Prairie Birder’s 5th Anniversary!

My blog turned five years old yesterday! It’s hard to believe I’ve been writing here for such a long time.

I started Prairie Birder when my family was in the Caribbean for an extended visit, and since then it’s been such a handy platform to share my photos, stories, and connect with other birders across the world. I’ve had some wonderful opportunities through blogging and I’d like to thank all of my readers for their support and encouragement. I’d also like to thank my mom for all her support, and inspiration, especially for getting me started with the blog.

For any newer readers, there are lots of posts in the archives — more than 650 posts from my home in Alberta, and also from my travels to the Caribbean, New York, Washington, DC, Ontario, France, and Germany.

I can’t wait to share my future adventures, so here’s to the next five years!

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Prairie Birder in Germany last January.

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 #82

:: A remarkable photo, taken last December, of a Mascarene Petrel — not only is it one of the first photos taken at sea of the rare species, but it’s the first picture of any bird flying while obviously bearing an egg, and is also the first evidence of the species’ return from its pre-laying exodus.

:: One day last week, three different airplanes landing at LaGuardia Airport in New York in four hours experienced bird strikes; it’s not known yet what species were involved.

:: A company in the Netherlands is testing remote control operated robotic eagles and falcons, called “Robirds”, to scare away real birds from airports and farms.

:: Some researchers are tricking Steller’s Jays with tainted eggs to help save the threatened Marbled Murrelet

:: An influx of Cattle Egrets has closed a playground in Houston, Texas.

Great posts in birding blogs this week:

:: From Pat at Bird Canada: What Hawk Is This? Or Is This A Hawk?

:: From Shyloh at beakingoff: TLBO… My Autumn Home Away From Home

:: From David at 10,000 Birds: The Complete Guide To Dodo Relatives Living and Dead

:: From Kathie at Kathie’s Birds: Birding Viles Arboretum

:: From Nicholas at Hipster Birders: Mountain Birding, Part 1

:: From Josiah at Birds in Your Backyard: Churchill Day 2

Birding News #79

Scientists report that the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster caused genetic damage, a decline in the population, and other changes to the birds, insects, and plants in the area.

DDT continues to kill birds in a Michigan town.

The misunderstood and maligned Magpie

Archaeologists have discovered that toward the end of his life, King Richard III apparently ate more water birds — such as swans, cranes, herons, and egrets — and drank more wine.

A New Jersey airport has found that letting the weeds grow deters birds from gathering, and so lowers the risk of bird strikes, and an Ohio airport is doing something similar, planting tall prairie grasses.

US Fish & Wildlife Service officials are searching for the person who shot at least one Osprey and one Barred Owl, both species of which are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. An adult male Osprey was shot in the wing and had to be euthanized; he was the father of two hungry chicks discovered several days later one of jumped 60 to 80 feet from its nest, into traffic, and died. The mother osprey’s body was later found nearby, and officials also believe it was shot.

A pair of pigeons interrupted the recent Detroit Tigers vs. Pittsburgh Pirates baseball game.

The US Fish & Wildlife Service is proposing to designate 546,335 acres in nine western states as critical habitat for the Yellow-billed Cuckoo, now under consideration as a Threatened Species.

Nudists are scaring off the birds at a small Florida island wildlife refuge.

Great posts in birding blogs this week:

:: From Noah at The ABA Blog: Cell Phone Bird Photography

:: From Alex at Flight of the Scrub-Jay: Late July on Cape Cod

:: From Julie at Birding is Fun: The Midwest Woodpecker Drill Team

:: From Alex at Nemesis Bird: Alcids of the Olympic Peninsula

:: From Sharon at Birdchick: BirdFair Bound & A Collins App

:: From Nicholas at Hipster Birders: Of Hawks and Hummers

:: From Josh at Ontario Birds and Herps: Yellow-crowned Night-Heron in Toronto

Birding News #72

:: The feathers of migrating birds are carrying resilient microscopic plant spores, or diaspores, of some mosses, algae, and fungi, from breeding grounds in the Arctic to South America, where the plants take root and grow.

:: It’s that time of year again — well-meaning people out for walks are “ducknapping” young birds, much to the dismay of the parent birds and wildlife rehabilitators.

:: Jay Holcomb, a pioneer in seabird rescue and rehabiliation, and who helped to build International Bird Rescue into one of the world’s top wildlife organizations, died this week at the age of 63.

:: Biologists are capturing, tagging, and releasing Hawaiian seabirds, as part of studies by the US Geological Survey Western Ecological Research Center  and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, in light of current proposals to build new renewable energy sources, such as wind turbines, in the waters around Hawaii, to see if the turbines and other structures may cause problems for seabirds.

:: Two MIT linguists, studying the roots of human language, have hypothesized that our ability to communicate ideas came from primates, while the expressive, melodic side of our language came from birds.

:: Australian researchers studying the relationship between Superb Fairy-Wrens and Horsfield’s Bronze-Cuckoos and the threat of brood parasitism, have learned that female Fairy-Wrens teach their embryos a secret “password” to use after they hatch in their begging calls for food.

:: The National Wildlife Federation and Vermont Natural Resources Council have issued a report stating that the US Dept. of Interior is under a legal obligation, known as the Pelly Amendment, to determine whether tar sands mining and drilling in Canada, which has already killed thousands of birds and is putting millions more at risk, is undermining a century-old international treaty to protect North America’s songbirds and waterfowl

:: The Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission is asking the public and citizen scientists to help locate three species of rare and declining species — Southeastern American Kestrel, Burrowing Owl, and Painted Bunting — during the breeding season which lasts through July.

Great posts in birding blogs this week: 

:: From Grant at The Birders LibraryReview: The New Birder’s Guide to Birds of North America/The Young Birder’s Guide to north America

:: From Kathleen at BirdworthyReturning to my roots

:: From Nate at The ABA Blog: Climate Change and Migratory Birds: New Concerns

:: From The Younger Birder Network: Featured Blog: Krishna Girish

:: From Russell at Russel Canning’s Blog“Western Teenagers” Big Weekend Report!

:: From Shyloh at Beakingoff: Jukka’s 2014 YBC Birdathon

:: From Kirby at Birding Is Fun: June Shorebirding, Sans-tundra

:: From Rebecca at Rebecca in the Woods: Calliope Hummingbird Nest

:: From Tim at Nemesis Bird: Phone Scope Big Year Update

:: From Kathie at Kathie’s Birds: Spring Birds at Wharton Point

Birding News #70

:: The Canadian and Alberta governments are reviewing groundbreaking study by University of Alberta biologist Colleen Cassady St. Clair, which revealed that an estimated 200,000 bird landings at toxic tailing ponds annually would result in more than 1,000 fatalities; under the federal Migratory Bird Act, it is illegal to allow birds to land in toxic substances

:: The Missouri Department of Conservation is looking for volunteers to help with the annual North American Breeding Bird Survey, by collecting bird population data along 20 roadside survey routes, each 24.5 miles long.

:: Barn Swallows at the University of British Columbia have learned how to open motion-activated doors on campus to return to their old nesting site

:: To celebrate Earth Day this past April, Audubon North Carolina and Habitat for Humanity helped several families make their yards more bird-friendly with birdhouses and landscaping,

:: On the CBC Radio science show Quirks & Quarks this weekend, an interview with biologist Tyson Hedrick at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, who used high-speed cameras to study the aerial acrobatics of Cliff Swallows.

:: The celebrated Red Knot B95 (Moonbird) has returned to Delaware Bay.

:: Helping a rare Red-cockaded Woodpecker chick.

:: A study of bird fossils dating back to the Cretaceous period reveals a lack of diversity

:: The first fossil of an avian pollinator, also from the Cretaceous period, has been discovered

:: Another serious threat to birds, besides cats and window collisons: automobile collisons.

:: Australia’s Customs & Border Protection Service at the Sydney airport stopped a Czech man smuggling 16 wild bird eggs in the crotch of his pants on a flight from Dubai, charging him with attempting to import regulated live species without a permit.

:: Cornell University researchers studying crop damage by birds have found inflatable “air dancers” to be promising deterrents.

Great posts in birding blogs this week:

:: From Ethan at Bird Boy: My Baillie Birdathon Experience 2014 

:: From Nicholas at Hipster Birders: Road Trippin’ Across the USA, Part 3: Oregon, Ho!

:: From Kathleen at BirdworthyThe Hunt and the Haunted

:: From Mia at On The Wing Photography: Wonderful Lifers — Williamson’s Sapsuckers at their nesting tree

:: From George at the ABA Blog: On Stringing…

:: From Nate at 10,000 Birds: Empid Mnemonics: There has to be a Better Way

:: From Sharon at Bird Canada: Big babies, little mamas 

:: From Rob at The City Birder: Brooklyn Shorebirding

:: From Biron at B.I.R.D: Ovenbird Nest