Maybe I’m Just Too Old!/Birding News

I’ll get to the, Maybe I’m Just Too Old, at the end of this post. First we’ll do the birding news. There have been several interesting birds during the last several SOS Surveys.

A bird I looked for last year but couldn’t find is the Elegant Tern. This year I’ve seen five of them with other birders seeing upwards of twelve at one time. The Elegant Tern moves up the coast after breeding so they bring their still begging young. I’ve read that warmer water brings them north in greater numbers. This picture is a first year bird.


A bird rare here in Mendocino County is the American Avocet. According to Ebird it’s even rarer on the coast. Found this bird in the morning fog. After the survey while biking north I looked down on the beach and saw a group of about 15 people in the  area where the Avocet had been. With Summer ending maybe the shorebirds can reclaim the sands.


Our SOS Surveys record dead birds on the beach. There has been a slight uptick in dead birds recently. Many are unidentifiable but some are in good shape. I believe that this dead seabird is a headless Scripp’s Murrelet based on the black and white pattern and the bright white underwings. I have only seen a few Scripps’s Murrelets during pelagic trips. Without the head I cannot rule out the Guadalupe Murrelet.


I’m expecting the birding at the Little River Airport to start picking up as we get further  into Fall. This picture is a very young Osprey. Note the white scaling on the wings and red eye.


Just recently I read about a report titled, Observer aging and long-term avian survey data quality, on the ABA Blog. You can find the write-up at the National Geographic News site. It’s titled, The Perils of Aging: A Problem for Citizen Science?, with a subtitle of, “Errors creep into bird population surveys as volunteers get older, new study says.”

I was mildly amused that I could ride the MTA at the senior rate and I guess I qualify for the Denny’s senior meals but this report bases it’s results on birders over 50. That’s hitting below the belt! 

“Each spring, thousands of binocular-clad volunteers scour natural areas across North America to count birds in the name of science. This gargantuan effort helps scientists take the pulse of bird populations and make important management decisions—but errors creep into the data as volunteers age, according to a new study.

Bird-watchers over 50 weren’t as proficient as younger volunteers—those under 40—at detecting 13 (of 43 examined) songbird species during surveys…”

You can read the full report that was published in the June issue of Ecology and Evolution here.

I guess the upside of this is that I can sleep in and avoid the battles with mosquitoes but I bet I’ll still get the calls to help out with our local surveys.



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