Birding News #88: BirdWatch Canada Fall 2014 edition

:: Male Bustards make a point of eating poisonous blister beetles to demonstrate their health to prospective mates.

:: The Banded Stilt, a nomadic shorebird found at Australia’s inland salt lakes, can somehow sense and move toward rainfall hundreds of miles away.

:: British government figures show that farmland bird populations — such as Grey Partridges, Turtle Doves, and Starlings — are at their lowest levels since records began in the 1970s, down more than 85 percent since then.

:: The antidepressant Prozac, found in sewage, is having a depressing effect on the libido and appetite of birds.

:: Birds roosting in large groups seem less likely to contract West Nile virus.

:: The second volume (Passerines) of the Howard & Moore Complete Checklist of the Birds of the World, fourth edition, edited by EC Dickinson and L. Christidis (Aves Press Ltd) has just been completed. The new edition has been updated with new DNA/evolutionary information, and also revisions to species and subspecies, and ranges.

:: More than 1.2 million migrating hawks, eagles, and vultures were counted at 100 sites throughout Canada, the US, and Mexico, during the Hawk Migration Association of North America’s first annual International Hawk Migration Week (September 20-28).

:: Canaport LNG in Saint John, New Brunswick, is facing three charges after an estimated 7,500 songbirds flew in to a gas flare at the plant in September. The charges include two alleged violations of the Migratory Birds Convention Act and one from the Species at Risk Act, each carrying a maximum fine of $1,000,000 for an indictable offence.

:: Bird Studies Canada’s Nova Scotia Piping Plover Conservation Program reports better breeding success in 2014 compared to the previous three years; however, the province’s total 2014 population of 46 pairs was down from 2013 by six pairs, returning to the 2012 population level.

:: Bird Studies Canada is looking for people in Ontario interested in hosting artificial nesting structures for Barn Swallows. Anyone interested can contact BSC Stewardship Biologist Kristyn Richardson at krichardson (at) birdscanada (dot) org. While Barn Swallows are common in the province, their population has declined in Ontario over the past 40 years by more than 65 percent. Eight structures nesting structures were installed and monitored over the last two springs, with mixed results.

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