoned birders make split-second identifications in the field. Over time, GISS has come to be a catch-all term for the holistic approach to bird identification where distribution, time of year, habitat, and behavioral considerations blend with size and shape (and good old fashioned field marks!) to make a bird knowable in an instant.
What would the holidays be without the Christmas Bird Count? We’re here again to take a look at some selected CBC activities in the national parks this holiday season.
Mountain Bluebirds. They’re the western cousin to the familiar Eastern Bluebird and a treat for birders throughout the mountainous terrain of Yellowstone National Park, Glacier National Park, and…Big Cypress National Preserve?
Predicting the winter movements of semi-migratory birds can be tricky business. Sometimes birds move south because food has become scarce in the north, as was the case with Pine Siskins last winter. Other times, an abundance of food creates a hyper-successful breeding season that results in overpopulation and migration south.