Thursday, June 5, 2014

A rare bird

Bicknell's thrush (Catharus bicknelli)

This Bicknell's thrush was singing lustily at the misty top of Pico Peak, VT one ethereal May morning. Recently designated a separate species from the grey-cheeked thrush (Catharus minimus), which breeds just south of the tundra and winters in the tropical forests of South America, the Bicknell's thrush is a good deal more impractical. It breeds on mountaintops in New England and southeastern Canada, and only winters on montane forests in the Caribbean. Courtesy its hopelessly selective preference for some of the habitats most vulnerable to anthropogenic degradation, there aren't many of these birds left.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Birding SE Arizona


Zambian birds

The miombo rock thrush is a particularly engaging little bird, with its tastefully muted plumage. It is named for the increasingly threatened miombo woodland that covers much of south-central Africa, from Angola to Tanzania. Like many other species in the region, this rock thrush is a miombo specialist, so deforestation is a significant conservation threat. In Zambia, where I spent much of February and March, miombo is cut down for firewood, and to make way for tobacco, a highly lucrative crop that has to be dried, a process requiring fuel in the form of more decapitated miombo trees.

Assorted sketches of some of the avian highlights, including the Chaplain's Barbet (Lybius chaplini ), found only in Zambia.