Hawk Watching in Western North America

hawk mountain view

This story, by regular Out There With The Birds Contributor Jen Hajj, originally appeared in the July/August 2013 issue of Bird Watcher’s Digest. Imagine a brisk September morning in the 1930s. Hunters gather at the gate to Hawk Mountain, a site in rural Pennsylvania known for the thousands of hawks that pass during their annual… Read more »

The Hungarian

Male house finch. Photo by Nigel Winnu, via Wiki Commons.

If you’re like me, certain of the more vocal local birds, those with individually distinctive songs, gain nicknames as the breeding season unfolds. The song sparrow that sings outside my bedroom window in the morning has come to be called Chicken Legs, due to the fact that its melody reminds me of one W.C. Fields… Read more »

Birding in Fiction

The Birds

I think it remarkable that birds and birding feature so infrequently in fiction. Many less popular subjects and minority pursuits have had more impact on the imagination more often and more dramatically, whether it be “The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner” or “Trainspotting.” Granted that, even today, the majority of the human population doesn’t… Read more »

A Whooping Crane Soap Opera

Whooping cranes at Goose Pond State Fish and Wildlife Area, near Linton, Indiana. Photo by Billie Dodd.

I follow whooping cranes. Not literally, although some people do. In fall 2001, when Operation Migration started using ultra light aircraft to lead juvenile whooping cranes from the International Crane Foundation breeding site in Wisconsin to St. Mark’s National Wildlife Refuge in Florida, their original route took them right over my rooftop. (Again, not literally,… Read more »

There they go!


It’s early September. I’m not ready to face the fade of summer. But the birds tell me that the season has already turned, and that I’d better accept the facts and get out there if I’m going to catch a last glimpse of their southbound undertail coverts. I’ve already seen migrating royal terns and red… Read more »

The Nuthatch

A Eurasian nuthatch, photograph by Matthew Merritt

Some birds like you to know they’re there. Take the European robin. It sings, sweetly enough, throughout the year as well as through the night on occasion. It visits feeders, and doesn’t hesitate to chase other birds off them, the result of a highly developed territorial sense. And, if you’re outside digging the garden at… Read more »

Oh the Fun of Bird Fairs and Festivals

Bo and Bill Thompson, III, at the British Bird Fair in early August 2014.

Around the world there are a whole host of birder gatherings, from Ornithological Congresses to lowly local get-togethers. Maybe as birders we just love to emulate the objects of our attention and flock together. Obviously ornithologists gather to talk taxonomy and wildlife refuge wardens meet to swap conservation tips and lobby governments. Birders, however, like… Read more »

The Lost Bird Project: Connecting with the Earth Through Art

"Great Auk," in bronze, by Todd McGrain, installed on Fogo Island, Newfoundland, Canada.

The Smithsonian Gardens presents The Lost Bird Project, by renowned artist Todd McGrain, on the National Mall — an exhibition of five bronze sculptures of now-extinct North American birds. One of the 6-foot sculptures, “Passenger Pigeon,” has been gifted to the Smithsonian as a permanent display, as that bird marks its 100th year of extinction… Read more »