It was difficult to leave Portal behind after the fantastic experiences I enjoyed while exploring the Chiricahuas. I’d seen so much in such a short period of time that even if the remaining days of the trip were completely birdless I would still consider the vacation a success. Of course, the second half of my visit to southeastern Arizona turned out to be just as birdy as the first. Even though I departed from the Portal Peak Lodge more than 2 hours before sunrise, I was able to start birding on the road to Sierra Vista. Lesser Nighthawks periodically swooped through my headlights as I drove across the desert. Light was beginning to return to the landscape just north of Douglas, where a large, dusty-gray Great Horned Owl flew directly at my car at windshield height.
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The last time I visited Arizona was the first time I visited Arizona. During the summer of 2005, my family embarked on one of our most ambitious cross-country camping trips, driving through the Rockies from New York to California and returning by way of the desert southwest. Our time in the state was focused on visiting the National Parks: Grand Canyon, Petrified Forest, and Saguaro. Although my 13th birthday was still more than a month away, I’d been watching birds since before I could hold binoculars. At the time, I was just starting to keep track of my official life list. Most of the species I added to my scribbled journal entries were conspicuous, common birds like Cactus Wren and Gila Woodpecker.
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Birds always find ways to surprise us. No matter how much you know, no matter how well you prepare, no matter how long you’ve been tuned in to the wild world of birding, there will be times when you get caught completely off guard. I think that’s wonderful. This Tuesday morning, I was standing in the Tucson airport after a truly incredible week-long tour of southeastern Arizona’s natural marvels. I saw wondrous things and made memories to last a lifetime. I fully expected to be writing up my recap of the trip by now, but I’ll have to take care of that later. The saga that began unfolding before me as I scrolled through my newsfeed at the terminal totally blew me away. The ABA Rare Bird Alert group was buzzing over a most interesting report from Maine.
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The week began with a Barred Owl. Just minutes after midnight, my tired brain registered a series of emphatic hoots somewhere in the woods beyond the campground loop. I smiled as I continued preparing for bed. It had been 14 months since I last encountered the species, which is essentially unheard of on Long Island. These birds are quite common in forests upstate, and I was hoping to connect with one during a brief weekend visit to the Lake George region. Mission accomplished. I listened to the owl hooting and yowling for nearly half an hour before it quieted down, which I took as a cue to get some sleep. One more tick for my 2018 year list. Birders are all about lists, but not all lists are created equal.
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Long Island has no shortage of beaches. Depending on what coastal activities you prefer, there’s a debate to be had about which beach is best. My own opinions on the matter operate off different metrics than most swimmers and sunbathers. Even though Jones is the typical go-to for most of my beachy needs, my top pick varies largely based on the time of year. If you ask me during the first few weeks of June, my answer comes easily. Right now, Nickerson Beach Park is the place to be! This is the peak season for finding unusual tern species along the shore, and the accessibility and reliability of this site are hard to beat. Studying terns is an engaging, and often quite rewarding, use of your free birding time during early summer.
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A cut above the rest!
Week 1: So it begins Even though the first waves of Neotropical migrants typically arrive before the calendar changes to the fifth month, most East Coast birders would agree that May is the peak of the excitement. This year, some of my migration highlights came a little early. A few advance bouts of favorable conditions brought Prairie Warblers, Northern Parulas, and more back to the area ahead of schedule. The last days of the month featured a prolonged southwest wind. This “southern slingshot” resulted in a notable northward push of species that normally breed further south than Long Island. I enjoyed repeated encounters with a handsome male Prothonotary Warbler at Hempstead Lake State Park. Many of my friends were fortunate enough to locate regionally uncommon treats like Summer Tanager and Blue Grosbeak.
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Tim’s Tips for Surviving the Birding Doldrums

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Bird Sightings , Birding , Listing , Rarities
Not all months are created equal. Seasonal changes can be a double-edged sword, and the same natural cycles that provide fresh turnover in avian activity can also result in relative droughts when birds seem few and far between. Here in New York, March is consistently the least exciting stretch of the year. With wintering species disappearing and the prospect of spring migrants little more than a distant dream, making it through the doldrums can feel like a bit of a slog. Fear not! Birding is a versatile pastime. There are multiple viable strategies for surviving the dry spell with a smile on your face. This little list, with its early April arrival date, may come too late for readers who are already reveling in the excitement of spring.
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Please enjoy owls responsibly
Bubo scandiacus is a highly evocative species. One of the largest, most striking members of the ever popular owl family, Snowies have a special magic that drives people wild. Wherever these Arctic predators go, excitement bordering on chaos usually follows. I’ve been hooked on Snowy Owls my entire life. I spent my early childhood dragging around a beloved plush Snowy, and my quest to see the real deal in the flesh drove my development into a proper birder. Growing up on Long Island, a popular wintering site for visiting owls, afforded me the opportunity to observe them with more consistency than most admirers who live south of the Canadian border. This most recent season was special. The scale of the irruption and the magnitude of the response in the birding community felt quite different from the historic invasion 4 years ago.
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2017 Holiday Gift Ideas for Birders and Nature Lovers

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Books , Field Guide , Gear
It’s that time of year again, when everyone realizes Christmas is just a few weeks away, and they haven’t bought a gift for the hardest person to buy for on their list…the birder. This year, Nemesis Bird is  featuring a few typical “bird-themed” gifts, and some great birding books that came out in 2017. Our 2017 list also contains some gear choices for people on the go (birders!), and some options for those who may have enough “stuff” but still want to contribute to conservation and research. Be forewarned that most birders have their ideal “set-up” for optics and cameras, so if you are opting for these pricier choices, it is best to either give cash (who doesn’t love cash?) or speak directly with your birder to find out what their heart really desires (spoiler alert, you probably can’t afford it, because neither can we).
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First off, there were far too many “punny” titles for this post (almost none of which I thought up on my own/didn’t steal from an internet meme) – “Children of the Corncrake” – “Jimmy Crake Corn and I don’t care” – “Crexit through the gift shop”…you get the idea. By now, it’s a well known saga involving the Long Island corn crake discovered on November 7th by Ken and Sue Feustel. Part ecological oddity, part traffic and transportation education, and part Shakespearean tragedy, this ABA rarity had it all. I was lucky enough (or silly enough to skip out on work, depending on how you shake it) to see this bird the day after its discovery on Wednesday the 8th. In the company of many other birders from far and wide, I have to say this was one of the better chases I’ve attempted.
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