Birding News #89

:: In very local news, The Edmonton Journal reports that plans for wind farm, by German-based company E.On Climates and Renewables, calling for 50 turbines to be erected southwest of Vermilion (east of Edmonton) is raising a variety of serious concerns among local residents, from possible fatal effects on migratory birds and bats, to human health and a lack of consultation.

:: The call-in radio show Ray Brown’s Talkin’ Birds (Sundays at 9:30 am on 95.9 WATD FM) is celebrating its 500th show with a live broadcast on Sunday, November 9th, from from the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC.

:: Also in Washington, DC, the exhibit The Singing and the Silence: Birds in Contemporary Art” opens on Friday, November 7th, at the American Art Museum; the exhibit features 46 works by 12 artists.

:: The Clearwater Audubon Society in Florida is monitoring a group of migrating Red Knots that have turned up on local beaches with illness symptoms such as paralysis, head twitching, droopy wings, and lethargy. Possible causes include a virus, red tide, a toxin, or some other natural occurrence.

:: The two UK scientists behind the Warblr app, which has been called “Shazam for birds”, are crowdfunding with Kickstarter toward a Spring 2015 launch date.

:: Renowned Alaskan bird researcher Heinrich “Henry” Springer, a longtime contributor of ornithology specimens to the University of Alaska Museum of the North, is under investigation by the US Fish & Wildlife Service for allegedly using the museum’s permit to illegally smuggle specimens for his private collection, which includes more than 5,000 birds. No charges have been laid.

:: Scientists have found that Superb Fairy Wren embryos can recognize sounds from different birds of their own species, which allows growing chicks to learn a “password” from the mother bird, which they then use to beg for food upon hatching; the findings represent the first time a species other than humans has been shown to distinguish between individuals in utero.

:: Scientists who wanted to know how running birds negotiate a step have found that small birds, such as quail, and large birds, such as ostriches, deal with obstacles very similarly.

:: The UK’s Royal Society for the Protection of Birds has released its annual Birdcrime report, which reveals 164 reports of shooting and destruction of birds of prey in 2013, as well as 74 reported incidents of poisoning, which the RSPB believes represents just a fraction of the illegal persecution of birds. Naturalist Bill Oddie, who is vice president of the society, said, “We’re losing hundreds of our most magnificent birds each year because of the mindless and senseless slaughter by a minority group, and it needs to stop. I believe it is up to those figures within the shooting industry to help stamp out the killing of birds of prey, once and for all.”

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