Latest Topics: Bahama Nuthatch Rediscovered; Operation Migration Disbanded; 2018 Has Been a Good Year for Whooping Cranes. Also, Great Birding Events!
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News in Birding: September 2018
Get Ready for Fall Birding!

By Dawn Hewitt
Managing Editor | Bird Watcher's Digest

Here in North America, bird populations are at their annual peak in September: Breeding season is over, and risky fall migration has just started. Songbirds aren’t vocalizing as much, and many are less flashy than they are in spring. Still, September is a great month for birding. This month also brings some exciting events for birders: The public is invited to witness the release of California condors at 11 a.m. Saturday, September 22, at Vermilion Cliffs National Monument in northern Arizona. For more information, see the press release on our Out There with the Birds blog. For those in the East, September brings the fourth annual American Birding Expo, September 21-23, at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center. Read about it below.

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Bahama Nuthatch. Photo by Matthew Gardner, University of East Anglia
Ultra-endangered Bahama Nuthatch Survives
One of the most endangered birds in the Western Hemisphere was spotted in 2018 after two years with no sightings. The Bahama nuthatch is considered by some to be a subspecies of brown-headed nuthatch, while others consider it a separate species. Whatever its taxonomy, the small bird is on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List as critically endangered. “This species is listed as Endangered because it has a very small population found on only one island (Grand Bahama Island), and the population size is likely declining as a result of habitat loss and invasive species.”
Operation Migration, Photo by Maureen Allen
Operation Migration to Disband
An organization instrumental in establishing the eastern migratory flock of whooping cranes has withdrawn from the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership and announced plans to disband. Between 2001 and 2015, Operation Migration pilots used ultralight aircraft to guide captive-hatched, imprinted whooping cranes—186 of them—along a migration route between Wisconsin and Florida.Operation Migration deserves credit not only for its role in establishing the eastern migratory flock of whooping cranes, but also for drawing public attention to the plight of this species, and to educating countless school children (and adults) about the birds and the heroic efforts to strengthen and build its global population.
2018 Has Been a Good Year for Whooping Cranes
This has been a banner year for whooping cranes. Five young whooping cranes have been added to the nonmigratory flock in Louisiana; in May, a record 98 whooping crane nests were found at Wood Buffalo National Park, smashing the previous record of 82; and the eastern population added at six chicks (as of August 1, although some may have died). A census of the wintering western flock at Aransas numbered 505 birds, including 49 juveniles—the highest number since censusing began.

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At the American Birding Expo
New at the 2018 American Birding Expo: Free Morning Bird Walks!
Whether you’re a new or seasoned birder, our free morning bird walks offer an excellent opportunity to get out there with the birds! Bird walks will be 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Expert volunteer birders from Philly-area bird clubs will be on hand to guide and to help identify the birds encountered. Birders of all ages and skill levels are welcome. Fall songbird and hawk migration through the region should be in full swing during the Expo weekend.
Upcoming Festivals
This Birding Life #83: Tom Stephenson and Bird Genie
This Birding Life Episode #83: Tom Stephenson and BirdGenie
Tom Stephenson is the creator of BirdGenie, an app that recognizes bird songs recorded on your cellphone. Bill interviews Tom about his fascination with sound and sound technology, the cross-over between musicians and birders, and how the BirdGenie app came to be. This interview was conducted outdoors during the New River Birding Festival in West Virginia in May 2018.
Out There with the Birds #41: Live From the 2018 British Birdwatching Fair
Out There with the Birds Episode #41: Live from the 2018 British Birdwatching Fair
The likely lads are on the loose at the world-famous British Birdwatching Fair, where they're seeing old friends, quaffing a few pints, promoting the American Birding Expo, Bird Watcher's Digest, and helping to translate between American English and English English. They talk about the beauty and conservation of vultures and flamingos, new birds they've added to the Global Big Year Challenge™, and the long shadow cast by the BBC TV show from the 1950s Bill and Ben: The Flowerpot Men. All this is discussed while sitting in a giant beer tent in the middle of a sheep pasture. Please note: This was BEFORE they had a beer.
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Northern Saw-whet Owl
Not that long ago, birders and ornithologists believed northern saw-whet owls were rare. Turns out they're just small, secretive, nocturnal, and irruptive. Owl banders Kelly Williams and Bob Scott Placier recall their work with Project OwlNet, which revealed how common this species is.
Birding the California Missions
Birders Jeanne M. Le Ber and Ray Smith combined their interest in history and birding by following the California Historic Missions Trail from San Diego to San Jose. They visited 23 missions and tallied 112 bird species.
In the Fat Mountains
There's a Shangri-La deep in the mountains of eastern Mexico, and an important conservation success story. Columnist Scott Weidensaul recounts the grassroots origins of the magical Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve.
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