While of course the birds themselves remain the same, what we know about them and our enjoyment of them has changed. Even some names differ. For instance, the name is now Baltimore, not northern, oriole; eastern, not rufous-sided, towhee; tundra, not whistling, swan; and Wilson's, not common, snipe. Many scientific names also changed, thanks to DNA tests that show birds aren't who we thought they were. That's also why loons no longer appear first in field guides as they did in Starling's day.
Some changes came about as climate changed. For instance, in praise of cardinals, Starling cites their "still expanding" range. He'd be delighted to know the expansion continues, with cardinals now having reached Canadian provinces.
Research changed our understanding. While Starling notes that hummingbirds migrate across the Gulf of Mexico, didn't know that the birds double their weight prior to take off and reach the opposite shore by using the stored fats. We also now know that purple martins don't really eat mosquitoes, although the myth prevails.
Many changes occurred in populations. Starling notes that the most common nesting Indiana hawks are red-shouldered and red-tailed hawks and kestrels (actually falcons). Now, however, kestrel numbers have fallen dramatically, and I would venture that Cooper's hawks may outnumber kestrels. Whip-poor-wills, which Starling labels "common," now fade as rarities. Evening grosbeaks, described as "quite abundant," now show up so seldom that when one does, it's on the radar of every serious birder as a must-see bird.
Starling noted that no bald eagles nested in the state and that he was unaware of any successful osprey nests. Both birds now regularly nest in Indiana, thanks to sweeping conservation efforts.
How we attract backyard birds changed, too. While Starling says suet is often free, we're reminded that commercial suet blocks had not yet gained popularity. The newest addition to bird feeding, according to Starling, was thistle seed, available only in "larger stores." Now, of course, both are mainstays, readily available.
Starling wrote passionately and honestly. Now, nearly 40 years later, his work reminds us--for better or worse--of changes worth noting.