Category Archives: Birds and Birding
Biscayne National Park has partnered with the Tropical Audubon Society to promote a fun way to get new birders birding, especially kids. Birders can earn achievement certificates for identifying as many birds as they can within the confines of the park.
Listing rules follow the ABA Code of Ethics. To maximize the number of species seen, budding naturalists are encouraged to visit multiple locations on the Biscayne Birding Trail.
Here’s hoping other organizations across the country can put together similar programs.
Species preservation and coffee agriculture meet: Ed Yong explains the conservation prospects for the Red Siskin (Spinus cucullata).
I haven’t driven across two states to see a rare bird, although when that badly lost, gloriously hued painted bunting showed up in Brooklyn in late November, I did make the eternal subway ride from the Upper West Side to the far side of Prospect Park to get a glance and a picture.
…no one really knows a bird until he has seen it in flight. Since my year upon the dunes, spent in a world of magnificent fliers, I have been tempted to believe that the relation of the living bird with its wings folded to the living bird in flight is almost that of the living bird to the same bird stuffed. In certain cases, the difference between the bird on the wing and the bird at rest is so great that one might be watching two different creatures. Not only do colours and new arrangements of colours appear in flight, there is also a revelation of personality.—Henry Beston, The Outermost House, chap. V
Duarte S. Viana et al. have published research on the importance of migratory birds as a long-distance seed dispersal mechanism.
By sampling birds caught while in migratory flight by GPS-tracked wild falcons, we show that migratory birds transport seeds over hundreds of kilometres and mediate dispersal from mainland to oceanic islands.
Birds, habitat, coffee agriculture—and 10 ways of looking at Northern Virginia.
- Rex Graham summarizes the research of Daniel Karp, who established the link between insectivorous birds on coffee plantations and control of the Coffee Berry Borer (Hypothenemus hampei).
- Ted Floyd goes birding at Bon Secour NWR and reminds us of the differences between National Parks and National Wildlife Refuges.
- Alonso Abugattas gives a shout-out for the most awesomest North American anatid, the Wood Duck.
A reminder from BirdNote, with resource links, that shade-grown coffee is always a good idea.
A mini-roundup of bird-related links:
- Alan Neuhauser reports estimates of avian mortality attributable to various energy sources. Although wind takes a toll, the big killer, on an absolute basis, is coal. It would be interesting to see this data on a per-kWh basis.
- GrrlScientist summarizes recent research that indicates certain bird species do better in areas under more intensive agriculture that leaves some patches undisturbed (so-called “land-sparing farming”) while others to better under “land-sharing” (e.g., intercropping in a shade-grown coffee plantation).
A visually stunning one-pager by Alexandra Class Freeman on the Duck Stamp from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s new Bird Academy.
Richard Conniff hopes that Ospreys will nest in his neighborhood.
An osprey on the hunt circles over open water, hovers with a characteristic fluttering, decides this isn’t quite the spot, circles and hovers some more, and finally plunges feet-first into the water. It may struggle to become airborne again, with a fish up to 14 inches long mortally pierced between its talons. The bird then heads back to the nest with its unwilling passenger slung underneath. The fish travels headforemost, silvery and slim, and often with what the poet Mary Oliver called “a scrim of red rubies on its flashing sides.”
Ospreys are the overlooked beneficiary of the post-DDT era comeback, Mary Ann to the more charismatic Peregrine Falcon (Ginger) or Bald Eagle (Lovey Howell). Beautiful predators, just the same.
In a quite useful five-part series, Steve N.G. Howell explains how field notes work and how and what you might want to record, either in the field or in the motel at the end of the day. He saves the best advice for the last installment:
In conclusion, your notes are your notes. Write what you want, but in later years you’ll only have yourself to blame if your old notes don’t contain the information you find you want. If you have time, write it all down. If you don’t, pick and choose. But whatever you do, or don’t do, the main thing is to enjoy birding.
One more link to clear out of Instapaper and into a blog post: Nell Greenfieldboyce reports on an application of 3-D printing that actually sounds useful: artificial cowbird eggs for studies of brood parasitism.
Robert Rice updates us on the progress of the Smithsonian’s Bird Friendly (BF) coffee program, and connects it to research programs here and abroad. The program is retailing north of 700 thousand pounds of java annually.
The biggest challenge facing the BF coffee program is marketing. Currently, less than 10% of the coffee certified as BF actually makes it into the market as such. This shortfall is partly due to the fact that BF coffee is certified organic (as a pre-requisite) and thus often is sold into the organic coffee stream as organic only—not being purchased or marketed as BF. We presently are working with a consultant to help us design plans to increase demand. Creating more demand will result in more shade coffee farms being certified as Bird Friendly, and that is our main goal of this program: conserving viable, quality habitat for migratory and resident birds in the tropics.