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Jeff Gordon
Colorado Springs, CO
President, American Birding Association
Interests: Birding, Natural History, Photography, Music, Film, Cooking, Hiking
Recent Activity
Hi Ted, All I can say to your assertion about ABA staff wanting to "get their way paid" to Hawaii is this: Seriously now, just how dumb do you think we are? If any of us wants to bird Hawaii, or visit Hawaii for any set of reasons, there are far more efficient ways to achieve that goal. Indeed, a number of us already have birded there and we could go back. Please, give us just a bit more credit. Also, setting up and working an event is a pretty different undertaking than attending one. That's why people pay to do the latter and get paid to do the former. Think of an airplane. Yes, everybody gets to make the trip, but would you assert that the pilot and crew are wanting to "get their way paid" to Seattle, or Chicago, or wherever? I doubt it. I've got no issue with you expressing your opinions; that's what this blog is for. But it's not for hurling thoughtless insults. Please avoid doing so in the future. Good birding, Jeff
Absolutely! There is a long tradition of birder song parodies. You haven't lived 'til you've heard Steve N.G. Howell's rendition of "Hotel Pteradroma," or the gang from BirdWatcher's Digest sing, "Mommas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowbirds," just to name two.
A couple of the campers at Camp Avocet, Caleb Frome and Brendan Murtha, surprised us one afternoon by telling us that they had formed a band and that they had written some songs about birding. Billing themselves as Pish & Twitch, Brendan and Caleb, with assistance from William von Herff, brought the house down performing 5 song parodies with the lyrics reworked to joke about the joys and travails of birding. I invite you to watch them all and be as stunned as we were by the creativity of these young birders. Continue reading
Posted Aug 22, 2013 at ABA Blog
Liz and I kicked in our $100, Bob! Looks like things are rolling along well. Come on other birders and join us!
Matt Daw at Bosque del Apache on July 7, 2013, a day he won't soon forget! Photo ©Jeffrey A. Gordon Word has been spreading quickly of a truly remarkable birding event: Matt Daw's discovery of a Rufous-necked Wood-Rail at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge near Socorro, New Mexico. Whatever... Continue reading
Posted Jul 9, 2013 at ABA Blog
Jack, These are excellent suggestions. I will talk to David Hartley and Greg Neise, our web guys, about how we can implement them. We're working on a major redesign of the home page and its navigation and easily being able to tell where we are with the print periodicals should be a goal of that. Thanks.
Toggle Commented Jul 3, 2013 on ABA's Periodicals, How Are We Doing? at ABA Blog
ABA President Jeff Gordon wants to hear from you about the ABA's periodicals. Come join the conversation! Continue reading
Posted Jul 1, 2013 at ABA Blog
Betty Petersen The ABA family and the entire birding community lost one of its leading lights on the morning of June 4th when Betty Petersen of Hanson, Massachusetts, passed away. She had suffered a heart attack on May 20th. La familia de ABA y toda la comunidad de observación de... Continue reading
Posted Jun 5, 2013 at ABA Blog
"The New ABA"! Are we there? Is there still ground to make up? Do we even need a new ABA? President Jeff Gordon wants to hear your thoughts. Continue reading
Posted May 1, 2013 at ABA Blog
Paul, If you define "work" as "entirely remove an exotic species from its nonnative range," then, most of the time, very likely nothing will work, certainly not for feral cats on a continental level. My definition of "work" in this case would be "significantly reduce mortality of birds and other native wildlife." As I figure it, TE would "work" much better than TNR. What's your definition of "work?" What would constitute movement in the right direction as you see it?
Hello again, Sam. I love it when I learn something from these discussions, which I almost always do. I hate it, though, when the way I learn is by discovering something I had held to be true is wrong, wrong, wrong. And so I hearby take a big bite of crow and say that you were right about the ABA history and I was wrong. I had thought the "no heard birds" designation on the list report closely followed the "heard birds count" ruling. It did not. "No heard birds" was introduced in the 2007 report, on page 32, which you can find here: Kenn Kaufman penned an explanation of "Why Heard Birds Count" in the March 1994 Winging It. I believe that was not long after the official addition of heard birds, but it at least gives us a minimum span between the two events...something like 13 years. So I had that totally wrong in my head. And indeed, the 2007 date is close to when a lot of birders got iPods. The device debuted in 2001. I got my first in 2003, but I've always been a bit of an early adopter. And of course, you can use iPods for music, not just bird sounds. ;-) Even though I'm admitting I was totally wrong about the history, I'm going to very tentatively stand by my statement about the "no heard birds" being more about preserving (actually bringing back, it turns out) the past rather than an adaptation to a newly digitally-enabled present and future. I'll ask around, but it makes a lot of sense to me that the folks pushing for the "no heard birds" icon would be largely, but by no means entirely different than those who were experimenting with the then-new gadgetry. Please, if anyone has anecdotes or better to counter any of what I've said, do chime in. And again, I apologize for having my history wrong and thank Sam for the opportunity to get it down better.
Hi Sam, You make an interesting point. Many of us would favor eliminating the "no heard birds" icon, for a number of reasons, including the potential lessening of pressure to see birds that are easily identified and enjoyed by ear. But you do make one factual error I'd like to correct: the "no heard birds" icon is much older than the, "revolution of those amazing smart-thing devices." My recollection is that it showed up in the Big Day and List Report shortly after the "heard birds count" ruling, many, many years ago. As such, I believe it was an attempt at partially preserving the status quo, not an adaptation to greater ease of sound playback.
ABA ralliers get up close and person with New Mexico's rosy-finches, and the people who study them. Continue reading
Posted Mar 3, 2013 at ABA Blog
I sat down with Andrew Guttenberg in the living room of his parent's home in Bozeman, Montana, to talk about his career as a birder and artist, his two cover paintings for Birding magazine, and of course, Common Nighthawks. I think you'll enjoy meeting this prodigiously talented young man. Andrew... Continue reading
Posted Feb 21, 2013 at ABA Blog
Morgan, Glad you're interested. More details will be available in the February issue of Winging It, which is at the printers and/or in the mail as I write this. Stay tuned!
Toggle Commented Feb 16, 2013 on #977, Purple Swamphen! at ABA Blog
Hi Derek, The obligation to maintain a functioning RSEC is clearly part of the ABA's bylaws, as you note. And we are working to get a reformed RESC up and running as quickly as possible. You'll be seeing more about that process in ABA fora like this one in the near future. As for the RSEC's brief period in a sort of holding pattern being, "troubling, at the very least," the ABA has in fact been through a troubled, challenging period, in all honesty. We're coming out of it quickly and well, I would contend, and making very good progress on adapting to a new age of birding, social media, etc. But there are just a lot of things in need of attention and many of those things are often hitched together in fairly complicated ways. For my part, I think that having a reformed and more easily accessible RSEC will play an absolutely key role in the ABA's evolution into a much more effective forum and fulcrum for the birding community. I'm very much looking forward to it. Finally, I'd be remiss if I didn't thank Tony White for all the many hours he did put into the RSEC over the years. I also look forward to calling on his formidable experience and wisdom as we move forward. If you're interested in potentially serving on the RSEC, or know people that would be, feel free to pass their names on to me at And feel free to contact me at that address if you want to discuss things in more detail. Great discussion, everyone. Jeff Gordon President, ABA
Toggle Commented Feb 16, 2013 on #977, Purple Swamphen! at ABA Blog
Westley, I agree that Twin Peaks was pretty bird-aware, if not birder-aware. "The owls are not what they seem." But that opening shot? It's a Varied Thrush, not a Bewick's Wren. Check it out:
Toggle Commented Feb 9, 2013 on Yet Another Big year Review at ABA Blog
I'm honored and excited to be the keynote speaker at the 2013 Point Reyes Birding Festival, April 26 - 28. Point Reyes is hallowed ground for birders. So many great people and so many great birds have come together there that the place has an undeniable magic. I haven't spent... Continue reading
Posted Feb 6, 2013 at ABA Blog
Kim and Noah, I led 2 Antarctic trips back in the mid-90's. One, a whole-ship charter by VENT, was composed almost entirely of birders or at least folks with a strong interest in wildlife. But the other was very different. I had a bunch from VENT and Birdquest had another. But beyond our groups, the general population of the cruise was clearly out for bagging their 7th continent and experiencing the environment in the most general way. I could never believe the lines of of folks ready to return to the ship from shore landings before the final zodiac load had even disembarked. How could people cut their time in these amazing places so short, only to get back to the same old ship? The one landing we did make on the Antarctic mainland, the roles were suddenly reversed. Though there were a few things to look at, it was kind of unremarkable from a wildlife perspective. But, oh, the 7th continenters! They absolutely came to life, clearly viewing that landing as the culmination of their trip. If these comments seem critical or dismissive of folks with little interest in birds, I don't mean them to be. Many of those passengers were fine, fun people. But there was a remarkable difference in the way the birders and the others experienced Antarctica. Thanks, Noah, for this post!
Toggle Commented Feb 2, 2013 on Loneliness of the Antarctic Birder at ABA Blog
After Robert Mortensen's goofy, fun, 2013 Bird of the Year introduction yesterday, we'd like to present the lovely paintings that Andrew Guttenberg did for use in the Bird of the Year program. Above is the portrait that will grace the coming issue of Birding. Below is the head study Andrew... Continue reading
Posted Jan 9, 2013 at ABA Blog
Great stuff, Robert! Is this possibly a new wrinkle on planking? I've seen more than enough videos of people, "mimicking a wooden plank," but I don't think I've ever seen one of a BIRDER mimicking a BIRD mimicking a wooden plank!
"Our" Great Gray Owl, near Kelly, Wyoming Dec 24, 2011 Dear ABA Members, Greetings from cold, sunny, and beautiful Livingston, Montana! Liz and I have been on a weeklong trip to the Greater Yellowstone region of Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. Our primary purpose in making the journey was to attend... Continue reading
Posted Dec 31, 2012 at ABA Blog
William, Thanks for commenting, here and lower down the thread. I understand your concerns and they are ones I hear frequently. I guess one question I'd ask you is this: what about the birders that live in Hawaii? They are in many ways disenfranchised by the current situation. What would you say to them? As for the thought that Canadians wouldn't mind the Lower 48 being touted more (in your 2nd comment), my sense is somewhat different there. But I'm hopeful we'll hear from residents of many different places, both inside and outside the traditional ABA Area. Again, thanks for contributing to the conversation.
Back in late July, I posted on this blog asking for discussion of one of the issues we at the ABA are questioned about most frequently: what, if any, expansion of the ABA Area boundaries ought to take place? I also asked for your feedback on how we ought to... Continue reading
Posted Dec 8, 2012 at ABA Blog
There are many wonderful things about the ABA Code of Ethics but there are some serious flaws, too. Sure, "never" is unequivocal, but how about, "rare," or "heavily birded areas?" In some places, the Code is a mishmash. In my opinion, it definitely needs revision. It's a difficult task indeed to craft a Code that is clear but flexible enough to be useful in the infinitely varied situations that birding encompasses. The Code has done its job well but badly needs updating. I strongly second Robert's mention of David Sibley's post about using playback well. ( I think Sibley's is the best, truest summary of the issue I've seen. And I'd like to see our Code of Ethics revised to indicate that there are situations where playback can be extremely helpful and appropriate and others where it is clearly neither. I realize blanket prohibitions (or endorsements) are comforting to some but I generally find them of little use in dealing with the complex, often messy realities of living on Earth.