January has the potential to be a particularly special month for birders. Not only do the holidays often bring new books and toys to play with, but those of us who keep year lists acquire a gift more precious even than Swarovski optics (well, maybe not THAT precious!) Once the previous year’s tally is archived and the new record resets to zero, we have a reason to really look at prosaic birds again. Every common duck and dove we regularly look past in hope of rarer fare becomes noteworthy again, at least for a moment.
It is in such a moment that one might realize that the Mallard drake, ubiquitous though it is, cuts a handsome figure indeed and that the equally abundant Mourning Dove is daubed in all the colors of sunrise. And how about titular trash birds like the Blue Jay and its western cousin, Steller’s Jay? These raucous rapscallions are far too striking in their unusual shades of cerulean, azure, and midnight to be considered commonplace. Even an international sensation like the Raven, a familiar friend from the deserts of Arizona to the heights of the Himalayas, deserves respect, considering it’s a brilliant, mischievous, tool-using mimic.
To preserve that “new bird” feeling throughout the year, it helps to realize that your everyday avians are someone else’s feathered fantasies and vice versa. For example, most of the world’s birders might think that a person could never tire of colorful beauties like parrots and lorikeets or exotics like honeyeaters and thornbills. Yet, someone who deals with gangs of Galahs on a regular basis might envy American birdes their retiring robins and chattering chickadees. Then again, others like Trevor Hampel seem to appreciate their everyday birds every day. Making his home in South Australia, Trevor documents his encounters with an enviable array of avifauna with smarts, style, and sensational photos. Even if parrots and pardalotes are part of your regular cast of characters (not very likely for most) Trevor’s Birding will make them new to you again. Today promises novel sightings for everyone since Trevor is leading an international I and the Bird #67 birding holiday.
The best bird bloggers make us feel as if we’re seeing each avian for the first time when we see them through their eyes. Show the audience of I and the Bird what you’ve seen. The next edition will be hosted by Nick Sly of Biological Ramblings. Send your link and summary to me or Nick (nds22 AT cornell DOT edu) by Tuesday, February 5.