Birding Online: May 2014

Welcome! You’ve just found your way to all the online content for the May/June 2014 issue of Birding. We hope you enjoy your visit, and Editor Ted Floyd would love to get your feedback.

This site is a launch pad to all the full-feature content in the May/June 2014 Birding. Think of it as your online Table of Contents. Click on the links below, and off you go!

Our cover photo depicts a White-breasted Nuthatch. But which White-breasted Nuthatch? As Steven G. Mlodinow explains in a feature article in the current issue, the bird currently classified as a single species—the White-breasted Nuthatch—may well be a complex of three or more species! The proposed names are Carolina Nuthatch, Rocky Mountain Nuthatch, and Slender-billed Nuthatch.
Left: Cover photo by © Garth McElroy.

In his article, Mlodinow notes that the best way to tell apart the three nuthatches is to listen to them. That’s hard to do on the print pages of Birding magazine. But it’s no problem at all online. Click here to listen to the distinctive call notes of Carolina, Rocky Mountain, and Slender-billed nuthatches.

In a little more than a month, birders will note the centenary of the extinction of the Passenger Pigeon. The pigeon’s extinction story is inescapably human—involving almost unimaginable human thoughtlessness and profligacy, but also inspiring efforts by the handful of bird lovers who tried in vain to save the species. In a feature article in the May/JuneBirding, ornithologist and historian Joel Greenberg tells the human story of the extinction of Ecopistes migratorius. Greenberg’s article is accompanied by evocative art by the award-winning natural history illustrator Kate Garchinsky.
Below: Pastel on Arches paper–2013, by © Kate Garchinsky–

Along with Greenberg’s words and Garchinsky’s pastels, we present in this issue a first forBirding magazine: origami. Thanks to generous support from The Lost Bird Project–Fold the Flock, every ABA member has received with the May/June Birding an origami insert of a Passenger Pigeon, plus folding instructions and general information. Please consider posting a photo of your pigeon to the Facebook pages of the American Birding Associationand Fold the Flock.
Right: Sarah Adams of Dahlonega, Georgia, posted this selfie to Facebook. Adams, who begins her junior year in high school next month, wryly commented, “We’re already best friends.”

Book Reviews. Continuing with the theme of the Passenger Pigeon, our first review in the May/June Birding is of Joel Greenberg’s A Feathered River Across the Sky: The Passenger Pigeon’s Flight to Extinction. Click here for Rick Wright’s review.

Next up is a review of “just” a regional avifauna. But oh what a region! It’s Birds of the Sierra Nevada: Their Natural History, Status, and Distribution, by Edward C. Beedy, Edward R. Pandolfino, and Keith Hansen. Click here for Jennifer Rycenga’s review.

Last but certainly not least is Jen Brumfield’s review of the long-awaited second edition of the epochal Sibley Guide to Birds. Click here for Brumfield’s review of the book widely known among birders as “The New Sibley.”
Featured Photo. Quick! Can you think of some of the hardest groups of birds to ID? There are the classic ID challenges: dowitchers and scaup, empids of course, “peeps” and sparrows, and the “confusing fall warblers.” But how about gnatcatchers? Seriously, the ABA Area’s four gnatcatcher species are quite tricky—especially when we’re dealing with plumages other than adult males in the breeding season.

Tom Johnson’s “Featured Photo” in the May/June issue is of a gnatcatcher. We’ll tell you that much. And Johnson’s full analysis appears in the print issue. But maybe you want to try to figure it out on your own first? Then click here for the photo; you can join the discussion online, or work on the challenge by yourself.
Below: Photo by © Tom Johnson.

Commentary. Harriet Davidson’s commentary, “On Rereading Jean Piatt’s Adventures in Birding” is a trip down memory lane. The commentary also implies a question: Are we birders really all that different now than we were in the mid-20th century, when Piatt penned his birding classic? Click here for further musings and interactive conversation.
Right: Harriet Davidson, 95, reflects in the May/June Birding on how birding has changed—and stayed the same.

Order the entire May/June 2014 issue of Birding at The ABA Shop. Or better, yet, join the ABA today, and get the March/April 2014 Birding, plus all the other benefits of ABA membership.

Check out the complete Table of Contents for the print issue of the March/April 2014 Birding.