- Converting 35% of the acreage of a coffee farm to shade-grown culture can maximize revenue, according to new research by Amanda Rodewald et al. and summarized by Gustave Axelson. Depending on the premium paid for shade-grown coffee, that percentage can go as high as 85%.
- A smartphone attachment can test for the presence of norovirus in a drinking water sample and produce results in five minutes. The promising prototype comes from the biomedical engineering lab of Jeong-Yeol Yoon. Joe Palca reports.
In the wake of hurricanes and other storms, flooding can cause sewage systems to overflow, potentially mixing with water intended for drinking. Municipal water system managers would breathe easier if they could be certain they didn’t have to worry at all about norovirus contamination.
- How to cross a river. The water at Huntley Meadows Park is never this fast or cold.
- Melissa Errico submits a “self-tape” audition.
Low- and high-tech solutions to studying Greater Sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) in the field by Ryane Logsdon.
You can never, ever have too many zip ties.
Ted Floyd muses on the technology edges of birding. Would you count a new bird that you only detected after the fact, by looking at a photograph you took? I wouldn’t, but everyone’s list is different, and there are different lists for different trips.
On that same field trip today, Alonso reported seeing a Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) carrying an egg. The bird was at some distance to him, and I didn’t see the bird. We discussed the sighting, and concluded that it was possible, but somewhat unusual.
There is a bit in the literature: Robert W. Strader et al. (The Wilson Bulletin 90:1, March 1978, pp. 131-132) report an observation and suggest that the purpose of egg carrying is to remove eggs damaged by a woodpecker, another animal, or mishap. Larry J. Hindman (The Wilson Journal of Ornithology 127:4, December 2015, pp. 759-761) reports an observation of a male Wood Duck carrying an egg, and discusses some other possible explanations for the behavior.
The removal behavior might be more common than we think. In our boxes, it’s sometimes been the case that we count x eggs on a given Sunday, with high certainty, and we count x-1 eggs the next Sunday.
Some links, Coffee and Birds Edition:
- Jodi Helmer reports on the nascent coffee industry in California. Even in this non-tropical climate, at least one farmer is going the shade-grown route:
Andy Mullins of Mullins Family Farm in Temecula… planted 1,000 coffee trees under the canopies of the avocado trees on his 4-acre farm.
- A study from India by Charlotte H. Chang et al. indicates that coffee plantations given over to robusta supported nearly the same level of biodiversity as arabica farms, as summarized by the Wildlife Conservation Society.
It’s very gratifying to read this acknowledgement:
The authors are indebted to the original BPP [Bird Phenology Program] observers and coordinators who collected the extensive data that comprise the BPP and were used here…. Thank you also to the BPP participants from around the globe who have worked to revive those records by digitizing and transcribing them in recent years.
The paper: “Long-Term Trends In Avian Migration Timing For the State of New York,” by Jessica Zelt, Robert L. Deleon, Ali Arab, Kevin Laurent, and Joel W. Snodgrass.
I haven’t transcribed cards for a while; it’s time to get back to it.
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.