Birding News #95 (Holiday Edition)

Not a lot this week!

An art installation of fanciful bird sculptures in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida, is the idea of a 17-year-old high school student.

A new study on Zebra Finches shows that successful egg fertilization depends more on sperm length than sperm speed.

Here in Alberta, Christmas Bird Counts have turned up a number of uncommon species, including a Northern Mockingbird in Grand Prairie, and an American Tree Sparrow and 15 Eurasian Collared- Doves in Beaverlodge.

Great posts in birding blogs this week:

:: From Shyloh at Beakingoff: 6th Annual Tagish Christmas Bird Count

:: From Eileen at Viewing Nature with Eileen: Snow Geese

:: From Kathie at Kathie’s BirdsRiverwalk: a Photo Essay

:: From Sharon at BirdchickBirdchick Podcast #182 Women vs Men birders…

:: From David at 10,000 Birds: Purple Swamphen Supertramp or Superspecies

:: From Kathleen at BirdworthyLost Animals of Yesterday and Tomorrow

Birding News #94

:: The Calgary Zoo says that it will continue with its captive breeding program for the endangered Greater Sage Grouse, despite a difficult start which has seen only two of 13 hatchlings survive to the age of seven months.

:: GrrlScientist writing for The Guardian has her first-ever list of best bird books of the year; and her list of best nature books of 2014 is here.

:: Scientists figure out just when birds lost their teeth

:: PacifiCorp Energy pleaded guilty in federal court in Wyoming to two counts of violating the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act, after the discovery of more than 370 dead protected birds at two of the company’s wind farms, under a plea deal with prosecutors, and will pay US $2.5 million in fines.

:: The journal Science has published a series of papers on the evolutionary origin of birds, the genes and brain mechanisms that drive their behaviour, their relationships to each other. The papers are the result of an unprecedented consortium focused on the sequencing and analyses of at least one genome per avian order; the analyses have resulted in eight papers published in Science, as well as 20 papers in other journals, with the flagship study announcing that 48 birds — at least one from every major bird lineage — now have had their entire genetic code uncovered.

:: A recent study suggests a never-before documented ability in Golden-winged Warblers, to sense severe storms in advance of their arrival

Great posts in birding blogs this week:

:: From Bob at Birds CalgarySnowy Owls of the Calgary Area

:: From Maureen at Hipster Birders2014 Year in Review

:: From Clare at 10,000 Birds: Gifts to Impress a Female Friend

:: From Julie at Birding Is FunSeafood Feast at Low Tide

:: From Josiah at Birds in Your BackyardMy Field Guides Update

:: From Rob at City BirderChristmas Bird Count at Floyd Bennett Field

Birding News #93

Bird news (from a fairly slow week):

:: GrrlScientist writes about the annual Christmas Bird Count — the “granddaddy” of all citizen science projects — for The Guardian.

:: There’s a possibility of training birds to bring down drones.

Great posts in birding blogs this week:

:: From Josiah at Birds in Your Backyard: My Field Guides

:: From Terry at Birding FrontiersAn Exotic Robin in China

:: From Don and Lillian Stokes at Birding Is FunPhotographing Birds in Flight Tips

:: From Clare at 10,000 Birds: Pied Oystercatcher Family Starts To Disperse

:: From Nathan at Nemesis BirdNew York Townsend’s Solitaire Plus More

:: From Josh at Ontario Birds and HerpsNiagara to Oakville – December 5, 2014

Birding News #92

:: Afghan police shoot down a “bird bomb”

:: A researcher in Indonesia discovered a new bird species- the Sulawesi Streaked Flycatcher.

:: Another new bird species discovered, this one in Brazil

:: An amendment to the San Jose, California, General Plan that would require surveying migratory birds during the nesting season has been tabled for fear of hindering development in the city.

:: Great Antshrikes have been observed using stone “anvils” to break open the shells of land snails, behaviour which is apparently recent since the snail was only introduced to the habitat in the 1980s.

:: A highly pathogenic bird flu strain in Europe is representing a major threat to the poultry industry in countries crossed by migrating wild birds.

:: Urban Northern Cardinals and Gray Catbirds live longer than their country cousins, one Smithsonian study found.

:: Researchers have found that hummingbirds fly more like insects than like other birds.

Great posts in birding blogs this week:

:: From Sharon at Bird CanadaKinder Morgan & The Birds of Burnaby Mountain

:: From Michael at Knob and KettleHeated bird bath from Wild Birds Unlimited

:: Larry at The Brownstone Birding BlogRating My Interest In Random Birding Topics

:: From Bruce at The Bruce Mactavish Newfoundland Birding BlogSnowy Owl Echo Invasion – Here We Go Again

:: From David at the Sibley Guides Blog: A hawk in pigeon’s clothing

Birding News #91

:: In Alberta, the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation and Mikisew Cree First Nation filed a lawsuit last week in federal court against a $7.9-billion hydroelectric project that was given environmental approval by the Canadian government earlier this fall, saying that the dam site was approved without considering the environmental impacts on the crucial Athabasca delta where the river runs into Lake Athabasca. The delta, one of the largest freshwater deltas in the world, is a designated UNESCO heritage site and is a critical area for migratory birds and wildlife, including dozens of threatened species.

:: Companies are working to improve glass design to save birds

:: A San Diego supermarket was using an electrical device to prevent pigeons from gathering near the store entrance, but unplugged the device when customers complained that it electrocuted a bird.

:: Mosquitoes prefer to suck blood from male birds, a study has found.

:: Birdlife Australia says in a new report that the extinction of threatened birds in the Mallee region is all but guaranteed as a consequence of the Australian state of Victoria’s bushfire prevention policy; species at risk include Mallee Emu-Wren, endangered Black-eared Miner, vulnerable Malleefowl, Red-lored Whistler, and the eastern sub-species of the Western Whipbird and Regent Parrot.

:: A study tracking neotropical bird speciation, or the process by which new species emerge, found that they arise as a result of emigration across physical boundaries rather than separation because of geological or climate changes.

Birding News #90

:: Scientists take a look at what the North American bird population might look like in 60 years

:: An exploration of  the new exhibition “The Singing and The Silence: Birds in Contemporary Art”, which opened last week at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, including an interview with exhibit organizer and curator of contemporary art Joanna Marsh, who says, “Birds are a vivid expression of life. I’m glad we could bring together the science world and the art world and I hope people will be inspired by these works.”

:: An interview with the men behind The Lost Bird Project — Todd McGrain, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s artist-in-residence, and Dr. Andy Stern; more on The Lost Bird Project: the art (currently at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC), the movie, the book, the free origami Passenger Pigeon so you can Fold the Flock (scroll all the way down for the PDF)

:: The shape of birds’ eggs helps to explain their evolution, and might have helped birds survive whatever killed off the dinosaurs

:: 122 waterfowl died, and most were euthanized, after landing last Tuesday on tailings ponds operated by Canadian Natural Resources Ltd, Syncrude, and Suncor in Alberta’s tar sands; the Wildlife Rehabilitation Society of Edmonton called the loss of life “unfortunate” in light of the organizaton’s “many successes in the cleaning and rehabilitation of contaminated wildlife”.

:: The Dodo had kneecaps, one fact revealed when palaeontologists used a laser scanner to create the first-ever 3D digital model of the extinct species.

:: Manitoba’s backyard and veteran birders, citizen scientists, and biologists came together last week to celebrate the fifth and final year of recording and mapping the province’s birds for the Manitoba Breeding Bird Atlas; biologist and atlas co-ordinator Dr. Christian Artuso, Manitoba Program Manager for Bird Studies Canada, expects it will take a year to compile the more than 300,000 observations logged over nearly 40,000 hours, and the results will be posted at the project’s website as a living document and a legacy for all Manitobans. The Manitoba Breeding Birds Atlas is a partnership between Bird Studies Canada, Environment Canada’s Canadian Wildlife Service, Manitoba Conservation, Nature Manitoba, The Manitoba Museum, Manitoba Hydro, and The Nature Conservancy of Canada.

:: An English gamekeeper convicted of “the worst case of bird of prey poisoning” recorded in the country has been given a 10-week suspended sentence and ordered to pay the prosecution costs; he had been found guilty of deliberately killing 10 buzzards and a sparrowhawk, and possession of pesticides and items used to prepare poison baits, in order to protect pheasants he was raising.

:: The Hermit Thrush seems to prefer singing in harmonic series, a hallmark of human music.

:: The Los Angeles Times reviews the new movie, “Pelican Dreams”

Listening to Ray Brown’s Talkin’ Birds Radio Show Tomorrow

Just a reminder that tomorrow morning at 9:30 eastern is the special radio broadcast celebrating the 500th show of Ray Brown’s Talkin’ Birds [this link isn’t working for me at the moment], live from the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.  You can listen tomorrow online with live streaming or via podcast. You can also follow the show on Facebook and Twitter. One of tomorrow’s guests is  Smithsonian ornithologist Bruce Beehler. I’ll be on the show too, and I’m sure Ray and crew will have some other surprises!

Here we are earlier today, after checking out the Q?rius Theater at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History; from left to right, associate producer Emma Morgenstern, me, Ray Brown, and executive producer Mark Duffield (photo courtesy of Talkin’ Birds Instagram),

Screen Shot 2014-11-08 at 4.01.15 PM

More about Ray Brown’s Talkin’ Birds:

Yesterday’s interview with Ray Brown, at Nicholas Lund’s blog, The Birdist (Nick will be here tomorrow, too)

Boston Globe article by Linda Matchan

Ray Brown’s Talkin’ Birds website

Talkin’ Birds podcasts at iTunes

Talkin’ Birds on Facebook

Talkin’ Birds on Twitter

Talkin’ Birds on Instagram

Talkin’ Birds Tumblr

Ray Brown, beyond the birds