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Blog Birding #313

Monday, March 27, 2017 5:43
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Last week bird researcher and field guide author Chandler Robbins passed away just shy of his 99th birthday. At the US Fish and Wildlife Service Blog, the organization that employed him for decades, offers a remembrance.

“Chandler Robbins was the ‘dean’ of the bird conservation world, one might say,” says Jerome Ford, assistant director for Migratory Birds. “His amazing legacy lives on every day in the work of our dedicated Migratory Bird Program employees.”

A listing of groups that have honored him, even just through 2005, reads like a who’s who of conservation groups. The National Audubon Society named him as one of 100 Champions of Conservation of the 20th Century (read an article on Robbins in Audubon Magazine). In 2000, the American Birding Association established the ABA Chandler Robbins Education/Conservation Award (read an article on Robbins in ABA’s Birding as well as tributes to Robbins ABA collected in 2012).

At her blog For the Birds, Laura Erickson shares a more personal eulogy to the man who impacted birding in North America in too many ways to count.

On Christmas 1974, my mother- and father-in-law gave me two wonderful gifts: my first pair of binoculars, and a copy of Peterson’s A Field Guide to the Birds. I devoured the book, reading every page while thumbing back and forth between the written species accounts and the illustrations, which were on separate plates. Then I discovered another bird field guide out there, even more beautiful and useful, the “Golden Guide.”

Rick Wright also weighs in at BirdNote, taking stock of Chan’s legacy.

Robbins was a pioneer in the study of forest fragmentation and its effects on breeding birds, and his early work on pesticides was vital to the eventual ban of DDT in the United States. Populations of Peregrine Falcons and many other birds of prey, along with pelicans and many songbirds, rebounded.

At Cape May Bird Observatory’s View from the Cape blog, Michael Kilpatrick explores the close association of sea ducks and jetties.

It is easy to take for granted things right underfoot. Recently, while enjoying a visit to a local jetty, it became apparent that one hundred years ago I would have been drifting with water over my head in the tide. Jetties are relatively modern structures, but many of us visit these rock piles not realizing their impact. Irrespective of the pros and cons of coastal engineering, jetties provide unique opportunities for birders. Though we may love them or hate them, certain birds unequivocally love them. Blue mussels and sea ducks meet on these rock piles and produce world class opportunities for birders and photographers.

As influential as citizen science can be, there are obvious holes that it can never fill. Duncan Wright at 10,000 Birds explains.

The White-naped Xenopsaris is a member of the Tityra family (Tityridae), a newish family of mostly South American birds carved from various oddball birds formerly lumped with the manakins, the tyrant-flycatchers and the cotingas. Birds like the tityras, the becards and the purpletufts. The White-naped Xenopsaris (or white-naped xenopsaris, as the bird became known on Wikipedia after the aggressive grammarians had their way with bird names) is not a well known bird. It is apparently uncommon across most of its wide range in the shrublands of South America, little noticed and little noted, and sources are pretty thin, as they are for many birds in places like South America.

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