Migration-related news: Researchers attempt to model bird migration. Also, learn about Lights Out, a project of the National Audubon Society.
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News in Birding
News in Birding, October 2018

By Dawn Hewitt
Managing Editor | Bird Watcher's Digest

Here in North America, fall migration begins in July and continues into December. By early October, the peak of warbler migration is behind us, but sparrows and kinglets are on the move, and shorebird migration is strong. Depending upon where you live, early October is a great time to look for waterfowl and raptors, too. Say goodbye to swifts and hummingbirds (unless you live in a place where hummingbirds overwinter). But start looking for winter-only visitors, including sparrows, juncos, and for us in the East, sapsuckers. Here is some migration-related news for you.

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Predicting Bird Migration
Predicting Bird Migration
Will a quick birding trip today bring a bounty of migrants or just the regular residents? The answer to this frequent musing by birders each fall and spring can be determined with a good deal of accuracy, thanks to migration researchers. Ornithologists at Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the University of Oxford used radar, weather information, and 23 years of bird observation data to correlate peaks and lulls in bird migration across North America—a model that has produced remarkably accurate predictions. Knowing when migration is likely to be heaviest has the potential to protect birds from collisions with buildings, airplanes, and wind turbines. It will also permit birders to predict the success of their birding trips. Visit birdcast.info for a three-day forecast of bird migration. Maps there will be available throughout each migration season, but disabled in winter and summer.
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Lights Out Project Is Saving Migrating Birds
Lights Out Project Is Saving Migrating Birds
A Galveston, Texas, skyscraper has opted not to use its spotlights at night during bird migration after 395 birds crashed into it one night in 2017. Lots of buildings and more than 20 cities across North America are doing the same thing, thanks to efforts by Lights Out, a citizen-driven project of the National Audubon Society. The states of New York and Minnesota have passed laws requiring state buildings to turn lights out during bird migration season. Even the Tribute in Light, at the former site of the World Trade Center, turns out its lights for 20 minutes when volunteers spot a thousand or more birds trapped within its beams. The Gateway to the West Arch in St. Louis goes dark at night for two weeks each spring and fall. Lights Out for birds isn’t restricted to skyscrapers and municipal buildings: Anyone can darken their residence to protect birds from disorientation during night migration. Unplug decorative lights, down-shield exterior lighting, and turn off flood- and spotlights during periods of heavy migration.
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The Big Sit! 2018
The Big Sit!™ is October 13 and 14, 2018!
Are you ready to sit and tally birds? The annual Big Sit!™ will be October 13 or 14—your choice—for 24 hours. Across the continent and around the world, birders are measuring out 17-foot diameter circles, stocking up on their favorite beverages and charcoal to stoke the grill, and inviting their birding pals to join them for a sedentary celebration of bird watching. The event has been called “a tailgate party for birders.” Teams can register and, later, report their results on the Bird Watcher's Digest website.

Also, The Big Sit!™ is completely free! Prizes for winning teams are primarily bragging rights, but Swarovski Optik annually awards a $500 prize to a randomly selected team that has spotted the Golden Bird, chosen by the New Haven (Connecticut) Bird Club, the event’s founding organization, each year at its December meeting. Are you a member of a bird club? Consider using The Big Sit!™ as a fundraiser.
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Visit Bemidji - Birding like no other!
Cape May Fall Festival, October 18-21
Reader Rendezvous
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Cape Sugarbird photo by Shutterstock
Take an African Safari with Bird Watcher's Digest!
Who doesn't dream of Africa? For most birders and nature lovers, an African safari is at the top of the bucket list. It's certainly been on our Rendezvous radar for several years! To make this dream trip come true, we've partnered with Rockjumper Birding Adventures to create an 11-day tour to South Africa, October 1-11, 2019. Join us to see an awesome array of endemic bird species, plus some of the world's most amazing mammals!
Upcoming Festivals
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Podcasts
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This Birding Life #84: A Birder's Guide to Murder, by JR Ripley
This Birding Life Episode #84: A Birder’s Guide to Murder, with JR Ripley
Author JR Ripley chats with Bill about his recent birder-murder mystery novel A Birder's Guide to Murder, set at the American Birding Expo. The book is part of the Bird Lover's Mystery series published by Kensington, in which the heroine, Amy, solves murders, while simultaneously running her specialty retail birding store. JR, whose real name is Glenn Eric Meganck, also writes novels in other genres under other pen names, is a professional musician, and is kinda into zombies, too.
Out There with the Birds #43: Live From Cape May, New Jersey
Out There with the Birds Episode #43: Live from Cape May, New Jersey!
The birding dudes cover a smorgasbord of topics here, including a recap of the recent American Birding Expo, birding during migration, upcoming festivals, The Big Sit!™, and tips for your optics upgrade. They also celebrate, in the briefest possible way, Ben's birthday. This episode was recorded in two parts, one via Skype between Wisconsin and Ohio and one in person, live, in Cape May, New Jersey, during the Cape May Reader Rendezvous.
On Newsstands Now:
Bird Watcher's Digest: Nov./Dec. 2018
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OUR COVER SPECIES
White-tailed Ptarmigan: Worth the Extra Mile
It blends in with its rocky habitat in summer, but is nearly invisible in snow. Author Steve Shunk went to great heights to see this cryptic bird of high elevations—as is required.
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IDENTIFY YOURSELF
Wow—the Northern Goshawk!
Most birders are familiar with its smaller cousins, Cooper's and sharp-shinned hawks. The goshawk is different, in size, shape, and power. It is always a thrill to see a northern goshawk.
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BIRDING PHOTOGRAPHY
Bird in Action!
Birds are most interesting when they're doing something, not just sitting still. But moving birds are more challenging to photograph. Jim McCormac offers tips and tricks for anticipating eye-catching action shots.
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