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George Armistead
Events Coordinator at ABA and a birder since the age of nine.
Recent Activity
Thanks Louis! Even for someone like me who is fascinated by taxonomy, it is tough to keep up to speed. And even then, making sense of the decisions isn't always straightforward.
Michael Retter points out that Wrentit was moved into Sylvidae (Old World Warblers), and so is no longer in Timaliidae (Old World Babblers). I liked it as a babbler better, just cause I thought it was a cooler story, but it's a fascinating taxon regardless!
This was a most exciting event for us PA birders, and this is the most exciting vagrant to show up inside of Philly for probably a couple of decades. Usually by the time June hits around here, I put my head down and wait for mid-July until the shorebirds start moving through again, or I head down to Hatteras for some seabirding. I would not have thought to go vagrant-hunting along the Schuykill River of Philly! Kudos to Alex. In birding (or in any endeavor I imagine) there is nothing that replaces persistence and maintaining an open mind. What you say Nate about how one hears about rare bird reports today is true. I actually found out about this kingbird from ABA Prez Jeff Gordon who suggested I might want to check out "those kingbird photos from Philly". Glad I did. The origin question raised by Mlodinow is fascinating. I suppose my guess is that many (most?) eastern records are birds from South America. The systematics of Tropical Kingbird need study. It is so widespread, ranging from the southern US south, deep into South America, and like any widespread bird there is bound to be considerable variation. Within such birds sometimes unrecognized cryptic species lurk. (I can feel some of you shuddering at the thought...). Tropical Kingbird has a couple different migrant and resident populations, and these differ slightly structurally and perhaps show some vocal differences as well. The migrant subspecies from South America is the nominate melancholicus. My impression is that the state of feather wear on the Philly bird looked right for an adult that would have molted a couple months ago (i.e. an adult newly off the breeding grounds in South America). There was some wear in the tail, and a little wear otherwise, but mostly it looked in pretty good shape. But I don't see enough TRKIs in Mexico/AZ at this season to know how worn/fresh they appear in mid-June. This mid-June date also might seem a good time for a South American vagrant. For the Philly kingbird it could have finished it's first breeding attempt in March or so. Then maybe when migrating north to its wintering grounds, it might have overshot the mark by a large degree, ending up in the Caribbean. One could even theorize that from there it was slingshot north by Trop. Storm Andrea (?) to the mid-Atlantic, where Alex happened upon it. Hard to know... The origin of vagrant records of Tropical Kingbirds is a very interesting subject, that would be wonderful to answer. I'm going to keep digging on it. FYI, there is in fact one known specimen of a nominate melancholicus from North America, but it was from the Farallon Islands off California (It seems anything in the world can show up there!). According to BNA, that particular bird evidenced some "cage wear", begging the question as to whether it had been captured and kept by humans, perhaps aboard a ship. While that is possible, a natural vagrant would seem on the percentages as likely, or more so.
The ABA is partnering with Rockjumper Worldwide Birding Adventures and BirdLife South Africa to host a safari with visits to both Cape Town and Kruger National Park. Continue reading
Posted Jun 11, 2013 at ABA Blog
The ABA’s Institute for Field Ornithology traces its origins back to 1983. It was created to offer novel opportunities for the study of birds. IFO programs combine education with field birding to enrich your appreciation of birds. (See below for more info on upcoming IFO Programs). Fresh off our sold... Continue reading
Posted Apr 6, 2013 at ABA Blog
Alfredo, Absolutely I agree. Collecting is one taboo I didn't think of, and certainly qualifies. I also agree that many folks who oppose it would come around on collecting if they understood that by and large it is done responsibly and for good reason. Good point. Thanks, -George
Toggle Commented Jan 22, 2013 on THE TOP 10: Birding Taboos at ABA Blog
Alan! You are a man with a sense of humor. I nominate you to head the committee. ;)
Toggle Commented Jan 17, 2013 on THE TOP 10: Birding Taboos at ABA Blog
George Armistead plays the provocateur and takes the topics on which we all have opinion we rarely talk about and lays them right out on the table. Continue reading
Posted Jan 17, 2013 at ABA Blog
Congrats to Anthony and Josh! A big undertaking with considerable sacrifice, but a real achievement.
Toggle Commented Dec 19, 2012 on Two Big Years toppled at ABA Blog
Good stuff Jeff! Awesome to see you on here. My fav bad bird name... Olive Warbler. Not Olive, not a warbler.
Indeed, Nate I have taken some heat for omitting Sanderling. Especially after spending most of Hurricane Sandy with a Sanderling roosting at my feet (came in right off the river and landed next to our group; nicknamed it "Sandy" of course) I must acknowledge the oversight. Sanderling for president!
Toggle Commented Nov 1, 2012 on ABA Blog in Review: October 2012 at ABA Blog
nighty-nite Robert. this is some fine work to be sure. you are indeed dedicated to your cause.
great post Nate. you really capture the essence and ambiance of the rally. your ghost crab catching was pretty impressive too!
Toggle Commented Oct 22, 2012 on Reflections on a Rally - Kiptopeke 2012 at ABA Blog
Precisely what makes a bird “cute” is kind of hard to say. You don’t have to ask someone why puppies or kittens are cute. They just are undeniably cute. It is a fact we all accept. Their cuteness requires no explanation, and is not up for debate. Undeniably cute birds... Continue reading
Posted Oct 11, 2012 at ABA Blog
I'd always thought they would use the subgenus name Burrica as the new genus name for the red finches. I wonder why they opted for Haemorhous rather than Burrica.
Toggle Commented Oct 6, 2012 on More 2012 AOU Checklist Changes at ABA Blog
I was fortunate enough to travel with Chan to the Yucatan Peninsula in January of 1991. I was so honored to be learning from Chan the whole month, and he provided me a wonderful introduction to the Neotropics. I'll never forget scouting a site that was at the time called Rancho Sandoval, but is now a protected site that Chan and others from Patuxent and ProNatura all succeeded in making into a reserve. We had to scout this remote area on horseback and the horses were not accustomed to dealing with gringos. I'd never ridden horseback before and the horse I mounted shot off like a rocket and all I could do was hang on for dear life, until one of the ranch-hands helped corral me! I saw my first Aplomado Falcons and Common Tody-Flycatchers on that trip.
Toggle Commented Oct 2, 2012 on Chandler S. Robbins, Birding Legend at ABA Blog
Hey Gail, Thanks for the tip on the bad link! Should be good now. Take a look and let me know if not. Best, -George
Last weekend was the 2012 ABA Mid-Atlantic Young Birder Conference, and by any measure it was a huge success. It’s amazing how energizing it is to get together with a bunch of like-minded birders. What I had not known was how thrilling it can be when so many of those... Continue reading
Posted Sep 27, 2012 at ABA Blog
Nice work Nate. CPL indeed seems to make the most sense, despite what a lot of folks might wish.
Thanks for the kind words Cap'n.
Toggle Commented Aug 30, 2012 on Kiptopeke Turns 50! at ABA Blog
The Kiptopeke Songbird Banding Station celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. Fred Scott and Walter Smith were the cogs that got the station going in 1963, and made it hum for the decades following. Since its opening there has been stalwart support and teamwork allowing the station to prosper, and... Continue reading
Posted Aug 30, 2012 at ABA Blog
It’s go time! We want to go birding… and we want to go with you. Check out these cool ABA birding events. And stay tuned…. Things are looking rosy for an ABA event in Albuquerque, New Mexico in February of 2013, so keep an eye on the events page: Continue reading
Posted Aug 1, 2012 at ABA Blog
whoops, that was supposed to read "thanks for asking.
The Collins Guide is indeed the same as the Princeton Guide you refer to. I should have clarified that, so that's for asking. You also make a good point about pronunciation. I hope some of the other readers can provide some titles that would help (Rick? Ted?). I remember the John K. Terres Encyclopedia of North American Birds providing some help with pronunciation of English names, but I haven't looked at that in a while. -GLA
Perhaps the only items we birders love as much as our binoculars are bird books. Happily, there is no shortage of titles. What follows is a suggested list of books that any birder would benefit from owning. Some titles and authors will be familiar, but others may have flown beneath... Continue reading
Posted Jul 25, 2012 at ABA Blog