Stories tagged birds

Apr
30
2007

The Warner Nature Center is offering a Project NestWatch workshop to teach you how to monitor birds nesting in your neighborhood. Become part of an exciting national pilot program to create “citizen scientists.” You'll learn how to collect valuable data on nesting birds in your neighborhood that will be studied by some of the world’s most renowned bird scientists. And you'll learn more about the birds local to your neighborhood, where they nest, how you can make your backyard more bird-friendly, and how to submit your nest observations to a national online database.


Falcon chicks: In the spring, museum visitors can watch baby peregrine falcons on our FalconCam. (Courtesy US Fish and Wildlife Service)

Mourning dove: This one was nesting in my backyard. You can see the messy nest and a chick's head peeking out. (Photo by Ken Kornack)
Mourning dove: This one was nesting in my backyard. You can see the messy nest and a chick's head peeking out. (Photo by Ken Kornack)

Call 651-433-2427 to register or ask questions. (Please register by May 2.)

**NestWatch is a project led by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Apr
16
2007

“Athena”—the female peregrine falcon at the High Bridge power plant nest box—laid her first egg of 2007 on Sunday, April 15. Peregrines usually lay three or four eggs each year, so we'll be watching for more in the next few days.


Athena's first egg, 2007: Hard to see, but it's there. (It's the orange blob by her foot.) Congratulations, Athena.

The male and female falcons share the 33-day incubation duties, which include turning the eggs regularly. (The birds don't incubate the eggs in earnest, though, until they've laid all the eggs they're going to lay.) If all goes well, the baby peregrines will hatch sometime in the second half of May.

You can get daily updates here on Science Buzz, or get hourly updates by visiting Xcel Energy's High Bridge daily photos page.


Falcon chicks: Baby peregrines are helpless when they hatch, but they grow at an astonishing rate. (Courtesy US Fish and Wildlife Service)
.

More on peregrines from Science Buzz...

Feb
19
2007

Bald eagle: Photo US Geologic Survey
Bald eagle: Photo US Geologic Survey

Ed Contoski has a problem. He wants to sell some of his land in central Minnesota. But a pair of bald eagles are nesting there. The eagles are listed as endangered species by the Fish and Wildlife Service, so the land cannot be developed. Which means no one's going to want to buy it.

The thing is, the bald eagle has recovered pretty nicely in the wild. In the last 40 years, the population has grown from under 500 nesting pairs to over 9,000. President Clinton asked the Fish and Wildlife Service to de-list the eagle in 1999, but they never got around to it. Contoski sued, and the judge ordered FWS to de-list the eagle by February 16, 2007. Recently, FWS asked for more time, and the judge extended the deadline to June 29.

Some people think that FWS, under pressure from environmental groups, is using the Endangered Species Act to stop development, and unfairly deprive a citizen of the use of his land. Others say a decision this important should not be rushed. What do you think? Leave a comment.

Feb
16
2007

For the next four days--February 16 through 19--birdwatchers of all abilities and ages are identifying and counting birds throughout North America. The Great Backyard Bird Count is going on right now, and it's free, easy, takes as little as 15 minutes, and helps the birds.

According to the GBBC website:

"Scientists and bird enthusiasts can learn a lot by knowing where the birds are. Bird populations are dynamic; they are constantly in flux. No single scientist or team of scientists could hope to document the complex distribution and movements of so many species in such a short time.

We need your help. Make sure the birds from your community are well represented in the count. It doesn't matter whether you report the 5 species coming to your backyard feeder or the 75 species you see during a day's outing to a wildlife refuge.

Your counts can help us answer many questions:

  • How will this winter's snow and cold temperatures influence bird populations?
  • Where are winter finches and other “irruptive” species that appear in large numbers during some years but not others?
  • How will the timing of birds’ migrations compare with past years?
  • How are bird diseases, such as West Nile virus, affecting birds in different regions?
  • What kinds of differences in bird diversity are apparent in cities versus suburban, rural, and natural areas?
  • Are any birds undergoing worrisome declines that point to the need for conservation attention?
  • Scientists use the counts, along with observations from other citizen-science projects, such as the Christmas Bird Count, Project FeederWatch, and eBird, to give us an immense picture of our winter birds. Each year that these data are collected makes them more meaningful and allows scientists to investigate far-reaching questions."

    Don't know anything about birds? That's OK. The folks at Great Backyard Bird Count can teach you all you need to know. (They have lots of fun games and activities, too.)

    Results of the bird count are constantly being updated. See what's going on in your neck of the woods!

    Feb
    03
    2007

    All 18 yearling whooping cranes killed in recent Florida storm.

    Storm kills 18 whooping cranes
    Storm kills 18 whooping cranes
    All 18 young whooping cranes that were led south from Wisconsin with an ultralight last fall were killed in a Florida storm. As of January, 2007, there were 82 surviving Whooping Cranes in the Eastern Migratory Population. Subtract 18 and there may have been additional losses to the whooping cranes in the wild.

    Birds most likely drowned by storm surge

    Current speculation is that a storm surge drowned the birds. The cranes were being kept in an enclosure at the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge near Crystal River, Fla.. Official flock status numbers at WhoopingCrane.com will eventually be updated to give the best count.

    The other wild whooping crane flock in North America has about 237 birds and migrates from Canada to the Texas Gulf Coast. A non-migratory flock in Florida has about 53 birds. If captive birds are counted, the number of whooping cranes in the world is 500.

    Buzz Blog posts about "Operation Migration":

    Jan
    24
    2007

    Waterbirds worldwide are in decline.: Long-billed curlew. Photo US Fish & Wildlife Service
    Waterbirds worldwide are in decline.: Long-billed curlew. Photo US Fish & Wildlife Service

    Scientists report that over 40% of the world’s waterbirds are declining in population. The problem is most severe in Asia, though all continents are suffering losses.

    The problem is habitat. Some of the richest ecosystems are “edge habitats,” where one type of environment meets another – like, where the sea meets the shore. However, a whopping 2/3rds of the world’s human population lives near the sea shore. As our population grows, more of this habitat is developed for human use, leaving less for birds and other wildlife.

    Jan
    16
    2007

    Bird brain: A large-brained raven has a better chance of survival than a small-brained bird of the same size. Photo Bureau of Land Management.
    Bird brain: A large-brained raven has a better chance of survival than a small-brained bird of the same size. Photo Bureau of Land Management.

    A scientific paper published in England reports that birds with bigger brains have higher survival rates than do small-brained species. A team of scientists studied birds and determined which ones had the largest brains, relative to their body size. They then collected data on birds in the wild, and found that a large-brained bird had a better chance of surviving year-to-year than a small-brained bird of the same body size.

    Scientists attribute this to the large-brained birds being better able to modify their behavior in response to a change in the environment.

    A big brain can be a disadvantage early in a bird’s life cycle. Big brains require a lot of energy to grow, and a lot of time to develop. But once the bird matures, a bigger brain helps them survive.

    A bright yellow and red-crowned Yariguies brush-finch has been discovered in Columbia's Andean cloud forest.