Bird Watcher’s Digest Magazine

Bird Watcher's Digest May/June 2016

Marvel at the day-by-day development of a nest of house wrens from egg to fledgling through the eyes of artist and author Julie Zickefoose in our cover species profile. Just in time for spring, “Far Afield” suggests a route from Kentucky through Michigan and Ontario to maximize encounters with neotropical migrants as they are returning to their nesting territories. Can you distinguish greater and lesser yellowlegs? Bird ID guru Alvaro Jaramillo shows you what to observe to make that call, even when the birds aren’t standing side-by-side. Also, two heartfelt stories: one about watching a hesitant peregrine falcon fledge, and the other about rescuing birds, including an orphaned common merganser.
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In anticipation of spring, Scott Weidensaul’s “Migrations” column focuses on harbingers: the honking of northbound geese and flocks of blackbirds, signs that never get old. Wilson’s phalarope is a most unusual species: Females are more colorful than males, and males are destined to be single parents. For those who think they can’t identify “little brown jobs,” think again! Find out how to look at—and appreciate—the beauty and diversity of sparrows. Contemplating swapping your binoculars for a camera with a long lens for birding? Here are some considerations and tips.
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Backyard blue jays, rampaging grizzly bears in Alaska, a summer birding camp in Maine, an unexpected “flock” of California condors in the Grand Canyon, how to identify North American cormorants, and an answer to the question: Where can I go to see puffins? This issue of Bird Watcher’s Digest has it all! You might be surprised at what you don’t know about blue jays, since there’s plenty even experts don’t yet know. Read the debut column, “Migrations,” by Pulitzer Prize-nominated author Scott Weidensaul, about his experiences banding and attaching a geolocator to Swainson’s thrushes in Denali National Park.
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Named for their nomadic habits, Bohemian waxwings can turn up far south of their regular, northerly wintering grounds in search of sugary fruit. Learn to distinguish Bohemian from cedar waxwings in this issue’s cover species profile. Can you tell female mallards from American black ducks, mottled ducks, and Mexican ducks? Bird ID guru Alvaro Jaramillo offers tips in his “Identify Yourself” column. Find out why you get what you pay for when you buy binoculars. Birding optics expert Nina Cheney explains in “The Perils of Cheap Binoculars.” Table of Contents »

A ghostly gray male northern harrier graces the cover of the September/October 2015 issue of Bird Watcher’s Digest. Inside, author and photographer Jerry Ligouri provides an insightful profile of that one-of-a-kind raptor. If you find Cooper’s and sharp-shinned hawks challenging to distinguish, you’ll appreciate this issue’s “Identify Yourself” column, which explains key differences and offers many helpful tips. Take a trip to Michigan’s Saginaw Bay Birding Trail, a 142-mile-long hotspot and host of the upcoming Midwest Birding Symposium, in “Far Afield.” All this and more in this issue of Bird Watcher’s Digest. Table of contents »

They may be the start of the dog days of summer, but July and August bring golden sunlight, stunningly reflected in our cover painting of a snowy egret. BWD editor and co-publisher Bill Thompson, III, contributes an informative and entertaining profile of that species. Late summer means migration in many parts of the world, and the bird-filled skies of August inspire Kenn Kaufman’s “After the Spark” column. Cool off with a story about birding the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in “Far Afield.” And then consider the question, “Which manufacturer makes the best binocular for birding?” Objective testing reveals a winner. Find out which one in “The Clash of the Titans.” Table of Contents »

Spring brings the return of orioles to North America. In the East, flame-colored male Baltimore orioles can spark an interest in bird watching, and be lured to the backyard, providing a new color scheme! Spring is also the time for big day contests. Read about one man’s unconventional big day teammates: his six young children! Learn about Laysan albatrosses, including the most famous: Wisdom, the 65-year-old, whose nest, sadly, failed this year. Table of Contents »

The belted kingfisher is commonly seen—and heard—near lakes, rivers, and streams, but kingfishers are legendary. According to Greek mythology, they were once gods, victims of a tragic love story, destined to live forever at sea. This story lives on in the scientific name of belted kingfisher, alcyon. Have you seen birders attach their cameras or smartphones to a spotting scope for close-up shots of distant birds? That’s digiscoping. Learn the basics and get started! Also, Lake Placid isn’t just a great spot for winter Olympics. It’s one of the most accessible areas in the East to find boreal birds, including black-backed woodpecker, gray jay, spruce grouse, and Bicknell’s trush. Find all that in more in this issue of BWD.
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Ruby-throated hummingbirds enchant bird watchers throughout the eastern U.S. and southern Canada each summer—and then they’re gone! Where do they go, and what do they do? There’s a lot we still don’t know about rubythroats in winter, but ornithologists and citizen scientists are figuring it out! Also, Last winter was a wicked one for much of North America, but it had an up side: Sea ducks and grebes turned up throughout the Midwest and elsewhere in record numbers. Author Jim McCormac credits the incursion to the Great Lakes’ deep freeze—a rare occurrence. Find all that and more in this issue of BWD. Table of Contents »

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