It's a wonderful time of the year for birders, but for neotropical migrants, it means a perilous journey with incomprehensible expenditures of energy.
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It's Not Easy Being a Migrating Bird

Dawn Hewitt | Managing Editor, Bird Watcher's DigestBy Dawn Hewitt
Managing Editor | Bird Watcher's Digest

This month's "newsy" edition of BirdWire comes to you during the peak of songbird migration in North America. For birders, it's the most wonderful time of the year, but for neotropical migrants flying super long distances—many of them at night—it is a perilous journey involving incomprehensible expenditures of energy. Recent research highlights how artificial lights, especially when concentrated in urban areas along major flyways, can be lethal for migrating birds. On the good news front, a bird species discovered but thought to be extinct has been found alive—but rare—in Colombia.

Who Birds with You?

The Adirondack Boreal Birding Festival is back, June 6-9, 2019. That means four days of birding hikes, walks, safaris, outings, and seminars in the heart of the Adirondack Mountains.
Learn More at »
May 18 is World Migratory Bird Day
May 11 is World Migratory Bird Day
Happy Bird Day! Actually, every day is Bird Day, but in North America, World Migratory Bird Day is celebrated on the second Saturday of May. This year’s theme is plastics pollution and its impacts on birds. Hosted by Environment for the Americas, the purpose of the event is to draw attention to migratory birds in order to promote conservation through education. Throughout the United States and Canada, events are planned on May 11 to spotlight and celebrate migrating birds—while migration is underway. Formerly known as International Migratory Bird Day, the event debuted in 1993, hosted by the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center and the National Zoo. To register your event, or for more information, including educational materials for teachers, parents, and nature centers, visit To quote the campaign, "Protect birds: Be the solution to plastics pollution."
Bright Lights + Big Cities = Dead Birds
Bright Lights + Big Cities = Dead Birds
Every year, billions of birds embark on their annual round trip between their breeding and wintering grounds, and more than 600 million die each year during migration in collisions with buildings. Many bird species migrate at night, often passing through heavily illuminated cities, but they have not adapted well to artificial lighting, which alters their orientation. They also don’t understand glass. Light attracts them; windows kill them.

Researchers at Cornell Lab of Ornithology found that, because of their location along flyways combined with bright nighttime illumination, Chicago, Houston, and Dallas are the metropolitan areas with the highest bird mortality during migration. The research combined satellite data showing artificial night light levels with weather radar data showing bird migration density. The study was published April 1 in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, and summarized in the Cornell Chronicle. An estimated 5 million birds representing 250 species pass through the Chicago area during migration, according to the Chicago Tribune, where tens of thousands die in collisions with buildings.
Bird Species Feared Extinct Found in Columbia
Bird Species Feared Extinct Found in Colombia
A species of brushfinch discovered only 12 years ago among museum specimens and believed to be extinct has been found alive and well—but rare—in northwestern Colombia. The Antioquoia brushfinch had been considered to be a variant of the slaty brushfinch until 2007, when ornithologist Thomas Donegan reviewed museum collections and found three birds that were different from the others. All three came from the same area of Colombia, but ornithologists failed to find any living examples—until January 2018, that is. Researchers have now found four patches of habitat near Medellin hosting the rediscovered species. The Antioquoia brushfinch has been listed as critically endangered, since most of its preferred habitat has been cleared for cattle ranching. Now that the lost species has been found, conservation efforts provide hope that this rarity, once thought to be extinct, can avoid that fate. The discovery will be documented later this year in the journal Continga.

Visit Pearland Texas
Reader Rendezvous
Fall Migration Rendezvous: Hog and Monhegan Islands—Only 6 Spots Left!
There are few American landscapes as iconic or as bird-rich as the island-studded coast of Maine, especially during autumn migration. Monhegan Island is the perfect distillation of both natural beauty and the Maine coast's remarkable tendency to concentrate migrants, sometimes in astounding numbers. Beloved Bird Watcher's Digest columnist and long-time Hog Island instructor Scott Weidensaul will be present on this Rendezvous along with your trusty BWD staffers Dawn Hewitt, Raymond VanBuskirk, and Emily Jones.
Upcoming Festivals
Find a listing of birding festivals by place or by month in The Birder's Directory: Travel, or in the Bird Watcher's Digest Festival Finder »
Out There with the Birds #54: An Interview with Bill Thompson, III, Part II
Out There with the Birds Episode #54: An Interview with Bill Thompson, III, Part II
In part 2 of Ben's interview with BT3, published posthumously, Bill talks about his love of travel as a way of connecting with nature and people, as well as who some of his birding mentors were. Bill also talks about his love of music, what it means to him, and some of his more memorable birding adventures. Also hear Bill's thoughts on the evolution of birding and why he's hopeful about the next generation shaping the future of bird watching. We end with a recording of Bill singing one of his songs with his band, The Rain Crows.
Vortex and Redstart Birding: BEST OPTICS EXPERIENCE During and After Your Sale!
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Watching Backyard Birds: June 2019
If you love backyard birds, then you should be reading Watching Backyard Birds. It's the ONLY North American magazine devoted exclusively to backyard birds and the people who watch and enjoy them. Created by the friendly staff at Bird Watcher's Digest, every issue of Watching Backyard Birds is full of engaging, entertaining, and enlightening content and images.
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The Best Way to See Chimney Swifts
Are chimney swifts on your backyard bird list? They are common in cities, towns and suburbs, but are often overlooked. WBB contributor W. Todd Parker recounts the opportunities in which he became acquainted with these delightful little birds.
Wren Ranch
Columnist Julie Zickefoose recalls the summer she found Carolina wren nests on her house, in her garage, and at numerous other locations on her property. She counted 26 fledgling wrens that summer!
Nandina Berries Kill Birds
Warning: All parts of this common landscaping plant are toxic to wildlife, pets, and livestock. Birds are especially susceptible to nandina poisoning because of the shrub’s beautiful and enticing red fruit.
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