Hummingbird Tags and more

7 06 2009

A really cool article here about attaching electronic tags to hummingbirds for the first time in order to try and figure out some of the issues behind what is being considered a global pollination crisis. It seems that forest fragmentation is causing much of the problems from initial research. As birders we are already aware of how fragmentation of habitat affects the breeding success of our woodland birds. It also seems to be an issue for the plant life in the tropics that rely on these little gems for pollination. More from the article here.

If you just want to find out more about Hummingbirds or get involved in some hummingbird projects check out these cool sites. NE Hummers has loads of ways to get involved in recording data about your own New England Hummingbird experiences. They are currently looking for birders to carry out yard counts on July 25-31 (more here) and you can report or just reminisce about out of season rarities (such as last years first Connecticut record of Broad-billed Hummingbird) as well. The Hummingbird Society has loads of info on attracting hummingbirds, video links, galleries and other great stuff including details about endangered hummingbirds around the world check out their website here. You might also want to check out Operation Rubythroat a project aimed at getting students involved in an international project to study the only hummingbird that regularly calls the local vicinity home (more here).

Just like Elephants…

19 05 2009

It seems that Mockingbirds never forget either. Here’s a cool video and article from the Guardian Newspaper in the UK which shows that Northern Mockingbirds seem to remember people that they feel have threatened them in the past. This is thought to be the first published account of wild animals in their natural setting recognising individuals of another species. Visit the Guardian website here.

Radar to protect birds from Wind Farms?

6 05 2009

One of conservationists biggest objections to wind farms is the possible damage that they might inflict upon migrating birds, bats etc in the form of ‘tower strikes’. To me personally it has always been a case of weighing up the greater good; with a few dead birds unfortunately probably outweighed by the benefits that renewable energy brings. Lets face it if the planet temperatures do rise significantly then the damage to bird populations is going to be much more stark than the relatively small numbers of birds that end up hitting these wind turbines. However it seems that a Spanish power company in Texas is at least making some inroads into managing the problem by using radar technology to predict when birds will most be in danger of striking turbines (during inclement weather) and using this radar to predict when to shut turbines down to minimise bird strikes. More about the isues and possible solutions in this article here.

Beers, Dancing and Birds

4 05 2009

Not just the end to a fine Sunrise Birding tour ;), but rather a combination of a few cool science articles sent to me over the last couple of weeks. The first is one passed on by Mike Ferrari, one of the Sunrise Birding walk regulars about how blue birds develop their amazingly bright plumage, not through pigment but through nanostructures that to the layman have a similar structure to beer foam (here).

I’m sure a few of you have also seen some of the viral videos on the web that have been doing the rounds of amazing dancing cockatoos. Well it seems like there are some scientific studies (this kind of study makes me wish I hadn’t given up on science after my Chemistry GCSE) that have discovered that as well as humans, some birds have an absolutely spot on sense of rhythm. The BBC website (here) has an article and some cool videos of the birds in action!  I have to say in my experience that the birds could probably teach most of the people I see down in SONO a bit about getting their groove on!!! Although to be fair the birds probably aren’t quite so influenced by the liquid mentioned in the first article when they get to strut their stuff.

Good news for the Kakapo

20 03 2009

After the mainly bad news in the state of the bird report post and the Spoonbill Sandpiper report yesterday here’s a slightly cheerier note on the flightless Kakapo from New Zealand (story here). On the same note there is an interesting series in the making where Stephen Fry, who is the ex-comedy partner of Hugh Laurie (House), follows in the footsteps of Douglas Adams (Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) to see some of the most endangered creatures on the planet. The above clip is from the series and there is a great accompanying website to the series (here). At the moment the video elements seem to be down – I hope it’s not blocked here in the US as some BBC content ca be>

Bird Reports – Local, National and International

19 03 2009

The Audubon Connecticut IBA site has the Conservation Plan for Lighthouse Point Park online. At last weeks NHBC meeting Chris Field talked a little about the plan and some of the decision making that is still to be made. To see the plan online and to answer the feedback form at the bottom of the document, check out the PDF version here.

The Feds have released their 2009 State of the Birds report (here). To me these kind of things always make for some depressing reading, however the positive notes on Bald Eagles, Peregrines and waterfowl does highlight that where there is the will we can make an impact in turning these declines around. A really nice video, with some beautiful footage, accompanies the report as well so check it out.

Spoon-billed Sandpiper report 2009. Things are looking pretty grim for one of the globes most distinctive sandpipers. The latest report shows some pretty diminished numbers from some of the regular wintering grounds of one of the globes rarest shorebirds (more here). A real shame as this is just a stunning bird that captured my attention even as a child flicking through my field guides.

Warmer winters = more birds

22 02 2009

National Audubon has released a report saying that almost 60% of 305 species that overwinter in North America have shown a significant shift northwards in their use of wintering sites.  This seems to show a fairly direct correlation to long-term winter temperature increases. Have a look at the report (here) Must say that I wish this winter could have been a little warmer!!!!

This ones for all the ladies out there…

18 02 2009

Leucistic Northern Cardinal - James Van Acker

After the interesting gynandromorph and leucistic Cardinal pictures (see above) on my blog recently and my mention that both male and female Northern Cardinals sing, my wife got in on the act and sent me this interesting article about Cardinal vocalizations (here). Appears that the old male Cardinals aren’t the quickest on the uptake when it comes to learning songs. In fact they lag rather noticeably behind their female counterparts in learning smarts. I have the feeling that my wife was trying to hint at some general inference here! Anyway an interesting piece of research about a common backyard bird.  The Science Daily Website also has a host of other interesting articles about bird song, animal intelligence etc and is well worth a perusal.