Birding Online: May 2013

Welcome! You’ve just found your way to all the online content for the May/June 2013 issue of Birding. We hope you enjoy your visit, and we’d love to get your feedback.


Photo: Corinna Wren La Puma of Madison, Wisconsin, was eager to crack open this May/June Birding! She’s especially keen on the prospect of picking up Purple Swamphen in Florida the next time she visits her cousins. Corinna Wren’s dad, ornithologist and Leica representative David La Puma, will be an instructor with theABA’s Camp Colorado in July 2013.

This site is a launch pad to all the full-feature online content in the May/June 2013 Birding. Think of it as your online Table of Contents. Click on the links below, and off you go!

About the Cover. This story of the Purple Swamphen (Porphyrio porphyrio) is strange and perhaps disturbing. Bill Pranty, one of North America’s foremost authorities on exotic birds, delivers a thorough and fascinating overview on pp. 38–46 of the print issue. But what of the primary literature—including Pranty’s—that provided the basis for the Birding article? See for yourself in this compendium of original scientific articles, available only to ABA members.

Your Letters. Legendary birder Steve Howell puts it well in a letter in the May/June issue (p. 12): “We all make errors. Hopefully, we can learn from them. We should also feel free to speak up when decisions appear to have been made without due consideration or prudence, in the wider field of life as well as in birding.” Please, speak up! What are your thoughts on “official” bird taxonomy and nomenclature as it relates to birding and the ABA?

Birding Together. No question about it, the ABA’s publications are in a time of transition. ABA President Jeffrey A. Gordon lays it all out for us in the May/June installment of “Birding Together,” then says: “There’s much more to tell you, but not on the print pages of Birding. Let’s continue the conversation online.” Yes, let’s do exactly that, as we share together our ideas and insights about Birding and other ABA publications. Photo by © Liz Gordon.

News and Notes. Ranching and bird conservation are often portrayed as opposing forces. But as Paul Hess notes in the May/June 2013 installment of “News and Notes” (pp. 26–28), ranchers have a potentially important role to play in reversing population declines in the Mountain Plover. In an online story about the Karval Mountain Plover Festival, we discover that ranchers and bird conservationists share a good deal of common ground. Right: The tiny ranching outpost of Karval, on the high plains of eastern Colorado, contributes importantly to Mountain Plover conservation. Photo by © Seth Gallagher.

Sightings Online. If you’re an ABA member, you’ve already seen Amy Davis’s compilation in the print issue (pp. 22–25, 66) of North American rarities in March 2013. Do you crave more recent “Sightings”? ABA members only: April 2013 “Sightings” and even May 2013 “Sightings” are available right now as high-quality, full-color PDF downloads. Right: This Common Ringed Plover, Massachusetts’ third, was at legendary Plum Island May 21–24. Photo by © Dorian Anderson.

Purple Swamphens. See “About the Cover,” above, for members-only access to the original, peer-reviewed scientific literature on the fascinating Purple Swamphens of Florida.Read Bill Pranty’s feature article, available as a free PDF download from the ABA.

Hic! Three Beers! “Ear-birding,” the acoustic enjoyment and identification of birds, has really taken off in the digital era. But as Diana Doyle notes (pp. 56–59), good ole-fashioned mnemonics are as helpful as ever. And good-ole fashioned, er, beer is as beloved as ever. Try your hand at this fun and educational online birdsong quiz with a beer-drinking theme. Right: Click on the icon to listen to a mystery bird that seems to be saying something about beer. Sound recording by © Brian Sullivan.

“Photo” Quiz “Answer.” It’s not exactly a “photo,” and Ted Floyd’s analysis (p. 54) isn’t quite an “answer.” So check out this 26-second video to see what the bird is. First, quiz yourself; next, eavesdrop on or participate in the online conversation with other ABA members; finally, scroll down to the bottom of the comments field for the “official” photo quiz answer. Right: Click on the image to watch the bird actually doing something.

Book Reviews. The birding literature is inexhaustibly varied, which point is well exemplified by the diverse titles reviewed in this issue of Birding. Julia Zarankin reviews a tribute to museum ornithology, Nic Fieldsend reviews atreatise on the birdlife of Nova Scotia, Rick Wright reviews a documentary film on shorebird migration, and Soheil Zendeh reviews the latest in a series of “Crossley Guides.”

New Photo Quiz. One of the biggest birding stories of the past year was the Great Redpoll Invasion of 2012–2013. Bird records committees are still sorting through all the redpoll records, and now you get to join in the fun! Share your thoughts about these redpolls, and, if you think they’re “easy,” let us know what subspecies, sex, and age each bird is. Answers and analysis, courtesy of bird ID experts Tom Johnson and Luke Seitz, will appear in the next Birding, but let’s try to work things out together online first. Left: Photo by © Tom Johnson.

One More Quiz! If Ted Floyd’s LBJ (“little brown job”), Diana Doyle’s beer quiz, and Tom Johnson and Luke Seitz’s lookalike redpolls still aren’t enough for you, we have one more. Tony Leukering’s long-running online quiz is always edifying, and check this out: You can even win a prize. So check it out, and go for the gold! Right: Photo by © Tony Leukering.

Click here to order the entire May/June 2013 issue. Or better yet, join the ABA today, and get the May/June 2013 issue, plus all the other benefits of ABA membership.

Check out the complete Table of Contents for the print issue of the May/June 2013 Birding.