Birding in the National Parks

Birding In The National Parks: Have You Dipped Lately?

Have you ever missed a unique birding sighting by just this much? That's dipping, for you.

Birding In The National Parks: Birding By The Season Through The National Park System

National park travelers are keenly aware of the changing seasons. The Blue Ridge Parkway is a completely different experience in August than in October. The hoodoos of Bryce Canyon need to be seen both in the blistering July sun and the January snow to be fully appreciated. And, of course, there’s Yellowstone – a bustling city on a summer weekend and a tranquil white wilderness on a bright February morning.

Birding In The National Parks: Gleaning The Benefits Of eBird's New Features

It’s been a while since I’ve used this space to tout the benefits of eBird, but the project keeps getting better and better, so it deserves another mention.

Birding In The National Parks: Birding By Ear

When I was first learning the basic skills of birding, I read a line in Roger Tory Peterson’s famous field guide that almost made me want to give up any aspirations of becoming a good birder. He said something about skilled birders sometimes doing 95 percent of their birding by ear. I was horrified. Here I was, looking through a field guide, imagining all of the pretty birds I would see some day, and Peterson was telling me I’d learn to do 95 percent of it by sound. That’s no fun at all!

Birding In The National Parks: A New Birding Book For Your Library

Spring migration is in full swing here in the Great Lakes, and your humble birding columnist has been run ragged. Among my recent travels was a stop at Ontario’s Point Pelee National Park. It’s a small park, but loaded with unique geographic features and plenty of fabulous birds. You’ll hear about the actual birds right here in a couple weeks, but for now I want to focus on the birders. One group in particular was out in force.

Birding In The National Parks: Some Great Birding In Western Parks This Spring

I readily admit I have a bit of an Eastern bias. Birding as a hobby in North America tends to have a bias toward the right side of the continent, as well. There are more than a few reasons for that. North American ornithology was born and raised in Philadelphia. There are far more people within an afternoon’s drive of multiple bird habitats throughout the east. And finally, the warblers are better.

Birding In The National Parks: Time To Pledge To Fledge

The time has come to "pledge to fledge," folks. The coming weekend is Pledge to Fledge weekend, a grassroots movement by the Global Birding Initiative to inspire experienced birders to take non-birders out on a birding excursion.

Birding In The National Parks: Are You Planning Your Park Birding Trips For The Year?

Much of the northern half of the country is locked into winter now, which makes it a perfect time to plan your birding trips for the rest of the year.

Birding In The National Parks: How Do Birds Fare During A Polar Vortex?

Thanks to what was described as a “drunken” meander of the jet stream last week, much of North America experienced some the coldest weather seen in many years. At Voyageurs National Park, the temperature dipped to -42°F the morning of January 3rd , followed by daily highs of -17°F and -19°F on the 5th and 6th. That’s deadly cold to an improperly prepared human. It’s not all that fun even for cold-adapted mammals like moose.

Birding In The National Parks: Looking Back On 2013

New Year’s Eve seems as good a time as any to reflect on 2013. It’s been a big year for me, with birding explorations around the country, including the first trips of my life to Saguaro National Park and Chiricahua National Monument.

Christmas Bird Count Coming To Death Valley National Park On Saturday

Christmas is past, but counting birds is not. At Death Valley National Park, the annual Christmas Bird Count is scheduled for this coming Saturday.

Birding In The National Parks: What Are 'Important Bird Areas'?

As reported here Sunday, the National Audubon Society designated areas around Canyonlands National Park a Globally Important Bird Area (IBA). Parts of more than 15 other national parks are included in the Global IBA system.

Birding In The National Parks: Snowy Owl Invasion, Round Two

It’s happening again! No, not another government shutdown. That’s next month. What we have here is another invasion of Snowy Owls.

Birding In The National Parks: Christmas Bird Counts Around The Corner

The weather outside might be frightful, but in the parks, the birding’s delightful. With Thanksgiving still on the horizon, we shouldn’t be talking about Christmas yet, but the Christmas Bird Count spirit has overwhelmed me!

Birding In The National Parks: Twitching

Are you a "twitcher" or a "chaser" when it comes to birding in the national parks?

Birding In The National Parks: Chasing Boobies And Other Out-Of-Place Birds

“I’ll chase that bird with you if the furlough is still going on.”

Birding In The National Parks: Yes, Birding Is Suffering From The National Parks' Closure

Though the loss of birding opportunities due to the closure of national parks pales to the economic hardships dealt by the closure, the timing of the government shutdown -- during the fall migration -- will lead to a loss in data.

Birding In The National Parks: A New Peterson Reference Guide To Seawatching: Eastern Waterbirds In Flight

From time to time I start to get the idea that I’m becoming a pretty good birder. When that happens, all it takes is a quick trip to the fall lakewatch at Whitefish Point here in Michigan to set me straight.

Birding In The National Parks: This Fall In The National Park System

Spring migration may be the grand pageant of color for birders across North America, but the flip side in autumn is not to be overlooked by birders hoping to catch some rare sightings or just hone their birding skills. Spring is a frenzied rush to breeding grounds. Food, sex, and territory are all that’s on the minds of our feathered friends in May. In the fall, it’s all about heading south for a relaxing winter with the new kids.

Birding In The National Parks: Telling The Birds From The Cacti At Saguaro National Park

One of the complaints about birding in summer in many parts of the country is the plethora of leaves hiding the birds. Just when you think you’re about to get a good look, the sparrow dives into a bush or behind a leafy branch, never to be seen again. I figured that meant desert birding would be easy. Cacti don’t have leaves.

Birding In The National Parks: What Bird 'Sparked' Your Interest In Birding?

This week marks a bittersweet fifth anniversary of the last time I visited Yellowstone National Park. I’d love to have gone back by now, but life has conspired to keep me out of the northern Rockies.

Birding In The National Parks: A Conversation With American Birding Association President Jeffrey Gordon

A conversation with American Birding Association President Jeffrey Gordon.

Birding In The National Parks: Interesting Numbers From Acadia Birding Festival

The numbers are in from the 15th annual Acadia Birding Festival, and two of them are very impressive: 151 and 200,000.

Glacier National Park Has A 17-Year-Old Harlequin Duck!

There are young Harlequin ducks, middle-aged Harlequin ducks, old Harlequin ducks, and then the real old Harlequin duck that calls Glacier National Park home.

Birding In The National Parks: Is There A Lack Of Diversity In Birders?

When spring migration ends, the biggest birding lull of the year sets in. It’s a good time to sit back, recover from your migration birding binge, and reflect on some things. One of the things I’ve noticed this week is that I’m white.

Birding In The National Parks: Chasing Warblers And Other Birds

It's that time of year. Yep, the warblers are descending on national lakeshores for nesting.

Birding In The National Parks: Petrels And Cats Don't Mix At Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park

Feral and outdoor cats are notorious for being efficient hunters, as shown by the well-known “kitty cam” study in Georgia. Now, the latest bad news about feral cats is from Hawai’i, home of some of the most endangered birds on the planet.

Birding In The National Parks: Looking For The Regulars At Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Sometimes, if you look around, you can find some pretty good birding in your own backyard.

Birding In The National Parks: Birding In Saguaro National Park In Summer

It’s no secret that we birders tend to do things a little differently than “normal” travelers. Valentine’s Day weekend at the sewage treatment plant? Getting up at 4 a.m. every morning of your vacation? Perfectly acceptable behavior for the seasoned birder. But Saguaro National Park in August???

Birding In The National Parks: Acadia Birding Festival

Most of the United States has now passed the coldest (by average) depth of winter, so it seems appropriate to take a look at places to book some spring birding adventures in the national parks. One spot always comes to minds when I think of late spring, birds, and national parks -- Acadia National Park
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