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A Year Of Birding In The National Parks


Kirby Adams ranged far afield in the national parks looking for birds in 2012, relating his experiences that took him all the way north, and a bit east, to Newfoundland in Canada. Let's take a look back at those columns.

Chasing the Snowy Owl

The United States has been invaded. None of the presidential candidates are talking about it and I haven’t even seen it mentioned on the national news reports yet. Birders, however, are well aware of this invasion and we welcome our new owl overlords.

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Purple sandpiper, Acadia National Park. Kirby Adams photo.

Not Too Early To Plan To Attend Birding Festivals

Earlier this month, while we were having positively spring-like weather here in the Midwest, I wrote about Snowy Owls, the most iconic of winter birds. Two weeks later, my world is buried under blankets of snow and I’m in the mood to talk about Spring.

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Bald Eagles No Longer A Ghost Bird In The National Parks

I lowered my binoculars and muttered, “Oh, it’s just another eagle.” With that statement I recognized a few years ago that I officially had started taking Bald Eagles for granted.

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Looking For The Mysterious Ivory-Billed Woodpecker In Congaree National Park

Ivory-billed Woodpecker. That’s all you need to say to a bird lover to stir some strong emotions. Once common across the southeastern United States, these majestic woodpeckers, as large as a red-tailed hawk, are now most likely extinct.

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A Spring Visit To Cuyahoga National Park

Looking for some spring bird watching? Consider Cuyahoga Valley National Park, and don't forget to bring the kids along.

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Are You Properly Equipped For Birding?

Every hobby has its collection of necessary equipment. You can’t golf without clubs, balls, and tees. You can’t knit without a collection of needles and a room full of yarn. You can’t (and definitely shouldn’t) skydive without a parachute. Birding is no exception. The beauty of birding as a hobby, however, is that there are distinct stages of equipment necessity.

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Northern Gannets, Kirby Adams photo.

Top 10 Birding Spots In The National Parks

Spring migration is winding down across much of North America, and it’s time for birders to relax and reflect. I’ve been contemplating happy thoughts such as where I would go if given an all-expenses paid birding trip to any U.S. National Park in the next 12 months. No one has offered this to me yet, but I made up a list in my head.

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Looking For Birds In Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Though Theodore Roosevelt National Park is located in the "badlands" of western North Dakota, the birding there in early June can be exceptional.


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Kindling An Affair For Birding In The Parks

Olympic National Park offers three distinct landscapes for birders -- coastal settings, emerald rain forests, and alpine vistas.


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Spotting Birds In Canada's Fundy National Park

Birds don’t seem to recognize political borders. Some might call that uncivilized, but I find it endearing that a migrating bird doesn’t know – or care – if it’s about to land in Utah, Ohio, Mexico, or Canada. As long as the habitat is suitable and the time is right, the bird will land, and hopefully be spotted by an observant birder.

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Spring Migration Is Spreading Across The National Parks

This is the time of year when bosses, friends, and spouses may wonder if they’ll ever see the birder in their lives again. Yes, it’s spring migration time, and we’re all up and out the door before dawn to bird until the sun sets.

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Grab A Field Guide! There Are Many To Choose From

Finding the birds and getting some good glass (binoculars, scope, or camera) on them is only half the battle of birding. Once you see the birds, you then have to identify them. In other words, you need a field guide or six!

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Seen Any Rare Birds Lately?

Birders like to talk about how much we appreciate every bird, even the most common ones we see on the feeder every day, and that may well be true. But the rare birds - the ones that take some blood, sweat, and tears to find - those are the birds that get our hearts racing.

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The Black Widow Camera Holster From Spider

A camera holster from Spider Holster allows you to hang your camera on your hip when it's not immediately needed.

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Prothonotary warbler. Kirby Adams photo.

Using Recorded Bird Calls To Attract Birds

What do you think of using recorded bird calls to lure birders towards your binoculars or camera? It's a controversial practice in some circles, but others consider it harassing birds.


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A Look At Spotting Scopes

Sooner or later, you’re going to need a spotting scope. I’ve tried a lot of scopes and found there are some great products at every price range. Clearly, you can’t expect a $250 scope to perform like a $2,500 scope, but if your expectations are realistic, you can find some excellent quality without robbing the piggy bank. Or, as a bird blogger said recently, robbing a real bank.


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Pledge To Fledge A New Birder

Pledge to Fledge: Take a friend birding in a national park of your choice.

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Flocking To National Parks For Hawk Spotting

While most people think of the four seasons we all know so well, birders have a different calendar with more descriptive headings than “spring” and “winter.” And right now we are at the peak of hawk season.

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Rare Bird Shows Up At Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

So, you’re a birder looking to add a nifty pelagic species like the Great Shearwater to your list. Where do you go? Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, perhaps?

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Gros Morne National Park Will Satisfy Most The Most Dedicated Birder

Newfoundland's Gros Morne National Park can be difficult to reach, but for the determined birder, the effort is well worth it!

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Blown Off Course By A Hurricane

Hurricane Sandy's winds redirected seabirds all over the northeastern United States.

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Lark sparrow, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, Kirby Adams photo.

The Hawaiian Petrel, Ready To Take Flight

Though November finds relatively few bird species nesting or fledging chicks in the United States, at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park this is the time of year when one of the state's rarest endemic seabird species, the Hawaiian petrel, watches its youngsters take wing.

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A Second Look At Newfoundland's National Parks And Birds

It’s time to head north once again to wrap up our discussion of birding the national parks on the island of Newfoundland. Gros Morne is certainly the most famous of Newfoundland’s parks and a gem of the entire Parks Canada system, but the other corners of the island have parks with their own unique birding opportunities.

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Counting Birds This Holiday Season

As the National Park Service approaches its centennial, one of birding’s grand traditions is turning 113 years old this winter. Yes, it’s Christmas Bird Count time, and things are a little different this year.

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If I may point out a typo, it should be Newfoundland in the introduction. As long as I'm doing that, let me mention that Canadians pronounce the province New-fun-LAND and regard the pronunciation (common in the U.S.) of NEW-fin-lin as incorrect. Just one of those things.

That's why proof readers are worth their weight in gold, imtnbke;-)

A Canadian friend once offered a valuable pronunciation guide to how to say New Foundland. He paired the Canadian location with the word "understand" and suggested pronoucing them both the same, as in "understand new-fun-land." That also seems to eliminate the stressed capitalization of LAND in the above example. And some might also include a soft, barely-heard "d" after "fun." Regardless of where you fall on this—the pronunciation is much closer to how local's say it than how New Foundland is butchered by many people south of the border!

Great Traveler articles this year on bald eagle recovery in Channel Islands National Park. After reading them, I was really hoping to spot one while I was out there this summer, and it happened on Santa Rosa. That was my "Big Year."

I wished I could've been one of the Vaqueros on the Islands working the cattle that supplied beef to a country that is younger than it is now. Shipping to market on the cattle ferry tied to the doc at the Santa Barbara Marina. Diving for Abalone and Rock Fish for dinner instead of shopping at Safeway (no disrespect) and having at least some idea and respect for where all our food comes from. That's my connection, not just museum history.

And the whole time, I thought it was pronounced Terre Neuve. :)

Vu que le Canada est un pays officiellement bilingue, c'est tout à fait permis de dire « Terre-Neuve » quand on parle de la province située à l'extrême est du pays !*

* Given that Canada is an officially bilingual country, it's just fine to say "Terre-Neuve" when referring to Canada's easternmost province!

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