I noticed something in the distance while clicking along rural U.S. Route 59 in Minnesota, 80 miles southeast of Fargo, North Dakota. Two grainy heads appeared out of the water like a pair of Loch Ness monsters. I couldn’t make them out for certain, but given the location (Minnesota) and time of year (summer), I thought they could be common loons, birds that hadn’t yet been found by the other birders in my Facebook group. I’d been scouring Google Street View for hours hoping to find them, and here, I thought I’d nabbed a breeding pair. “I think this is good for a breeding pair of common loons, a new one for the sheet!” I posted. But then the comments started rolling in. “Looks like a cormorant to me,” said one. “Cormorant not loon imo,” said another. “The neck [is] too long relative to the body size. The bird in the back may be different, but tough to say,” said Nick Lund, a birder and writer for the National Audubon Society and creator of the website The Birdist. Lund founded Google Street View Birding, a private Facebook community of birders who scour Google Street View for grainy images of birds to identify. The group is only two weeks old, but its 1,000+ members have already identified more than 600 different bird species. “It’s been amazing for me to put this out there and have people find so much incredible stuff,” Lund told Gizmodo. Lund began Street View birding in earnest in… [Read full story]
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