Vancouver Island and Seattle birding

To: Birding Aus <>
Subject: Vancouver Island and Seattle birding
From: David Adams <>
Date: Fri, 28 Aug 2015 00:11:20 +0000
Good advice from Paul Dodd, and an excellent point about getting the
western version of Sibley. The National Geographic Guide to the Birds
of North America is also an excellent choice, and more compact than
the full Sibley. Both books are widely available and pretty
inexpexpensive. I tend to take the Nat Geo with me as it's smaller
than the full SIbley and also an iPad mini stuffed with nearly every
electronic guide to North America availabl. Sibley has excellent
recordings and the best illustrations, period. iBird Pro is probably
the guide that I use the most. Cornell, one of the world's greatest
ornithological institutions, distributes a free app (Android or iOS)
that's well worth downloading:

The app is called "Merlin" after a nothern hemisphere falcon, and
because it's a bit of a magician. A bit of text, range maps, photos
and sounds for around 400 species. Very nice.

For Aussies visiting the Western states and territories it's good to know:

* Migration is a huge deal up there, autumn ("fall") being the peak
season. Summer is good for breeding birds. You can read about a place
with tens of thousands of some bird only to find exactly zero a few
weeks later. The migration guides for British Columbia tend to show
arrivals and departure *by week*, not even by month. Just as the
concept of 'nomadic' birds doesn't really figure into the thinking of
birders in North America, it's hard for Aussie birders to appreciate
exactly how significant migration is. I grew up in North America. In
the winter, we had about ten species around (I can only count five off
the top of my head)..and then there would be hundreds of species in
the spring and fall. Pretty amazing...but not worth the winter...
Check trip reports from your travel time to get an idea of what should
be where.

* Birders are great up there! Often well-organized, friendly clubs
have meetings where they'll be thrilled to meet a birder from
Australia. There are likely more outings during migration than summer,
but something ought to be on.

* While the tree diversity there is low compared to Australia, there
are still a great range of  habitats. In that area there are great
coastal/marine, wetland, forest, sage, and grassland communities. Lots
to see!

* Miles are a lot longer than kilometers :(

* Worst fire season pretty much ever right now...check local conditions.

* The areas near Vancouver and Victorial (Vancouver Island) are really
outstanding at any time of year I've been through there. Ducks, geese,
hummingbirds, owls, amazing.

* There are a lot of mammals out there, including bears. Lots and lots
of bears. For those with an interest, the Princeton Field Guide to
North American Mammals has a digitital edition:

Is it great? It is not. Is it handy? For sure. And, unlike any other
mammal guide I've seen anywhere, there are recordings. (You can get a
CD set of South American mammals and that's all I know of.) If you
have dogs and feel like messing with their minds, play some of the
canid sounds and see if/how they react. The great thing about
electronic guides is that they don't add bulk or weight to the
luggage. Paper is still easier for flipping through unfamiliar


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